Jason Calacanis and the Evil Cult of the Internet Start-up

[Note: This article is a follow-up to How do you treat your staff? Like 37signals, or like this prick?, written after that piece received a lot of attention. But my views are more complex than simple Good vs Evil, as a look through all Calacanis-related posts will show.]

I’m still chuckling at the seriousness with which some people treat getting onto Techmeme. It’s true, I keep stopping typing to giggle. It’s embarrassing.

I’d never visited Techmeme until this weekend. Even then it was only because someone told me I’d blipped up there. It’s just another feed of what someone thinks is “important” in infotech, yeah? Who cares. It’s not as if it’s Reuters or BBC News.

It’s just more geeks telling geeks what geeks think other geeks should think about stuff that geeks think about.

Photograph of Jason Calacanis

But Jason Calacanis cares.

Jason Calacanis must care very deeply because he “joked” about it on this website, and over at TechCrunch he “joked” about getting pageviews. His fan club speculates that Duncan Riley and me and others are only attacking him to generate our own web traffic. Well, I can’t speak for Duncan, but no, I couldn’t care less about website traffic — especially the low-grade drive-by flamers that usually wash up here after being mentioned on high-traffic fan sites. That’s not why I’m here.

I’m attacking Calacanis because I reckon the business style he describes, the one championed by his defenders, is rotten to the very core.

But first, let’s talk about religion…

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Pinky goes to Hillsong

Whaddya think about the Hillsong Church, eh? No, actually, I’ll go first. It worries me.

Of the various controversies about Hillsong, two stand out for me:

  • Fundamentalism is A Very Bad Thing, whether it’s about Islam, Christianity, Marxism, Free Market Economics, wind power generation or whether the milk goes in first. The Church of Virus lists Dogmatism as one of the Three Senseless Sins, and while CoV is somewhat tongue in cheek it’s nevertheless spot on. Fundamentalism denies individual thought or adaptation to changing circumstances. Fundamentalism is nothing more than intellectual bullying: “I will tell you what to think.” This is dangerous. When people cease to think for themselves they become slaves. Hillsong is a Fundamentalist organisation: internal debate is not permitted.
  • Prosperity Theology is a hypocritical perversion of what that Joshua bar Joseph bloke was actually saying. OK, the gold-plated silk-clad parasites of the Vatican aren’t exactly a shining example of his teachings either. But to appropriate the Jesus brand and leave out all the difficult bits is a lot like that Che Guevara t-shirt as a symbol of enlightened rebellion.

Now I’m all for freedom of religion. Please, everybody, think for yourselves and decide your own beliefs! That’s a fundamental human right. I support you in your endeavours. But another fundamental right is freedom of speech. I get to say why I think you’re wrong (and vice versa), and out of that interchange some glorious new synthesis might arise.

Hillsong denies those fundamental human rights to its own members — by suppressing thought through Fundamentalism and suppressing free speech by denying dissent.

Pinky Beecroft, the sometimes-scrambled former lead singer of Machine Gun Fellatio, has been attending Hillsong and wrote about it for Manic Times. Long, but packed with ironic observations.

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