Tuesday, August 16, 2011
A Clockwork Orange: An Ingenious Allegory of the Corporate World
I just finished reading A Clockwork Orange. I know that a lot of people find this book confusing because it contains made up words, a ton of violence, and deviant minds. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s a lot like the corporate world. If you look at the book through this lens it quickly makes a lot of sense. Think of the main character Alex as a CEO and his droogies as fellow executives. Follow my logic here:
1.) Alex is very good at establishing alibis through buying his way into the hearts of poor old fools by convincing them that he’s really a nice guy. The poor old fools in this case represent Congress (or other governing officials, for those outside of the US).
2.) He drinks milk which has the appearance of wholesomeness. However, the drink is laced with some pretty hefty narcotics and our friend Alex is anything but wholesome. Executives are big on appearance and often appear to be in a mind altering state that keeps them from properly viewing reality.
3.) He speaks using made up words. Executives do this all the time. Take for example words such as synergy, re-purpose, monetize, actionable, etc. You get the picture. The business world is full of just as many nonsense words as I found in this book, if not more. In fact, business terminology is slang of the worst sort: devoid of any true meaning.
4.) Note that once Alex has established trust with the poor old fools who will vouch for him, he sets off looking for victims to rape and rob. This is a classic business cliche, but as with most cliches this one contains some truth. Also note that the goofs in the bar continue to vouch for Alex regardless of what Alex has actually done because Alex has bought their loyalty. Sound familiar?
So what can we learn from this book?
~ Bad executives can be very dangerous to society.
~ I think the point above pretty much sums it all up.
~ However, I’m going to put an extra bullet here to make my point appear more substantial
Without giving away the plot (for those of you who haven’t yet read the book), the moral of the tale can be summarized in the words of the prison chaplain: “Goodness is something chosen.” Ergo, expecting or even legislating moral behavior in executives is likely to be an exercise in futility. The best we can do is to lock them away to protect society until they grow up and learn to behave like responsible people.
You could say that I’m reading too much into this book. But at least I read it.