2016 has been a weird year. A lot of wonderful things happened, but all this time I had a feeling like I could not really talk about anything important … at least not publicly. Or not at all. As if I had a prolonged and miserable censorship –induced vocal paralysis of sorts. As a person who loves writing and speaking and showing off, it felt like I’ve lost my voice and it was terrible. #firstworldproblems, I know.
I‘ve admired Donald Trump since 2006, read his books and had a lot of fun watching Apprentice. Every time I mentioned anything positive about him, there were raised eyebrows and deep sorrow in the eyes – most likely reflecting the state of my mental well-being. Or an attempt to justify my unfortunate delusion: “yes, you are Russian and Putin likes Trump, it’s probably in your genes… “
Well, nobody doubts that I am pro-choice and pro- LGBT rights and all-in for women advancement at work and beyond … and definitely not a fan of Putin. Why on earth this is not compatible with thinking that Trump is brilliant and wishing him well?
During the time at PayPal, looking from outside I was probably really successful, rated “among the best”, got multiple bonuses and lots of praise. I felt more and more dissatisfied and less and less fulfilled, and it was impossible to talk about it, because it would “sound ungrateful”. When you get a big bonus, you just say “thank you”, and you don’t raise issues you know you cannot solve quickly. You talk about “nobody is perfect”, “one step at a time” and “we are a great company”. Which is all very true, but not the whole story. Privately, we shared our frustrations among trusted colleagues, but on the surface – we were all happy and super-engaged stars. Until the next person resigns and nobody understands why.
My environment (decently educated, eloquent, well-read, extensively traveled … a fairly privileged and confident group, not scared by a tiny thing called globalization) has evidently lost its ability to digest controversies and unconventional opinions. We all are expected to convincingly role-play a limited number of recognizable characters in a glorious play named “progressive Europeans go about their every day life”.
It’s all so crazily bi-polar: if you support democracy, you have to accept refugees; if you voted for Brexit, most likely you are narrow minded bigot. Otherwise you are deplorable. Gosh, sometimes I miss Amazon, where people thrive on controversies.
Last night someone made a wonderful metaphoric comparison: the European Union has (by far!) exceeded the Soviet Union in unifying and regulating. Everything outside of the main political or moral doctrine was labeled as dangerous and immoral back then. Soviet government regulated production and export levels, content of school books, censored all media, used peer pressure to force shame and blame, and justified everything by saying “you have to make sacrifices, you should not expect to be too happy, because your goal in life is not happiness and prosperity (which is immoral) but a higher mission of spreading the soviet ideology. And if you are not 100% with us, you are the enemy.
Don’t get me wrong – European Union is a wonderful idea of complimenting each other’s industrial strength, exchanging skills and offering more opportunities to people. But right now it’s dysfunctional and not helping anyone. If someone wants to get their house in order, it could potentially be achieved easier by leaving the EU. Simply because you need fewer approvals to get things done.
Liberal values, the culture of inclusion, collaborative spirit are all wonderful qualities, but when applied to corporate life, they bring unintended consequences. When someone is lazy, you need to be politically correct and “collaborate”. When someone doesn’t get it, you need to “align” and “get them onboard”. When someone just likes the status quo and does not want to try anything new, you still invite them to the meeting for the sake of “inclusion”. Because we all love each other and we are one big family.
I am not saying everyone should leave the EU, but I am saying the EU went too far. It has to scale back and give more freedom to the national states. I am also saying that liberal values went too far by dismissing human self-interests. The whole reason I left Soviet Union was because I wanted to be free from any ideological pressure, meet and interact with people who will surprise and challenge me, work hard for my own benefits, follow the law, and enjoy the results. Since when this all has become a bad thing?
It’s not that populists are “far-right”, it’s the mainstream liberalism becoming “too right”.