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A Critique of “Don’t Fuck Up The Culture” (scottberkun.com)
151 points by jmacd on May 17, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 72 comments

I wonder if this is just a strong contrarian streak in me, but I've always been extremely suspicious of "company culture" anywhere I've worked. Almost any real culture is implicit; it's not designed. I think it's because growing up watching a lot of cable news, I've learned to be sensitive to narratives that don't have a lot to do with reality, and frequently "culture" and "values" are used to try to suggest a narrative to employees that also has very little to do with reality. I don't need a culture of "integrity" not to do evil things, I have a conscience. Nor do I need a cultural value of "innovation" to come up with new ideas -- a lot of times the pleasure of doing something well is more than enough.

It makes me also think about how uncomfortable I felt during high school rallies. I mean, I didn't even particularly choose to be in that place, why should I have "pride" to be part of that institution? And why do I need to express that "pride" by yelling in a mob? I always found it somewhat creepy how easily people went along with all of that. I guess it's better than being lonely.

A dirty little secret of HR is that "values" can be a defense against wrongful termination lawsuits. Firing people can be very risky with modern anti-discrimination and employment laws.

I've heard a number of horror stories: one from a private dental practice and several from a chain restaurant. Both stories come from individuals I trust when they say the problem employees needed to be fired... but they sue anyway.

In the case of the medical practice, the settlement could have been avoided by a 4 page "employee handbook" plus a few written notes about handbook violations. In the chain restaurant stories, some notes citing which "values" the employee failed to personify made for easy dismissals of cases about race or age discrimination.

Per article I agree that ideological approach to this smells to me like communist/facist and should have no place in it world. I sense these things crop up when you don't have a strong leader who is guiding a company.... my 2c

Thinking about it from the perspective of an entrepreneur, even though it's just my co-founder and I and a couple outsourced assistants, I did write down a list values that I wanted to exhibit as a leader in my company.

As I see it, it's like writing down your goals. Having them written down isn't the end-all of the matter. But if you write them down, it makes them much more tangible and achievable.

Looked at that way, having aspects of "company culture" doesn't mean much on its own. The test is whether the influential people (CEO, vets, etc...) embodying and practicing those points on a daily basis.

When writing values, it's better to write very concrete examples as well.

e.g. If you value "trust", mention that an employee can leave work anytime to attend to their personal matters without showing any proof. The company trusts employees not to abuse this.

Write as many examples as possible. I can visualize examples. I can't visualize "trust" or "integrity" or "innovation".

Examples help everyone make decisions. Platitudes cannot.

Leader isn't a position, it is a role someone plays at a given time. You won't always play that role.

Depends on the people that are pushing this culture, and how phony the culture is. If the culture is "we always take care of our employees" and the company follows through (think people landing on hard times and the company helping out) or "we never work you into burning out", that can be pretty genuine. If it is "we let you nap in the break room" while underpaying and overworking you or "we provide free soda" while screwing you out of profits, then it is phony. Avoid the phony and be genuine. Best bosses I've had were genuine and took care of their own and those are the places I enjoyed working the most. The CEO that didn't show up for work more than 4 hours a week, then talked about how we are the thought leaders was phony.

It's because all too often the "company culture" is a bunch of horse shit designed to keep naive employees working extra hours and accepting low compensation.

> " I've learned to be sensitive to narratives that don't have a lot to do with reality, and frequently "culture" and "values" are used to try to suggest a narrative to employees that also has very little to do with reality."

This is the crux of the problem and the reason it's difficult to talk about organisational culture (and how to foster a healthy one). I suspect many people's first experience of it is the jarring disconnect between purported company 'values' and the actual behaviour that gets rewarded within an organisation (whether that be high-school or the workplace).

A corporation's culture isn't defined by its bosses. They attempt to, and have the most power to shape it. But culture is also, "My job sucks, the managers are deluded fucks, and they're fairly successful at hiring obedient-yet-arrogant weasels." It's not defined by the propaganda, though propaganda is part of it.

I have always assumed that one of the reasons for "company culture" is an attempt to foster a cult of personality around the founder(s), as if emulating Steve Jobs or some other hero.

A 'culture' you can be fired from is not a culture in any real sense.

Virtually all cultures have mechanisms for "firing" people, ranging from shunning to exile to imprisonment to execution.

Those are ways to remove people from society, or existence, but not necessarily culture. Plenty of groups consider themselves to still be a part of cultures (be they national, or religious, or what have you) from which they've been excised or shunned or geographically isolated. My point was that culture tends to be emergent as much as, if not more than, imposed - in a corporation, the decision of whether or not you belong is binary, either you're hired or you're fired. With culture, the lines can be a lot more vague.

If the "real culture" is toxic, what do you suggest? Just saying "oh well"? Firing people until moral improves? This is the kind of reason why companies intentionally try to foster certain traits in their professional culture.

Maybe you are a great person and don't need any culture but does that mean that doing nothing is enough?

I haven't tried it, but http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2013/11/02/quick-tr... seems plausible.

You can also shape culture using rules. For example, at Google SRE, there was a rule that after any outage a post-mortem was to be written. It described why the problem happened, why that happened, etc. and how to prevent each level from re-occurring. Things like "it was person X's fault" or "we will be more careful" were forbidden. Fault and fixes had to be in technology or procedure, not people. It helped shape a culture of coming forward with problems and of looking for solutions. It didn't work perfectly, but it helped.

This is incidentally also how air crash investigations work, at least in Europe. Placing blame is never the intention. Focus is always on finding ways to improve the process. This seems like a superior approach in most situations.

What is a high school rally? Do I want to know?

Wikipedia explains it better than I could: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pep_rally

I always found them rather unnerving as well.

In my experience, and probably the experience of most high school students who weren't on the football team or dating cheerleaders, it amounts to a free period where you have to jump around and yell and pretend to care about your school's team winning an upcoming game.

In my experience, the whole thing was even more negative for people who were on sports teams, but not in the particular sport who's team was being diefied (almost always American Football, and the corresponding cheerleading team).

It was like school administration was explicitly calling out the students that they decided should be popular. Very strange; made even stranger by football not actually being particularly popular in my school (the games always struggled with attendance, the basketball team was far more popular).

You could say that the modern fashion-forward corporate culture is just the German-Protestant ethic with the family shaved off and some hedonism stapled on to replace it. Instead of the gospel, people read HBR or HBR-aping tech publications. The CEO becomes father, king/presidente/generalissimo, and priest, because it's likely that none of those things will exist in the lives of the employees to the same extent as they did in previous generations.

In California tech, something like half of the employees will not even have much stateside family, being immigrants, while another large portion come from broken families, are un-churched (but perhaps yoga-classed), and are often unmarried also. There is no 'society' there for such employees beyond the company, no rival sources of meaning. Perhaps after 'success' there is room for 'philanthropy.'

It is actually the whole culture because the alternate cultural institutions have become so weak that the corporation just fills the gaps, as the only remaining institution in the life of the individual with any confidence or capacity for initiative. Otherwise, a good article.

It's funny that a guy who has contributed to HBR, which has done so much to obliterate or subvert all competing institutions to the corporation, seems to have a little trepidation about going all the way.

I actually find the decline of religio highly interesting in comparison to the growth of stuff about company culture an interesting correlation that I never thought about.

Though I would take philanthropy out of quotes. And I'd be careful about the concept of unchurched (as someone who is unchurched and has no plans on becoming churched)

I do wonder what people will use as anchor institutions now that church going has declined - not everyone can do the corporate only thing

>I do wonder what people will use as anchor institutions now that church going has declined - not everyone can do the corporate only thing

Entertainment. Religious behavior is so ingrained and universal that, when people lose it, they immediately start organizing around the nearest banner and making mock wars against the unbelievers.

Nintendo believers (with their computerized altars, mythos, and rituals) may not actually kill the bros of the X-box, but they do get worked up about the differences and frequently engage in mock battles with those of other tribes.

It's too reductive to call all of this behavior either religious or spiritual, but if you look at it from the perspective of an anthropologist from the future or another planet, it makes a lot more sense than to say 'the enlightenment happened and each and every person separated the spiritual and the secular in their brains and we all lived rationally ever after.'

So, generally, if you're in the business of making consumer products, you're in the business of running an effective cult, or at least encouraging an existing strong cult to adopt one of your mythic ways into their own, or making use of one of your totems.

We specifically talk about how nobody, even myself as the CEO, is "above the law" with regards to our values. We've had several instances where values were invoked as reasons why we shouldn't want to do something that was against what I wanted to do. It was a surprise when it happened, but I deeply appreciated it. It's part of teamwork as sometimes people can lose site of things or by omission or oversight make decisions which aren't the best or aligned with a company's true mission. We talk a lot about this and I really hope that it continues.

"We've had several instances where values were invoked as reasons why we shouldn't want to do something that was against what I wanted to do."

Then I commend you for rethinking. By doing so you've demonstrated that 1. The values actually mean something and 2. Even the CEO needs reminding therefore everyone should be able to hold each-other to account.

Depending on how you communicated point 2, you've made it easier for others in the org to be keepers of those values.

Corporate culture is fancy word for lowering wages by hyping up a company and thus shifting bargaining power from employees to employer.

I mean, I'm all for that, but let's call things for what they really are.

There is a huge issue in this - it used to be that there were much stronger labor movements to create employee cultures that were somewhat separate from employers/management

There can and should be ways to shift cultural control back to employees - but white collar jobs in general are not so prone to unionization (one of the major ways to do so)

What if the value in question is no longer relevant or is being abused to prevent change? How do you argue either case and try to remove or adapt the value?

Well, not to sound condescending, but we'd probably work through it together and see if maybe we need to change our values at some point. One of our values is "Always question everything" so we view it as a bit of future-proofing.

"Always question everything" taken to it's logical conclusion means the end of.... well, "always question everything".

That's why these type of "culture statements" are generally only useful in limited contexts and really often just more tools for getting people behind "what the boss wants".

Pardon a silicon valley long-timer for this rant.

With minor exceptions whenever a company goes on and on about its culture, it is time to leave.

Culture has become a by-word for: 1) Rejecting older applicants while hiring "He is not a Cultural fit"

2) Making females uncomfortable in an all-male Bro-culture by cracking "anatomy" jokes

3) Getting people with families to put in insane hours and justifying it by pointing to the younger crowd and its culture

4) Fig leaf to cover up blatant exploitation

Rarely has company culture ever meant anything positive

How To Test The Value of Core Values:

Can an employee say NO to a decision from a superior on the grounds it violates a core value? Try to imagine it. Would a cultural value from your corporate handbook ever be used in making an actual decision about actual work? If the answer is no, then the values are platitudes, or were written so generically that they’re easily overlooked or easily manipulated to justify just about anything (depending on your opinion, Google’s don’t be evil is either a good example or a bad one).


Outstanding insight. That litmus test is usually enough to destroy most the of the paper-thin proclamations of culture trotted out by corporations (especially start-ups).

>> "When business and tech people sling the word culture around as if was invented along with silicon transistors they get themselves into trouble."

<swoon> I've been trying to argue this for years. To call a business environment "culture" is to grossly misunderstand the nature and importance of culture and to over-aggrandize the business environment itself.

IMHO the business environment is still worthy of anthropological study.

Absolutely. My point was it has been studied, by anthropologists, for years, but our field has great hubris of inventing everything for ourselves (this hubris has some advantages of course, but when it comes to reusing existing knowledge it's a big disadvantage).

A minute of of google searches would reveal papers and books about the anthropology of work, including office work and even studies specific to modern tech work. There are even classics in the field, such as The Psychology of Computer Programming, by Weinberg, which despite the title, has many elements of anthropology in it - a book published in 1971.

Oh certainly, but it's an environment that exists within a culture, albeit one that increasingly abdicates to nebulous "business" rather than people.

I'd argue that a business exists within many cultures. I agree with your second assertion. Within those two there is a clue why "business culture" is a baseless idea.

A very long time ago, I worked for a company that was having growing pains. They tried a few things, one of which was codifying the 'culture' in a list of present-tense statements that management wished to be true. It was originally called "the 40 points" but by the time I left, it was up to 66 points.

I asked my boss ('ask' is a euphemism, as I remember it) what was up with this list (given that the statements were almost entirely false in the moment), and he told me that there are two ways to guide people when an organization hits a certain size: with detailed and explicit rules like the military, or with concepts to guide smart people to make decisions roughly in line with the direction chosen by management.

With experience, I have found that there are more than two options (that was my first 'real' job after working at a gas station as a teenager). The "N points" were deprecated after a few years, and amazingly (to me, anyway), the company still exists.

As many people have said, culture usually comes from the leaders' actions, not from their wishes. Or their lists.

The author is right to question the hype around culture as though it were invented in Silicon Valley, but I think he also falls into the trap of equating culture with superficial qualities that change over time. To paraphrase Built to Last: if you look outside the tech world, there are plenty of companies like Wells Fargo, Nordstrom's, and 3M that been around for over 100 years with very clear cultures and brands--far longer than any one CEO's reign. Of course, the culture changed over that time as measured by social attitudes and management practices, but they are successful because the core company culture survived. At 3M it was innovation and meritocracy. At Nordstrom's it was above-and-beyond customer service.

Don't let cynicism over the company culture of free t-shirts and late nights cloud out the goal of building a culture that lasts longer than you will. Just like parenting, it's what you do, not what you (or your posters) say that matters.

We agree. I wrote:

"You have to do careful study to filter out which cultural values remained immutable over time, if any at all. Ask the first ten employees to leave a successful company why they left, and many will answer “the company changed.”

You have the benefit of retrospection with those companies - In year 1 or year 5 it was (likely) far less clear what the company would look like in 50 or 100 years.

It is also a matter of perspective - as an outsider to any organization the perceptions we have of culture are different than what it's actually like inside. 3M in particular has gone through many cultural changes, including the ones that led to peaks in innovation (see: http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/3M-Company/Infor... on McKnight circa 1950s) and low points (see http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2007-06-10/at-3m-a-strug... McNerney, circa 2000s).

So we're talking about two sides of the same kinds of coins - yes some elements are stable, but it's hard to sort out what they are, and it depends heavily on whether you are an outsider looking for examples, or an insider actually trying to get something interesting done.

“How power is distributed has a primary role in defining culture.”

This is the single most important statement in the article. Being conscious of the power structures is critical in understanding an organization and how it functions. Most power structures are not legitimate and we unfortunately placate to them as though they are.

Unfortunately most people spend their day in a totalitarian type organizational structure where they have orders barked to them. Even in the tech world. We need to start asking ourselves if we prefer to live most of our lives in totalitarian organizations getting orders barked at us.

What amazes me about this point (which should be obvious) is how hard it is for people to even recognize power dynamics. It's so deeply baked in to our culture (and probably our brains) that it's easy to miss.

For my fellow nerds who have trouble spotting it, de Waal's "Chimpanzee Politics" is a good book showing power in our near relatives. For understanding it in humans, various books on body language were useful to me, as were some theater books, including the status transactions section in Johnstone's "Impro".

More directly related to mempko's point, I'm also really enjoying "Confronting Managerialism", which basically claims that American business culture has relatively little to do with creating effective businesses, and a lot to do with creating a caste system with managers and executives on top.

What are the worthwhile alternatives? I used to think along these lines, but anymore I'm not as sure. I think there can be advantages to the traditional structure, and I'm not sure the more bottom-up structures bring enough concrete benefit. I think maybe it can become a kind of "we are so enlightened" exercise in back-patting. But I'm always waiting to be convinced back to the other way of thinking ....

Companies cannot have an unchanging culture. Business and new opportunities always come up that aren't the same as when the company started. People get complacent, executives demand more and more pay/power, competitors find weaknesses, and the response is to either stay the course (get more conservative), or more flail around and try to adapt somehow. Either way you eventually have to do something different which changes your "culture." Companies which refuse to adapt to changing conditions wind up like the dodo.

Yes! And a point that often gets missed out in this argument is that the value of the job to new and current staff changes as the organisation grows in headcount and complexity. It's easy to hire great programmers with plenty of experience, who manage themselves and make the right strategic decisions, when you've raised funding for a promising idea and you have enough equity to give them a substantial slice. It's a totally different equation when you have 1,000+ employees each doing small but necessary jobs, and you have practically no points left in your ESOP, especially since aforementioned talent expects a 20-30% raise every year. And good luck if you're a mid-size paper printing business in Ohio who needs someone to do integration projects.

Culture doesn't mean not adapting to change. Amazon is adapting wonderfully, and I'd argue it's not because their culture keeps changing, on the contrary.

"Openness," or open-mindedness, is an example of a cultural trait that does not need to change through adaptation.

Good points, expanding on the original article.

Now what? Take Berkun's definition of culture, and don't fuck up that. Culture could be the thing that stops future innovation? Make it part of the culture not to try to stop future innovation.

Culture sure is kinda intangible, but it's still good advice to founders to pay close attention to it. Whatever it is.

Leaders should probably check themselves and make sure their actions are a 'culture fit' for the kind of company culture they pay lip service to.

I'm sure Peter Thiel changes his "best advice" depending on the situation - therefore making this argument entirely pointless.

Isn't some part of their culture "be disruptive"? How does that square with "OMG Don't fuck it up!"

It's pretty clear that Chesky was talking about "company culture" as opposed to the broader (and generally longer-termed) anthropological culture (societal culture?). The idea of "company culture" has been around for as long as I've been in the workforce (approaching 30 years) and I think it's perfectly valid that Chesky's readers would (rightly) assume he wasn't talking about societal culture.

Methods and concepts of anthropology and ethnography apply to groups of various sizes, not just to large societies. They also apply to subcultures.

Berkun's arguments are that there is an established body of knowledge and methods about culture, and people who care about culture in their companies would benefit from learning about those. This notion does conflict with the common, latent self-perception of founders -- that they are starting and inventing everything anew.

Why is the title all caps?

Probably copy-pasted the article title, which is all caps.

Also, "culture" (in the modern, anthropological sense of the world) is mostly ugly and bad, because people are mostly ugly and bad. Foot-binding was culture. Religious and racial bigotry are culture. Almost every social injustice that ever occurred came out of some cultural prejudice. People on Hacker News are quick to bash religion, but it's pre-baked thinking in general (which is much of what culture is) that is the cause of so much suffering.

When "culture fit" is used to justify not hiring a capable, 43-year-old woman out of the fear that she'll justify the money-making machine that exists when 25-year-old, male, clueless commodity programmers are stapled together into an underpaid, overworked team, the word culture isn't being misused. That's exactly what culture is.

Most companies that have a strong cultural identity have a negative one. It's also not necessary that a company have one. Banks don't trumpet "our culture" but (excluding analyst programs, which are hellish) are decent places to work in spite of the weak cultural identity.

A corporate "culture" eventually realizes that it must defend itself against perceived enemies. And it inevitably ends up being the worst kinds of people-- passive-aggressive, malevolent sorts-- who acquire the position to decide who those enemies are going to be.

Culture also tends toward arrogance, injustice, and hubris as it develops exceptionalism, which is what it will fight hardest to defend. I still have people from Google, three years after I left, going out of their way to fuck up my life because they perceive things I've said as being threats to their culture's exceptionalism. (Never mind that I've been gone for 3 years and have absolutely no power over anything that happens at Google.)

A commercial enterprise like a business will never have a balanced, full-fledged culture. Culture is immersive, not something people participate in for 8 hours per day in order to make money. I would say that, as much as possible, you don't want a strong culture (or, more dangerously, a strong cultural identity) at your place of work. You want people to get in, do good work, be paid well, and be happy. But once you have people start talking about "culture fit" as if it were a real thing, you've hired too many passive-aggressive assholes, and you need to cool it with the "culture" nonsense.

>they perceive things I've said as being threats to their culture's exceptionalism.

I find this comment very interesting in light of the recent decision by the Chrome team to excise the ability to have the browser check for certificate revocation[1].

The whole situation left me with the feeling that Google has a really low opinion of anyone that isn't Google. "The certificate revocation process has some deficiencies? We'll roll our own. Oh, people still want to do revocation checks? They're confused, remove the ability to do so."

[1]: https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=361820

There are also positive aspects of culture. Art is an expression of culture. The art of one culture is difficult to understand for people of another, because it's a form of language, and the art communicates an idea through that language.

The key is that culture is every aspect of the human condition. It is the fabric of who we are. You have to take the good with the bad. Hopefully, people aspire to be better.

To extend on what you've said here, I think we can only be a member of one culture at a time. I think we have agency over that membership, but you just can't be in two places at the same time.

So when our employers talk about the company's "culture", what I hear is "make your existence, make the fabric of your being, about work." And that's absolutely no place that I ever want to be, regardless of where I could possibly be working.

"I think we can only be a member of one culture at a time."

Children of immigrants can live within their country's culture while having strong ties to their parents' culture. For example, when they attend public schools, they're immersed in the local culture, but when they go home, they live with the behavioral norms, language, foods, etc. of their parents' home country.

That's subculture. They will really be experiencing "second-gen immigrant" subculture. It will be a completely third thing different from the culture their parents experienced as children, or of what their peers at school are experiencing. So children of immigrants still only experience one culture, one that is distinctly theirs. It will have similarities and overlap with the others, being influenced by them, and it will start to grow its own behavioral norms, language, foods, etc.

What I mean by "we can only be a member of one culture at a time" is that "it is physically impossible to have an experience other than the one you're having". That at first sounds tautological, but it suggests the fractal nature of culture and subculture.

I don't think you're addressing the meaning of the immigrant example. If an immigrant can successfully experience one culture at school and another at home, it's also possible to experience one culture at work and another culture the rest of your life. Whether or not you group both cultures into a greater "working man" culture is kind if irrelevant to your original point that a company culture would invade the rest of your life.

There are also positive aspects of culture. Art is an expression of culture. The art of one culture is difficult to understand for people of another, because it's a form of language, and the art communicates an idea through that language.

So when our employers talk about the company's "culture", what I hear is "make your existence, make the fabric of your being, about work."

Both excellent points. You're right that there is good in culture as well.

My objection isn't so much with culture in general as with forced culture. Culture is emergent, except when under totalitarian or clerical control.

It isn't so clear to me that Culture is an emergent as much as a sort of foucaultian bidirectional control.

If everyone quits because of culture as a company - I wouldn't say a CEO is in control of said culture.

agreed completely.

That post was extremely well put and sums up my thoughts exactly.

Culture is quite often discriminatory, hostile, and all too often filled with counterproductive sentiment. And, it is fluid.

If we look at the larger world and see how many of the problems are caused by "culture" it's amazing to think we should have adopted this word into our workplaces. Never mind that it doesn't actually fit there.

Most employees embracing principals of hard work, team play and the like isn't really "culture". Maybe "values" or "expectations" or "generally accepted behavior" are better words. Culture is larger than that. Or else something green and slimy growing in a petri dish.

I still have people from Google, three years after I left, going out of their way to fuck up my life because they perceive things I've said as being threats to their culture's exceptionalism.

You bash Google at every opportunity, every since you left, AFAIK. You reap what you sow.

The rest of your post was good, but then you had to go off on Google again. Get over it.

So if he stops his criticism of Google, he will be left alone? Just like critics of Scientology?

I don't have a problem with Google. I am over it. There's good and bad to Google and I was unlucky, but it's actually a pretty good company. I don't have a problem with it. To me, three years ago is ancient history.

I have a problem with individual passive-aggressive assholes-- who have never met me but worked at the same company 3 years ago, and who are taking old mailing list posts way out of context-- trying to fuck up my career long after I worked there. Google is not responsible for the actions of these people; they are adults. Many of them are no longer Googlers. I'm not mad at Google. I'm mad at them. The past is the past; continuing to fuck up the present and threatening the future is unforgivable.

How are people at Google trying to screw up your life? Are you talking about the (seemingly bi-directional) hostility on Hacker News that seemed common a year ago or something more?

You mentioned that you sued and won some cases for tortious interference (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7645843) - was that against Google employees? Can you share some details?

Open, out-in-the-air, criticism is something I can deal with. It's the passive-aggressive and anonymous stuff that pisses me off. I've had a few ex-Googlers call hits in to later employers, and that's a main reason why I don't put where I work on LinkedIn.

The reason I bashed Google in the past (I've calmed down a bit) was that their HR refused to investigate, the first time a hit was called. That was wrong on their part. I can see why they didn't do it (I was an ex-employee, and they would have to fire someone who might be a high performer, so it was better not to know) but I'm still pretty disgusted.

Many Googlers I like-- there are a lot of good people at that company-- but there's a certain type of arrogant, entitled, mediocre schmuck that, while they're only 5 to 10 percent of Google, they have a hive-mind dynamic... and those people still really hate me.

OT but can you write the essay mentioned in the end of http://michaelochurch.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/the-right-and...

While I agree with you on this pessimistic analysis I also think you're neglecting to include a consideration of cultural context, relativism, and sunnier culture. I think it is a parochial statement that, anthropologically, most culture is ugly or bad.

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