Popular Culture Critic Says What’s Bad For Apple Is Good For America

Asia Times Online’s David P Goldman – AKA Spengler – author of the 2011 book “How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too)” professes to hate Apple, and has posted a dyspeptic anti-Apple diatribe in which he recalls that Sony also rose like a skyrocket, then lost almost all of its market capitalization. Goldman wishes the same outcome on Apple, although Sony’s demise saddened him. The distinction? In Goldman’s estimation, Sony was a great company that led through technological innovation, while Apple, by contrast, adapted existing technology – such the graphic user interface and mouse pioneered by Xerox, and he accuses the late Steve Jobs of marketing “ersatz individuality” to conformist masses.

He says that putatively intuitive devices infuriate him, contending that no machine can anticipate what he might do, and he doesn’t want software that presumes to do so either. I have to agree with Goldman on that point, and the Apple product attributes that annoy and frustrate me the most are those that attempt to do for me what I would rather do myself with full manual control.

Goldman says he intends no disrespect to people “whose cognitive handicaps cause them to prefer Apple,” but says he utterly despises Apple’s supposed patent on creativity, and the bourgeois-bohemian ethos cultivated by Steve Jobs, to whom he gives backhanded credit for having been better than anyone else at guessing what consumers did not yet know they wanted.

He notes that Jobs understood, and he did not, that the vast majority of computer users employ the device as a toy – to surf the net, view pornography, download music, and play games. Typically they don’t write – they text, and in the iPad he says Mr. Jobs gave them a funnel to pour mass culture into their brains in the guise of a stunted computer on the premise that it was promoting individuality – in Goldman’s perspective the slickest and most insidious piece of salesmanship in modern times.

In support of his thesis, Goldman points out that Apple’s arrogance manifests in important details such as the lack of a removable iPhone battery, and says that even if Apple’s product were superior, that problem alone would keep him with the competition.

Meanwhile, he maintains that the tablet revolution is acceleratigs the dumbing down of popular culture, offering easier access to streamed movies and video games that just make people stupider.

However, he allows that what irks him most about Apple is the way in which its stock performance – albeit lately somewhat tarnished – encourages what he deems false conclusions about the state of American entrepreneurship, and charges that Apple’s business strategy these days seems driven by its legal department more than its designers, let alone its tech people, implying that he American economy has do to more than market video games and streaming movies. He hopes Apple may yet become an exemplar for a stock bubble borne by illusions.

While it’s tempting to dismiss Goldman’s rant as merely Apple-hating malediction, and his anti-Apple animus goes well over the top, I get where he’s coming from in terms of Apple’s contribution to cultural entropy. It’s just that there’s a lot more blame for that to go around than he deigns to acknowledge. It can’t all be hung on Apple and Steve Jobs.

You can read Goldman’s anti-Apple rant-cum-critique here:

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