(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Monday, June 30, 2008

corporate life and the French revolution.

Recently, I've had some breathing time to ponder my various experiences in the corporate regime. I'm wondering, fellow Francophiles, have you ever considered some of the similarities between the corporate hierarchies and the factors surrounding the French Revolution? (yes my mind works in mysterious ways ... and today's barracuda earth image is seeming appropriate for my little missive)

Well, I've noticed that in the down times of business desperation, the conduct of the players is reminiscent of those on the scene during the revolutionary period. Contrast and consider ...

Ancien Regime ~ Frustration mounting with the existing power structure (Monarchy, Aristocracy, Clergy) ...

Office Regime ~ Frustration mounting with existing structure and poor results (Senior Executives, middle management, HR) ...

Ancien Regime ~ Wars and misplaced alliances (America) pushed France into insurmountable debt, which was transferred down to the populace via deprivation and unfair taxation.

Office Regime ~ Poorly devised plans and competitive strategies create unrealistic expectations that yield insufficient returns. Expense and recuperative burden are transferred down to customers and employees via fee increases and unfair pay reductions.

Ancien Regime ~ The Roman Catholic church, largest landowner in the country, gets in bed with the monarchy by issuing their own tax and worsening the struggle for the most basic need of citizenry, food and nutrition.  The tax is presented to the people as a way to reduce other increases by the monarchy, but in reality improves the riches of the monarchy AND the clergy.

Office Regime ~ Human Resources, by all accounts an area meant to represent a company's strongest resource ... aligns with executive leaders to exact higher profits by eliminating expense through job cuts. These changes are presented to the worker base as an opportunity to save other's jobs by improving expenses.

Ancien Regime ~The stage is set for leadership and citizenry unrest.  Plots are plotted and schemes schemed.  A coup is in formation.  A new regime is installed.  The leaders, heady with power, form new and ever-more unrealistic programs of cleansing and destruction.  Advocates are enlisted, underlings promoted quickly to assist in implement ever more fantastic changes and solutions.  Heady with power and momentum, observing the ease with which power structures are disassembled ... the feeding frenzy expands as the newest adherents to the regime revolt and take out their new masters.  Change is rampant, progress stalled, chaos ensues.  Executioners become the executed.  The streets flow with blood.

Office Regime ~ Existing power structures fall out of favor when unrealistic profits and dividends fail to materialize.  A new executive branch is installed, having made their own unsubstantiated commitments of revenue to the never satisfied constituents.  In order to distinguish themselves from the prior regime, propaganda campaigns are issued ... blaming former plans and leadership for the shortfalls.  A cleansing period ensues eliminating vestiges of all prior processes and programs, with AND without merit.  As the dust settles, it quickly becomes evident that the new regime is no more capable, and in many ways less, than the prior.  Factors driving the downturn in profitability are multiple and widespread, many outside the control of the corporate institution.  

Sensing an opportunity for expedited advancement, the middle management class that helped the new executives into power turn on their leaders and submit their OWN plans (also unsubstantiated by fact...) for unrealistic returns to stability.  The constituents, desperate for profitability, grasp at the new plot and oust the newest power structure for an even less experienced group of incompetents.  Successively shorter rounds of purge cycles take place.  More innocent bystanders are left bloodied in the wake.  Competence is eroded to the point that all progress is stagnated.  Paranoia is the rule of the day.  

Ancien Regime ~ Control the citizens through fear! Vive la revolution!  Off with their heads!

Office Regime ~ Control the workers with fear! All hail the new strategy! Be thankful you have a job, or else...!


sound familiar?


Utah Savage said...

This should be published. It's some of the best political and historical writing I read. I didn't study French History other than one class in college that was overly broad and long ago. But your comparison to the current state of our capitalist empire, or corporate rule, is spot on. Bulls-eye! Great writing! New and interesting point of view and it's eye opening and heart braking to know the possible implications of this crumbling economic downward spiral.

This plunge is making me dizzy and a bit frightened. We are on the brink of either taking back the country, or a huge flight to somewhere safe, by anybody with a few buck tucked in the mattress as get-away money. Do I sell my house now, before the total collapse or do I stay and keep hoping that we will have the collective wisdom to open our eyes and regain a sense of decency? I want us to restore the rights we've lost in giving power to such brutal thugs and pretending that the government wasn't criminal, that we didn't get raped and pillaged, and our crops burned to the ground.

Sorry for the rant.

La Framéricaine said...

Are you sure that you weren't in LA at the screening of "La Question Humanine"?

Congratulations on getting that out of your mind and onto your blog. Quite a feat!

It will be interesting to see the take that Howard Zinn and Bill Moyers have as the situation continues to unfold.

Did you ever tell us about the arrival of your belongings in France? I recall clearly their departure but don't remember hearing about their arrival and Customs clearance. Whassup?

our juicy life said...

Brilliant, just brilliant. thanks for the history lesson.
great post.

our juicy life said...

OMG - 12 days!

Randal Graves said...

It's obvious what needs to be done: guillotines in every office and queue up the management.

It's not like other bloody revolutions will happen after, right? Right. Well okay, maybe one or three.

Utah Savage said...

I have given you an award. One more thing to pack and ship. But before you go, come get it. As if you didn't have enough to do. And how's the story coming? Not to nag or anything. I'm not kidding about the award.

Je ne regrette rien said...

U.S.- This comparison has been tapping me on the shoulder for the last couple of months, 'excuse me, but you know I'd like my story out there...'. Fascinating the many ways history finds to repeat itself.

LF-No, but you just don't know how much I'd have loved to be there at the screening. my belongings?! no, not in France yet, just made the UK port. be still my heart. and the voices in my head!

OJL-I'm trying to ignore my palpitations!

U.S.-an award?! wha'? hunh? for me?!! (on the story thing ... I'm trying, I'm trying! SO much is going on right now... but I'll do it, I swear).