Jon Evans has been around as a columnist for TechCrunch. What he sees lead him to suggest Three cheers for Valley capitalism.
It’s easy to be critical of the tech industry, and even easier to be critical of capitalism itself. Let us all continue to do so; criticism is valuable. But let’s remember that we do so because they are so important. Capitalism is still what lifts the world’s least fortunate out of poverty, and technology increasingly feels like the last, best hope of a world otherwise dead set on ruining itself.
I frequently complain about the industry myself in this space, but not this week, because I spent much of it in Havana … which basically felt like a picturesque disaster area, still under the thumb of oppressive one-party rule. It’s hard not to strongly approve of capitalism and free markets, for all of their flaws when left unchecked, after you see people excitedly queueing to buy tomatoes on one of the world’s most fertile islands.
For all of its obvious failings and its copious waste, the flywheel that is Silicon Valley and its outposts — spinning out startup after startup to test and experiment with new technology, absorbing their remains if they fail, accumulating their burgeoning energy if they succeed — remains an engine of change and progress unlike any other on the planet, with the possible exception of Shenzhen’s hardware ecosystem.
So let us not cease in our criticism. Let us remember that capitalism is only our least bad alternative, rather than one which is actively good; let’s keep a wise eye out for something better. Let us lambaste the tech industry when it sins, which is often.
But let’s remember to do so with a grudging respect, because there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot else out there offering much in the way of alternatives to various flavors of dystopia.
It appears that he can’t quite come to grips with the big picture. Silicon Valley (and Shenzhen) are only small components of something much larger. He has no clue as to what “actively good” might be and how the capitalism in his favored environment handles “its obvious failings and its copious waste.” He misses the feedback mechanisms and the factors that corrupt them and how the “flaws” are indeed checked and corrected.
There are lessons to be learned and there are examples out there (and in history) to provide this learning. It can be difficult. A grudging acceptance is one step in the right direction.