Is it really so wrong to mix business and politics (and religion)?

So last week Apple announced new products. Yawn. The Cult of Apple worshipped their God, and millions of words were written praising His Wisdom. However the most interesting comment I’ve read so far was about the political content of Steve Jobs’ presentation.

Alastair Rankine writes that the Macworld Keynote has moved from slick-but-reality-distorted marketing into the realms of straight-out entertainment, and then criticises Randy Newman’s performance. Not because it was crap (which, being Randy Newman, is inevitable), but because it was political.

Criticism of the Bush administration is something I obviously have a lot of time for. But is it suitable for a consumer product launch? …

Mix politics with business and you take a risk with a relatively small upside but a big downside. If your politics match mine, we are no more likely to do business together than before we knew each other’s positions. But if our politics disagree, this difference becomes a barrier that we each have to overcome in order to do business together.

I’m not arguing for censorship or anything. I’m just saying that the separation of politics and business is crucial for the success of both.

I disagree.

Business is about making money, yes, but sometimes I think it’s wrong to “leave politics at the door”. In fact, is it even possible?

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Ah, questions!

I was going to write a serious piece comparing the George W Bush and Ronald Reagan presidencies, and discuss the links John Howard’s time as PM. But I’ve been distracted. Instead, I’ve been looking at the questions which led people to this website.

This isn’t original. Meg Tsiamis was there first. As she observed, people find one’s website through some astounding searches.

I’ve mentioned before that the most common search bringing people here is “steve irwin jokes” — something I find quite depressing. The Top 10 includes such gems as “gerbil sex”, “royal gay sex”, “glory hole” and “bestiality”. Classy eh?

But scroll down the list’s long tail, through 580 different keyphrases so far this month alone, and you’ll find actual questions. Here, then, are some of the answers. If you can expand upon them, please do!

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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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“Business Ethics”: starting a journey

Somewhere in the last fortnight, I decided that my business Prussia.Net should operate ethically. Not that it’s unethical now, but rather that I should consciously work to improve its status as a “good citizen”.

But what does that actually mean in practice?

After all, Westpac makes a big deal of being the world’s most responsible bank, but that’s like saying you’re the world’s most polite gang rapist. “Responsible” or not, they’re still about being a parasite on everyone else’s business transactions.

So far, I’ve figured three things…

  • I should be happy that I’ve given my office manager the flexibility she needs to be a good mother and community participant. And I am.
  • I should see what I can learn from the St James Ethics Centre.
  • I should be happy that I refused to do work for Hillsong Church today — though a soft drink company’s fine, hey, they just sell addictive alkaloid drugs to children.

But I also figure it’s a lot more than just saying stuff, it’s actually about making a real difference. Wish me luck.