Naturally, many of us are thinking of Steve Jobs’ death. It came before his time. He had a genius for creating pleasing consumer products that stimulated only engagement, never resistance. But apparently his own temperament and relationships to those with whom he worked was quite different. There he thrived on conflict and contest and could be experienced as a bully. The ethos of humanistic management suggests that he could not have possibly motivated followers, but the people who worked for him must have stretched themselves far more, and reached goals far greater than they could ever have imagined. Perhaps this puzzle reveals how much people want to belong to and identify with a success story. They are willing to tolerate considerable abuse to be on the winning team.
Why should this be? Perhaps as we mature, and are no longer at the center of our parents’ loving world, we come into touch with our anonymity, so we yearn for one bite at the apple, our “one minute of fame.” Steve Jobs is dead, yet the world will go on without him and Apple continues to exist as a company with a valued franchise.
If the marketplace is a network of transactions, and each of us are nodes, we do have to live with its indifference toward us. This has always been a hard pill to swallow and is one reason why the reactions against the market, whether from the left or the right have been so powerful. Maybe there are times, as some economists claim, when the market is “perfect.” But it is certainly not natural. It is an artifice, a cultural achievement which may go against our nature. We really need to understand the implications of this.