The latest company to be shaken up by revelations about corporate culture is Vice Media, maker of edgy documentaries, and a booming 4+ billion dollar organization. It turns out the company is run by assholes. This thread is full of enraging stories from insiders. It was so bad that the founders had to openly admit to it and apologize.
Cultural elements from our past, dysfunction and mismanagement were allowed to flourish unchecked. That includes a detrimental ‘boys’ club’ culture that fostered inappropriate behaviour that permeated throughout the company.
From the top down, we have failed as a company to create a safe and inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and thrive.
Whoa. It must be awful if the company doesn’t even try denial or making a dodgy not-pology.
Only there’s one thing missing here: I read through the articles in the New York Times and the Guardian, and they mention two of the three founders of Vice, Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi, but they never mention Gavin McInnes. I know McInnes was rather thoroughly excised from the company years ago, but you know he had to have played a part in establishing Vice’s culture. You know, racist, sexist, dumbass McInnes.
McInnes wasn’t a silent, passive cog in the VICE machine, either. While Shane Smith may have become its public face, McInnes is its soul. In the early years, he almost single-handedly wrote entire issues of the magazine, using multiple pseudonyms to make it feel like a fully-fledged publication rather than the amateurish, DIY operation that it was in reality. Smith and Alvi sold ad space and handled logistics. But that snide, facetious tone that VICE is so renowned for today is McInnes’s creation, as is the legendary DOs & DON’Ts column and just about everything else that made it worth reading. Without him, there would probably be no VICE as we know it today.
What I found most interesting about that article on McInnes, though, is the sharp and accurate deconstruction of Libertarianism, a toxic ideology that thoroughly saturates many of the worst people in politics, the media, and social media.
While the Christian right wants to moralize and snoop on people in their bedrooms to prevent them from having anything but very vanilla, Jesus-celebrating sex purely for the purposes of procreation, libertarians rarely tell other people how to live. But this shouldn’t be mistaken for tolerance: while liberals believe in maximizing collective freedom for everybody in society through laws and government policy, even if that means sacrificing a degree of personal freedom, libertarians want to selfishly maximize their individual freedom by eroding the state.
There’s a reason why most prominent libertarians are straight, well-off white men: because they don’t need government to intervene on their behalf. They occupy a default position of privileged dominance that has historically infringed upon women, the poor and minorities.
They like to paint government as an oppressive force, because it has taken away some of their privilege – although they prefer to call it “freedom” for propaganda purposes, in the same way that former slave-owning states objected to the Civil Rights Act on the basis of “state rights,” rather than “white supremacy” – and redistributed it across society. Although its adherents would argue otherwise, American libertarianism is pretty much just run-of-the-mill conservatism only without such actively fascistic tendencies. That’s not to say that those tendencies aren’t there, they’re just not so overt.
Libertarians don’t want to actively discriminate against any particular group, at least not officially, but they do want to dismantle government-imposed safeguards that protect those vulnerable to discrimination and make society fairer – a clear sign that people who drift towards libertarianism do so because they have likely never felt oppressed, marginalized or exploited.
There is no element of Gavin’s libertarianism that contradicts the drugs, the sex, the gay people, or anything else that defined VICE during his time at the publication. In fact, all throughout his 14-year tenure, he was known for making politically outrageous remarks that regularly drew accusations of racism, homophobia and every other sort of indictment that right-wingers contend with on a regular basis.
The articles also don’t discuss Smith’s or Alvi’s politics, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess they lean libertarian, too. It’s exactly the kind of ideology that allows offenses to run rampant, just as we’re seeing now.