Understanding Microsoft

Part 16. Spin Doctors

When Adolf Hitler decided he needed a good P.R. campaign, what did he do? For one thing, he invited journalists and world leaders to his mountaintop hideaway, where they were wined and dined. There were plenty of photo sessions, interviews, and guided tours. People were told they were getting to see the "real Hitler," not the one that paranoid and jealous rivals were raving about. Chummy, kind, helpful, a real family man: that was the impression that influential guests took with them as they went back to their homes and offices to make policy decisions.

After all, how could a family man be a cruel dictator, a would-be world tyrant?

Der Fuhrer typically walked about in elegant sweaters or casual clothing, seldom in military garb, at these cozy little get-togethers. He spoke of great things he wanted to do to help the common man, the average German, because after all, he was just a common man himself, right? His quest for power was really a quest to be a savior, not a dictator. He was only trying to put himself into a position to be more helpful to more people! Anybody who thought he was ruthless and uncivilized was just envious of his rise from obscurity to world-class influence.

After all, how could a man of the people be a cruel dictator, a would-be world tyrant?

All of this hokum and sleight-of-hand worked very well for one simple reason: world leaders and journalist just did not want to accept the possibility of another World War. The guests consistently engaged in a willful self-deception based on their deepest desires for peace, and were merely egged on by a smooth-talking host who "felt their pain." By soothing the deep-seated anxieties of the guests with friendly patter and a smiling face, feeding the self-deceptive nature of those who knew only too well what another war would mean, Hitler carried off a masterful carnival of showmanship and delayed for years his eventual exposure as an absolute despot.

Unlike Hitler, of course, Microsoft only wants to control people's access to information, not to kill them. But they have certainly mastered the techniques of the Austrian tyrant and his mob of propaganda thugs. Microsoft knows that after endless plane crashes, child molestations, and fallen heroes, the news media wants some *good* news. People want a problem-solver, a hero, maybe even a Messiah. And Microsoft is only too willing to oblige the fantasies and cravings of a burnt-out media and a fearful populace searching for meaning.

Month after month, business leaders, executives, journalists, pundits, and politicians are invited to Microsoft-sponsored gatherings, thinly-veiled brainwashing sessions where endless "final solutions" to problems of communication, commerce, entertainment, and education are spewed forth. People want to believe, to be serenaded, to have something in this frenzied, unpredictable world that they can "count on." And Microsoft will gladly supply their own private solution to any problem you bring them.

Nobody fears the consequences, it seems; nobody questions the presumed right of one company to be the sole determinant of who can access what information, in what format, and for what price. After all, how could a common man, a man who wears preppie clothing, a man who has a baby, a man who is married, how could such a man be a cruel dictator, a would-be world tyrant?

Most recent revision: December 28, 1997
Copyright © 1997, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.

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