The onward march of crude stupidity

A friend of mine is of the view that the movement of history is unstoppable and will continue to drive us towards enlightenment and progress. I think that on the whole I share that optimism, and I agree that each generation is likely to experience a life that is at least somewhat better than that of the last one; but then again, maybe that’s a comfortable western liberal speaking: in some parts of the world the march of progress is at best tentative.

In any case, you don’t have to go very far to experience, from time to time, the obstinate durability of backward stupidity and crudity. Just this week we have learnt about some morons working for accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers in Ireland, all males, who apparently passed around an email with photos and names of new female recruits and the suggestion that they should be ranked in terms of their desirability. The email was distributed widely in the firm, and then ‘went viral’ and was circulated outside it as well, leading of course to the inevitability of its finding its way into the media. So not only were these guys wholly inappropriate in their email discussion, they were also just incredibly stupid (though maybe there is a connection between these two aspects).

It is amazing that educated and well paid people should behave in this manner, and apparently not encounter any opposition within the firm where the email was so widely read. PwC will need to do more than just find the culprits (which they are now attempting to do), they must also take a serious look at their corporate culture.

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8 Comments on “The onward march of crude stupidity”

  1. Jason Michael McCann Says:

    Acht now, would you come on? It is quite some time ago now since we pawned the collective soul and reduced the human person to the homo economicus. This market economy’s commodification of the person, coupled with the innate concupiscentia humana, has certain predictable consequences. The fact that this has occurred in PricewaterhouseCoopers, an icon of this system, is nothing more than the actualisation of Chekhov’s Rifle. One cannot even be sure if this is even a manifestation of ‘sexism.’ The creation of the F**k List by Karen Owen (commodifying male students in a similar manner) at Duke University received rapturous applause from ‘mainstream’ feminist groups across the United States. My thinking is that this ‘sort of thing’ is only a symptom of a much deeper sickness.

    As to ‘progress,’ Marx only speaks of the desire for progress in his dialectic of history; his principle point was that matter’s active ingredient is change. So we are indeed always in a state of evolution; a process of thought and history. Nevertheless this process is insuperably joined with the class struggle, and thus the system will not change until one side wins. Events like this are appalling, but they will bring about quantitative change; enough of that and we will have qualitative change.

    Power-to-the-people McCann – oh dear.

  2. kevin denny Says:

    There is nothing new about the PwC business. Men have all behaved like this and always will.Its in our jeans. I am told women do too but to a lesser extent. All that’s different is that the internet allows it to go public as in the unfortunate Karen Owen or Claire Swire some years back. Owen’s Powerpoint was far from popular with many women in the US, incidentally.
    So I think we need to keep a sense of perspective on all this.

    • Jason Michael McCann Says:

      Here, here, Kevin. It’s all about freedom. Within the current system men have traditionally had the most freedom and have therefore ‘acted out’ the most. Now that women are having increasing more access to freedom we are seeing the same behaviour. Women across the United States were appalled by the Owen project, but my point was that mainstream feminist groups praised it.

      • kevin denny Says:

        To be clear, I don’t approve of what the accountants in PWC did: perhaps the young females should be given an opportunity to pass judgment on them.

        • Jason Michael McCann Says:

          Not for a moment did I think that you did. Yet somehow I feel compelled to note that such behaviour, however childish and unprofessional, is also entirely natural. If this were not the case humanity would be a failure as a species. It usually takes a few jars before most people start these antics with their mates in the local. We must of course remember that people also get drunk on power.

  3. Victor Says:

    Compared to the economic catastrophe coming to Ireland the PwC matter is trivial.
    We should be more concerned about PwCs lack of due diligence with the Irish banks transactions

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