Negotiations Tactics to consider

(Based on MBA notes)

The goals of every negotiation are the following:

  • To ensure that the size of the pie i.e. the size of the deal is the maximum possible amount attainable
  • To ensure that the nature of the relationship of the two parties are not negatively affected, thereby ensuring a sustainable future relationship that is profitable for both parties
  • To ensure that you get as big a piece of the pie a possible, while at the same time reaching a pareto efficient frontier in the combined deal that is reached between the two parties

In order to achieve Pareto efficiency, it is essential that both parties share their relative preferences of the issues discussed. This way, both parties will have a clear understanding of each other’s’ interests, thereby helping the parties come to an efficient solution.

One of the ways in which the parties can achieve pareto efficiency is by working towards an integrative solution. This can be achieved by both parties negotiating in a manner that they try to achieve their highest priority issues, while conceding on the lower priority issues. This can only be achieved when both parties are willing to make concessions.

Making concessions is a useful negotiation tactic because of the following reasons:

  • It signals to the other party that you are willing to work towards attaining a mutually beneficial solution
  • It may motivate the other party to make concessions on their low priority issues as well, which can help you get a higher payoff / benefit
  • Making strategic concessions is one of the ways, in addition to MESO, post-settlement settlements and contingency contracts, by which the two parties can achieve pareto efficiency

Concessions should be made in a strategic manner, in the following ways:

  • The parties must ensure that they always make bilateral concessions i.e. always make concessions while demanding / getting something in return from your opponent. This ensures that you are not perceived as weak.
  • Only make concessions on issues that you know are not very important to you. Concessions cannot be made on issues that could possibly hurt you, or reduce your payoffs
  • Making smaller concessions is better than making one big concession. Using this method, you can ensure that you are moving in a calculated and strategic manner, as well as not exposing yourself to too much risk.

Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement Explained

BATNA is defined as your Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement. It is an alternative that you are guaranteed to receive in the case that negotiations fail.

BATNA can be viewed as a safety net, or a backup plan which can help in your approach towards negotiations. When a party knows what their BATNA is, it helps them think through various strategies to ensure that the outcome of negotiations is better than their BATNA.

Many a times, BATNA can be a source of power, and parties can use their strong BATNA’s to their advantage in negotiations.

BATNA’s can be used to calculate a party’s reservation price using the following formula:

Reservation Price = BATNA + Switching Cost

The reservation price can then be used to calculate a party’s value claimed by using the formula:

Value Claimed = Settlement Point – Reservation Price

Every party must ensure that they do everything to improve their BATNA before negotiations. BATNA’s can be strengthened by the following ways:

  • By identifying all the variables that go into calculating the value of the BATNA
  • Doing extensive research on what the possible BATNA’s could be
  • Having a strong understanding of the valuation of the BATNA before beginning the negotiations

Once a party has an exact understanding of their BATNA, it is imperative that they do not lie to the other party during the course of the negotiations about their BATNA’s. This could make them legally liable for wrongdoing, and could negatively impact their reputation.


A mediator is a person who is seen as a neutral party in any negotiation or dispute, and whose purpose is to ensure that the parties come to an agreement. As opposed to an arbitrator, a mediator does not pass judgement and decide who is right or wrong as per the legalities of the situation.

A mediator can be used during the following situations:

  • When there is a lot of anger between the parties
  • When parties are unable to communicate
  • When there’s a high level of mistrust or chance of misinterpretation
  • When parties need help identifying integrative potential

Mediators are effective third parties when:

  • They are successful in helping parties reach settlements
  • The settlement meets the needs of both parties
  • The settlement helps continue relationships between the two parties
  • The services of mediators are not needed in the long term

Compared to an arbitrator, a mediator has the following advantages:

  • Parties have a higher satisfaction of the outcome
  • The settlement that the parties agree on is reflective of a more integrative solution
  • There are fewer problems with the implementation of the settlement
  • There are fewer problems of recurrence of the problems

The sole purpose of a mediator is to ensure that the parties reach an agreement. A mediator is involved in multiple rounds of negotiations with the parties involved. In each round of negotiations, the mediator identifies the interests of the parties, as well as any concerns and issues they might have. The mediator then utilizes this information to approach the opposing party and identify if the interests of the two parties are identical in any way. The mediator formulates solutions for interests that are identical, thereby resolving a few issues, and then works on the unresolved issues. During these multiple rounds of negotiations between the opposing parties, the mediator tries to reduce the number of unresolved issues and formulate the clauses of a possible agreement.

It is important to note that the mediator is also tasked with resolving the concerns of the both parties as well, through an integrative approach. The result of these multiple rounds of negotiations is to reduce the talking points to a bare minimum, thereby coming up with a final proposal which is voluntarily agreed upon by all parties.

A mediator curbs the parties’ overconfidence and gives them a reality check of the situation. By focusing on the interests, and not on the rights and powers, a mediator comes up with the most beneficial solution for both parties. This solution can entail a longer and sustainable working relationship of both the parties.

Since acceptance of the outcome is voluntary, there tends to be greater satisfaction of the solution.


WISE stands for

W – Willing

I – Interest

S – Save Face

E – Exact

The four considerations in making a WISE threat are given below:

W – Willing

The parties must be willing to carry out the threat. The threat should not be made without the intention of actually walking away from the negotiating table and following up with the threat. It is important to be willing to carry out the threat because of the following reasons:

  • The credibility of the party is at stake, and the threat must be substantiated with appropriate action
  • In the situation that the threat is not carried out, the party making the threat is seen as weak. This affects the attitude of the opposing party at the negotiation table and can ultimately affect the outcome of negotiations

I – Interest

Threats must only be made after careful consideration of the party’s interests, and not positions. This leads to the conclusion that the interests of both parties must be discussed during negotiations. In the situation that a threat is made based on the position of a party, it will most likely not be a credible threat, and would result in the company not willing to carry it out.

However, if the interests of the party are affected during negotiations, and if a party feels that its interests are not going to be met, then a party may make a WISE threat.

S – Save Face

It is essential for the party making the threat to give the opposing party to save face. This means that the party making the threat should mention to the other party that there are certain actions that could be taken in order to the party not to carry out the threat.

Thus, it is important for any party to not push the opposing party in a corner, since during these situations, the opposing party might take actions that can be mutually destructive

E – Exact

A threat must be precise in its clauses. i.e. A party must make a threat only if certain interests are not being served. Those interests must be detailed in the threat. In the absence of being exact in the threat, the opposing party might get a sense that the threat being made has no basis, and they might be pushed to taking actions that are mutually destructive.


The key strategic errors made by P-9 during their negotiations with Hormel are as follows:


P- 9: The labor union wanted the following issues to be met by Hormel

  • Higher wages
  • Higher benefits
  • Worker autonomy – i.e. freedom to work as per their own directives as opposed to management control
  • Continued employment

Hormel: The company had the following interests:

  • Continued business operations
  • Profitability
  • Lower costs
  • Lower wages
  • Removal of labor unions



  • The labor union had to right to continue working in the factory until the end of the contract
  • They had the right to negotiate a new contract
  • The unions also had the right to strike work in case the negotiations did not occur favorably


  • The company had the right to terminate employment of the employees by giving them a 52-week notice
  • The company could terminate the contract
  • They could hire non-unionized employees at a much lower cost


P- 9:

  • The unions had the power to go on strikes
  • They could start picket lines
  • They could generate negative media coverage, thereby hurting the brand of the company
  • Disrupt production


  • The company could transfer production to other plants
  • They could hire non-unionized employees

Based on this framework, it seems that Hormel had more power in this case. Since the company could transfer production as well as hire lower wage workers. P-9 did not consider all these factors when they decided to go on strike. They used arm wrestling tactics, which brought in ego and spite. By failing to calculate their BATNA, which was loss of employment, as opposed to Hormel’s BATNA, which was lower wage workers and moving production to different plants, P-9 made numerous errors in their decisions.

Due to the fact that P-9 did not calculate their BATNA effectively, it resulted in incorrect decision to go on strike, which ultimately resulted in the losing their jobs. Only a small percentage of employees got their jobs back.

P-9 moved from interests to rights, which resulted in Hormel moving to power. Since the company had much more power, it followed up on their word, and they ultimately won. In hindsight, P-9 should have focused more on their interests and sought a mediator to work with the company to resolve issues amicably.

Also, P-9 used a representative with a different interest as compared to their own. This non-alignment resulted in inefficient negotiations.


Cultural relativism suggests that when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Thus, the company is more willing to concede on issues that might not be acceptable in their own countries.

Ethical Imperialism suggests that when in Rome, do as you would do at home. In this case, the company is not willing to budge on ethical and legal matters, which could result in the company losing out on many business opportunities.

However, in legal and ethical pluralism, the company would be willing to accept only those issues that are not illegal in their own countries.

For example, many countries have laws that make it illegal to bribe foreign government officials, hire child workers, or partake in environmentally destructive activities.

In such cases, the company do not involve themselves in these businesses, but are willing to overlook other less important ethical issues.

Concepts from Max Weber

Max Weber (1864 – 1920), who died in the last global pandemic, is the father of modern sociology. His approaches to research and methodology were ground breaking within academia. His definitions have been exceptional, for example, the state as having a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force and defining charismatic leaders, bureaucracy, methodological individualism and controversially the Protestant Work ethic. Max Weber also had some anti-Polish views which is bizarre and potentially evil. Below are notes on his theories in relation to nationalism, war and strategic ends.

Weber’s Theory of Nationalism: power & prestige

Facts & Figures                                                                                                        

List of previous final exam questions:

How did Weber define and explain nationalism? What role did prestige and power play in his understanding of nationalism?

Why is there no sociological definition of nationalism according to Weber?

Discuss the constructed ethnicity Weber argued.

  1. To what extent, if at all, Weber developed clear concepts and theories of ethnicity, nationality, nation-state and nationalism.
  • Guenther Roth & Claus Wittich (eds), Economy and Society (2 vols., Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1978). vol.1, `Ethnic Groups’, pp.385-398
  • H.H.Gerth & C.Wright Mills (eds), From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York, 1946). `Structures of Power’, pp.159-179 (most of which is also to be found in Economy and Society, vol.2, pp.910-926).
  • Beetham, D. (1974). Max Weber and the Theory of Modern Politics. London. Chapter 5 `Nationalism and the nation-state’
  • M. Guibernau, Nationalisms: The Nation-State and Nationalism in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, 1996), chapter 1 `Nationalism in classical sociological theory’.
  • Defining, Background, Foundations
  • Of all the writing undertaken in Max Weber’s 56 years, only two significant passages use social science to address the question of nationalism. In order to ascertain why Weber never explicitly formulated a theory of nationalism, this paper will do the following.

Posthumous Works Should Be Questioned: MAJOR point about his papers on Nations and Ethnicity: We would never have known about Weber’s thoughts on ethnic groups and nations had his wife not published it posthumously by Marianne Weber in Economy & Society. It wasn’t his finest material. He says at the end of ethnic groups that there is no ideal type for ethnicity. It is fragmentary like Economy & Society in general.

Nation & Ethnic Group: Weber would never have had it published because there is no ideal type here.Weber’s ethnicity text is associated with a Gemeinshaft concept: it is a belief not a fact: it is a belief in relationships that are rationally calculated: it is pre-modern: it might not work in large scale societies. NOTE that he did study subjective texts

  • Outline the Nation and Ethnic Groups papers and argue Weber forwards an instrumentalist view of these phenomena.
  • Argue that Weber’s ultimate value is informed by the same value-laden pursuit: political power and prestige of the German nation-state.
  • Conclude that Weber never formulated a sociological explanation of nationalism for two reasons,
  • a) the concept had not fully developed as central in the modernization process during his lifetime AND
  • b) he recognized the subjectivity and amorphous tendency of this field of study.

NOTHING CAN BE ACHIEVED WITHOUT Struggle. Workaholic, Germany world position, struggle, becoming a politcian, struggle. Darwinists Realpolitk.

 (Tonnies, 1887) 2 forms of Human Association:

Gemeinschaft: community of sentiment ie. the nation. Ties on effective relationships: small-scale interactions.

Gemeinschaft (often translated as community) is an association in which individuals are oriented to the large association as much if not more than to their own self interest. Furthermore, individuals in Gemeinschaft are regulated by common mores, or beliefs about the appropriate behavior and responsibility of members of the association, to each other and to the association at large; associations marked by “unity of will” (Tönnies, 22). Tönnies saw the family as the most perfect expression of Gemeinschaft; however, he expected that Gemeinschaft could be based on shared place and shared belief as well as kinship, and he included globally dispersed religious communities as possible examples of Gemeinschaft.

Gemeinschafts are broadly characterized by a moderate division of labour, strong personal relationships, strong families, and relatively simple social institutions. In such societies there is seldom a need to enforce social control externally, due to a collective sense of loyalty individuals feel for society.Weber moralizes the Gemeinshaft: Weber we are not going to get those Gemeinshaft back with ethical.

Gesellshaft: society and rational association: ties are less effective: self-interested.

In contrast, Gesellschaft (often translated as society or civil society or ‘association’) describes associations in which, for the individual, the larger association never takes on more importance than the individual’s self interest, and lack the same level of shared mores. Gesellschaft is maintained through individuals acting in their own self-interest. A modern business is a good example of Gesellschaft, the workers, managers, and owners may have very little in terms of shared orientations or beliefs, they may not care deeply for the product they are making, but it is in all their self interest to come to work to make money, and thus the business continues.

Unlike Gemeinschaften, Gesellschaften emphasize secondary relationships rather than familial or community ties, and there is generally less individual loyalty to society. Social cohesion in Gesellschafts typically derives from a more elaborate division of labor. Such societies are considered more susceptible to class conflict as well as racial and ethnic conflicts.

Since, for Tönnies, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft are normal types, he considered them a matter of Pure Sociology, whereas in Applied Sociology, on doing empirical research, he expected to find nothing else than a mix of them. Nevertheless, following Tönnies, without normal types one might not be able to analyze this mix.

The primary direction of history from Gemeinschaft -> Gessellschaft. Weber doesn’t believe in developmental movements: he sees the calculability of relationship.

Weber is a methodological individualists: he is interested in communializing: socializing effects: we aren’t moving from Gemeinschaft to Gesellshaft but certain things are producing Gesellschaft: people might say that their family relationships have a more effective ties. A wage labourer will negotiation personal contracts: not so clear-cut.

Values Judgements Backed By Science:

As long as Weber is able to shift Polish: confronted Bauer: Weber don’t believe in objective truths: this is the best I can offer but with new evidence he will shift on Polish. Build up a scientific then use it to defend his means.

He knows that he is full of values he accepts and thinks its okay aslong as you are rational. Spent his whole career being value-laden then he says that science should strive to be objective BUT then if we do all this we should not be doing it in the lecture (Science, 1919). Science Vocation: instrinctive values and then you have choosen values. EH doesn’t like Christian pacifist but he respects them for rational. He respects induvudal sermon on the mount.

CENTRAL Question:

(Hennis, 1988) Weber’s Central Question: what is the meaningful life?

Menschentum… I think, I am not sure how to translate this maybe “the quality of being human,…” I am not sure, but this is definitely what Hennis central question is about, Weber is concerned with the human,… I think thats the answer,…  

(Hennis, 1988) Weber was passionate but we should not believe his personal letters to be cannon. Karl Marx revised, revised and then revised his ideas so we should not obsess about chicken-scratched outlines of shooting Poles or opposing Versaille.

1) Nation is valued by Weber as a life order:: what kinds of people does the social arrangement produce. SO what kind of person is the German peasant: which will lead to the Germans to go west where as the Poles will go to East Elba: Germans like freedom according to Hennis. The promise of freedom caused German migration.

2) It is a sign of life orders, how a particular life can be developed. Germany is a place, political order, high culture, within which certain personalities can be generated which have value: they make ethical choices: you have clear conceptions of your ends: this is more likely to occur in the powerful German state. It isn’t a life order, but a multi-class claim that they are the same: Junker, peasant class, Weber never bought into the ethnic commonality. Hennis: has the problem of whether Weber is a defensable thinker. Weber was brilliant but he didn’t say exactly what he should have according to Hennis.

There is a central question throughout Weber’s works. It is in the dissertation. The central questions IS ever present.

Weber’s central question: is the triumph of the souls of men? That Weber is a Hedgehog (one big moral idea) to use the Berlin and not a Fox (many small ideas).

(Hennis, 1988): (Freiberg Inaugural Lecture 1895) is wonderful: Weber is interested in what kind of human beings in the East Elbian situation this leads to nationalism. Hennis: 1st Chapter and 2nd Chapter are useful but he’s a bit too internal: not cogent as a writer.

Hennis ideas about Prestige are useful. Honour = Prestige. Weber has the three dimensions: Power, Class and Status

Status is related to status group: stand each has their peculiar sense of honor status groups about honour. The nation is about status group with prestige> He is arguing an ideal interest in maintaining your status and your honour. It is a class system. Nobleman has to justify their economic function: as soon as you start justifying……

You cannot offend my honour: you see the conception in refusal to sign the armistice: this is not something that a rational means end can be applied. The prestige concept: it becomes more intense when Weber’s Germany confront other world powers: Weber is not conscious of Austria or France. Weber saw Russia, Britain and US as the real powers.

Weber: (Freiberg Inaugural Lecture, 1895): the youthful prank of Germany. Weber uses the organic metaphor: but he projects it into the young nation: it has to force the old out ie Junkers. BUT Breuilly says Weber doesn’t care about nations, members of groups that have youth. Weber is a methodological individualism> Breuilly says that the Inaugural Address is a crude, arbitrary and Weber later says he was ashamed and could have expressed more clearly his ideas in that lecture…..(Hennis, 1988) would have agreed.

He mentions this explicitly with reference to his brief membership in the Pan-German League (1893-1899).  Because of Weber’s peculiarity in only focusing on certain aspects of what Hennis defines as “Liberalism” (belief in removal of limitations, progress with time, universality of values)  he can at best label his writings as those of a “voluntaristic Liberalism, more properly perhaps of a liberal voluntarism closely bound to freedom” (197).  Hennis’ inability to label Weber as “Liberal” in his sense of the term ultimately demonstrates Weber’s actions as coinciding with his theoretical writings.  Weber’s “Liberalism”, thus, is separate from “contemporary Liberalism” in its “passionate efforts on behalf of impartiality” (202).

I think Weber certainly was not a liberal in the sense of believing in progress. He did support free markets and strong parliaments and permissive laws.


  1. Political Power Junkers to the Bourgeoisi
  2. Agriculture East Elbia Economics
  3. Real Politik the Importance of Nation should serve the purpose of national

Pan-German League  (Mommsen, 1984) (controversial)

It would seem strange that Weber not stay longer in a bourgeois organization that placed “national values” at the core of its agenda.  According to Wolfgang Mommsen, Weber left the League because it catered too strongly to Junker interests and was not “uncompromisingly national” on the Polish question. Mommsen never explicitly defines Weber’s “nationalism,” only to remark that his “nationalist” views changed with respect to the Polish.  He holds that the “national idea” was Weber’s ultimate norm, but that his “nationalist thought transcended the epoch of his generation” in his ability to know its limits and change its emphasis (Mommsen 63-64).  Thus, he concludes, “it is unlikely that Weber would have  long remained associated with the league as it moved increasingly in the direction of…irresponsible chauvinism.  Moreover, he was never totally in agreement with the radical Polish demands of the Pan-Germans” (55).  While Weber would later come to criticise the League’s aggressive foreign policy intents during the war, to think of him as “illiberal” is exactly as Chickering describes – a “value judgement” that does not take into account different interpretations and means of achieving a particular goal. (303)

A good and informed section on the Pan-German League and Weber’s links with it.

(Radkau, 2005): what he says about the Inaugural Lecture. Weber is incoherent, worker politic is bluster: weak economic argument. (Radkau, 2005): landowners construct how economics. (Radkau, 2005) (Breuilly)

Real Politik: was a prevalent position: BUT Weber is an early nationalist of this agreessive patriotism> (Radkau, 2005): in Weber’s early life: Weber wasn’t reflecting the mood he was anticipating on shaping it. Weber wasn’t just spouting clichés. Mommsen/Radkau view on the Inaugural Lecture is superior according to Breuilly: read them.

Weber & Iron Cage: haunted by pressure of time. Workaholic: ‘time was money’

(Radkau, 2005) reveals that life is not a consistent entity: it is a confused, broken life has several phases. The better you know Weber, the more you like him. Weber’s over analysis caused him much personal illness.

(Stargardt, 1996) Weber-Tonnies 1912 Soziologentag

  • Weber defines nation as a “community of sentiment, which could find it adequate expression only in a state of its own, and which thus normally strives to create one.” Weber argues that Tonnies is a cretin/ethno-cultural nationalist boob.
  • Stargardt argues that Weber begins/“expresses the starting point for open liberal politics.”
  • Stargardt is Weberian AGAINST controversial Mommsen who has forcefully argued that Weber “was a Liberal in Imperial Germany and model of primacy of politics tilts the nation-building role of the state over towards geopolitics, at least during and before WW1 – hence Weber’s ALL or NOTHING predictions of the fate of German nation in great power conflicts. The federal state was explicitly submission to a dominant national group control: Constitutional support for Prussia hegemony.
  • Weber must have known about Bauer/Renner.
  • Renner’s personality principle: a strong state segregate cultural difference form the sphere of a national conflict to the domain of individual rights. 
  • Weber and Bauer end up supporting Statism: historical perspective the radical liberal politics of multiculturalism – has potentially illiberal social foundations.  The problem is that the state is responsible for managing cultural identities against an ethnic nationalism: but both Weber and Bauer know that the state should also be founded in social sentiment. Popular sovereignty lies at the centre of all democratic politics according to (Stargardt, 1996). Weber and Bauer’s susceptibility to the Gemeinshaft causes much ambiguity: Tonnies mourned the end of romantic medieval community.
  • Thesis: Stargardt argues that Weber and Bauer are left in a position shaped by what they thought they opposed. (Stargardt, 1996): you cannot escape the validity of Tonnies dichotomy of Gesellshaft & Gemeinschaft.
  • Weber is an instrumentalist not actually interested in multinational models for Germany itself for example. Counterfactually, what would Weber have said if he was an Austrian? I’d guess he’d be an Austro-German unificationist??? Hard to say.

Bauer & Weber both use Tonnies dichotomy ie. Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft.

  • Karl Renner/Otto Bauer + Weber (Stargardt’s argument) they concerned about opposing multicultural states. Weber has an instrumental support for Polish nation-state was to fragment Russian potential hegemony (multi-nation empire). Weber admired Renner/Bauer even if they were Austro-social-democrats, for they viewed citizenship values and norms based on belonging rather then the Tonnies ethnic approach that Weber abandoned in 1912 at the second German Sociologists Conference. Weber doesn’t like the Poles because they aren’t committed Germans.
  • WRONG ARGUMENT: the Weber is obviously an instrumentalist why would Weber support the Austro-Hungarian empire’s maintenance post-1918 (probably for the same reason that Bismarck et al did) to nullify the SLAVS, Weber consistently hated the Poles and he was willing to sacrifice the Austrians anyway because they aren’t part of his Gesellshaft, political sphere???

Poland ISSUE shift in 1919.

  • POLAND was participating in 1857, Prussia, Austria, Russia. Poland Danzig is German but part of Poland.
  • (Mommsen, 1984) reveals that Weber made a statement about Poles in Germany: that the first Pole to claim Prussia should be SHOT. BREUILLY REFERS to Weber makes a one off quip it shouldn’t be blown out of proportion in 1919: Weber had returned to 1895 (German for Germans).

CAUSE 1) his biases on the question of nationalism: His methodology does not accommodate scrutiny on the issue of the German nation. He quite consciously did not question whether the national idea could fairly be judged as the highest guiding principle of political action.(62pp) WHAT IS AT THE ROOT OF WEBER’s position on nationalism?

Weber is never ever to develop a general theory of nationalism. This is because his view of nationalism is value laden (see 2 Reasons). His highest value is to that of the German nation and its place amongst the nations of the world.

Weber Prestige & Power Arguments. Weber overvalued the principle of power and their ideal fulfilment in the concept of the nation that was characteristic of the imperial epoch – an overvaluation that was to lead to old Europe to catastrophe.

(67pp, Mommsen, 1984).

  • Objective: Germany as a global political actors; WEBER believed that POWER was the highest goal and CULTURE was secondary.
  • Weber sought to impose his general will on others, in defiance of other nations.
    • Weber disliked small nations: GERMANY had to be a “voice about the future of the world.”

Germany has to carry on the war in order to win recognition as great power in the idle of Europe. Protect our honour for its descendents shake off the chains of political serfdom and vassalage.

HOW can Weber be scientific if nationalism is not placed under the same scrutiny as bureaucratization, political leadership?

Essentialist and instrumentalist perspectives on culture and nationhood; political arguments in favour and against; is there, or can there be, a European culture?

Conception of Cultural Bonds

a) Essentialist approach: nationalists believe in the innate value or goodness of a language and therefore requires cultural protection against others. Has instrumental purposes consequently….Herder

b) Instrumentalist/Functionalist approach: nationalists believe in the utility of a belief for political ends. The instrumentalist conception of cultural bonds is more detached, objective and built upon internal and external identity-markers.

The essentialist versus instrumentalist conceptions of culture cannot be ignored with regard to a European cosmopolitan culture. The essentialist approach would argue for the innate goodness of particular culture and therefore requires cultural protection against others. This is the irrational, emotionality of culture. If a culture can be viewed simply as having a value all its own then Fichte’s Prussia address in 1806 Addresses to the German Nation is sound.[1] Essentialists have the tendency to delimit cultural value within the frame of nation state, although Fichte was writing during an unstable time in German history, he embodies ethnic nationalism at its most repugnant, hierarchical and illiberal according to Abizadeh.

  • It is later echoed by Max Weber, a fellow German nationalist a century later.[2] The Weberian ideal type of the nation “means, above all, that one may exact from certain groups of men a specific sentiment of solidarity in the face of other groups.”[3] This is why Max Weber viciously attacked Naumann’s Mitteleuropa arguing in a letter that “‘Mittleeuropa’ means that we shall have to pay for every stupidity with our blood…committed [to] the thick-headed policies of the Magyars and the Vienna court…Can we bind this all together so that each part has the feeling: I can live with these stupidities, since the other one is here suffering with me?”[4] While Weber is a product of an era of realist Darwinian thinking, cultural essentialism is still remarkably agile despite the lessons of the 20th century.

Herder (1860s) was mobilizing in the 19th century. He emphasizes the linguistic reality and the normative worth of community (German poetry, romanticism, the need to preserve their existence).

Is the nation something that exists at a single point or is it something that passes through time? Or is it that individuals believe the nation exists?

The question is where is the value of the community? Is it good to preserve the Italian language? Is this a normative question? Is it itself a value or is it just a useful tool in achieving other goals?


At the same time cultures are constantly evolving so a European culture may be something possible in the long-term, but even then it might not be desirable.

The instrumentalist conception of cultural bonds is more detached, objective and built upon internal and external identity-markers. Without going into detail, the dichotomy between the essentialist and instrumentalist approaches is really only useful in pointing out that; essentialists often have the ulterior motive of self-preservation and maintaining – in the Weber/Fitche example – prestige: their essentialist objectives have instrumentalist consequences.

Freiburg Inaugural Address (1895)

Weber’s “early nationalism” from his Freiburg Inaugural Lecture: “we economic nationalists measure the classes who lead the nation with or aspire to do so with the one political criterion we regard as sovereign.  What concerns us is their political maturity…their grasp of the nation’s enduring economic and political power interests…” (Lassman and Speirs 20).  The focus on economic nationalism, to Norkus, has been overlooked by other writers such as David Beetham and Kari Palonen, specifically the view of a great nation possessing “prestige” by using its relative economic strength to control world markets (Norkus, 2004 401).

(Norkus, 2004)

In his later critiques of Pan-German nationalism, “the ‘economic’ idea was replaced with a more subjectivist idea of the broadest status group struggling for a higher place in the regional or world estate order of nations.  In this struggle, economic and military power is not the only efficient ammunition” (408).  Norkus places Weber’s political-economic “nationalism”  in the modernist camp of Anderson, Gellner, and Hobsbawm, but has difficulty labelling his political-sociological “nationalism”


Freiburg Inaugural Address (1895) as VALUE-LADEN? Breuilly says that Weber set out to discuss about national interests and yes it was political. But it was set out to parameters he sets out in the opening: “an Inaugural Address is an opportunity to set a personal stand-point.” He was arguing for the improvement of the economy: it was his means rather than his ends> he uses the national economy to critique the Poles in Germany. Except for the hilarious the Bourgeois isn’t strong enough.  Working class aren’t worthy.Economic proposals for East Elbia are impractical. (ivory tower)

Economics: science is international but the goals are nation. The moment you use scientific evidence it will be nationalist because that is your value. International economics but rational ends. (page15: but as soon as it is value)

1919 Intellectual or Incoherent Shift: the creation of the Kingdom of Poland: East Elbian lands. Weber believes East Elbia is German. Social scientists are speaking out against. He is stepping back to 1895 inaugural address. (Crucial)

(Freiburg Inaugural Address 1895): Polish state? Did he want a Polish state? It wasn’t an issue: Germany is the key issue: Ethnic composition of East Elbia. His view changes during the war: Weber does not care about Poland until it has utility for his ultimate end. When German owns the Polish national-lands: With Russia out of the war: Germany should create a Polish state that is close to us.

BUT in 1905 Dragmonov: Poles in Russia. This changes that the Russians are struggling with Poles too. So Weber makes a fundamental intellectual shift, they offer a new framework for cultural autonomy.

(Radkau, 2005): explain Weber on his personal experiences. War triggers the debate for him.

  • Nationalism, Ethnicity: DEFINING & MEANING
  • To what extent, if at all, Weber developed clear concepts and theories of ethnicity, nationality, nation-state and nationalism.

[“Nation”] seems to refer…to a specific kind of pathos which is linked to the idea of a powerful political community of people who share a common language, or religion, or common customs, or political memories…it is proper to expect from certain groups a specific sentiment of solidarity in the face of other groups.  Thus, the concept belongs in the sphere of values.  Yet, there is no agreement on how these groups should be delimited or about what concerted action should result from such solidarity” (Roth and Wittich, 398, 922) 

(Guibernau, 1996)

Chapter 1 Nationalism in Classical Social Theory:

Heinrich Von Treitschke (the demagogue). Influential to both Durkheim & Weber.

The State:

1) The people legally united as an independent power. The state is a) engaged in supreme moralizing and humanizing agency b) there is no authority above the sate.

2) The state exerts its power through war. Treitschke denies the state as the only entity capable of maintaining a monopoly of violence….State must have territory.

War is the defining grandeur of perpetual conflict of nations and it simply foolish to desire the suppression of their rivalry. ONLY under war do people become heroic nationalists.

The interests of the community are above the individual: he is Machiavellian in his approach to policy aims as designed to protect the nation first and fore most. The idea of state as supreme entity guided ‘not by emotion but by calculating, clear experience of the world. The state protects and embraces the life of the people, regulating it externally in all directions.

On German Unification:

Three possible Germanies: Prussia is the hegemony always.

  1. Confederation of German states
  2. US federal model three branches of government.
  3. Unitary German state.

On Nationalism. Patriotism is the conscious cooperating with the body-politic, of being rooted in ancestral achievements and of tormenting them to descendants.

Appeal to history. Consciousness of cooperation: handed down from generation to generation.

Two Powerful Forces:

  1. The tendency of every state to amalgamate its population, in speech and manners, into one single unity.
  2. Impulse of every vigorous nationalist to construct a state of its own.

Nationalism should be real or imagined blood-relationship. All real poetry came out of great nationalism. The largest state is the most powerful state. Large state is necessarily nobler and culturally superior to smaller ones. Larger states can impose themselves as superior states and promote their culture and art for granted. Smaller states may usurp larger ones.

The idea of a world state is odious; the ideal of one state containing all mankind is no ideal at all… the whole content of civilisation cannot be realised in a single state. Every nation over estimates itself and more importantly that ‘without this feeling of itself, the nation would also lack the consciousness of being a community. 

Will only powerful nations be able to assert themselves in the future?

Max Weber

The state as ‘a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.’ State has the right to use violence. Politics is striving to share and distribute power either among states or among groups within a state. Clearly influence by Treitschke’s violence Die Politik.

The distinction between nation and state + theory of values to nations of culture as a basis for the difference arising between nations.

Ethnic troup corresponds, to one of the most vexing since emotionally charge concepts; the nation as soon as we attempt a sociological definition: He argues “We shall call ethnic groups those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customer or bother or because of memories of colonization and migration.

Ethnicity shit here

The NATION > PRESTIGE: the cultivation of the nation is the cultivation of superiority. The culture values of the group set off as a nation. The propagation of national ideas just as those who wield power in the polity provokes the idea of the state.

Solidarity in the face of other groups, For Weber, national solidarity among people speaking the same language may be just as easily rejected as accepted, Instead he suggest that solidarity may be linked to memories of a common political destiny. The nation as community of sentiment which would adequately manifest itself in a state of its own. Therefore nationality is not sociological distinct concept for Weber: it ought to be defined not from the standpoint of common qualities that establish the nationality community, by solely form the goal of an independent state: The correct relationship between state and nation, in which the latter identified by language and culture is of greatest importance for the state’s power status.

The nation is not identical with the people of the state the membership or a given polity. Numerous polities comprise groups among whom the independent of their nation is emphatically asserted in the face of other groups, or on the other hand, the comprise parts of the group whose members decide this group to be on homogenous nation.

The nation can exist outside of the state. That the nation and state do not have to fit perfectly. The more power is emphasized, the close appear to be the link between nation and state. Weber relates the significance of power within politics: the nation to the ideal of power in the Freiburg Address (1895) there is the idea of cultural nation. Mommsen stress that Weber had moved far forms the idea of the purely cultural nation. He was only able to accept the national idea in associating with a governmental system that pursues power politics on a grand scale.

The power structure allows for Switzerland to remain neutral. No great power wants to upset the others by making claim to Switzerland. 

 Weber sees the nation as part of the struggle: the eternal struggle for survival. The struggle for self-determination has favoured modern Western capitalism. THE STRUGGLE is a Nietzsche-ian idea that (Henniss, 1988) builds on.  

The Unification of Germany 1871 influences Weber’s thought. The preservation of nationality as the highest principles. Weber did not formulate a theory of nationalism but adopted a ‘nationalist’ attitude through his life. The Elbia Case Study: Junker patriarchal system is being transformed and labourers allowing the latter a relative degree of independence and security were collapsing everywhere.

Slav race either possesses as a gift from nature or has acquired through breeding in the course of its history is what has helped them to expand in this zone. (37pp). Weber shared the nationalism enthusiasm in the goal of preserving a German nation. Making the German Reich a great power amount he European would power as the only justifiable objective of the war.

Weber’s national feeling was aroused by the Allies’ peace conditions. When he opened his lectures in Munich, he spoke with passionate national urgency: ‘we can only have … ac hoc goal: to turn this peace treaty into a scrap of paper. The nation and its power in the world remained the ultimate political value for him.

(Beetham, 1974)

Nation is subjective phenomenon: “a nation exists where people believe themselves to be one, or to put it in less circular manner, where people have a sense of belonging to a community which demands or finds its expression in an autonomous state” (122pp, Beetham) Weber is interested in nations that attempt to take power.

Nation is rooted in objective factors:

  1. common race b) language c) religion d) customs.

Communit of language (Sprachgemeinschfat) “which he regards as the most common objective basis, was not a universal feature: Swtizerland, Canada.

“Nor did the existence of such objective factors on their own make a nation.”


3 Different Elements of the Nation:

1) Objective common factor between people, which distinguishes them from others

2) where this common factor is regarded as a source of value and thus produces a feeling of solidarity against outsiders

3) this solidarity finds expression in autonomous political institutions, co-extensive with the community or at least generated the demand for these.

  • Racial assumptions about the difference between Germans and Polish in his Freiburg Address regarding physical and psychical racial difference.
  • “With racial theories,’ he said at a meeting of the German Sociological Association held to discuss the subject, ‘it is possible to prove or refute whatever you like.’
  • Language is the most common factor: belief in the exclusiveness of their language community seizes the masses as well, and national conflicts become necessarily sharper, bound up as they are with the ideal and economic interests of mass communication in the individual languages” (123, Beetham).
  • “the democratisation of literary culture, language played an increasingly important part in national sentiment, possession of a common language was not itself everywhere paramount.” (124, Beetham).
  • Irish versus English = Religion.
  • French Canadian, Swiss and Germans in Alsace = common customs, social structure, shared values, ways of thinking.
  • “The French Canadians’ loyalty towards economic and social structures and customs of the United States, in the face of which their own individuality was guaranteed by the Canadian state.” (124, Beetham).
  • Kultur difficult to define: value attitude towards the world. “The sense of Kultur that we are concerned with here is a narrower one: it indicated those particular values which distinguish a group or society from others – which constituted its individuality, Weber does not confine the term ‘Kultur’ narrowly to artistic or literary values: it embraces values of whatever kind –manners, character, patterns of thought (Geist)
  • Beetham believe sthat the concept of Kultur provides the bridge between Weber’s empirical and normative conception of the nation.
  • Empirical = Kultur embraced both the objective difference of language and custom
  • Subjective appreciation of their distinctiveness, that constituted the essence of a nation, and against which ‘reasons of state’ were often powerless.
  • Value concept = Kultur is most obvious in that it embodied a conception of minimal literacy or artistic standards, in relation to which certain groups or people could be judged as uncultured. “the self-conscious development of group distinctiveness and individuality that was equally a criterion of ‘Kultur’ was also a value for Weber: it indeed it can be regarde as an extension of his central commitment to individualism at the personal level, sicne it was based upon the same belief that distinctiveness was more valuable than uniformity, and that “capiticy to articulate distinctive values was among the highest human achievements.
  • “It was as a vehicle for, and embodiment of, Kultur in this sense that the nation had supreme value for Weber.” (127, Beetham).

NATION = Kultur, STATE = Power: “The nation was concerned with the realm of ‘Kultur’; the state was the realm of power.  Weber’s conception of the nation state was that though nation and state belonged to fundamentally different caterogires, they were also reciprocal.” (128, Beetham).

If you reject power then you cannot be a nation. Nationality requires political association, requires political power

Max Weber: The Nation

The Nation is power prestige – historical attainment of power-positions.

  1. Power prestige: All groups who hold the power to steer common conduct within a polity will most strongly instill themselves with this ideal fervor of power prestige. Material and direct imperialist interests
  2. This power prestige is intellectually created with specific partners of a specific culture diffused among the members of the polity. The nation is that certain groups of men act in solidarity against the other groups. “Thus the concept belongs in the sphere of values” (22pp, Hutchinson Oxford Reader Nationalism)

Nation is not identitcal with the people of a state. There is a difference between nation and state. Numerous polities comprise groups among whom the independence of their ‘nation’ is emphatically asserted in the face of other groups OR they comprise parts of a group whose members declare this group to be one homogenous ‘nation’.

A nation is not identitcal with a community speaking the same langage: that this by no menas laway suffices is idnividaul by the Serbs and Croats, North Americans, Irish and Englihs.

(Guibernau, 1996)

Ethnicity (1912)

  • Subjectively perception of race and similarities. Ethnic membership does not constitute a group; it only facilitates group formation of any kind, particularly in the political sphere. It is the political community that artificially organized: this inspires the belief in common ethnicity.
  • State creates a presumed identity.
  • The ethnicity tends to persist even after the disintegration of the political community, unless drastic difference in the custom, physical type, or above all, language exists among its members.
  • A political community can engender sentiments of likeness which will persist after its demise and will have an ethnic connotation; but such an effect, Weber argues, is most directly created by the language group which is the bearer of a specific ‘cultural possession of the masses.
  • Weber looks at ethnic groups not nationalism. Nationality does not require a common ethnicity: in fact a share language is pre-eminently considered the normal basis of nationality. (33pp).
  • The significance of language is necessarily increasing along with democratization of state, society, and culture. Masses participation into a culture.

Ethnic Groups (Whimster, 2003, 2003; Beetham, 1974)

  • Weber’s approach in Ethnic Groups is worthy of analysis because it is more vigorous than the Nation piece and there are parallels with his social constructivist interpretation of the nation.
  • Weber argues in Ethnic Groups that ethnicity may appear to be a preexisting natural phenomenon but is created by a political association. It becomes the conspicuous differences that divide groups into political loyal segments for Weber.[5]
  • He reverses the intuitive causal relationship that would suggest ethnicity engenders political association. For Weber, “artificial distinctions, politically imposed, lead to the myth of a common ethnic descent”[6], therefore, for example, the Twelve Tribes of Israel were politically imposed.
  • Ethnicity as a social construct would have been difficult to grasp in the early 20th century when social Darwinist arguments were being advanced. His instrumentalist view in ethnicity’s construction is shaped by this idea of power and consequently prestige as operative forces in Weber’s thinking.

One needs to distinguish what Weber argues ethnicity IS (a belief in common descent) and WHY it exists, where he argues that (probably) it is a product of political domination. However, that may lay well in the past and not play a central role later; which means that those later ethnic beliefs cannot be explained in terms of political instrumentalism. (Primordialism -> Modernists) The question then arises, what sustains such beliefs once the political cause is removed? Clearly such beliefs do enable forms of cooperation which are of mutual benefit and that may be the reason they continue to operate.

  • The nation and ethnicity are viewed through an instrumentalist lens(wrong): they are spaces for the struggle for political domination. There is no moral, racial, ethnic or national reality outside of the state’s power.[7]
  • PREOCCUPATION with DIGGESTIBLE CONCEPTS: Despite being a social scientist, Weber was also a value laden individual.[8] I think Weber’s comment on this sentence would be that social scientists who considered themselves not to be “value-laden” would be deluding themselves.
  • That is why Weber’s cursory analysis of these two concepts suggests not only an instrumentalist approach but also Weber’s intellectual interests. The reason that Weber largely ignores these two concepts is due to their subjective nature and thus he takes them for granted.
  • NOTE that it is impressive for Weber’s time to believe Ethnicity as constructed.
  • For Weber, the concept of Gesellschaft or political association can be grasped through his rational-legal logic but the Gemeinschaft or nation does not have an “empirical quality common to those who count as members of the nation.”[9]
  • The nation and ethnicity are not generalizable concepts: why study something amorphous? As abstract, “ambiguous” concepts, it would lack scientific rigor to address the national and ethnic ‘feelings’ seriously.
  • More importantly, we must presume that these ideas were a given and for Weber not an area of interest worthy of publishable in-depth scientific analysis.[10]

Breuilly doesn’t agree with above statements. Also, Weber spent a good deal of time studying  “subjective” beliefs, above all world religions, which then became vital components of broader social relationships and actions. My guess is that his interests in how modernity came about, that is large-scale political and other relationships, found more could be explained in terms of world religions or the formation of extensive economic markets or large, bureaucratic-military states, than in terms of ethnicity.

  • Weber wrote about what interested him – for example – the Protestant work-ethic. This may explain his view of that the nation and ethnic groups were secondary to his preoccupation with state power.
  • In addition to the value laden individual argument; there may be more than just a power and prestige aspect to Weber’s instrumental approach to nationalism. Weber was a product of his time, thus his idea of Nations and Ethnicity engenders a top down approach antagonistic to mass movements.[11] Since both the nation and ethnicity are conceptualized by Weber as imposed or constructed, this value judgment fits cleanly into Weber’s bourgeois perspective.
  • According to Beetham, Weber is a bourgeois nationalist who was “not only [bound by] the concept of the Kulturnation, but also the idolatry with which the bourgeoisie pursued the national culture as the final value.”[12] Nationalism suppresses the proletariat and thus has a practical political value for bourgeois Germany.

Weber believed that there would always be lower class groups; that only elites can actually run states; and that under modern conditions in Germany, these elites should primarily be drawn from the educated middle classes. However, he also thought that the labour movement would fare better in such a state than one dominated either by pre-industrial elites or the demagogic intellectuals who came to the fore in socialist parties. What is more, in such a society there would always be opportunities for able people of working class origin to rise up the social scale.

  • For Weber, “the nation is anchored in the superiority, or at least the irreplacability, of the culture values that are to be preserved and developed only through the cultivation of the peculiarity of the group.”[13] Thus, the nation is designed to protect culture and ethnicity against erosion from forces such as socialism.
  • The Ultimate End

RATIONALE OF NATIONALISM: What is curious, then, is that although Weber was a realist, pessimist and a genius, he was also a German nationalist. Distinct from the value laden social scientist, the personal and political Weber was committed to German nationalism of the post-1871 German unification era.

BREUILLY: A very interesting essay which tackles some difficult questions. I think I am persuaded by your points on the two fragments on nation and ethnic groups, on Weber’s elite and power perspective, and on the separation of his nationalism from any rational social science work.

I do think there are problems however in your points about his instrumentalism and the irrationalism of his nationalism. A), Weber insisted that ultimate values are non-rational. Valuing wealth or eternal salvation or power or beauty above other things are choices. One can be clear rather than vague, committed rather than indifferent, and consistent and rational in pursuit of such values (and for Weber clarity, commitment and consistency seem to have values in their own right) but it is no more or less rational to be a nationalist than a socialist or a Christian. I think Weber would ask you in turn: what ultimate values could I commit to which would be any more rational than those of German nationalism? And can one live a meaningful life without making some such commitment?

  • If there was a fragmented German nation for the first seven years of Weber’s life, one would scarcely know it in his writings. Following a rational-legal perspective, as long as the means are rational, Weber’s artificial German nationalism can and was vigorously defended given changing conditions.
  • It was defined through three episodes; first, the discrimination against Polish immigration in East Elbia, second, German nationalism during the Great War and finally, his reaction against the Treat of Versailles. Continuous through his political writings, nationalism for Germany and against other nation-states is only addressed for instrumental reasons of political power and prestige based on rationally deduced pragmatic arguments. For example, self-determination for the Polish nation  Well – the formation of a semi-autonomous Polish state for that part of Poland which Russia had ruled and which Germany had occupied during the war. during the Great War is instrumental in subverting Russian dominance in the East. Weber is merely obsessed with German political power in relation to the question of nationalism, thus he produces only two social science papers on the subject.

(Whimster, 2003, 2003)

WEBER Power & Prestige

A) “Now, in contrast, we have to say that the state is that human community which within a defined territory successfully claims for itself the monopoly of legitimate physical force.” (131pp, Whimster, 2003)

B) Weber divides that nation from the state.

“Numerous polities comprise groups who emphatically assert the independence of their nation in the face of other groups; or they comprise merely parts of a group who members declare themselves to be one homgenous nation (Austria for example.

C) Nations can have common political destinies: Alsatians “with the French since the Revolutioanry War which represents their common heroic age, just as among the Baltic Barons with the Russian whose political destiny they helped to steer.” (147pp, Whimster, 2003).


QUESTION OF LOYALTIES. German Americans would unconditionally defend America.


“It is a well-known fact that within the same nation the intensity of solidarity felt toward the outside is changeable and varies greatly in strength. On the whole, this sentiment has gorwn even where internal conflicts of interest have not diminished. Only sixty years ago the Kreuzzeitung still appealed for the intervention of the emperor of Russia in internal German affairs; today, in spite of increased class antagonism, this would be difficult to imagine” (149pp, Whimster, 2003).


A sociological typology would have to analyse all the individualkinds of sentiments of group membership and solidarity in their genetic conditions and in their consequences for the social action of the participants. This cannot be attempted here. (149pp, Whimster, 2003).                        

E) Peculiarity of the group: INSTITUTION OF CULTURAL PROTECTION as means to power.

“Another element of the early idea was the notion that this mission was facilitated solely through the very cultivation of the peculiarity f the group set off as a nation. Therewith, in so far as its self-justifcation is sought in the value of its content, this mission can consistely be thought of only as a specific ‘culture’ mission. The significance of the ‘nation’ is usually anchored in the superiority m or at least the irreplacibility, of the culture values that are to be preserved and developed onoly through the cultivation of the peculiarity of the group.”(149pp, Whimster, 2003)

Therefore: Weber is making an intellectual account of how to deal with the Polish Question. The polish in question may be changing: Weber condemns the East Elbian poles in 1896 while he is willing to accommodate the Poles in the 1910s. On his death bed, he is says he hates Poles again.

  1. Polish are a problem
  2. Policy prescriptions are rationally deduced.
  3. There are a series of possible policy ends.
  4. You can defend rationally any policy end if it is rationally deduced.
  5. (Weber, 1886: Friedburg Inaugural Lecture) Polish Question-> border restriction NOT possible. Agrarian communal policy for German re-settlement doesn’t WORK. His ultimate value is still for the preservation of the German nation. It doesn’t have to be rational. But the means do have to be rational: in this case they clearly are rational given available information.
  6. He isn’t a pragmatic politician. He didn’t compromise on the core theory of his own nationalism. But he does draw different conclusions on the validity of other nationalities in order to protect his own. He is never able to draw a general theory of nationalism because he is a German and can only truly understand the German case.
  7. Germany is better than all other nations: because Weber is German and his values are a product of who he is. 
  8. There must be a rational intellectual grounding to any pragmatic decision. Need to define our terms: pragmatic.
  9. Pragmatic: denial of the value/fact distinction. 


Weber’s Values: doesn’t matter what the ends are: good scientific knowledge will allow objective science. If people can rationally understand, then it will be objective reasoning: until someone finds something more rational

The Protestant Work Ethic and Capitalism

  1. Protestant Work Ethic (an Ideal Type: it is exaggerated because not all Protestants has a good work ethic). This ideal type is use to study a subjective value of the people being studied. Their values in a world of infinite chaos -> these people are trying to clutch their meaning on their world. Sociology is agent focused or value focused.
  2. Significance is imposed on the world. People place significant on the world. Capitalism + Protestants makes an undersand . You can’t understa one ideal type: capitalism is something that exists, you have an ideal type of capitalism

Of all things Weber could have studied: why did he study the Protestant Work Ethic? Because it was Weber’s question: “how did a specific form of rationalism emerge in the Western World?”. His values=ends lead to that study.


Ultimate values cannot be rationally defended: “here I stand I can do no other” : Berlin: we can choose our positions in a pluralistic world or they choose us, their way we are value-laden as humans always are.

If you weren’t born a German would have still be a German nationalist? Weber would say that is absurdity.

Weber is haunted by instrumental rationality because people don’t have a value in such a system. Weber believes that most people don’t have values anyway.

Weber is relentlessly self-critical: constantly testing his values.

Weber’s conscious commitment to subscribing to his ultimate value: German nationalism.

‘Objectivity’ (1904)

  • For Weber there is NO final court of Objectivity (Whimster, 2003, pg 308)
  • There is absolutely no ‘objective’ scientific analysis of cultural life” pg 374
  • The best that can be done is a construction of reality according to cultural interest.  Science arose practically and can offer knowledge of the Significance of a decision.
  • The role of social science then is to distinguish between perception and judgement.
  • The prime work of our journal… [is] the scientific investigation of the general cultural significance of the socio-economic structure of human communal life and its historical forms of organisation” (pg 370)

Ideal Types    

  • There is a gulf between abstract/ theoretical and empirical historical research for Weber, however, given this intractability thinks that can be done is to construe reality according to our cultural ideals.  Outlines ‘ideal types’ as a means (pg 389) successfully “develop knowledge of concrete cultural phenomena and their context, their causal determination and their significance” (pg 389). Whether ideal types are purely thought experiment or conceptual construction cannot be determined.
    • They are Utopian, and ‘nominal’ but help to determine judgement, perhaps a ‘guide’ to determine the best route to an END (this makes it Normative in some sense)
  • The ‘objectivity’ of social scientific knowledge depends rather on the fact that the empirically given is always related to those evaluative ideas which alone give it cognitive value, and the significance of the empirically given is in turn derived from these evaluative ideas” (Pg 403)
  • The proposition that the knowledge of the cultural significance if concrete historical relationships is exclusively and alone the final end, along with the means, the work of conceptual formation and criticism seeks to serve” pg 403

SCIENCE ENHANCES VALUES: Science can contribute…methods of thinking, the tools and training for thought…to gain clarity in the making of one’s value judgements by thinking of them rationally. (Gerth and Mills 143, 151)

(Brubaker, 1984) Limits of Rationality.

Weber makes 2 distinctions:

1) formal instrumental rationality,

2) substantive end rationality (you are conscious of rationality).

Subjective rationality applies to formal and rational

Objective rationality is not

If there a numberous ends then not all of which not all must be rational

Ringer’s text is about the methodology. Its about his theories of rationality.

We have 4 kinds of action: traditional, affectual, instrumental, substantive

Traditional: we’ve always been doing this.

Affectual: we are driven by our emotions.

Instrumental: it has a utility not necessarily a value

Substantive: we want to help people taking into account people into rationality.

On the first, Weber certainly thought that many relationships and social interactions were non-instrumental. His very division of forms of action into the emotional, the traditional, the rational-instrumental and the rational-substantive indicates this. Ethnicity may  have endured simply through tradition and emotion (and nowadays, some would argue, endures because it enables valuable forms of cooperation).

Policy is about likely causal connections in the future. There can be no objecrtive reality.

Weber is Kantian in that “there is chaos but we bring categories” BUT Kant believe in autonomy & substantive rationality while Weber believes in ends that are incompatible.

Weber -> tracing out causal analysis -> Lawyers argue that there was a drunk driver causing an accident: there are many possible variables but the drunk driver is the cause: in the same what that Protestantism causes capitalism.

Policy is presidential predictions about the future:

Based on how things happened in the past -> we can be prudential.

(Brubaker, 1984) “Moral Vision of Weber” says there are two concepts of Weber -> live rationally as possible BUT weber says that reason cannot help all that much -> it is very useless and traditional and affectual forms of action shape our lives.

Brubaker says that Weber is an existentialist.

Ultimate value for Weber is the German nation’s interests.

That value is rational according to Breuilly, but the means to that value/end are rational.


  • Weber never chose his ultimate value of German nationalism but there was no alternative choice to be made about it, given Weber’s identity and what German nationalism required.
  • Weber’s short piece called (Between Two Laws, 1916) highlights this deterministic argument. Weber says one must choose between the Swiss et al – those nations that saintly turn the other cheek[14] – and the German nation that embraces world political power.  The choice is a false one, however, since Germany has a distinct role in world political history: namely to struggle against “Anglo-Saxon conventions” and “Russian bureaucracy.”[15]
  • Prestige and power are necessities.
  • Germany would be meaningless without them, thus violent unification would be purposeless if the German nation had failed in the Great War.
  • In this sense, Weber is another of many German scholars and general(?) civilians swept up in prestige for an artificial creation whose value is measured in chauvinistic strength and militaristic grandeur.
  • This proved to be an unfortunate cocktail for nation-state destruction unique to the German case.

FORMS OF ACTION:  His very division of forms of action into the emotional, the traditional, the rational-instrumental and the rational-substantive indicates this.

  • Conclusions:

CONCLUSION: Is Weber a Fox or a Hedgehog (Berlin, 1969) Ontology of Weber.

Berlin expands upon this idea to divide writers and thinkers into two categories: hedgehogs, who view the world through the lens of a single defining idea (examples given include Plato, Lucretius, Dante, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Ibsen, and Proust) and foxes who draw on a wide variety of experiences and for whom the world cannot be boiled down to a single idea (examples given include Herodotus, Aristotle, Erasmus, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Molière, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzac, Joyce, Anderson).

Turning to Tolstoy, Berlin contends that at first glance, Tolstoy escapes definition into one of these two groups. He postulates, rather, that while Tolstoy’s talents are those of a fox, his beliefs are that one ought to be a hedgehog, and thus Tolstoy’s own voluminous assessments of his own work are misleading. Berlin goes on to use this idea of Tolstoy as a basis for an analysis of the theory of history that Tolstoy presents in his novel War and Peace.

  • Hedgehog: universalist one moral value system: universalism of modernity: Brubaker connection about Young versus Old Weber: he is not willing to compromise from his ultimate value; ie. Versaille incoherence
  • Berlin: universalism is impossible. Hedgehogs are wrong. Berlin states that  his version of pluralism leaves no alternative but to say that ‘men choose between ultimate values BUT they choose them, because their life and thought are determined by fundamental moral categories and concepts that are, at any rate over large stretches of time and space, a part of being and thought and sense of their own identity; part of what makes them HUMAN – (Berlin, 1969)
  • (Berlin, 1969): How do we choose between possibilities?
  • Considering ultimate values, those values which are regarded as ends in themselves and not as means to other ends, we can do nothing other than commit ourselves. (HERE I stand I can do no other) The problem here is that the choise itself resists, according to this way of posing the question, any kind of rational construction. If this is so, then it is difficult so see how Berlin is distinguished from, Max Weber versus Carl Schmitt, who have stressed the reality of decision in the context of an unavoidable pluralism of values but derive very different political conclusions.
  • Fox: believes in many small fragmented things: value pluralism: you support this view having read the posthumously published Economy and Society was something he condoned. (Radkau, 2005; Mommson, 1984) fragmented life. Geertz is a methodological individualist looking at various cases.
  • Thesis of Conclusion: Weber could never be a successful politicians because he was too much of a Hedgehog. There are trade offs and sacrifices between competing values that Weber was not able to make.

(Guibernau, 1996) Conclusion

Weber has a nationalist view despite not have a theory of nationalism.

Weber regarded German unification as a point of departure for a policy of “German world power” The POINT OF CREATING a world policy and stressed that this policy should not be reduce to pure economic principles. Weber linked his nationalism to the power and prestige of Germany. “To recognize and encourage nationalism in other countries would have been against his main interest, that of German primacy.

PROBLEM WITH THE above academics:

  1. They do not provide a dimension of nationalism as a provider of identity for individuals who live and work in modern societies;
  2. They do not develop a clear cut distinction between nationalism and the nation-state;
  3. They offer no theory of how nationalism can transform itself into a social movement general political autonomy; the ability to homogenise individuals living in a concrete territory; notion related to political concept of citizenship and of citizenship rights; duties and Janus-faced character.
  • Need to make the distinction between nationalism and the nation state.
  • There is a need for a common homeland.
  • Analyse how a sentiment of attachment to a homeland and a common culture cab be transformed into the political demand for the creation of a state.
  • Nationalist capability to bring together people from different social leves and cultural backgrounds; in so doing nationalism show that, however frequently nationalist feeling have been fosterest and invoke ideologically by dominant elites, is not merely an invention of the ruling classes to maintain the unconditional loyalty of the masses, making them believe that what they allegedly have in common is much more important than what in fact separate them. “I do not think that million of people around the world are so naïve: nationalist feelings are not just force-fed to an unwilling indifferent population.
  • Nationalism is a phenomenon which came into being in Europe around the 18th century.

Need to aim for impartiality on the question of nationalism as a fascist or a normative good.

  • Of all the writing undertaken in Max Weber’s 56 years, only two significant passages use social science to address the question of nationalism. In order to ascertain why Weber never explicitly formulated a theory of nationalism, this paper will do the following.
  • First, it will outline the Nation and Ethnic Groups papers and argue Weber forwards an instrumentalist view of these phenomena.
  • Second, the paper will argue that Weber’s ultimate value is informed by the same subjective pursuit: political power and prestige.
  • Finally, it will conclude that Weber never formulated a sociological explanation of nationalism for two reasons, a) the concept had not fully developed as central in the modernisation process during his lifetime and b) he recognized the subjectivity and amorphous tendency of this field of study.

2 Reasons why Weber never formulates a theory of nationalism:

A) Nationalism Studies was AFTER his LIFE HISTORY: the concept had not fully developed as central in the modernisation process during his lifetime. It is anachronistic to have expected Weber to provide a theory of nationalism because the concept had not been recognizable until during World War Two. According to Guibernau, there is no systematic treatment of nationalism in classical social theory because “nationalism was not seen as phenomenon that could be connected to the rise of modern nation states, or as a feature linked to the expansion of industrialism.”[16] Nationalism did not have the salience as a scientific area, but was merely a political issue that Weber was passionate about. Nationalism is in background of his academic work but is the forefront of his political writing.

B) Amorphous Study Area: The second plausible explanation for stopping short of a typology of nationalism stems from his implicit recognition of the subjective and amorphous nature of this area of study. Near the end of his paper Ethnic Groups, Weber states that to understand ethnicity “[we] would have to analyze all the individual kinds of sentiments of group membership and solidarity in their genetic conditions and in their consequences for the social action of the participants. This cannot be attempted here.”[17] Cultural interpretive forms of analysis would be required. Herein Weber recognized that nationalism is a particularistic field, that the explanatory theory could be not be created without hyper-extensive research of all cases which is nearly impossible. Therefore, as John Breuilly states, “I do not think it is possible to have a satisfactory theory or even approach towards nationalism as a whole.”[18] The lack of a theory of nationalism from Weber is fortunate as nationalism studies have failed to consolidate into a cohesive core explanatory theory anyway.


  • Weber has many advocates in a wide range of fields making him one of the greatest social theorists in Western academia. It is for this reason that a historical assessment of Weber and nationalism has occurred.
  • Specifically for nationalism studies, Weber was the precursor to the ‘subjectivist’ school of nationalism.[19] Weber was in no way interested in ethno-symbolism, primordialism, standing along side the modernist approach to nationalism.
  • Weber’s academic descendents include in particular Gellner & Breuilly for certain; as evidenced by the social constructivist anthropological approach.
  • His methodology of analyzing power is still widely referred but he has also proven that even a genius scholar is susceptible to intellectual indulgences: OR core values. The fact that his historically repugnant nationalism did not tarnish him much is indicative of his overbearing significance and his prestige as an individual, the same prestige he desired for Germany.

[1] Abizadeh, A (2005). “Was Fichte an Ethnic Nationalist? On Cultural Nationalism and Its Double”. History of political thought (0143-781X), 26 (2), p. 334.

[2] Weber, Friedburg Inaugural Lecture 1889.

[3] H.H.Gerth & C.Wright Mills (eds), From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York, 1946). `Structures of Power’, 172.

[4] Mommsen, W. (1984). Max Weber and German Politics, 1890-1920. Letter to Naumann Novemebr 11th 1915, p. 217.

[5] Roth & Wittich, 387.

[6] Whimster, 2003, Sam. eds. The Essential Weber: A Reader. London: Routledge, 2004, 124.

[7] Weber demonstrates his longevity in arguing against the morally outmoded conception of race believing that “with race theories you can prove or disprove anything you want.” See Roth and Wittich, 387.

[8] Weber was honest about the capacity for objective research in social science in science/value distinction see Ringer.

[9] H.H.Gerth & C.Wright Mills (eds), From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York, 1946). `Structures of Power’, 172.

[10] Again, it may be that Weber’s wife inappropriately inserted those texts into Economy & Society.

[11] Hence Weber’s surprise at the enthusiasm of the German people in August 1914 and consistent distrust of the proletariat in his political writings.

[12] Beetham, D. (1974). Max Weber and the Theory of Modern Politics. London. Chapter 5 `Nationalism and the nation-state’. 144.

[13] Whimster, 2003, 149.

[14] Referencing Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount…

[15] Weber, Max. `Between two laws’, in Lassmann & Speirs, Political Writings, 76.

[16] M. Guibernau, Nationalisms: The Nation-State and Nationalism in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, 1996), chapter 1 `Nationalism in classical sociological theory’, 41.

[17] Whimster, 2003, 149.

[18] Breuilly, John. (2001) “The State and Nationalism” from Guibernau, Montserrat and Huntchinson, John, Understanding Nationalism, pg 44, Polity Press.

[19] Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism and Modernism (Routledge, London, 1988), 170.

  • Defining, Background, Foundations (Detailed Background May Not Be Necessary in Exam)

2 important aspects of Max Weber’s Approach to War Writting:

(1) Weber’s Ultimate End > German nationalism: Weber’s ultimate value: preservation of German world power:

a) need to maintain the German state and culture (created in his youth: 1871) 

b) build on the struggle itself as bring meaning to this creation of the German Reich.

c) Weber’s ultimate end is rational as a value-judgement: nationalism. The means ARE rational.

(Ringer, 2004)Weber’s science value distinction: we do not choose our ends, they choose us. It doesn’t matter what the ends are: good scientific knowledge will allow objective science.

(2) Weber’s Politics as a Vocation: (1919): all policy decisions are formulated through rational means to justify the ultimate end of the German Reich. As long as his means to achieve the irrational end are themselves rationally deduced then he fulfills the ER.

Weber aspires to the Ethic of Responsibility: a one-sided pursuit that models human beings as rational & pragmatic. (Whimster, 2003).

Before he articulated Ethic of Responsibility in 1919, he implemented ER to justify:

a) his stance on Unrestricted Submarine Warfare (USW).

b) his stance on negotiating a peace with honour at any cost.

Weber view prestige as more important than gains (which is difficult for others to agree with because they would see the deaths on the front lines as being in vain. Weber is more rational than Tirpitz and the High Command because he disassociates emotional pain with achieving long-term outcomes that are beneficial to (1).

There are two fundamentally different, irreconcilably opposed maxims:

Ethic of Conviction: acting on what is believed to be right because you believe it alone. If evil consequence flow from an action, then that is beyond ones control. Tirpitz & the High Command could be seen as exhibiting these tendencies.

  • Ethic of Conviction (EC): ‘The Christian does what is right and places the outcome in God’s hands. (Weber, 1919, 359). If evil consequences flow from an action done out of pure conviction, this type of person holds the world, not the doer, responsible or the stupidity of others, the will of God (Christian) who made them thus. (Weber, 1919, 360). You don’t weigh the consequence of your convictions. Value A is what I will strive for no matter what the consequences. The EC is a romanticism of the intellectually interests without a sense of responsibility. It was a product of the negative parliamentary system of Germany (section 39, Bismarck’s legacy…).  You need EC to want to enter into politics….

Ethic of Responsibility: rationally deduce ones position by weighing the probable consequences given available information. Assumes that people aren’t necessarily good or rational.

  • Ethic of Responsibility (ER): ‘One must answer for the foreseeable consequences of one’s actions’. (360) ER is a view point of trying to weigh out the consequence of your action. You make allowances for precisely these everyday shortcomings of people: he does not presuppose goodness and perfection in human beings. If the probable consequence will be reduce the war: Is it necessary for political leadership. “There is a responsibility for the cause (EC) it becomes the lode stone of all action.” ALMOST ALL POLITICIANS FAIL: “the eventual outcome of political action frequently, indeed regularly, stand in a quite inadequate, even paradoxical relation to its original, intended meaning and purpose (Weber, 1919 Politics, 355pp).

THESIS: Social science academics tend to establish their outcome and then deductively pursue a rationalization for that outcome to explain their values. Weber is rationally consistent in so far as his actions can be explained by the Ethic of Responsibility.

  • Should not misconstrue Private Opinion with Public Opinion divergence as a sign of a fragmented, shifting pragmatic politician but as part of German Public Morale issue.

Nationalism & Max Weber: War as Proving Ground Either We Take Our Place in History OR become subordinate against the Anglo & Russia world powers.

He believed in the responsibility of the Reich before the bar of history. The war was a proving ground. Quiet emotional, irrational but the state needs to be defended to cultivate the nation. (In Between Two Laws, Weber, 1916) he states that the creation of the Reich is in direct resistance to the division of the world between what he calls “Anglo-Saxon convention” and “Russian bureaucracy.” To not struggle honourably for the Reich existence is to make the Reich meaningless. In a sense the meaning and the normative value of the Nation is its creation of a space for struggle and ‘survival’ + protection of the divided smaller states of Europe.

(Hennis, 1988) Nietszche-ian struggle brings meaning for life: Germany facilitates meaning.

Weber is deterministic. Germany is a great power, it cannot be like the Swiss. The weak, artistic culturally diverse society has a place but not as significant as Germany.

Switzerland                                                                                              Reich

The Sermon of the Mount: Saintly                                              Diabolical Politics

Weak, subordinate, small                                                 Powerful, grand, nominal

Renounce political power                                                  Accept burden of power

Other cultural possibilities                                                                         Survivalists

  • Max Weber as a pragmatist for German nationalism.

Max Weber the pragmatist, reactionary, instrumentalist, politician, fragmented

(Breuilly doesn’t support this view)

  • In some areas, his opinions would change depending on the military situation in others (such as annexations) Weber’s ideas remained fairly consistent regardless of the political and military realities.
  • This argument is about how Weber’s nationalism may (or may not) have influenced his thoughts and whether this disabled him from making judgements based on his own notion that is the ‘ethic of responsibility’. Did Weber’s nationalism ever get in the way of him pursuing rational goals with regard to Germany’s position in the war?
  • War as Distraction: 1914 August: Joachim (Radkau, 2005) argues, the war offered Weber a refuge from his problems – a possible explanation for his original endorsement of the war.[1]

Weber as an Incoherent Pragmatist:                      

  • Weber managed to create framework without being a pragmatist but we are infallible. Our conclusions are influenced by the world: realities changed on the daily basis.
  • You can justify anything as long as you are not irrational: as long as you are rational. Rationality is ridding a tiger.
  • Weber can’t compromise those ends. Where as politicians have to compromise.
  • Weber wasn’t a populist but couldn’t accommodate irrational demands of the population.
  • Economic objectives with the Polish East Elbia. Ethic of Responsibility.
  • He was against Versaille (was that convinction? or ethic of responsibility?) He then came round a month later realizing it has to happen.
  • OR has his scientific argument stops his scientific ends has led him to the political conclusions.
  • BUT with Versaille 1919 his convictions force him to abandon his ER.
  • Ethic of Responsibility or Ethic of Conviction:
  • Ride tiger: rationality is what ever you think.
  • Weber got it right he could have rationally argued that he had been right.
  • Tautology of ER: Ethic of responsibility can only be measured retrospectively. You can only be aware of the consequences afterwards. Weber looks good for supporting the right things.

ER as Framework to Justify Anything

Wonderful framework ER. Why serious scientists needs to have a methodology: rationally. Stick to the facts.

1919 elucidates:

BUT a politician needs to react to so many facts.

Note that this rationality could be used to justify anything (counter-argument) BUT MY response is that Weber had values/principles at the core of his approach: he hated those who attacked Jews etc.

Counter-Argument to EFJA: Weber still has his values, therefore he would not have supported Hitler, as he did not support the Fatherland Party. The Genius of ER: he can argue anything. BUT Breuilly says he doesn’t. Rational ends that can justify his means, end Liberal bourgeois.  So why does Weber ridicule other academics because they have different ends. Weber respects the Christians and Socialists. He respectfully hates the Socialist and Christians.

(Mommsen, 1984)

Breuilly doesn’t agree with Mommsen: that Weber’s approach would have supported Nazism through the ER. Determinism of Mommsen, 1984: he is very critical. Mommsen doesn’t like ER, doesn’t like President (charismatic) of Weber. Weber wants a stronger parliament: selection process for leader occurs. BUT in the Weimar Constitutional opinion (Hugo Price) making Weber wants to enhance the bundestag, Reichstag weakened, reduce Prussian influence, all powerful vice president.

Spectrum of Weber’s private (scholar) morale: Weber’s position with regard to the war changed greatly during its course; 1914, optimism > 1915, moody > 1916, pessimism.

Note that his GPM is always constant…

(A) 1914 > Weber’s position on the Outbreak Weber’s an optimist – in the sense that it would give the German Reich a raison d’être – and enthusiast.

  • Wolfgang (Mommsen, 1984) he “frequently criticized the German people for quietism and apolitical attitudes”, believing that “the nation’s patriotic enthusiasm, its willingness to make sacrifices, its national unity” would give the war an inner meaning, whatever the outcome.[2]
  • (Radkau, 2005) escape the polemic.
  • Enthusiasm is strange for two reasons:
  • (1) Weber did not mention the prospect of war in any of his personal letters during the July Crisis of 1914. In fact, Weber seemed to have completely shut out the world of politics as the letters focused solely on “personal problems”.[3]
  • (2) Second, Weber’s enthusiasm seems somewhat misplaced as he viewed Germany’s prospects for success pessimistically.[4]
  • Weber never published an academic support for the war: mention Michael Ignatieff’s support for the War in Iraq in 2003, then he become the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
  • Yet when war broke out with Germany very much at the centre of it Weber wished to be involved in the effort – preferably as a soldier at the front. Age, however, restricted him from active service and so he became the administrator of a military hospital in Heidelberg. In a letter to his mother in 1916, he laments not going to the front: a death trap for many young men…emotionalism. During this early period of the war, Weber scarcely commented on politics in public.

(B) 1915 onwards this mood began to shift >> Weber’s position on Annexation: he consistent & heavily influence by his nationalism.

  • Matthias Erzberger’s annexationism: Six Economic Associations memorandum of May 20th, 1914 signed by several Berlin professors and 1347 representatives of the cultural world. “Annexation of Flanders and Verdun + repressive measures for non-German speakers + Massive resettlement plans for non-Germans.”
  • Weber made his opposition to annexations public in December 1915 when he argued against them in a series of articles entitled ‘Bismarck’s Foreign Policy and the Present’ (1915) which were published in the Frankfurter Zeitung.

(GPM2): Weber’s concern about PUBLIC MORALE is important:

Bismarck’s Foreign Policy and the Present” he opposed a boundless annexation program. Lack of realims in an annexation policy of the west.  The Article outlines the long-term effects of annexation propaganda on public opinion: as soon as it was apparent that such unrealistic goals could never be achieved, disillusionment would become widespread and the fighting spirit would dissipate.

  • Belgium was for Weber a pawn in negotiations against the Triple Entente.
  • (Mommsen, 1984) Weber explained that he did not believe that annexations in the west were desirable because it would not be not in Germany’s national interest to expand there.
  • Germany, he argued, should not expand beyond the borders of the natural German nation and Belgium, for example, was clearly not part of the German nation.
  • Integrating foreign nations into the German empire would serve only to weaken and destabilize the German nation as well as antagonize the other great nations of the west once the war was over.
  • Negotiations with Britain & France: Belgium conquest would weaken any negotiations made with Triple Entente (Breuilly?)
  • POLISH QUESTION: With regards to the possibility of annexations in the east, Weber took a more flexible approach. Weber had, early on in his academic career, defined the lack of a Polish nation-state as a problem. It was not just a problem that concerned him academically, but it also concerned him politically. Throughout the war, Weber advocated the creation of a Polish state.
  • Two Motivations:
  • 1) (Mommsen, 1984) Weber’s goal was “to win the Poles as political, military and economic allies of Germany by seeking their friendship”[5].
  • 2) Polish as fragmenting Russian hegemony/buffer zone: outweighed the former in Weber’s thinking. The newly created states were to be tied to Germany politically, economically (a tariff-union), militarily (the creation of military infrastructure) and would mainly have served as German buffer-states against Russia.[6]
  • In short then, Weber was opposed to annexations precisely because he was a pragmatic nationalist. Where nations existed, Germany could and should not take over as it would cause only problems. Yet, Germany, being a large and powerful nation should tie other nations to it without getting directly involved.

C) 1916 Weber’s Public Mask, Private (Scholar) Sorrows: Weber felt pessimistic and deeply troubled with the direction which the war, and the politics surrounding it, had taken.

  • Although attempts at ending the war in negotiation were made numerous times, they were all doomed from the onset because none of the belligerent powers were willing to abandon their interests or their allies. The one exception to this was post-revolutionary Russia.[7]
  • By this point it would seem that Weber had given up hope on Germany decisively winning the war and that fighting it until the bitter end would ruin Germany economically and cause the ‘home front’ to collapse.[8]  Thus, logically, the only way out would be by negotiation. Weber seemed to realise this and yet he was not quite willing to admit to it. The nationalist in Weber would simply not let him acknowledge the bitter truth. Thus when the Peace Initiative was passed, Weber went to great lengths to criticise it because he feared it would be seen as a sign of weakness abroad and because it would increase the level of domestic tension which was becoming an increasing threat to Germany’s war effort. In all, he considered the passing of the motion as an event which could cost Germany its prestige abroad – it was thus a shameful act. The Peace Initiative did not have great political or military repercussions as the Reichstag could not enforce it.
  • Brest-Litovsk March 1918: (Radkau, 2005) observes in Weber a similar internal contradiction. In private (scholar) letters to his wife and close friends, Weber expresses criticism of the way in which the negotiations were being conducted and raises doubts that the peace will be a lasting one if Ludendorff and Hindenburg imposed a grossly unbalanced treaty.[9] Here Weber seems to be making a rational analysis of the situation. Yet publically, he recorded his support for the botched treaty.[10]
  • On the one hand, he wished to put on a brave face in order to keep up the appearance of a united Germany abroad. On the other hand, Weber supported the Supreme Command as he feared domestic division over the issue could hamper the general war effort.
  • Here Weber was still adhering to the ‘ethic of responsibility’. But his public support for the prolongation of the war in spite of the increasing certainty that it would not end well, render his private (scholar) reservations void. Here Weber’s nationalism blinded him from stating what even he knew were hard facts. Thus when Germany was beginning to collapse under the burden of war, Weber seems to have ditched rational and responsible rhetoric for passionate, desperate and often self-contradictory appeals to the German population’s nationalism. The argument is extended to cover his view that Germany should not sign the peace treaty and should resist giving up territory to Poland. (He was playing the politician)
  • During the Spring Offensive of 1918: Weber changes his war ams: he believe that they can win the war: this is silly optimism.
  • Weber could handle being a politician all the baby-kissing.
  • WEBER’S INCONSISTENCY only DURING WAR: Fortunately this period of Weber’s writing was fairly short-lived and once the extent of Germany’s defeat became all to obvious for him to cling onto hope, Weber found back to rational argument and presented some powerful pamphlets on the how Germany’s political future should be arranged.

(Beetham, 1974)

Weber held no simplistic belief that the prestige of a nation’s culture was dependent upon the mere extension of its power. Whatever prestige Germany might derive from the proposed cultural policy in the East, would not be a result of her power as such, but rather of the way it was used and the purposes to which it was put.” (142, Beetham). Machtstaat = totalitarian state

Those who regard Weber’s wartime nationalism simply as an extension of the nationalism of this early period thus overlook two developments in his thinking” (143, Beetham)

1)            his critique of Germany’s prewar foreign policy, the politics of national vanity; which contributed to the outbreak of the war.

2)            Confrontation witht the situation of national minorities in his Russian studies of 1905-6, and with the problem of how to preserve the cultural identity of smaller nations in face of the aggrandisement of a larger power. : this is apparent in his critique of Prussian attitude to the Poles as early as 1908” (143, Beetham).

Weber is still an emotionally committed German nationalist: he had his share of national prejudice, particularly in respect of the Russians.

Beethem’s thesis that Weber’s profession of a world political role for Germany involved the pursuit of power and aggrandisement for its own sake, and that this national commitment can simply be reduced to the ‘Gefuhlspolitik’. (politics of emotion).

INSTEAD “the ideas which are used to justify and give meaning to a particular way of life themselves set limits to the range of conduct possible within it” (143, Beetham).

There is nothing distinctively bourgeois about the pursuit of powerit is a different matter, however, with the ideas Weber uses to justify its exercise.

Dificult to avoid concluding that “Weber remained bound by the typical categories of thought of the bourgeois age, to which belonged not only the concept of the ‘Kulturnation’, but also the idolatry with which the bourgeoisie pursued the national culture as the final value.

Political Activism versus Academia

Weber cannot extricate himself from his political reality but his attempt is partially successful: politicians have short-term objective while Weber has long-term ones: throughout the war he is pontificating about the German Reich’s future in the long-term given the progress of the war. He took a job at the University of Vienna but could not stand to stay out of the dialogue on Germany’s future for long in 1918.

During the War: Weber energetically championed the concession of cultural autonomy to the Prussian poles and an honourable understanding with them. He pointed out that ‘a state need not necessarily be a ‘nation-state’ in the sense that it{oriented] its interests exclusively in favour of a single, dominant nationality. The state could “serve the cultural interests of several minorities in a way that was in full harmony with the interests of the dominant nationality”. Weber could not see the state replacing nationality.  OR WAS IT SOMETHING ELSE: Russian Imperialism’s threatening creation of nationalist autonomy under Russian Rule????

Weber’s observations and his consciousness of responsibility led him to change form a firebrand to a compromiser on the question of Prussian Poles: HIS transformation was primarily due to the “recognition that a moderate nationality policy was needed to counter the attraction of a potential Russian policy of autonomy”. Russian promise of autonomy + German-Polish Question = concessions to Prussian Poles. Weber feared the peaceful acquisition of Poland by Russia as a crass Russian Imperialism. Weber wanted Germany to control Poland. Weber believed that only a sincerely liberal nationality policy could bring about a solution to the German-Polish problem.

8.2. The Treaty of Versailles and Germany’s Future in the World

  • “Max Weber looked upon the German negotiations in Versailles as unworthy of a great nation. he believed that the German side had had to indulge in self-humiliation, in the hope of winning better conditions from the enemy, and he rebelled against that.” (311)
  • Weber used all his influence to persuade the allies that too harsh a treatment of Germany would result in a reawakening of German nationalism → he wasn’t too worried about the latter; he just didn’t want Germany to be humiliated.  To this end, Weber and others formed the Heidelberger Vereinigung für eine Politik des Rechts which was largely unsuccessful.
  • → Weber supported the publication of Germany’s war papers despite some unease he felt about this: “Weber’s additional call for an investigatory commission to question the leading figures in the German government before and during the war was founded on his rigorous ethic of responsibility”. (316)
  • “Basically, Weber viewed the German negotiating position as hopeless from the outset and expected nothing from the negotiations and opposing arguments in Versailles.”
  • → He firmly believed that the war guilt question did not apply to Germany as it was Tsarist Russia which bore the guilt of the war as they forced Germany and Austria into a situation in which their only available course of action which was honourable would be to take up arms (319).
  • → He vehemently argued against signing the peace treaty “whatever the risks” yet “Weber had to face a difficult inner conflict between rejection at any price on national grounds and the sober evaluation of the consequences of such a step.” (320) By June he could no longer defend rejection even though he personally favoured it.
  • Weber’s nationalism gains strength as a result of Germany’s treatment by the allies. (321-2) Germany must once again build itself up to become a world power, regardless of what the treaty said.  Weber also argued for the leaders of Germany (including the Kaiser) to hand themselves over to the American’s in order to argue their case and defend Germany’s honour. Ludendorff rejected this suggestion out of hand.
  • Notes on Weber’s politics:
  • “Domestically, he pressed for a democratic and social constitutional order; but democratization was only a means for him to produce qualified political leaders who would bring the legacy of the “Caesarist” statesman, Bismarck, to a new glory. He had no concrete plans for the form that the social reorganization of Germany would take, although he had spent so much time playing with socialist notions without, however, believing in them.”
  • Foreign policy and Germany’s place in the world were more important to him throughout the period.
  • In the end, Weber realised that his policies were out of touch. Whereas before the war he was seen as political outcast because he wanted to change the system and adopt a realistic foreign policy, he was seen as outdated after the war. (330-1)

COUNTER ARGUMENTS to Weber the Incoherent/Pragmatist: Weber the principled academic: (3) Max Weber as Principled

  • However, doesn’t the objection to annexation based on the argument that it undermined the very essence of a nation-state, go beyond pragmatism?
  • The causality is mixed up in the above argument that Weber is a pragmatist. Weber believes in the principle that nations should be self-determined, just as he respects his ultimate end of Germany on the world stage. He believes in the Bauer/Renner principles for the Polish and Slav nation-states because it coincides with his belief of a German nation-state. In other words, he believe in to each their own. As it happen a Polish kingdom does have strategic advantages against Russia aggression. As it happens, also, Belgian sovereignty has strategic advantages for British and French negotiations.
  • Not opposing annexationism in public while condemning it in private made sense precisely in terms of his Ethic of Responsibility.
  • Weber see the Great War as a product of international dynamics and not necessarily German mistakes….

On the Peace Negotiatoins: could one

Weber’s Principled view of The Nation-State System: Weber believed that “a correct relationship between state and nation, where the state = power and the nation = culture and language….It was therefore unwise to annex great peoples with strong national cultures.” (Mommsen, 1984)


Weber discovered the works of Ukrainian federalist Dragomanov, who he believed brilliantly solved the problem of nationalities: checkout M.P. Dragomanov. The Collected Works of M.P. Drahomanov, 2 vols, Paris, 1905. If Dragomanov’s proposal were adopted we could bring the interests of the individual Russian nationalities under the same roof as an all-Russian great power policy. Dragomanov demanded sweeping federalist transformation of Russia into separate ‘regions’ with full cultural autonomy on the basis of ethnic borders. He attributed the Cadet program for the political autonomy of nationalities to Dragomanov’s ideas – whether consciously or unconsciously. Weber claimed Dragomanov’s writings as fundamental for any treatment of nationality problems. CHECK OUT A short synopsis of the writings of Dragomanov in “Mykhaylo Drahomanov: A Symposium and Selected Writings,2 ed. I.L. Rudnytsky, Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the USE 2 no.1 (New York, 1952). “unify…bourgeois liberalism’ across the barriers of the conflict of nationalities. Failed to recognize the extent to which the Russian liberal movement’s tolerant attitude to the national minorities was merely tactical because the aid of these minorities was essential to the success of the constitution. It is questionable where the Polish drive for independence could have been contained in the long run by the concession of broader autonomy.

  • Ethic of Responsibility or Conviction?: Max Weber’s principled approach Defended> Annexation, Government & Peace negotiations

Even Mommsen seeks to clarify “the inconsistencies and contradictions in his position, while at the same time recognizing its fundamental consistency”, citing Weber’s capacity for “judgement” that never wavered from the ethic of responsibility – separating him from the “shallow emotional nationalism” that engulfed the intelligentsia’s lack of rational justification for the consequence of their actions. (63, 447, Mommsen, 1984)

It is thus fascinating though not altogether surprising that Weber delivered his “Science as a Vocation” lecture two days after sitting with a panel of Social Democrats in Austria to speak out against Pan-Germanism and the founding of the Fatherland Party. (264)  Thus his seemingly inconsistent actions actually conform to his overall theoretical framework, as outlined in “Science as a Vocation”, of distinguishing the “science” of nationalism from its “value”.

I don’t follow this concluding point. I am suspicious of arguments that reconcile “inconsistencies” by pointing to some deeper level without actually spelling out how that works. ie I agree but elaborate please. – Breuilly.

Social scientist, Level-headed, Principled Thesis:

Introduction: (1) Weber’s arguments centre around his ultimate end: Germany’s place as a world power (Between Two Laws): the need to maintain the German state to instrumentally facilitate German culture built on the struggle itself as bringing meaning to the 1871 Reich, (struggle -> protestant work ethic.)

(2) All policy decisions (which Weber has no influence in) are formulated in Weber’s case through rational means to justify that end. He uses the Ethic of Responsibility later outlined in his Politics as a Vocation 1919 lecture, which justifies his stances during the war (Aims, Annexation, USW, Peace Negotiations). Weber also argued for negotiating peace with honour at any cost. he is more interested in honour/prestige than gains which is difficult for others accept because the deaths on the front would seem vain.

(3) Limit Cases Analyzed (for time-sake A rational actor must have rational means to achieve an end that he believes is rational (but doesn’t have to be). consistency/rationality through the means of his arguments IS CLEAR. You can defend him because his means are rational BUT Weber has intellectual consistency in his irrational end.

  • Weber had a realist appraisal of German foreign policy in the war years, not by a principled appreciate of other nations’ right to exist? (Mommsen, 1984)

WHY IS NEGOTIATION WITH HONOUR SO IMPORTANT because HE BELIEVES without peace negotiations GERMANY WILL BE SUBJUGATED into a small group of nations and take the path of Switzerland (Between Two Laws). He want avoid the destruction of his ultimate value of a German nationalism. ER applied.

Concern for German Public Morale are demonstrative of Weber’s congruence with his ultimate end: principled.

Max Weber knew he would be attacked when he spoke out against the High Command: Weber is important academic voice in Germany: is Weber merely using reason to ride a Crazy Tiger. Weber is concerned about morale: Rational Choice Theory.

Weber’s Position is Responding to Two Groups:

  • The High Command (Fischer, 1961): strategic imbeciles or failed genius: the Schlieffen Plan-> defeat the French quickly then deal with Russians. The High Command could be characterized by maximalist ambitions.
  • Hindenburg: Fatherland Party -> Pan German Imperialist Racists/anti-semetic: Maximalist cases: WEBER HATED these cretins. German Fatherland Party (German: Deutsche Vaterlandspartei) was a pro-war party in the German Empire.The party was founded close to the end of 1917 and represented political circles supporting the war. Among founding members were Wolfgang Kapp (of the Kapp Putsch fame) and Alfred von Tirpitz (naval minister and post-war party leader). Peak of its political influence was summer 1918 when it had around 1,250,000 members. Main source of the funding was the Third Supreme Command. The party was dissolved after German Revolution (December 10, 1918).One member, Anton Drexler, went on to form a similar organization, the German Workers Party, which later became the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party) which came to power in 1933 under Adolf Hitler.

(Radkau, 2005) Weber thinks that the public needs to be confronted with the facts. SO German that weakness should be kept secret for national unity. Machivellian. Breuilly doesn’t agree with psychological: Radkau humanized Weber. Which Weber don’t like.

(GPM1) A Context of Crisis: Cohesion as a means of being a good nationalist: whenever the nation is challenged by exogenous forces there is a need for political cohesion: the nation must consolidate its opinion towards the objectives that the political elite have ascribed. In August of 1914, the German Reich enters survival mode, old differences within the nation are diffused and public criticism that might weaken subsequent peace negotiations are to be sidelined until the crisis is resolved. Public morale needs to be high for the war to end with honour.

Weber Support of the Administration: Weber does follow this line of thinking throughout the war: in the hope that it will produce a positive outcome for his ultimate end.

  1. Burgfrieden: fortress peace or castle peace: party truce: Social Democratic Party and other agreed during the War. Unifying for victory, complete consolidation of public opinion until the completion of the war. For this reason, I think, Weber doesn’t want Tirpitz fired over the USW question because he fears weakening morale. Later in 1918, Weber attacks Erzberger for publicly damaging morale with the peace resolution speech in the Brest-Litovsk case: weakening morale was a terrible act for Weber.
  2. Weber wanted to join combat forces: lamenting that that war should have started earlier actually in 1889 before Bismarck was fired, in a private (scholar) letter to his mother. How rational is it to wish to be part of such slaughter? Because it defends the ultimate end. In a personal letter to his mother in 1916: this is why would he have a feverish lament? Weber bought into that kind of thinking. The war was meaningful to Weber. Not rational but his lament is proof that there is a place for emotion in Weber’s life.
  3. Weber took a bureaucratic post Reserve Infirmary of the Heidelberg Garrison District. Was entrusted with administrative duties and disciplinary control of the wounded, morning to night for over a year. Sought political work in 1915. Weber is a strong nationalist.
  4. He was sober when the war broke out in the summer of 1914 seeing it as a failure of German diplomacy, fearing economic ruin. At the same time, he was amazed at the national mobilization of support because the Germany people had been an apolitical with a weak civil society thus far. In a letter to his mother, Weber says the ‘meaning’ of the war was an honourable test; the war was a proving ground for the struggle and survival of the Reich, hoping for an honourable peace on equal terms. Weber has a realist appraisal of German war aims. The war must end positively although Weber is not pleased that it is occurring.

Anti-Annexationism & Weber

Six Economic Associations memorandum (1914)                                        

Erzberger                                                                                                 Newspaper editors

Pan-German League (extremist)                                                 Anti-Pan-Germans

Annexationist                                                                                                           Anti-Annexationist

Conservatives                                                                                                           Liberal

Supreme Commanders                               Hollweg (moderate)  Max Weber

Seeberg Address

Weber was siding with the SPD on annexation. SPD didn’t change their position: they were sheep lying next to the Lions: Between Two Laws…

New waves of annexationism emerged with victories in the East even among leftists.

XXX Annexation as a War Aim was a means for consolidating support. From the Schleifen Plan’s objectives to an emotional appeal, Annexation aims was an instrumental means of justifying the war. Weber believed it was silly to commodify a soldiers life to such an objective: annexation should not be the prize of victory because it contravenes his ultimate end.

Germany was strategically outnumbers diplomatic isolation BUT they fought harder and better than the Triple Entente: their number of casualities was much lower. Can we attribute this to that enthusiasm motivated by War Aims>

(GPM2) Weber was afraid that if those war aims were unfulfilled: it destroy morale. He did not want those soldier’s lives to be commodified and defined by speicifc outcomes. Did they die in vain? Weber’s position would be upsetting because those death’s would have been to mostly meaningless casualities. What was the point of war if not for annexation?

Weber’s underlying theory ‘Bismarck’s Foreign Policy and the Present’ (1915) is that the German nation should remain as Bismarck had made it except for the Alsatians.

  • Weber supports Polish nationalism: the Polish need an olive branch.
  • Austro-Marxists: Bauer: give communal institutions: harmonious nationalists <->
  • Economic questions: Weber’s formation of an Autonomous Poland in November 1916.
  • Polish must be given as much autonomy of prestige, culture, control of language.
  • Weber appears to want to go far down the autonomy road: if we treat the Prussian poles poorly it will look terrible in Poland.

Values Judgements Backed By Science:

As long as Weber is able to shift Polish: confronted Bauer: Weber don’t believe in objective truths: this is the best I can offer but with new evidence he will shift on Polish. Build up a scientific then use it to defend his means.

He knows that he is full of values he accepts and thinks its okay aslong as you are rational. Spent his whole career being value-laden then he says that science should strive to be objective BUT then if we do all this we should not be doing it in the lecture (Science, 1919). Science Vocation: instrinctive values and then you have choosen values. EH doesn’t like Christian pacifist but he respects them for rational. He respects induvudal sermon on the mount.

November 1916 Text only in German:

  • Argument against annexation.
  • State should only matter as an INSTRUMENT of the end to allow German culture
  • Protection of German interests is most nationalist.
  • Austria lacks national community
  • Prisoners of Russia: -> the state can do a lot but cannot control the individual.
  • Enthusiasm to war because Germany is his nation-state.
  • Weber says for the moment a positive light on the Poles (might seem pragmatic BUT it’s all about the Ethic of Responsibility for Weber:
  • Weber believe in the Nation Not So much the State.

THEREFORE his ultimate end of German nationalism is served.

Weber’s Annexation Positions Are Consistent:

Nationalism on the Western-Front: Holland are Germans in a hurry. They may have a political consciousness but he is primarily interested in peace with France & Britain.

Nationalism on the Eastern-Front: Russia can’t be allowed to advance westward. Weber has a principled argument for the protection of the German nation-state. 


  1. Weber never condemns the Brest-Litovsk (March 3rd, 1918) which extended German territorial occupation into large portions of where a Polish nation-state would exist. This caused a weakened relationship with the Polish people since it was a mockery of Polish autonomy.
  2. Weber wanted a strong relationship between Polish and Germans in order to divide and rule against the Russian hegemony.

BUT Weber didn’t agree with the annexation: Second Suboridnate nationalisties: recapitulation of the nations with or without power…Between Two Laws.

Rosa Luxembourg: supports a Polish national program…she rejects nationalism: cosmopolitan social Marxist.

(Weber, 1895) German overseas empires are relatively small but he sees them as essential for Germany’s place on the world stage. German national resources are impressive: he has the second largest industry only US is better: Iron Ore. Raw industrial terms.

Weber’s indirect rule approach -> contain people manage them don’t involve.

Polish migrant: East Elbia 1919, Polish migrant workers new diminished ward of Germany: independent: resist Polish: how do we preserve the German nation-state.

1916: Weber economic and financial links customs union, movement of goods.

  • Ethic of Responsibility or Conviction?: Max Weber’s principled approach defended> Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

How did his views on German policy relate to his general theory of politics? Are his writings on military and foreign policy modeled by his “Ethic of Responsibility”?

Weber as an Intellectual Shifter: changing based on new information.

Breuilly thinks its an intellectual shift. Bauer, Dragamonov. BUT I can’t except that there is a pragmatic interest. Instrumentalist approach. 1905: Russian Liberalism: they were willing to give in autonomy to minorities and Weber. Dragamonov is something Weber did Read: (Pg 58) (Mommsen, 1984). Mommsen: Bauer (possibly)-> possibility that Weber engaged in Bauer:

Breuilly END is shaped by means that are rationally deduced within a limited framework (ie. principle) which explains why he didn’t support Social Democrats. Weber seems to not go into areas he won’t go: seems to offer the most rational course of action. Rationality is connected to structural constraints. Scientists can not ignore mathematics.

Social science is to get as close to the rational arguments and rational ends as possible

Weber’s General Theory of Politics: The Ethic of Responsibility versus the Ethic of Conviction>ER: the point is it is a rational instrument. Not that it is Un-German to commit unrestricted submarine warfare. Pragmaticism applies to USW. ER odds are against the use:

  • Weber wanted to negotiate from a position of strength: ie. Supports the Spring Offensive 1918.
  • Wilson might have inevitably entered the war: but it was more about timing.

Breuilly believes that Wilson was:

  • a) slowed by the German-American coalitions and
  • b) isolationist ideology was a powerful one in the US.

Does he use his Ethic of Responsibility when he states that the Treaty of Versaille 1919 is a horrible defeat of national honour? He later changes his views a month later to accept it.


Carl Schmitt/Max Weber relationship:

  • Weber believes that politics is not a moral sphere. Politics is simply about power. The politics of Max Weber: where as the social science are value-based.
  • The idea of Friend or Foe: the world of politics is dichotomized between friends and enemies. This is the adversarilist approach. This is the non-territorialized goal of Political Theory: socialist enemy nexus.
  • He does not mean to provide us with an “exhaustive description” laden with “substantive” normative content. (Schmitt: 2007, 26) Rather, this friend/enemy distinction is the criterion by which we can determine as to whether or not an action is properly political. It is a point of heuristic entry. The tendencies of identity-bearing agents to make these distinctions are themselves attestation to the existence of the political. (Schmitt: 2007, 29) What really matters is that we tend to define ourselves as being a part of one group or another. NO MORALITY IN POLITICS

(2) Weber’s Ethic of Responsibility (1919): all policy decisions are formulated through rational means to justify the ultimate end of the German Reich. As long as his means to achieve the irrational end are themselves rationally deduced then Weber is fulfilling the ER. Before he articulated Ethic of Responsibility in 1919, he implemented ER to justify:

a) his stance on Unrestricted Submarine Warfare (USW).

b) his stance on negotiating a peace with honour at any cost.

Weber view prestige as more important than gains (which is difficult for others to agree with because they would see the deaths on the front lines as being in vain. Weber is more rational than Tirpitz and the High Command because he disassociates emotional pain with achieving long-term outcomes that are beneficial to is ultimate end Germany’s place on the world stage.

Counterfactual test: If the High Command had listened to Weber, would Germany have ended the horrors of WWI with dignity and honour?

Unrestricted Submarine Warfare: (USW)

The Ethic of Conviction versus the Ethic of Responsibility.

Weber implements a ration choice model based on his subsequent Ethic of Responsibility to justify his position against USW.


  • Naval Admiral Tirpitz’s prosecution of the naval arms race with the Fleet Acts led to Germany’s political isolation. Tirpitz believed in what is effectively risk theory (really game theory) analysis where Germany should become a second naval power, the English would avoid direct conflict in the hope of maintaining naval protection of their colonies thus allow German naval empire to emerge.  Unfortunately, history shows that the Britain felt threatened anyway given their geographic position. Leading to an arms race: Tirpitz’s policy further isolated Germany politically: Most importantly: The British blockade ended any hope of German naval power blocking American trade. Germany was already ISOLATED.
  • Basserman the National Liberal Party leader accused Weber of “tragic demagoguery”.
  • Conducting submarine warfare meant that prize rules of capturing contraband were abandoned. The Lusitania was sunk in May 7th, 1915 with 128 American passengers and another 1000 passengers died.
  • In February of 1916, Tirpitz escalated the U-Boat warfare. The High Command assumed that in using Unrestricted Submarine Warfare they could force English capitulation. German Admirality thought they could crush England in 6 months. In hindsight, British tonnage was too large: there were non-British ships to consider. The High Command was gambling that the US would enter the war too late this is clearly desperation.
  • The High Command was being desperate: hoping for the best: ultimately engaging in from Weber’s perspective in Ethic of Conviction. Everyone recognized that Germany would lose if Americans were involvement on the side of Britain this would further isolate Germany: Weber believed this would destroy any hope of equal peace negotiations. American entrance into the war would be a critical juncture.

The Memorandum March 10th, 1916: sent to the Foreign Secretary

Weber argued for the settlement of the crisis with the US in 1916 “at any cost.” 

Weber has strong rational argument based on his subsequently theorized Ethic of Responsibility.

Weber believed that Britain would not capitulate. Tirpitz’s theory was wrong.

A) England’s early capitulation is unlikely; this was desperate thinking by the High Command.

B) America would enter the war giving complete support to the English before such capitulation.

C) In the longterm, Germany would lose economically despite even a military victory because the war would take longer to be resolved and drain the German people’s morale. Germany would forfeit its future as a world power if it did not negotiate an honourable peace.

Weber: End USW> US Neutrality> Speedy End To War> Honourable Peace Negotiations.

High Command: USW> English Capitulation > US Entrance > Speedy End to War > Victory.

Weber wanted to counteract public opinion by making the memorandum rather stern.

Weber was a Bethmann-Hollweg supporter….

  • By the end of 1916 Socialists in Germany were against unrestricted warfare. The chief of the admiral staff Admiral Holtzendorff said that if we resume unrestricted submarine warfare Britain will be on her knees in 5 weeks. Cappelle Chief of the Naval Office (succeeded Tirpitz). They wanted to force a decision on the war before the Americans became involved.
  • July 1917: The Submarine Warfare miscalculated on existing British tonnage. Everyone knew that the British had more than their own shipping capacity. German predictions were based on erroneous calculations. In the Reich>The Three Parties formed a government: Centre, Progressives and Socialists (large faction) the three together had a majority in the Reichstag. They discussed the peace issue. Which resulted in the Peace Resolution. Bethmann’s position becomes untenable: he agreed to submarine Warfare and now it was clear that it was not succeeding. It was based on fraudulent calculations.
  • Hindenburg and Ludendorff said if you keep Bethmann Hollweg we will resign. These two men were soldiers had turned against Bethmann. Kaiser didn’t say that Bethmann was fired for being wrong. Kaiser had lost all power and did whatever Hindenburg and Ludendorff wanted. 13th of July 1917 Bethmann was dismissed. Hindenburg and Ludendorff had destroyed Bismarck’s constitution where the Emperor should be able to control the chancellor.

(GPM3) German morale & political cohesion: U-Boat was the trumpcard, a significant advantage, if it didn’t achieve what it was supposed to then there was no other cards to play. The domestic crisis would be a revolution. Weber was right. The act of desperation of USW would have negative effects on the Morale of the German people

For Weber, the Dangers of US entrance was not as bad as the domestic response to USW’s failure. Weber opposed the Right’s agitation aimed at pressuring the chancellor to permit ruthless use of submarines. It was hysteria fuelled by alarmists. Weber believed American entrance was the least desirable outcome, the optimal outcome would be American neutrality and quick peace negotiations. Weber disapproved of USW because this idea of “the fear of peace”: creating high expectations: U-Boats was a trumpcard, a significant advantage, if it didn’t achieve what it was supposed to then there was no other cards to play. The domestic crisis would be a revolution. The act of desperation of USW would have negative effects on the Morale of the German people. So he is consistent in his position of maintaining a German morale and cohesion so as to achieve an honourable peace.

  • So he is consistent in his position of cohesion as long as you agree with his rational framework which is elucidated in (Politics as Vocation, 1919).


1) TAUTOLOGY of His Argument:

  • (a) His war aims and foreign policy prescription are for a more realistic positive peace negotiations: he was wrong about closing off the borders to Polish workers and agricultural restructuring, what about his ER then? Was it that Weber took the side that won? HOWEVER this is all given the outcome of the war which no one knew at the time. Any rational systems employed could be confused in the fog of war given the level of uncertainty/limited information.
  • (b) I argue that, Weber took the side that won. Because Weber supported the rational ideas that seem to be correct: we cannot test their validity since the outcomes have occurred: ex post analysis. 
  • (c) It ONLY seems that Weber is more rational than the High Command for assuming that the US might stay out of the war. Claiming Weber is a better nationalist is easy after the fact because not having US in the war would have allowed for honourable peace negotiations instead of one sided and unfair negotiations.
  • Weber assumes that Germany is already in a bad position: The key is that Weber accepts Germany can’t gain anything from the war before anyone else….
  • Weber’s position allowed him this claim while politicians have to manage the Blood Vengence of the people: Weber’s modest War AIMS: It is difficult to convince the military and public to not maximize the use of a strategic advantage. It is also difficult to convince the military and public that the deaths of countless soldiers is not for anything more than returning the borders to their original boundaries. In order for Weber to be taken seriously, one would have to ignore the emotional power of war on peoples decision-making.
  • Weber’s Position: there is a nuance here, however, the difference lies in the assumption of how other actors would react. Weber didn’t believe that America would inevitably enter the war: Weber was hoping for pacifist elements in America to succeed.
  • High Command’s Position: seems to assume that US would eventually enter on the side of the British NO MATTER WHAT….their assuming that the US would inevitabtly enter the war led to the Zimmerman Telegraph: this is what led to American entrance. The US was inevitably going enter on the side of the British.
  • 3) COUNTERFACTURAL ARGUMENT: What if we did a counterfactual showing that America did not enter the war & England capitulated. Weber would have been wrong about this issue. Weber correct in believing any unrestricted submarine warfare would be have devastating effects on the domestic situation.

Must REMEMBER THAT many people believed that the US would enter the war: they assumed that in using Unrestricted Submarine Warfare.

  • Weber’s War Aims: peace with honour/principled policies.

Is Max Weber less of a nationalism than those in High Command? What is distinctive about Weber’s Nationalism in WWI?


According to Fischer 1961 thesis, The German War aims were annexation of A-L, French war armament prevention for 20 years, Iron ore areas of Brie and Lorie, Belgium and Poland as a Buffer against the Russian Empire. There is some dispute over Bethmann-Hollweg’s views: he was moderate on annexation according to Mommsen. The Supreme Command of the German Army is the government. They are who I compare Weber’s war aims against.

War Aims are never static for Weber (Breuilly, seminar)

Weber is better able to detach emotionality from his rational means than the High Command who must mobilize society to fight for a glorious cause.

Weber is consitent and rational throughout his argumentations regarding the war.

War Aims & Max Weber’s Nationalism in Question

There is a debate about what exactly were the High Command and Bethmann Hollweg’s war aims but according to F. Fischer’s 1960 thesis on The September Memorandum of War Aims, The German War aims were far reaching annexation of A-L, European economic union under Germany, Iron ore areas of Brie in France, Belgium and Poland as annexed buffers against the French and Russians respectively. This is what I compare Weber’s war aims against. The primary objective of any war for Germany was annexation.

The Administrations War Aims are unrealistic ends for Weber. I argue they are used to mobilize the masses, galvanize the soldiers. These War Aims justify Germany’s involvement in the war for a majority of Germans. Weber believes that such a position is detrimental to his conception of Germany’s future because those war aims are untenable and will destroy Germany’s economic future. He wants in essence simply the honourable survival of the German Reich once the war begins.

Weber’s German Future World Policy is focused on Long-term Objectives contradicting Administrations Short-term gains: Need for a honourable meaningful ‘negotiated peace’ thereby avoiding humiliation and the end to German world power.

  1. Failure of Diplomacy: war would not produce real successes or acquisitions. Germany had failed to avoid war against a ‘world coalition’.
  2. Anti-Annexation: for instrumental as well as nationalist purposes.for instrumental purposes of peace negotiations. Germany should not attempt to acquire new territorial acquisitions. Also annexationism would exacerbate the Alsace-Loraine problem which Weber believed should be resolve through German annexation of Alsatians <- seems to signify Weber’s ethnic nationalism based on language claims.
  3. The preservation of military security in the East and West.
  4. Importance of winning the peace by speedy conclusion of the hostilities: Germany must be economically strong in the long-term. Need for ‘negotiated peace’ and an honourable meaningful peace.
  5. Fear of diplomatic isolation: wants flexibility to create further future alliances. Failure of Diplomacy: war would not produce real successes or acquisitions. Therefore Germany needs constitutional reform through democracy in order to cultivate proper political leadership.

Weber was no warmonger: he wanted a speedy end. The primary arguments focus on Weber’s concerns regarding Germany’s economic strength after war. Believing that even if Germany won the war they could still lose the peace economically.

According to Mommsen by 1916, Weber had ‘dissasociated himself from the ‘ideas of 1914’.

Weber’s Three Lessons:

  1. economic interest didn’t cause the war, but they had produced new economics interests (war mongers industrialists), which pressed for continued prosecution.
  2. Indispensability of industry and business for the war effort.
  3. The State is the highest organization of power in the world; it has power over life and death. The error is that such discussions turn exclusively around the state and do not take the nation into account.

War Aims is Weber’s ultimate end NOT PROFIT>

Weber believed that “a correct relationship between state and nation, where the state = power and the nation = culture and language….It was therefore unwise to annex great peoples with strong national cultures.”(Mommsen, 1984)

Belgian Annexationism…. Bismarck’s Foreign Policy and the Present (1915), Weber opposed a boundless annexation program. Lack of realims in an annexation policy of the west.  The Article outlines the long-term effects of annexation propaganda on public opinion: as soon as it was apparent that such unrealistic goals could never be achieved, disillusionment would become widespread and the fighting spirit would dissipate.  “THE fear of peace” led to unlimited multiplication of war goals.

Weber opposed annexation of the West 4 Principled Reasons:

  1. Turning England and France into long-standing enemies of the Reich. Instead, Weber viewed Belgium (along with Kurt Reizler) as a pawn in German negotiations with the Triple Entente. His policy was focused on security considerations. Weber’s proposals were unusually clear sighted according to Mommsen as the High Command wanted to annex Belgium into the Reich with resettlement plans for non-Germans…(209pp, Mommsen).
  2. Anti-cultural Integrationist (erode the German state): it would not work for nationalist reasons; that underlies Weber’s arguments in German politics: He believed that an independent people could be integrated in the Reich successfully. The optimal objective for Weber was a permanent military occupation of Luxembourge and 20 year guarantee of active neutrality by the Belgian state toward France. I argue he’s interested in maintainin the integrity of the German Nation-State as a Central power with little subordinate cultures orbiting the pure German centre. Did not want to engage in culturally integrating Belgium.
  3. Russia is the ultimate threat to Germany not the Anglo-Saxons: hence his position on Polish self-determination during the war. He is preoccupied with the situation of the Poles. Weber wants a Central European hegemon: Naumann’s Mitteleuropa is scrutinized by Weber as “stupid” because nation-states would not be able accommodate diverse policy objects. He did not believe in equality but in hierachical political sphere under Central Power dominations.
  4. Annexationism of Belgium would exacerbate the Alsace-Loraine problem.

NOT IMPORTANT FOR Week 8 Questions….

Weber + Soveriegnty – Associations with Eastern States.

  • Germany should liberate all the small nations from the yoke of greater Russian despotism. Hoped for Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian and Ukrainian national state, far-reaching automony but association with the German Reich.
  • Reich would continue with its fortification as well as Austria-Hungary in the south. Weber wanted a tariff union with Lithuanian, Latvia, and Poland that would tie these state economically to the Reich.
  • Kurt Reizelr’s German imperialism is similar “ with a European appearance: hegemony through indirect means, especially through the establishment of amiddle European tarrif and economic union.
  • WEBER’s concept was distinct insofar as it emphasized a liberal approach and was oriented primarily to the east. Even if it was in the east it would have centralized power in Central Europe.

Weber’s Public Meeting in Nuremberg : Deutscher Natialn-Ausschuss.

A) attacked German war enemies.

B) against Belgium annexation detrimental to Germany’s future foreign policy requirements: need for Belgium neutrality guarantees that was genuine.

C) necessity of a free Poland preferably within the framework of an ‘indissoluble, permanent [central European] union of states with a common army, trade policy and tariffs”. !!! <- essential goals of a peaceful order for all of Europe. All nations arranged around the German empire as a central core of power.

March 3, 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk:  Germany took large tracts of Russian territory. Poland taken largely by German. Germany helped Finland fight off the Russians. Strong friendship with Finland. Russia had substantial losses of territory.

  • Both sides, Germany and Russia recognized the principle of national self-determination. Soviet interpretation 12 of May 1917 regarding the right of national self-determination: Resolution: “The right of nations to succeed freely must not be confused with the separation of this or that thing. The party of the proletariat of each nation should be soviet.”

Weber’s dislikes Matthias Erzberger:

(GPM4) Erzberger’s Peace Resolution: in July of 1917: revealed German weakness during his speeches to justify the peace. When Erzberger proposes Peace Resolution between Social Democrats and other parties, he highlights German weakness: Weber calls him an ass. Weber was against Tirpitz’s resignation despite his USW objectives. He argues that Reich should not be revealed to be weak by the politically influential. He is torn between being political cohesion & rational realistism of his academic mind. He IS NOT just being pragmatically incoherent: there is a method to the madness.

  • November 11th 1918: Erzberger signs the Armistice: it is the great stab in the back by the German SPD: he is assasinated in 1921 for signing the Arministice. Weber celebrated his death. Rathenau was assinated a year later.
  • THE REASON he rejects Erzberger: THE IMPACT upon the ALLIES. “Abroad, they suspect weakness to be the reason for the democratic confessions of faith and they hope for more: revolution. This will extend the war” (258pp, Mommsen).
  • (Mommsen, 1984) believes that Weber overestimated the prestige factor in the international power game. Domestically, Weber favoured democratization in order to strengthen the home front. But when a Reichstag majority united in a decisive declaration for peace, he judged it to be a sign of weakness to those outside of Germany. As a result, Weber ended up in SELF-CONTRADICTION.
  • Weber wanted 1) free economic development of Germany 2) preservation of national existence.

Weber shifts back to a focus on world religions.

  • Conclusion:

Why is Max Weber IMPORTANT; SO WHAT? WHAT DOES THIS SAY about Nationalism Studies?

Weber’s Nationalism: nationalism engenders nations (Gellner, 1983)

Weber chooses his own end and serves that end (nationalism). We can only choose things that are culturally significant to us.

Therefore Weber is a better nationalist than the High Commanders. Weber is an instrumentalist because he is preoccupied with long-term cohesion of a strong German state. While the High Command is setting unrealistic goals that would only weaken Germany’s world policy in the longterm. Weber’s political goals appear to be more nationalist because they are superior in that they rationally deduced to achieve a moderate realistic end for Germany. The high command set expectation too high harming political cohesion and morale.


  • Weber’s argues for his ultimate value: preservation of German world power.
  • Weber’s policy prescriptions are formulated to justify that ultimate value using the most rationally efficient means given available information.
  • Weber is better able to detach emotionality from his rational means than the High Command who must mobilize society to fight for a glorious cause.

[1] Joachim Radkau, Max Weber: Die Leidenschaft des Denkens, (München, 2005), pp. 699

[2] Wolfgang Mommsen, Max Weber and German Politics, 1890 – 1920,  (Chicago, 1984),  pp.191

[3] Ibid., pp. 700

[4] Ibid., pp. 193

[5] Ibid., pp. 221

[6] Weber considered Russia to be Germany’s eternal antagonist. See Mommsen, pp. 204.

[7] See David Stevenson, ‘The Failure of Peace by Negotiation in 1917’ Historical Journal Vol. 34:1 (1991), for more on the peace feelers which surfaced during the course of the war.

[8] Wolfgang Mommsen, Max Weber and German Politics, 1890 – 1920,  (Chicago, 1984), pp. 257

[9] Joachim Radkau, Max Weber: Die Leidenschaft des Denkens, (München, 2005), pp. 75

[10] He states this most clearly in a speech given to Austrian officer in Vienna in June 1918.

Robert Moses | The Power Broker | Notes On An Epic Pulitzer Prize Winning Book

The Power Broker is a Pulitzer Prize Winner

  • Robert A. Caro’s The Power Broker is a Pulitzer Prize winning epic that was widely read by the politicians and civil servants in the US and abroad;
  • The keypoints are my interpretation of the events in the corresponding chapter; take with a grain of salt;
  • My opinions are subject to change at any future date as an intellectually free person; so if new information shows Moses to be even less “impure” I am free to change my opinion without judgement, thanks!;
  • Writing about Moses does not equal endorsing Moses obviously;
  • This article is my attempt to provide a chapter-ized summary so that you don’t have to read this 1255 pager. The physical book weighs a lot, too, as is Robert Caro’s way. Enjoy; 

Hero, Villain or Mixture of the Two? Probably a Mixture. He is both repugnant and visionary. Hate-able and laudable for “getting things done.” Moses famously responded to this Caro book by saying a) he wasn’t responsible for public transport (read: probably not of interest fee-wise), b) he wasn’t that powerful, c) Moses never addresses the racism he is accused of peddling…can we separate the progress from the possibly very repugnant man?

Part One – The Idealist

Chapter 1 – Line of succession

Robert Moses was born on December 18th, 1888. His mother Bella was the strong willed, daughter of Bernard and Rosalie Cohen. Bernard was among many German Jews who longed to escape repression and emigrate to the USA. Eventually he settled with his brother in New York and marrying his cousin, Rosalie Silverman. Bernard became interested in civic affairs. And became known as a decisive and visionary analyst of social problems. Rosalie Silverman bullied her husband. She was intellectual rather than maternal and as Granny Cohen was imperious, treating other people as underlings.

Bernard died in 1897 of pneumonia. Rosalie carried on energetically, marching around New York and dismissive of the soft life. In 1919 she calmly finished her crossword puzzle, got out of bed and rang the bell to summon her maid before calmly announcing “Martha, summon Doctor –, I’m dying”.

Bella, quiet and unassuming but thoughtful, spoke French and German fluently and retained the sharpness of her mother. In 1886 she married Emanuel Moses, a Jew from Cologne. Although he built a successful business, Bella was thought to have “married beneath her.” They settled in Dwight Street, New Haven, Connecticut, an elm lined street with substantial houses.

Bella disliked the lack of cultural activity in New Haven so eventually they moved to New York in 1897.

By 1907, 1 million Jews had fled to the USA to escape persecution. By 1917 this was 1.5 million. In the Lower East Side, settlement houses sprang up to cope with the influx, and Bella became involved. There was a certain snobbery exercised by the settled Jewish community towards new Jewish immigrants, many from Russia. They called them “Kikes” because of the endings of many Russian surnames. German Jews had a patronising attitude to the new influx of Jews from Eastern Europe. Bella’s attitude towards those under her wing were thought to be “You’re my children, I know best.”

Bella however, was more interested in urban planning than integration. Her proposals were well mannered but steely. She was known for getting her way. Once she became involved in a project, she became obsessed with the detail. Bella could always count on Emmanuel’s support, at work and in the home, an obvious parallel with her own parents. Bella was not religious, and although Emanuel was attached to the synagogue, her views prevailed.

In New York the family lived just off 5th Avenue; a large oak panelled brownstone at the centre of a rich Jewish sector. With assets of $1.2M and walls covered with Rembrandt and Durer prints, they were among the elite.

Bella was strict with children, organising their lives in minute detail. She was particularly interested in their education. All the children were sent to expensive schools, Robert eventually ending up at Yale.

Bella’s sons, Paul and Robert, were often mistaken as twins. Both were considered “stunningly” handsome but haughty, even arrogant. They were popular with both girls and boys. Although both were considered athletes, Robert was more of a loner, attracted to sports, but not team sports.

Both brothers were dismissive of their father but Robert and his mother formed an inner circle. Bella catered to Robert’s every whim, “doting” on him. Robert flattered his mother by praising her work in the community and mimicking her movements and deportment. The line of personality was clear: from Robert’s grandmother, to his mother, to him.

Analysis & Key Takeaways:
  • Robert Moses’ personality was shaped by the powerful women in his early life, women who had steely determination past down generation to generation;
  • Forming alliances can start at the Family level between siblings. Healthy competition is important, parents are people too and so they can and sometimes outwardly express their preferred child;
  • The instinct to know better than others is not without merit. However, it is difficult to evaluate the merit of ones ideas in isolation especially if the idea is based on a track-record, pattern recognition etc. Ironically, we are the worst evaluators of our own instincts (Dunning Kruger effect) which creates arrogance in some cases and brilliance in others. A way to check your instincts is to evaluate your predictions against the reality, however prediction is very luck based;
  • Loners seem to operate and run things; it’s lonely at the top therefore loners are predisposed to move to the top;
  • Everyone has a personal religious perspective, sometimes religion defines ones identity, other times it’s a footnote and other times a hindrance.

Chapter 2 – Robert Moses at Yale

Considered a “Jew” by his classmates at Yale. Known internally as “a democracy of talent”, the structure of Yale was in fact a social pyramid based on family background and closed to Jews. Moses roomed alone, seen as “diffident, quiet and shy” by his classmates but as exceptional by his few friends with a great love of learning. Joined editorial board of the Yale Daily News and joined the swimming team. Moses broadened his acquaintances through these two groups. He travelled Europe extensively, enthusiastically visiting the great museums and galleries and developed a great enthusiasm for Samuel Johnson.

Back at Yale, Moses attempted to democratize the structure and to improve the status of sports such as swimming, using the Yale Daily News to promote his views. He persuaded the minor sports to combine into a formal association for funding. On June 11, 1908, Moses announced the formation of the Minor Sports Association.

Moses resigned from the swimming team when he couldn’t get his way on funding. He became more active in literary circles. His academic work continued to be outstanding. In his last two years he had roommates, members of literary groups KitKat and The Current. He became liked by his circle of friends.

Moses’s idealism strengthened through the years. He was known as intense in argument but honest, speaking from the heart. Moses did not achieve a membership of any of the important Yale societies, but his achievement was impressive for a Jew achieving a certain amount of power and influence. He had managed to build a coterie of followers within the structure with himself at the head. This was to influence his progress in the wider world thereafter.

Analysis & Key Takeaways:
  • Anyone who has been in student politics will recognize the low stakes, high pettiness of student politics. Robert Moses organized student minor sports leagues for fundraising purposes. He wants to bring all the clubs together as a kind of unionized entity in order to gain leverage in terms of funding. He also wanted to fudge the finances to advance his singular sport of choice swimming. Of course, distributing the funds would be how he could funnel more to his sport then the more popular sports. When his ideas were rejected, he cut out friends that opposed him. He figured out early that money is power.
  • Networks matter and so do cultural groups. Religion (cultural group marker) is a foot in the door in some cases and a means of exclusion in others. The fact that shared experiences create alliances is not going to disappear anytime soon because the human brain is wired to prefer things that are similar: example Movie Sequels….Single-gendered work environments;
  • Is Robert Caro building up Robert Moses in this chapter? Do people have an honest recollection of a person after that person becomes influential in wider society? Or do recollections warp, inserting false memories? Moses sounds like a superstar or at least an overachiever, CV stuffer;
  • Resign if you can’t get your way. This mantra is something Moses threatens to do a lot throughout his career, figure out where you stand and then threaten to resign as a bargaining chip, but only if you are confident that ‘they’ need you.

Chapter 3 – Home Away from Home

Moses moved to Oxford University in England for his post-graduate work. This was to give him a clear, definable sense of public purpose and the duties and rights of those born to privilege (noblesse oblige). Moses swapped the pseudo-democracy of Yale for the elitism of Oxford, which he preferred and became the first American President of the Oxford Union debating society.

Moses continued his foreign travels around the colonial British Empire between terms. He enjoyed the bohemian atmosphere of post war Oxford, affecting a haphazard style of dress and carelessness with money. He told his parents that he would be devoting himself to public service, but this devotion was also accompanied by an increasing arrogance and Anglophilia. He developed a contempt for the working classes and especially for the colonised populations of the British Empire, saying “the subject peoples of the British Empire were not ready for self-government.”

Moses’s prose style hardened and improved at Oxford. His cast of mind had also hardened into support for noblesse oblige, encapsulated in the British Civil Service, a perfect instrument for civil reform but one disfigured by patronage. However, his notion of meritocracy applied only to the members of the educated upper class. A system that for him elevated the most intelligent young men into powerful and influential positions. He advocated suppression of socialist tendencies and working-class activism that challenged these beliefs. He urged the American Government to follow the British model and supported the election of Woodrow Wilson as President.

Moses graduated from Oxford with honours in 1911. He then carried on his studies in London and Berlin. Moving back to his old rooms in New York in 1912. He enrolled at Columbia University for his PhD, completing his thesis in 1913. While he was completing his thesis, he entered the training school for the Bureau for Municipal Research. His education was over and he now entered the world of public service.

Analysis & Key Takeaways:
  • Having contempt for the working class is obnoxious; like having contempt for something you do not appreciate, understand or are exposed to. We can only interpret reality from the information we are exposed to in publications, in anecdotes and in relationships. If we believe the patterns [we are exposed to] are objective reality then we are doomed. Doomed to jump to conclusions for quicker decision-making (finding short-hands from the gut) that are possibly very wrong.
  • Robert Moses went to Oxford which has a reputation for telling its students that they are special, smarter and better then non-Oxford students or people generally. This brand management has a re-enforcing nature to it.  In Moses’ case, it may have contributed to his contempt for the poor (financial and possibly spiritual, attitudinal poverty). Poverty and races were strongly correlated in New York in the 20th century and still is due to variables such as: a), b), c)….and z) the time value of money which compounds for those who have it, but subtracts for those who do not understand compounding interest and/or do not have sufficient cashflow. For Oxford graduates, “anything is possible, so they are told, so why are these poor non-Oxford folks so down? Well, then we the elite shall marshal them….” Meanwhile, there are likely Oxford students who aren’t condescending, I am just as guilty as others of extrapolating from patterns that or only partially representative of objective reality.
  • A recurring theme in this book is that the municipal government is where things done rather then where deadlocks form, municipal is where anyone serious about getting public policy should start. Why are there layers of government controlled by individuals anyway? Technology isn’t in place yet.
  • PhDs should be completed quickly if you can.  It’s intellectually self-pleasuring in the best case scenario. Don’t think you’re smart because of a PhD or other advanced degree. But go out and test your hypothesis in the wild, post-doctoral, test and refine.

Chapter 4 – Burning

Moses entered public service at the same time as the Progressive Movement had gained momentum, a desire to tackle the challenges of poverty and the new industrial order. Moses supported this movement by attempting to make American public service organisations more meritocratic. American institutions had no historical frameworks like Europe. Moses saw them as inefficient and corrupt. The Bureau of Municipal Research would be at the forefront of Progressivism in New York, whose drive was to improve government processes and operations in terms of efficiency as well as developing budgetary systems to support development by disseminating facts about how governments actually ran.

The findings of the bureau conflicted with Tammany Hall, the powerful New York Irish/Catholic political organisation that had run New York for decades. The Bureau developed new techniques to improve local government, including a budgetary system, allowing voters to be able to judge the performance of their local governors. This led to anti-Tammany, Reformer candidates to be elected to office.

After some time at the training school of the Bureau, Moses became impatient with the leg-work and report writing. He applied to join the Bureau, agreeing to do so without salary, and he was admitted. He began to make visits to the wasteland of Riverside Drive in the Bronx and walk through the nearby park a stagnant ex-landfill pervaded by the stench of trains going towards the abattoir. Here he dreamed of renewal, of a great highway along the waterfront and deal with the on-going problems of the ugly train tracks. His burning ideas of city improvements began to grow from this point. Now he needed to put them into practice.

Moses became critical of the Bureau for their lack of action.

Mary-Louise Simms was the only one to be sympathetic. Previously working for the Governor of Wisconsin, she had an instinct for politics and what it could do. Mary came to New York to work for the Bureau. Moses fell in love with her.

In 1914 John Mitchell became Mayor. When he looked to appoint a new Civil Service Commissioner, Moses was the favoured candidate.

Analysis & Key Takeaways:
  • A lot of things that are obvious for improving the machinery of government have already been contemplated by bureaucrats in the early 20th century. For example, rubrics for evaluating work, key performance indicators basically metrics for management which are routinely thwarted by human nature, self-reporting and the problem of data capture;
  • Government data/knowledge is a currency in the civil service. Understanding how an organization works is rarely written down. In order to reduce corruption of civil servants, that currency needs to be devalued by making it radically transparent within the civil service and by making the system more accessible to the public. That is with the caveat that the public can see the interconnection of cause and effect. One of the side-effects is that if the public has more information, you’ll need a filter in order to evaluate incoming criticism from the public who may not fully understand the (holistic) system of levers and responsibilities and balancing that goes on in government;
  • Another challenge with making data/knowledge more transparent is that a lot of data/knowledge is trapped in the minds of the civil servants themselves; and they don’t have time and zero inclination to write things down or even divulge their knowledge in any communicable format since….again, data/knowledge is a currency in the civil service;

Chapter 5 – Age of Optimism

Moses’s first task was to challenge the dominance for Tammany Hall, and for that he had to control the city’s jobs – 50,000 City employees. Patronage was the lever of power in New York City, and by taking control of this lever, Moses sought to gain the power he needed to change the city.

Tammany resisted changes to the Civil service. Employment was currently managed by patronage and bribery and a maze of technicalities had been historically put in place to prevent change. The Mayor turned to Moses to handle these technicalities.  However, Moses’s thesis was published, and his support of only educated gentlemen for positions in the Civil Service caused a scandal, and the offer was withdrawn.

Moses continued at the Bureau with more assistants. Moses’s first step was the measure of efficiency ratings for employees. In order to do this, each role had to be broken down into measurable parts. By 1915, Moses was ready to write his efficiency report. He was given a desk in the Municipal Building, his first foot in the City Hall door.

Robert married Mary in 1915 with a child in 1916. Although Moses’s mother pushed him to take a salary, Moses did not seem interested in money. He was more driven by his ideas for change and attaining the power to make them real.

Moses wrote that pay grades should be consistent across departments. The Civil Service should be structured into sixteen categories and promotion should be given purely on documented, mathematically verifiable merit. Moses was accused of downplaying the human element in this calculation but Moses had an almost religious belief in his mathematical models.

The first reactions to Moses’s ideas were positive. Mitchell announced that he would push for adoption. However, Tammany Hall was girding itself for a fight. Many of New York’s municipal employees would lose money due to Moses’s changes. At meetings, Moses would suffer a hail of abuse as he outlined his plans. Some of his supporters began to have doubts, especially those whose salary would be reduced. At the height of these doubts, Tammany Hall held a commission to consider the proposals. The decision was to modify the proposal, to consider individual cases and to slow down implementation. Different Civil Service levels were added by the City Alderman. By these methods, Tammany Hall successfully delayed the reforms.

Moses’s loss of optimism was mirrored by the country’s anxiety as it moved towards war. Mayor Mitchell popularity was also waning, not only with the public but with Moses as well as Mitchell had turned down Moses’s plans for Riverside Drive.

In 1917 Moses redoubled his efforts to push through his changes. Mitchell was up for re-election and was being contested heavily by Tammany Hall and their candidate, “Red” Mike Hyland, won. Progressivism was dead, as were Moses’s reforms.  Science and logic were not enough. Moses needed power.

In 1918, Moses was looking for a job. He tried the shipbuilding industry, where he again proposed reforms which were rejected. He had to go back to the Bureau for a job with a diminished status.

His second daughter was born. Money was short and debts were rising. The apartment was too small and a larger one was out of the question. The war was over. Woodrow Wilson was fading. Tammany’s Mayor Al Smith was in charge in New York. Moses’s contacts were gone. He seemed to have nowhere to go. And then he received a phone call from Belle Moskowitz, Al Smith’s political advisor.

Analysis & Key Takeaways:
  • Robert Moses was not motivated by money for the most part to Caro. This notion ends up being critical for evaluating what kind of lust for power, questionable ethics, vindictiveness and racism is exhibited by Moses’ practices.
  • Money is an approximation of value for Moses; People who are motivated by material value (goods, money) are doomed to chase short-cuts to get more money (easy to see corruption). People who are motivated by abstract goods are more likely to achieve great amounts of influence through hard work (of course); so having cheap tastes and be impactful will ward off claims of corruption even if you’re value are to undermine the prospects of the poor to advance the interests of the wealthy as Caro makes clear in this book;
  • Another example of the power of networks: Tammany Hall seems to have relied on a cultural group, Irish Catholics, to power a political block that gained disproportionate influence on the general public. These networks of influence aren’t explicit but show the underlying structure to be game-able by interest groups that aren’t explicit. As long as decisions are being made to advance the interest of the public, then there is no problem, right?
  • Measuring the efficiency of employees is very subjective and yet also necessary: you do not want to be making hiring and firing decisions based on a gut feeling; you also do not want to be ‘building a case’ for people you just don’t like. Instead, you ought to try to establish key performance indicators so that the employee and the manager can determine whether they are heading in the right direction or if there is not a good fit; the data collected needs to be independent of any single person otherwise it is all about relationships which is the world that Robert Moses thrived in.
PART 3 – The Rise to Power

Chapter 6 – Curriculum Changes

Belle Moskowitz, Mrs. M to her admirers or Mosky to her detractors, as advisor to Mayor Al Smith became one of the most powerful political voices in New York. She was not so powerful when she phoned Robert Moses. Reformers regarded Belle as one of their inner circle. She was a powerful voice supporting young working women and her recommendations for regulations to govern working conditions were accepted.

In her phone call, she told Moses that Governor Smith had decided to set up a commission to implement vast public service and infrastructure changes to the City of New York, and that Governor Smith was looking for a Chief of Staff. Would Dr. Moses be interested in the job? Moses said he would. On Belle’s recommendation, Moses got the position. Moses had his own office, at last, at the Hall of Records.

The election of 1918 was the first in which women were involved. Belle’s influence with the Governor came mainly from the advice she gave him about how to win over this new electorate. Smith was an underdog in this election and Smith began to rely more and more on Belle’s advice. Belle persuaded Smith to reform the state’s administrative machinery, even in the face of the Governor’s Tammany supporting backers, by forming a Commission that included in its title “Retrenchment” which appealed to native Tammany conservatism and served to split the Republican vote.

The existing administrative machinery was in a corrupt mess, with budgets and strategy run not by the governor but by the heads of many committees and the legislature, all serving their individual interests. The bureau argued that power, as well as responsibility should be in the hands of the Governor and his representatives with the legislature reduced to a reviewing role.

When Moses began his work as Chief of Staff, it was Belle who taught him how to get things done. She taught him the statecraft of dealing with the various factions, the art of the possible. There was no doubt that she was the boss, but Moses, despite his exasperation with some of her decisions, was learning fast. By the spring of 1919, the Commission was almost entirely in Moses’s hands.

Smith, emboldened by his success with the more progressive elements, persuaded to members of the Commission to raise a budget themselves. Once they had done this, Smith supported the Commission fully. Moses was an inspiring leader because of his frankness and hard work as well as his devotion to the public interest.

The Commission began running out of money and the staff had to be let go. Moses finished the report himself. Its success was based on its clarion call and its clarity. Although the Governor held the powers, he was answerable to the electors and an independent watchdog. This democratic element won all sides over. However, other contributors, including the original work of the Bureau, were not mentioned. Moses claimed full credit. The report was published in October 1919. Al Smith agreed to fight for its implementation.

Moses directed the project to build support for Smith’s position, tempered by Belle Moskowitz’s advice. Moses took charge of answering all questions regarding the report. He was confidant of passing the necessary bills during the Governor’s next term. However, Governor Smith lost the next election and the Commission was disbanded.

By 1922, Moses was working for the New York State Association. He continued to talk with Al Smith who was now working for a transport company. He continued to tell Smith about his plans and dreams, and Al Smith listened.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • State-Crafts and Politics involve appealing to desperate clusters of voters without the other clusters realizing you are talking to people other than yourself. Splitting the retrenchment conservative voters;
  • Devotion to the public interest is a central theme for Moses: however, it is also a good cover for all kinds of prejudiced decision-making Naturally, we gravitate to the most egregious examples: because hey are easy to remember; but he will always have the defense that he was acting in the public interest. How do you measure what the public interest is? In a Venn diagram, Moses’ self-interest appears to be significantly tied to the public interest;
  • Moses seems to have taken full credit for the report since he was the last man standing ad still working on it;
  • Fait Accompli strategy is to start a project that cannot be fully paid for due to the agreed budget but then embarrass the government into paying for the remaining.

Chapter 7 – Change in Major

The backgrounds of Robert Moses and Al Smith could not have been more different. Moses has a wealthy, sheltered upbringing, Smith was brought up in the tenements of New York lined by flop-houses and saloons. Smith’s father died when he was in his teens, and he had to help support his mother and his sister, starting work at 13. Eventually he ended up at Fulton Fish Market where he stayed for four years. He spent the rest of his youth labouring. He got his first political job at the age of 22 where his relationship with Tammany Hall began.

He involved himself in the local drama group and his acting improved his public speaking. He ran political errands, making himself well known and popular in his local district. He got his first government job and was married in 1896. In 1903 he won his first election as a Tammany assemblyman.

He was self-taught, reading legislative bills by night while others were in the saloon. In his second term he was elected to two committees. He was offered the post of New York City Superintendent of Buildings but chose to pursue his political career. In 1906, having been elected to Albany District for the fifth time, he began to use his voice. In 1911, the Democrats won both houses of the Assembly, and Smith was elected Majority Leader.

After a fire disaster in a sweatshop – the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, killing 141 workers, Smith had himself put on the Commission to investigate factory conditions. He began to impress Reformers with his concern for ordinary working people.

In 1913, the Democrats won the Assembly again, and Smith was elected Speaker and became a commanding figure, not only supporting Tammany bills, but Reformer bills as well. In 1915 he fought for the Reformer Commission’s proposal to reorganise the state’s government, but the Tammany hierarchy were fighting against it and eventually Smith succumbed to the Party. He continued, however, to persuade his party to champion social welfare legislation. By changing the Tammany image, he would open up his own route to Governor. By 1918, he was given the nomination for Democratic Governor and when he won, he was paraded through Albany.

Smith appointed Reformers to his administration and was himself progressive in his first term. However, he despised most Reformers because their idealism prevented practical measures that could help the poor and struggling cope with hardship. He called them “crackpots”. But Moses was different. He was treated as one of the family by Smith. Smith admired Moses’s education, his dedication and in-depth knowledge of the administration. But Moses had himself changed. His new-found pragmatism he had widened his circle of contacts and was more politically astute under Belle Moskowitz’s tutelage, curbing his idealism and practising the art of the possible. He now talked of Smith with admiration, especially with regard to Smith’s political manoeuvres. Moses, as Secretary of the Reformer Association, a seemingly independent body promoting good government for New York, became a partisan voice in the 1922 race for Governor, attacking the Republican incumbent Nathan L. Miller. Although this was bad for the Association, forcing many members to resign over its lack if independence, it brought Moses even closer to Al Smith.

In 1923, as newly elected Governor of New York, Al Smith went back to Albany, and took Robert Moses with him.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Tammany hall was a bit of an actors studio. A good politician in variably takes up acting at to some point: it’s a job requiring an ability to emotionally appeal to your audience. Al Smith was a thespian;
  • Al Smith was not an idealist and despises impractical reformer goals because he knows that to get things done is pretty gross/practical sometimes;
  • Al Smith was a business man who worked in a trucking company; he was from Oliver street ie poor. Al smith chatted with everyone in his neighbourhood. “Let me know if you need help.”Al Smith was a business man who worked in a trucking company; he was from Oliver street ie poor. Al smith chatted with everyone in his neighbourhood. “Let me know if you need help.”
  • Having ones ideas be realized into reality is obviously essential to creating more money but value is still created regardless of whether the idea materializes, you never know when an idea could be most useful so keep track of them;
  • He was a reader; people who read are > then people who don’t. Sad but true. You could go to Harvard where by definition you are forced to read, but the people who make the most impact usually read (in the public sphere).

Chapter 8 – The Taste of Power

In 1923, Moses was still Secretary of the New York Association. He often visited the Senate on behalf of Governor Al Smith but had no official position, so had to kneel on the carpet. He was, however, in the Governor’s inner circle comprised of both Tammanys and Reformers, as well as Belle Markowitz.

Being close to Smith, Moses found that if he had a good idea, it was more likely to be implemented. It was the proximity to power. Smith asked Moses to look at the penal system. Moses planned to create small industries in reform schools for youthful offenders and a generally more liberal policy. This was supported. He also made up plans to reduce rail crossings that held up cars. This was also forced through.

Moses now had the taste for power. He liked being on the inside, even if it was inside something he used to despise. His support for reform turned to support for Al Smith and Tammany Hall.

In 1923, Smith secured a paid position for Moses in charge of the very industries in state prisons that Moses had earlier recommended. Moses didn’t want the job. Again and again, Smith tried to give Moses a position but Moses always refused. But one day there was something he did want and that something was parks.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses was a turncoat; he despised Tammany Hall until it was beneficial to him. Technically being consistent is even possible as an elected official, let alone an unelected on such as Moses…
  • Moses turned down job offers from Al Smith time and time again. Until he got what he wanted which was parks…Must have seen something others didn’t understand which was that parks are at the core of urban planning; Moses himself believes that the best cover for a revenue generating poll is a patch of grass.
  • Gain influence over parks in New York is a critical first major step for Robert Moses. As history show, he was also probably discriminator towards those who did not align with his interests for example poor folks, Republicans, African-Americans although he himself never explicitly was racist in a direct manner, just generally, Moses was a kind of proxy for economic and political will of the Philosophy King type. In other words, he ran New York projects through cunning, pragmatic manipulation and influence peddling. The net effect being a controversial, singular vision that impacts New York today….

Chapter 9 – A Dream

The population of New York City was increasing rapidly in the 1920s. Green space and vacant land was being sacrificed to tenement housing. The need for housing was conflicting with the increasing desire for leisure. The Model T Ford had started to roll off the production line and the increased income of the population meant that more people had leisure and the mobility to use it. However, their mobility was restricted. There were limited green spaces outside of the city and getting there was difficult. The streets were narrow and there were no bridges across the Hudson; Ferries had to be used. The few local parks became as busy as the city the people had escaped from. However, there were bridges across the East River to Queens and Brooklyn, and beyond them was Long Island.

Long Island was a perfect place to escape from the city, but the locals strongly resisted non-residents visiting or buying land. Long Island was also the place where the powerful robber barons had settled and they wanted their privacy. The did everything to repel the general public, especially from the beautiful beaches of North Shore and Long Island Sound, where many of the rich had their mansions. This usually consisted in blocking main roads with armed guards and allow many of the minor roads to fall into disrepair. Despite all these inconveniences, New Yorkers flocked to Long Island. To Reformers, Long Island was the land of opportunity for parks and leisure. The two main problems were: how to obtain the land, and how would people get there?

Moses wrote a report to support the establishment of a Parks Authority on behalf of the New York association with revolutionary scope. He urged a bond issue of $15M to support permanent improvements to conservation and recreation.

Al Smith had little appreciation of recreation, but he did respond to graphic presentations; what it would look like. In 1922, Moses persuaded Smith to visit the sites he had in mind and used his eloquence to paint the picture. Smith agreed to support the necessary legislation but not until 1924, after the next election. However, the plan was supported by voters and the press. The Governor soon realised that supporting parks would help him in the election.

As Moses travelled around Long Island in 1923, his vision expanded to include 30,000 acres of parkland connected by numerous parkways and highways. Moses gained booth Smith’s and Belle Moskowitz’s approval. Smith offered to make Moses President of the Long Island State Park Commission. Moses accepted.

Analysis & Key Takeaways

  • Moses reported under Al Smith and believed that the government should be help accountable between elections. The governor has spending power through the legislature; state interest in expenditure will lead to more democratic engagement. Illustrate your ideas with visuals;
  • Robert Moses did his homework to map out the enter park plan as well as the entire infrastructure plan with the bridges;
  • Do your homework to understand the situation before making decisions; Moses understood how the government worked and memorized the structure of that government. Invent a new organization to gain influence and then raise a Bond offering in the MUNIs to circumvent the budgetary constraints that others have imposed on you;
  • Issuing bonds and or generating revenue from tolls gave him the ability to avoid accountability or balancing against the system; Raise Bonds for New Projects: Bonds for various projects like a bridge. West side project would cut a neighborhood in half…it would condemn several homes. River dale community was not consulted. Moses would destroy the lagoons near the cloverleaf of river dale.

Chapter 10 – The Best Bill-Drafter in Albany

Moses had learned the lessons of power. As a Reformer, he had advocated that only the legislature could approve budgets. The Heads of Departments could only recommend. However, as he was now a Head of Department, this would restrict his liberty. Therefore, Parks was to be an exception. Parks would therefore be an independent body with its own authority. The President’s term would be six years, three times the length of the Governor’s, and the Governor would be unable to dismiss him unless there was proven misconduct. His previous support for free and open debate. However, now, with the exception of Al Smith, nobody else would know what was in the enabling bill.

Hidden in the bill was the ability to acquire land by appropriation, i.e. by walking on the land and simply asking for it without redress or automatic compensation. Also, the naming of the main service roads as parkways rather than highways got around building restrictions as parkways were not previously mentioned in any highway laws. If the bill was passed, the Parks Commission, with Moses as its President, would have as much power as was contained in the New York City Charter.

There was not much interest in the bill when it went to the House in early 1924 and when it went up for vote it was nodded through unopposed. Moses and Smith ensured that the Commissioners elected would allow Moses to get on with the job, and at their first meeting, Moses was elected as Chairman.

  Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • If you do create a new authority, be sure to design it to your advantage. With any luck, no one will take the authority seriously at the start so that you can package it for maximum appeal. That’s precisely what Robert Moses did;
  • Parkways were not mentioned in any highway laws; therefore you can simply skip around a technicality to gain more influence.
  • Taking credit for other people’s work? Moses didn’t give credit to the employees who had done a lot of work to map out a restructuring of the bureaucracy in the Parks system. Moses was hilariously open to stealing another person’s idea; Moses actually claimed a guy who had written the vast majority of the plan for reorganizing the civil service actually plagiarized from Moses…Moses wanted to reorganize the civil service; creating state agencies;
Part 4 – The Use of Power

Chapter 11 – The Majesty of the Law

Having been elected, Moses set himself up with a big office and an expensive car. He also ensured that his friends were appointed to the Civil Service with all the trappings. Moses then started to use his new-found authority to start acquiring all the government land in Long Island, as well as all the private land he could get his hands on. He used a combination of charm and threat, depending on the circumstance, but would never compromise his plans and was often unwilling to negotiate.

The rich and powerful on the North Shore refused even to discuss the land. However, unknown to them, Moses’s surveyors were already mapping out their land. Moses’s lawyers pointed out the baron’s, that if they would grant land on the borders of their property then an agreement could be made, but if they didn’t, land would be “appropriated” right next to their houses. Only then was appropriation fully understood, but it was too late. These powers were now law.

The baron’s lawyers now had to challenge Moses on his interpretation of the law and they appealed to Smith. Smith was uneasy about appropriation without negotiation, a clear demand of the bill, but also realised the importance that the Parks movement had been to his re-election. At the hearing therefore, Smith signed the enabling form for appropriation.

There were further challenges to the Commission from rich landowners but Moses countered through the New York Times, saying that a small group of rich golfers were trying to protect their playground. Moses had won in the court of public opinion, but the barons had been supported by a judge, and the matter was due to go to trial. In early 1925, the Senate Finance Committee held hearings, which found that Moses had deliberately gone beyond the law by appropriating land without having the funds available to compensate the owners. The decision was handed over to the legislature. Again, Moses appealed to public opinion, re-phrasing the conflict as between common park lovers and rich and powerful park haters. The legislature put forward a bill limiting appropriation which was passed but vetoed by the Governor. The Commission’s attorneys then appealed the decision, using up time until funds became available to make the appropriations legal.

The weather came to Moses and Smith’s aid. The delay of the legal proceedings had run into the summer, and the sweltering heat had the frustrated citizens running for the limited green spaces available. Smith addressed the city on the radio, highlighting the opposition to the parks by the rich barons of Long Island and the Republican legislature. “I cast my lot with the many” he announced. The Republican legislature responded that the matter was about law and property rights, but to the “steaming millions” in the cities of New York, these arguments held little weight, and the press was on the side of the Governor and the Parks Commission, most importantly the bible of New York, the New York Times.

At the hearing, Smith made a significant speech, extolling the non-political nature of the Parks Bill. The Republicans again passed the bill limiting the powers of appropriation. Smith once more vetoed it. While the wrangles went on, land in Long Island was being bought up by property development, and no money was being made available to allow the appropriation of land for parks. Moses needed money desperately. Smith and Moses turned to Mrs. Moskowitz who suggested August Hecksher, a rich philanthropist who when telephoned, agreed immediately only asking that the park be named after him.

Opposition by farmers, barons and bay men in Long Island was increasing through 1925, and a referendum on the parks plan was heavily in favour of rejection. Moses was also due to stand trial on the charge of breaking his own laws. At the end of 1925, it seemed unlikely that any of Moses’s dreams would become reality. Within three years it would all become reality.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Charming and threatening  opponents works apparently;
  • Work very hard; while everyone else is at the bar you should be working your ass off in joy;
  • You need to experience the poverty to help fix the situation! Al Smith knew that experience and was a Catholic without any college education…Power is the ability to get things done: Moses began to be more interested in power rather than principle. He basically became a cunning political actor pretending to be a civil servant…as his power grew he became more arrogant like his mother and grandmother who were authoritarian in approach; getting things done mattered more….Often the rich have more power since they can support political candidates for public office.

Chapter 12 – Robert Moses and the Creature of the Machine

The construction of parkways meant potential riches for officials, politicians and landowners. Previously low-value land would become valuable if it was needed for government construction. Foreknowledge of the route of the parkways was thus a valuable asset. Moses started some backstage conversations with important fixers within government and started to reach agreements for his plans. In late 1926, he announced that local people would have access to the plans for Jones’ Beach. The referendum, lost the previous year, was now won. By making these agreements with key influencers, opposition to Moses’s parks plans began to collapse.

Moses began to arrange for land to be bought up in Long Island for the parkways necessary to supply the new parks, which were already being developed by local conservation groups. In the meantime, Governor Smith invited the main Republican opponents to the plan to New York and wined and dined them late into the night. They decided not to interfere with the plans.

Moses’s trial was still looming, his main opponent being the Republican Governor of Suffolk County, W. Kingsland Macy. Moses continued to delay this through appeals while parks began to open. When his final appeal was lost in the summer of 1926, the trial went ahead and the judgement went against Moses. Moses appealed the decision and won, resulting in a retrial date to be set. This time Governor Smith appeared for the defence and lunched with the judge. The judge’s summing up was heavily weighted in favour of Moses and the case was thrown out. Despite appeals by opponents, the greater spending power of Moses’s government backers was to delay a final decision for four years. In the meantime, development of the parks and parkways continued, powered by contracts given to influential politicians and contractors and supported by a public eager for the new green spaces. The lessons Moses had learned is that first, once a project had started, and costs had begun to be sunk into it, it was increasingly difficult to stop it, and second, justice delayed is justice denied. But the key lesson was that his previous efforts as a reformer and opponent of the establishment was not the way to achieve things. His success had come from using the levers of power as an insider and this is how he would continue.

Given $1M through the Parks Commission, throughout 1926 Moses began buying up land across the state and started sinking money into opening up the spaces to the public. In August construction of the Southern State Parkway, connecting all the parks on the south of Long Island, started. Moses himself began to design the bath-houses, park amenities and parking facilities that would serve the thousands of people who would flock to the parks via the new parkways. Moses’s preferred designs were ambitious. His design for the bath-houses would mean that each would use the entire budget for the whole of Long Island. Despite opposition, Governor Smith was able to use money from other departments to finance the construction.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Foreknowledge is always a problem in cases where you abuse that knowledge for personal financial gain;
  • Being a reformer is not the way to change things evidently. Changing the rule to the game is 10x more difficult then playing the game as it is currently played;
  • Parkways = Highways under a different name: it was a stroke of brilliance to call them different to a highway in order to gain special powers rather then be subject to the highway act;
  • Opening up the park spaces to the public was a brilliant idea: it appealed to the middle and upper class sensibilities.

Chapter 13 – Driving

Moses was now working towards a deadline. Governor Smith would only be in office until 1929 as he was planning to run for President, and even if another Democrat was elected, they would never have been as supportive as Smith. Moses’s only hope was to complete enough of the parks to allow the public to see them and support them. Construction work was therefore carried out at breakneck speed.

Moses spent his time rushing between New York City, Albany and Long Island, working long hours at a relentless pace. His energy was transmitted to the workers who found the projects exciting and enjoyable. People were inspired to work long hours and with great imagination. Tremendous efforts were put into the engineering and design of all the elements of the plans, with Jones Beach providing the focus. Work carried on through the winter months, despite inclement weather.

In early 1927, the contractor building the causeway ran out of money. Moses borrowed the $20,000 required from his mother, and the work proceeded. However, the east of Jones Beach was still not his (it was owned by Babylon County) and without it, his grand plan, linking Jones Beach to Fire Island, would be unfulfilled. Researchers found that Babylon County did not actually own the fishing rights to the bay, the main source of the locals’ income and so Moses swapped the fishing rights for the right to buy the east of Jones Beach. In a referendum, with every trick in the book pursued by Moses, the approval of the sale of the whole of Jones Beach passed by seven votes. By the end of 1928, all the land required for the causeway and the Southern Parkway was secured and the Water Board and Jones Beach parks were fully developed.

The New York press were making Robert Moses a hero. This had the practical benefit of securing the Long Island dream, although this was only a part of the state park system. There were upstate parks to be considered such as on the shore of Lake George, north of Albany. This land was owned by a group of wealthy men, who Moses persuaded to either donate, or sell at a reduced price, to the state. Once he had the parks, he built the roads to join them to the highways. The parks were becoming a great success. The upstate press lauded the upstate parks, and the New York City press praised the Long Island parks. However, none of the press expressed in full the magnitude of the parks and highways development that Moses had achieved, almost fully completing the plans first put forward in 1922.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses rented a boat and traveled around the New York area looking for something to carve out a major beach for New Yorkers, standing in the weeds on the side of his boat, he looked at a stretch of white sand beach and concluded this would be the beach;
  • Having the ear of the leader is only valuable as long as that leader stays in power. You also need to build relationships with the future leadership: unfortunately those folks aren’t as easy to identify in advance therefore influence will waver according to your ability to predict who will be the next leader, decision-making with the powers;
  • Moses lied about the cost of Jones Beach and then go back to the legislature for more money;
  • Robert Moses also targeted the legislators who had a mortgage with the 1st National Bank to turn him to support Jones Beach
  • Moses was worried that poor people (typically Black and Latino people) would come to Jones Beach by bus so he made the bridge clearances under 10 feet which would prevent buses from travelling to Jones Beach; legislation is easy to change, a bridge structure is not so much; such an elitist jerk!
  • Moses was anti-democratic because what he saw at Tammany hall suggests that democracy has never really occurred yet (true democracy that is).

Chapter 14 – Changing

Bob Moses had changed from an idealist to a pragmatist, one whose interest was primarily in power. Many people became to suspect that Moses was interested in power as an end in itself. However, even they had only scratched the surface of his ambition, driven by the character of his mother and grandmother. He was Bella Moses’s son, with his own version of her arrogance and sense of infallibility. Now he had power this flowered into full bloom.

His contempt spread from the general public to state legislators.

Moses began to conflict with the more elderly parks commissioners whose idea of parks were more inclined towards conservation rather than recreation. Moses had needed their backing during the last few years, but now they had become surplus to requirements. Moses now ensured that all requests for funds now had to go through the States Parks Council, previously seen as merely an advisory body and in effect, through Moses as its chairman. Moses has taken their promised control of local parks away from them. The old park men tried to replace Moses as chairman, but they discovered that the council had a majority of Smith placemen, and so Moses stayed.

Moses’s arguments with the old park men became less and less about parks philosophy and more about Moses’s desire for power and control. An example of this was the fight over the Niagara State Park and its commission’s representatives, Judge Clearwater and Ansley Wilcox. Both parties were in agreement on the need to increase the speed of development and enlargement. The only disagreement was over who should be in charge of this development. Moses saw this as a threat to his overall control.

Moses attempted to appoint an executive director of the Niagara Parks Commission. The Commission refused. Moses then called a meeting of the Parks Council to investigate a deal for land that the Niagara Commission had made with the local power company. Moses tried to imply that the deal was in favour of the power company. Despite assurances of the Niagara Commission’s innocence during the meeting and the subsequent report which exonerated them, Moses continued to hound the old men on the Commission, charging Wilcox with discourtesy by falsifying the tone of an exchange of letters and trying to remove his opponents from the Commission with charges that they were dysfunctional. By a strategy of wearing the old men down, Moses eventually gained the control he desired. With the help of Governor Smith, to whom the development of parks was a vote winner, Moses had turned parks into a lever for power.

Analysis & Key Takeaways

Robert Moses Titles with 4 year overlapping terms from 1924 to 1975:

  1. Long Island State Park Commission (President, 1924–1963);
  2. New York State Council of Parks (Chairman, 1924–1963);
  3. New York Secretary of State (1927–1928);
  4. Bethpage State Park Authority (President, 1933–1963);
  5. Emergency Public Works Commission (Chairman, 1933–1934);
  6. Jones Beach Parkway Authority (President, 1933–1963);
  7. New York City Department of Parks (Commissioner, 1934–1960);
  8. Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (Chairman, 1934–1981);
  9. New York City Planning Commission (Commissioner, 1942–1960);
  10. New York State Power Authority (Chairman, 1954–1962);
  11. New York’s World Fair (President, 1960–1966);
  12. Office of the Governor of New York (Special Advisor on Housing, 1974–1975).
  • Moses seemed to love power as an end in and of itself. However, it was really his grandma talking.

Chapter 15 – Curator of Cauliflowers

In 1925, after vicious infighting with Moses as one of the main protagonists, the Reconstruction Bill reorganising government departments, originally drafted by Moses in 1919, was passed with minimal amendments. This reconstruction became the main structure for governing New York. This gave the governor immense legislative, executive and budgetary powers. Al Smith used these powers to enact large programmes of social reforms, including huge housing projects. Moses was the architect for this consolidation of power. The new structure included the appointment of a Secretary of State, who would be able to use this power in the name of the governor. There was uproar in New York political circles when Robert Moses was appointed as New York’s first Secretary of State. The Democrats objected because Moses was a Republican. The Republicans objected because they knew Moses was the servant of Al Smith, the leading Tammany Democrat. However, because of Moses’s popularity with the press and public, nobody dared to object to the appointment.

With his new powers, Smith was able to start a program of public works, involving parks, housing and hospitals. As the main executive in these projects, Moses threw himself into his work.

He turned his limousine into an office, even holding meetings in there so as not to waste a second of the day. He gave his secretary, Miss Tappen, three chauffeurs available twenty-four hours a day, and three secretaries of her own to carry out the tremendous volume of work that Moses was generating. He had buzzers included in each of his executive’s office and would expect them to be in his office immediately if he wanted them.

Moses had physically filled out. He had a big face, a big smile and a big body. He had developed a fearsome temper. He no longer inspired men, he commanded them. Only water seemed to calm him. He insisted every office and home he used was near the water. Still a keen and strong swimmer, he would swim every day.

He had a gift, however, to pick men to work for him. He seemed able to know which men were able to handle responsibility. He communicated almost entirely by memo. Only a few executives spoke with him directly and was increasingly unable to accept advice. He required absolute loyalty from his staff and he rewarded that loyalty with rapid advancement. They became part of an elite, known as “Moses Men.” He ensured that all their letters were written in a house style; his style. He taught them the social skills to allow them to communicate with people of power, and delegated authority to them. He had parks workers build and maintain houses for his executives on park land. Most of all, he gave his workers a sense of mission and purpose. They saw their plans turn rapidly into physical reality. Everybody knew that with Smith at the helm, whatever Moses wanted to happen, happened.

In the meantime, Moses was able to show some compromise with the barons of Long Island. He negotiated skilfully to allow his Northern State Parkway to pass through the baron’s estates with the minimum inconvenience, sometimes driving it through the land of poor farmers instead. Moses knew that he would have to negotiate with men of wealth and influence, but with the powerless, he could afford to be ruthless.

More power came to Moses due to Al Smith’s Presidential bid. He did not play a great role in the campaign (this was run by Mrs. Moskowitz) which was eventually lost, but while Smith was campaigning, Moses was effectively governing. Time however, was still of the essence, as Smith would not be able to serve as Governor if he was made President. Moses was therefore worried that without Smith, his plans would be shelved, and the man who was to follow Smith as Governor was to be Moses’s deadliest enemy.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Being a good judge of the kinds of people you bring on board is critical but difficult;
  • Moses applied a cruel distaste for the poor; he knew they were vulnerable and acted to undermine their interests if they conflicted with his and the ‘public interest’ which he hid behind. The public interest for Moses was the above average income bracket, it seems to not include non-white Americans, Robert Caro called Moses a racist in interviews but not explicitly in the book, this is substantiated by Moses’ planning tactics, the Jones Beach bus blockade and the cold pool water examples come to mind;
  • Fait Accompli strategy is to start a project that cannot be fully paid for with the agreed-upon budget but then embarrass the government into paying for the remaining.

Chapter 16 – The Feather Duster

Robert Moses and Franklin Delano Roosevelt had known each other for a long time. The patrician Roosevelt had been helpful to Al Smith by shoring up the Democrats’ more conservative wing. He had, however, never been one of Smith’s inner circle. Moses took Roosevelt along, but Roosevelt had always been restrained, never being comfortable with Smith’s Tammany crowd. He was called the “Feather Duster” at school due to his propensity to fly in and out of interests and Smith had little good to say of his ability. None of them ever guessed that Roosevelt was using his position to make a future presidential bid of his own. Only Belle Moskowitz saw Roosevelt’s potential and she saw him as a continuing threat to Smith’s own bid to be President.

When Smith appointed Moses onto the Long Island State Park Commission, he also appointed Roosevelt to the Taconic Parks Commission. Roosevelt had an assistant called Louis Howe who he required due to his disability through polio. He could not afford to pay Howe a salary and so tried to employ him as a secretary. Moses dislike Howe and tried to prevent the move. This was one of the elements of their rivalry. Another was Roosevelts interest in parks, one as strong as Moses’s own. Conflicts arose between the two arose over Moses’s rejection of Roosevelts budget requests for development of the Taconic parks and parkways. Roosevelt complained to Smith threatening to resign, and as Smith required his support for his Presidential bid, Smith made great efforts to smooth things over, supporting Roosevelt to succeed him as Governor. Moses disagreed with this, but political expediency ensured that Roosevelt got the nomination. Moses called him “a pretty poor excuse for a man.” Roosevelt’s dislike for Moses was just as intense. Smith lost the presidential race to Herbert Hoover, but Roosevelt won the governorship of New York in 1928.

Smith retired and prepared to assist Roosevelt into the governorship and help him carry on the previous policies, but Roosevelt was evasive. He was against leaving Mrs Moskowitz and Robert Moses in their posts and he was already planning for the presidential race in 1932. However, Moses was difficult to remove. He had erected a power structure in New York all his own, buttressed by public opinion. In the end, Roosevelt had to live with Moses, if not as Secretary of State, then as Chairman of the Parks Commission.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • When the powerful are fighting over power; they tend to dislike the person as well as the policy; but the personal is easier to describe and very immediately: there is not a lot projection being forced between Roosevelt and Moses
  • Authoritarian CEO or consensus driver? This is the conceptual challenge of government. It is the people’s revenue! Why is it not treated like an extension of democracy (public review every 4 years)? Because that would be harder to pull off.
  • FDR and Moses have an obsession with parks…Brokerage politics is about getting the vote out with your existing political machine: that has changed now that people are less locked in based on relationships proxy which was about if you like Al Smith then you should vote for him since he is Catholic etc etc. Now there is more voting based on ideology (another proxy for preferences but an effective tool for organizing). But Roosevelt had sway against Moses because Roosevelt could marshal support for Al Smith’s presidential bid.

Chapter 17 – The Mother of Accommodation

Now Moses had to operate with limited executive support and he still needed to secure the route of the Northern Parkway on Long Island and this meant negotiation with the barons. Moses accommodated the barons by diverting the route around their land. Moses claimed that the barons, as part of the deal, had contributed substantially to the cost of the parkway, but in fact, the vast majority of the cost of the detour was funded by the public. On top of that, the parkway would be detoured around the most attractive parts of northern Long Island. This compromise was, in effect, a surrender.

Although Roosevelt did not give the easy ride to Moses he was used to under Al Smith, he nevertheless continued to fund Moses’s projects. Moses’s years of ingratiating himself with a large number of New York political organisations made him electorally indispensable to Roosevelt. Moses had in a large part created the new political structures of New York and he knew how to use them. Moses aided Roosevelt with his budget negotiations. He helped with numerous legislative programs. In fact, Moses’s power continued to increase in the Roosevelt years and his reputation as the creator of parks with the press and the public remained undiminished. They continued to praise the architecture and attention to detail that were a hallmark of Moses’s park designs, especially the jewel in the crown, Jones Beach.

The success of Jones beach had its problems. By 1930, the park had over two million visitors a year. The traffic on the Southern Parkway was frequently backed up due to the continued existence of rail crossings. Moses was able to get funds to build bridges over the railway, thus alleviating the traffic problems and continuing to develop the Southern Parkway to stretch further east across Long Island. Land owners began to see the value of their land increase due to the developments and they became more willing to let go of their land. Moses’s popularity was at its peak at this time, and he would manage to get his way with Roosevelt simply by threatening to resign. With this lever, Moses’s parks and parkways in Long Island began to extend and develop rapidly. Roosevelt’s forbearance of Moses was continuing to reap political benefits for the governor. Thus, the uneasy partnership between the two was held together due to mutual benefits and grudging respect.

Left to a large extent to his own devices, a more unsavoury aspect of Moses began to appear. Although the development of the parks system was primarily for the benefit of the public, he had little regard for the public as people. He discouraged the use of the parks by black people and the working and lower middle class. He resented the fact that they messed up his beaches. He thought them dirty and slovenly. He limited access by buses and trains, the normal transport of the poorer citizens. Black people were discouraged from using “white” beaches. He lowered the temperature of the swimming pools because he thought “negroes” didn’t like cold water. He increased parking fees at the parks to discourage the working classes. Roosevelt protested, but Moses brought out the resignation card and Roosevelt relented.

When Al Smith decided to run against Roosevelt for the 1932 presidential nomination, Moses took time off to support Smith. However, Moses soon realised that Smith’s bid was doomed. Roosevelt had taken much of Smith’s support. Moses continued to battle for Smith to the end.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses’ racism is bound up in his hate for the poor. It is morally repugnant today and it was then, however, it was socially acceptable then;
  • Gaining political influence within the various groups in a city is important.
  • Look at Project In Isolation Not In Reference To Other Projects (A Persuasion Tactic): in government should not be viewed against other projects but should be looked at in isolation. To look at the project without reference to funding other projects is the opposite of the reality of how government works where the budgets are finite however Moses had a much easier time to make it work.
  • Disregard for people versus love of the public: Moses loved the public generally hated the various people, not a healthy way of thinking.

Chapter 18 – New York City before Robert Moses

Nowhere had the Great Depression hit harder than in New York City. More than one person in every three had lost their jobs. The rest were often paid a fraction of their former salaries. Malnutrition was rife. Children missed out of education. There was fear and terror of the future.

Tammany corruption within the city was endemic. Federal relief payments were being syphoned off. The test for employment was politics rather than need. By 1932, New York’s debts were over $1 billion, equal to the debt of all the other states combined. The reckoning for Tammany rule had arrived.

The city’s failures were not entirely due to the Depression. They were also caused by under-investment in crucial infrastructure. Corrupt employment practices had resulted in a lack of qualified technical staff. Public works were either lacking or substandard. The development of parks and parkways driven by Moses stood out even more starkly as an example of what could be done. Road connections, both by bridge and tunnel, between Manhattan and the mainland were seriously inadequate. New York City, in terms of the state of its parks, playgrounds, statues and other public provisions, was a crumbling disgrace.

Central Park was a good indication of the demise of the city. The idealist construction of the 19th Century had been destroyed by the Tammany governance.  The zoo there stank from neglect, the animals either sick or malformed.

The city was surrounded by beaches, but their use by Tammany insiders restricted the general public to severe limitations. The beaches that were available were inhabited by lifeguards who couldn’t swim, or homeless people’s makeshift shacks.

During the Depression the parks started to fill with shack towns or “Hoovervilles.” There was a tremendous strain on housing and the slums were overflowing, with barely an acre of green space to provide relief. In 1932 there was only one playground for every 14,000 children. This did not prevent the construction of a casino in Central Park, at vast expense, by Mayor Jimmy Walker, who proceeded to use it as his own personal domain; somewhere to wine and dine his cronies.

Moses had other things on his mind, namely, the construction of metropolitan parks and parkways, the Triborough Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge and connecting roads to alleviate the city’s traffic problems. Moses was planning to connect Manhattan with the northern states, Long Island and New Jersey. It was the most ambitious city development plan in the world. But was it achievable?

Moses persuaded Roosevelt to allocate funds as part of the State Budget. The rest of the money however, was to come from the city. Roosevelt’s successor, Herbert Lehman, was a champion for Moses and set up a special commission with Moses as chairman to start the development. Some of the initial funds were syphoned off for other purposes and it was a struggle for Moses to persuade the funders. New York City meanwhile, was unable to pay its employees and was close to being declared bankrupt. However, in the summer of 1933, Moses was to bring fresh hope to his plans by running for Mayor.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • The bridge is power, it’s the layers, public relations, and banks. Moses used the power of the bridge in order to leverage towards other projects;
  • Any jurisdiction runs the risk of being mismanaged when the same people get re-elected time after time; it goes from democracy to kleptocracy rather rapidly. Mismanaging funds is often the act of screwing the future to help the present (since we don’t know what the future may hold).

Chapter 19 – To Power in the City

The Good Government Movement had been revitalised by lawyer and politician Samuel Seabury while presiding over the extensive 1930–32 investigations of corruption in the New York City municipal government. The Tammany hold on the city was beginning to loosen, and Reformers were beginning to get the upper hand. Moses was still a hero to many Reformers, and the changes to Moses’s character over the years were considered less important than his high purpose and ability. When Seabury turned down the nomination for Mayor, the way seemed clear for Moses to run on an independent or “fusion” ticket. Seabury however, was hostile to Moses. As an enemy of Tammany Hall, Seabury felt Moses, through Al Smith, was too close to Tammany and would be unable to stand up to the endemic corruption in the city.

Moses’s main rival was to be Fiorello Henry La Guardia, son of immigrants and raised in tenements, a Republican considered too liberal for most members of the GOP. The Reformers were suspicious of La Guardia because of his upbringing, his radicalism and his aggressive championing of the have-nots. At a late stage of the nomination process, Moses seemed to have it in the bag. However, Seabury turned against Moses, accusing the fusion leaders of selling out to Tammany Hall. The fusion leaders panicked and looked around for another candidate. Moses had wind of this and withdrew his nomination. The nomination went to La Guardia.

Moses refused to become involved in the race for mayor. However, when La Guardia’s campaign started to flag, Moses was asked to offer his support. Moses agreed and made a number of press attacks on Tammany Hall while at the same time extolling La Guardia’s virtues of honesty and integrity. Although Al Smith would not endorse any candidate, the fact that Moses supported La Guardia seemed to imply Smith’s support, a notion La Guardia’s supporters did nothing to dispel.

La Guardia became the new Mayor of New York. As first order of business, La Guardia appointed Moses Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Commissioner of the Triborough Bridge Authority. Both state and city legislatures voiced opposition to these appointments as it would give Moses immense power, as well as breaking a long-held precedent that a person could not hold both a state and a city job at the same time. This opposition was blasted by the press and the Reformers, and the barons of Long Island pulled their strings. On April 9th, the bill bringing all Moses’s posts together and appointing him as head, was passed.

Roosevelt’s New Deal for New York, assigning unemployed men to carry out public works, began operation. However, when Moses inspected the work being carried out on his parks by these men, found that they had few tools and little training. Moses arranged to have 80,000 of these men carry out renovations as part of his parks plans. Moses meanwhile was touring the sites in his office cum car with his secretary and his engineers. Moses extolled his engineers to use their imagination and design structures appropriate to the individual places. His concentration was not reserved for one park, but all the parks.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Tammany hall broke the idealistic spirit of Robert Moses and left him turning to the darkside of ignoring democracy ;
  • From 1930 to 1968, Robert Moses became the Darth Vader of New York…advocating for prejudicial, biased projects based on income and even race to a certain extent.

Chapter 20 – One Year

In early 1934, Moses was appointed as Commissioner for State Parks. Moses moved quickly to get rid of all staff who could not work at the pace he required. Moses then hired an army of architects and engineers from all over New York State. The ranks of Civil Works Administration (CWA) workers were also being addressed through discipline and training enforced by new superintendents, backed up by the local police.

The winter was bad that year with temperatures plummeting to -14C. Nevertheless, workers were still expected to wield their pickaxes, shifts working around the clock. By May however, the weather changed, and New Yorkers headed for the parks. By then, the parks had been transformed through the completion of 1700 projects.

Moses was not only transforming existing parks but was creating new ones using as much public land as could be identified. During a six-month period, Moses created nearly seventy green spaces, playgrounds and parks amongst the slum tenements. Other government departments looked on in anguish as all their land, planned for housing and other public works, was eaten up by park development. Occasionally, La Guardia would intervene, but for the most part, Moses had his way.

The press and people of New York cheered the new developments. The achievements of the new Commissioner in his first six months of office were seen as near miraculous. His picture stared out from the city newspapers over one hundred times that year. Al Smith however, was struggling in his new role. He was being rebuffed by Roosevelt and his association with the new Empire State Building was becoming stressful due to the difficulty of finding tenants. His one shaft of light was the opening, by Moses, of the Central Park Zoo. Moses had arranged a hero’s welcome for Smith at the opening ceremony, making him Honorary Night Superintendent of the Central Park Zoo.

Moses’s attention to detail was becoming his hallmark. Even though finances were tight, his prompted his architects and engineers to use their imagination. Tight budgets meant that the materials used had to be cost-effective, but that did not seem to limit unduly the scale and attractiveness of the Zoo and associated park developments.

The Triborough Bridge development meanwhile was coming the fruition, linking three boroughs and two islands. More than five thousand men worked on the site and many times more were servicing the construction from across the state. The development totally transformed traffic flow across the city and between the city and neighbouring states. The combination of cheap labour, bridges and parkways to serve the parks, and attractive parks to persuade motorists to pay the bridge tolls, meant that even in the age of depression, a huge program of public works could be achieved.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Parks were more popular than movie theatres in the early 20th century which illustrates just how much the future is an undiscovered country;
  • Robert Moses’ success in understanding that the toll revenue from the infrastructure projects were critical to not just paying down the Bonds but could be a source of further capital to follow his goals; he would draft those goals on yellow legal pad;
  • Moses issued bonds outside of the tax revenue and normal budgetary powers, so elected officials were then going to Moses to decide what they should be investing in;
  • Moses was a passenger on many small plane flights over Manhattan so that he could plan his next projects in 1934, hence the benefit of a higher vantage point.

Chapter 21 – The Candidate

In 1934, Moses started to run for Governor as a Republican. The “old guard” of the GOP, the barons and property owners, hated Roosevelt and were keen to retain power in their hands. They also had a fight within their own party, with the incumbent Macy. At the centre of this was the battle over control of the power utilities; between public and private.

The “old guard” turned to Robert Moses. They shared Moses’s often expressed disdain for the masses and his hatred for the President and the New Deal. In public however, Moses was still seen as a man of the people, which would protect him against Democrat attack. Eventually Moses was nominated for, and accepted, the Republican nomination for Governor. His previous supporters in the press were mystified by Moses’s campaign. He made a number of campaign pledges which pleased both the young and old in the GOP. He then looked towards his ex-Democrat friends for support, but in such an antagonistic way that he alienated them. He also attacked his recent supporters in the press for questioning his closeness to the old guard. He assumed he had La Guardia’s support, and announced it without consulting him. He thus also displeased the Mayor of New York.

Moses refused to play the campaign game; there were no drive-throughs or cocktail parties. He campaigned mainly by press releases. Moses also attempted to deny his Jewish heritage.

He then turned to attack Governor Lehman and his links to Tammany Hall. He called Lehman “weak” and “snivelling.” A previous supporter of Moses, Lehman hit back. He repeated the accusation that Moses was being run by the old guard. He also used the public ownership of the power utilities to get the press and public on his side.

Late in the campaign, Moses went too far and called Lehman a liar, a charge never previously used in campaigns. Moses’s own supporters turned against him saying he was unfit for office. Moses continued to harangue all and sundry, friend and foe. Finally, Al Smith joined the fray. The former Governor respected Lehman and started to campaign for him. He would not actively campaign against Moses but his intervention was crucial. Allied with his alienation of his supporters, Moses’s popularity waned.

At the polls, Moses was heavily defeated, getting less votes than any other candidate in New York State history. The old guard were never again allowed to choose a candidate. Commentators said that it was Moses’s personality and personal attacks that had lost the election. Once the public had seen Moses not as a fighter for parks but as a man in himself, their trust in him had disappeared.

On election night, Moses seemed to disregard the result, saying that we would return to his State Park work. There were moves to remove Moses as Chairman, but Lehman and Smith, despite Moses’s behaviour during the election, continued to support him. However, the shine on Robert Moses had dulled. His arrogance and contempt had been seen by the public and they had not liked what they had seen.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses team was never explicitly about money for votes. Moses was asking for people to get power. He was not money hungry. Moses was power corrupt; he had the money to be money clean but power corrupt he was for sure.
  • Moses was a public servant at his core. La Guardia was an equivocating double talking politician. Duplicitous and conniving;
  • On the campaign trail, Moses denied his Judaism during his gubernatorial campaign in 1934 as the Republican candidate. He denied it and even threatened to sue a Jewish publication that claimed Moses as their own. His kids were in Episcopalian school and his Tammany hall friends were of course Catholics;
  • Moses was all about road to the parks. And the public focus in elections is on the person; the public didn’t like him because the ends he pushed for. Moses was an intellectual and very arrogant; he did listen to other people. He needed to show himself as smarter; he shunned public appearances’
  • Moses attacked Lehman. Lehman was the puppet. Keenan from the Lehman brothers. Moses tried to make up stuff about Lehman. And he tried to link Lehman to high milk prices. Lehman brother was connected to milk prices. Moses lies about control “he did lie about it.” Moses was seen as unfit; too nasty. Jim Farley the Big Bag Man. Wholesale liable. Accused some folks of slick traders and pretending to be civic champion….”he is entitled to all the fun of being an emotional stability.” Moses did not get Alan Smith’s political style and was not able to learn it for the election: “Moses, you know I play this game like a regular” said Al Smith. Moses list both houses and then 35% GOP lost in upstate New York. Sinking of a poor candidate; he was caught in the badness. Republicans lost across the US…Moses’ personality really sucked for the role of actual politician;
  • Robert Moses realized that he was not going to get elected and sort to be a permanent civil servant, he wanted to be the locus of corruption (power).

Chapter 22 – Order 129

Roosevelt as President felt it was time to get his revenge on Moses. Roosevelt withheld money from New York City and the Mayor, La Guardia, now knew about the feud between Moses and Roosevelt. Roosevelt said La Guardia would not get vital funding if Moses remained. La Guardia now tried to get Moses to resign from the posts he currently held. Moses was still held in high regard in terms of parks and this was not easy. Moses could not be removed unless he was charged with a misdemeanour.

In December 1934 Roosevelt raised an order to the PWA, Order 129, that stipulated that no funds would be given to any authority whose head held public office. This obviously referred to Moses. This gave La Guardia a public excuse to fire Moses. Roosevelt also told La Guardia that funds would be resumed if Moses was simply not appointed the following year.

In response, Moses leaked the order to the press, showing Roosevelt to be involved in New York affairs. Moses was showing himself as an underdog fighting for the city against the powers that be. The press firmly lined up on Moses’s side and the public also returned their support. La Guardia now came under intense pressure to relax the pressure on Moses or resign himself. Moses had turned the situation around and now enjoyed the full support of the city.

Roosevelt however would not give an inch. He still wanted to go through with the order. Unfortunately for him, the press found out that Roosevelt was aware of, and even directed the order. The Reformers then joined on Moses’s side. They made it a matter of the principle of the division of powers, of the city being held hostage by the President. By mid-February 1935, the level of protest became countrywide and unignorable. A congressional investigation was talked of. A report from the Attorney General judged the order to be illegal.

Roosevelt was desperate to find a way out. La Guardia suggested that he would apply the order in the future, but not retroactively. Al Smith had been persuaded by his supporters to intervene and now he decided that now was the time. He called a press conference, supporting Moses but not directly attacking Roosevelt but attacking his administrators. Roosevelt decided that this was the time to back down. Moses had won the battle and retained public confidence.

With funding resumed, the Triborough Bridge project was finally completed. Moses arranged a grand opening. The press speculated whether the President would attend. The President said he would attend but only if he was introduced by La Guardia. Both Roosevelt and Moses avoided voicing their mutual animosity, effectively putting their public spat to rest.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • When La Guardia was angry with Moses, he threatened but Moses said look at the contract! The contracts had been signed by the mayor because he trusted Moses to be just. Also don’t forget Moses could get projects done without a scandal! On time for the election;
  • La Guardia believed lawyers were like prostitutes except they sell their knowledge of the law; Moses believed that tax payers had a right to get value for money coming from all workers and employees, both would be somewhat right and somewhat wrong;
  • Graft through fees for lawyer was a common thing, commissions for real estate agents. Insurance broker fees called commissions and public relations fees called retainers….no coincidences goes unpaid. How do you prove a lawyers fee for billable hours is not graft?
  • Tom Shanahan was a banker who was able to get into construction contracts and would basically ensure a cash back to Shanahan fees for banking services and then a donation to the Democrat party. Shanahan would basically say I will expose the nasty stuff from the 1930s. Shanahan worked with Moses.

Chapter 23 – In the Saddle

Mayor La Guardia was now free to concentrate on the city.  He seemed to be everywhere, dominating the whole of his domain. He slashed all non-essential jobs and reduced overall the city payroll. All eyes however were on the relationship between him and Moses.

La Guardia had the reputation of treating all his public servants like dogs. The turnover of his senior staff was high. However, his relationship with Moses was different. Moses often kept him waiting and would not cower in his presence, usually giving as good as he got. Moses’s threats of resignation as a weapon returned frequently and successfully. La Guardia eventually countered this ruse by treating all the resignations as a joke, which reduced their occurrence without fully eliminating them.

In July 1936, La Guardia decided to recommission the Triborough Ferry, drawing traffic away from the new bridge. He was supported by regular users and further bolstered by a new development nearby which could use the ferry. Moses attempted to use his construction plans to block the ferry by removing one of the piers. The Mayor sent the police to try to keep the pier open, but the construction crew refused to stop the destruction. The police removed the crew by force and the pier was replaced. However, Moses wrested control of the ferry and continued the removal of the pier and the shutting down of the ferry.

Another battle followed. To reduce the payroll, La Guardia ordered Moses to reduce staff. In reply, Moses removed all the playground attendants, effectively shutting them down. After public uproar, funds were restored.

Despite their disagreements, both men were so driven by public works that their hostilities could soon be forgotten. They both seemed to understand that they were kindred spirits; both were dreamers. Apart from that, La Guardia soon realised that the reason New York was getting one sixth of the PWA funds for the entire country was because of Moses’s attention to detail and expertise with bureaucracy. However, Moses paid back by ensuring that La Guardia was kept centre stage in all the major developments and allowed to accept the plaudits in the middle of grand ceremonies. In 1936, Moses opened ten swimming pools in ten weeks, using all the latest developments of lighting and pool chlorination. One of the pools was called the finest pool in the world. It was La Guardia who pulled the switch that turned on the lighting.

Moses continued to cultivate the press, charming the press barons with lavish banquets. He met the owners outside of business hours to plant headlines and editorials. Moses had an especially close relationship of the New York Times whose owner, Iphigene Salzburger, was a particularly vocal supporter of parks. Until the end of her life she was to call Moses the greatest of public servants. Moses cultivated this relationship by involving her at early stages of his plans. Despite some disagreements – she was a conservationist – she was in the end always supportive of Moses’s grand scheme for parks. Moses was becoming too big, and his accomplishments too successful, to fire. Moses’s parks projects began to succeed to the detriment of more important infrastructure vital to the city. Moses’s plans had become separated from the public will.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses and La Guardia had a very tumultuous relationship. Moses threatened to resign many times which was apparently a trump card since La Guardia needed Moses for support, running the government: could Moses have over played the value of his hand?
  • Moses and La Guardia fought over a pier; it is actually the stuff a great movie script;
  • Moses pulled the playground attendants in response to La Guardia’s strategy of cutbacks: Moses used the public outcry to control La Guardia;
  • Both Dreamers; cannot fire each other as kindred spirits;
  • Wining and Dining the Press: obviously a great way to get their attention. In hospitals, the Pharmaceuticals treat Nurses to informational seminars which include free delicious food. Do the Nurses complain? Not all of them, after all the hours are tough. In Moses’ world, the press barons were very powerful and gaining favour with them meant distorting reality.

Chapter 24 – Driving

With his new sense of power, Moses now sought to remake the city. For this he needed federal resources. He started to ignore or circumvent many of the laws of the city in order to keep up the pace of development. He continued to fight other departments with all his political skills, using the press when necessary to spearhead his attacks. If any of his projects were delayed, Moses sent word through the press that they were being held up by bureaucratic red tape.

At this time, press barons such as W.H. Hearst were drumming up scare stories about the “red peril.” To be called out as a communist at this time was the worst anybody could be called. Moses used information about opponents, especially with regard to memberships of suspicious organisations, in order to smear them. One target was Paul J. Kern, key assistant to La Guardia, who Moses felt was interfering with his plans. Moses called Kern a Russian agent because of some unfortunate pro-Russian sympathies in the past. The Hearst empire began hunting for Kern’s scalp. Kern was eventually fired.

Moses’s developments turned to the city itself. This was more complicated than Long Island. The city had evolved into a thriving community and could not be rearranged by the broad brushstrokes Moses was used to. Every change made a multiplicity of consequences. A highway would have an immense impact on neighbourhoods, destroying good things as well as bad. Success in city planning required a more subtle and sophisticated formula. A more human aspect had to be added, but Moses would not allow it to be added.

To find out what ordinary people really needed, the public had to be talked to. Moses was not used to this, in fact was not interested in this. He was only interested in the grand designs. There were tough choices to be made, but they could only be made using in depth knowledge of the people who were to be served. However, Moses only ever considered common people in the mass. Parks were no longer there simply to provide nice views for motorists.

Despite all these real needs, Moses refused to adapt his designs. He started to hire people who would bend to his will and by this, lost out on the great talents who had advised him before. More and more the designs would be Moses’s alone, and however brilliant he may have been, it could never match the co-operative working using all the talents of before. By working like this, Moses was running out of hours needed to supervise everything. The majority of parks began to decline in quality. Original creation was being superseded by repetition with cheap materials.

Moses was not interested in anything small, and so many small projects, mainly in the slums where the poor and ethnic minorities had to live, were given the lowest priority. The Reformers understood that if the government didn’t provide parks for the poor in the city, then nobody would. This especially affected the black community. Their swelling population was not being provided for by the city. Moses’s parks system had effectively barred them from the great state parks due to lack of rail or bus transport. Small parks were thus essential, but they were not part of Moses’s plans and this was becoming increasingly obvious. For the 300,000 people of Harlem there was not a single green space. Conservation was giving way to recreation; concrete was replacing grass. The Reformers wanted to discuss their concerns with Moses, but Moses wasn’t listening.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Playground and Swimming Pool Discrimination: the realization that Moses is a total asshole is complete. Robert Moses did not build playgrounds for black children. Moses was intentionally not supplying parks in Harlem. Spanish Harlem was also discriminated against according to Caro; particularly by employing only white lifeguards (i.e not looking after other races lifeguards)….the cold water would deter black swimmers or so Moses thought: what a douch bag! Moses said he wanted the water colder so only white swimmers would feel welcome: horrible if true! Moses did not like Small Parks, these parks would help the black community most. There was no green space in Harlem….concrete replaced grass…this is where we see the dark said of Moses.
  • Remember that the slums were not exactly beautiful places to live, but instead of restoring those neighbourhoods, the city of New York would incrementally remove basic amenities like gas, water. The slums would be starved until there were fewer and fewer residents making it easy to then bulldoze the houses to build new lucrative developments which would make New York too expensive for folks making less then above the national average.
PART 5 – The Love of Power

Chapter 25 – Changing

Moses’s need for power was strong and it was growing. He seemed to take pleasure in antagonising people who disagreed with his plans. He also started to act badly towards people who were nothing to do with his work. Sometimes because they were unable to fight back. An element of sadism seemed to have entered Moses’s character. He started to have physical encounters with people he knew could not fight back. He wasn’t content with ignoring opponents but was intent on destroying them.

A streak of maliciousness was becoming apparent as well. He ousted the members of the Columbia Yacht club from their clubhouse on a potential park site before they had time to consult with their members, merely because they asked for a few months delay to move their belongings. A judge agreed with the delay, but work went ahead. The clubhouse’s electricity was shut off. Then its water. By the time the injunction was put in force, trenches had been dug denying access. The clubhouse was then demolished even though the plans were not finalized for the park.

Moses’s methods were successful in that they intimidated people, allowing him to press on with his plans. He continued to create great works by creating new land and planting trees and flowers. His monuments were everywhere. The public cheered rather than moralized. The press were right back on side. His playground schemes were judged an unqualified success even though most of the playgrounds were placed in areas that needed them least. There were few in areas that needed them most, especially those containing black communities like Harlem, despite the evidence that the lack of well-run playgrounds was resulting in children wandering the streets and becoming involved in crime. Appeals were made directly to La Guardia but he was unwilling to cross swords with Moses.

Moses paid more attention to his expensive swimming pools. The success of these became a smokescreen to the failures of the playground program. His distaste for the black community was also evident here. Only white lifeguards and attendants were employed. At swimming pools in black neighbourhood, the water was kept significantly colder because Moses thought that this would deter blacks.

New parkways to were opened in 1936, but the traffic congestion returned in under three weeks. Moses’s solution was to build even newer parkways. The Triborough Bridge was also opened this year, to adulation from the public and the press. Soon after the opening New York City experienced one of its worst ever traffic jams. Again, Moses’s solution was to build more parkways. Again, the press agreed. But traffic growth was heading far ahead of estimates. It started to become clear that building more bridges and parkways increased the use of cars and this, along with the rise in car ownership, was the cause of the problem. There were calls to increase rail traffic to take the pressure off of the roads. However, Moses built the new $70 M Whitestone Bridge. It soon became jammed as well. Moses opened new city highways in 1939 and 1941. They filled up as quickly as the others.

Worst of all, Moses tore down the lively Third Avenue neighbourhood to make way for a ten-line highway which plunged Third Avenue itself into noisy darkness. Half the stores, restaurants and theatres were gone. Once it was a place for people, now it was a place for trucks and cars. The side streets, once the playground for children, were now too dangerous to play in. Third Avenue became a paradise for gangs, drunks and drug addicts, full of abandoned shells of cars, mattresses and rats.

Moses then turned his attention to his original dream, the Riverside Parkway heading north out of the city. The job had started in 1929 and over $100M had already been spent before being abandoned at the start of the Depression. Moses required $109M more. Moses found that the railroad owed the city $13M. This would provide Moses with a start. Moses needed to find a source of funds that the railroad could use to pay off the debt. He found this in funds available to build in the Grade Elimination Fund, set up to build bridges over railroads. Governor Lehman was persuaded to sign off the loan by promising that he would get the credit for the improvements. Moses got his money, but he needed $86M more. Moses scoured around for new funds to use and adapted his designs to qualify for them. The overall plans were labelled as Grade Elimination Plans to qualify for federal funding.

Although the fundraising was progressing, economies had to be made. This was made by drastically reducing the quality of work as it ran through poor areas as well as changing the route of the parkway to run straight through parkland. By these changes to the plan and strenuous fundraising, Moses need only $10M to complete his dream. He thought that this last pot of money would be the easiest to obtain, but it became the hardest. He attempted to interest Wall Street in a $10M bond issue, but the bankers would only release $3M. Moses worked to reduce the cost. As the PWA was to receive a new dispensation, he was able to get some funds from there, but he still had a significant shortfall. Then one of his engineers had a brainwave. They could build a smaller bridge, reduce the number of lanes, then strengthen and expand it when more fund became available. With this last economy, the funding for Moses’s dream was complete.

However, having the new parkway cut straight through a park – a park that was a considered one of the last great conservation areas of the city – created opposition. On top of this it was discovered that the original route was cheaper and would cause far less damage to the parks and connected waterfront. Moses refused to listen and pre-emptively began cutting down trees. Approval for Moses’s plan was given and by 1937 his dream was complete, but at a cost, during the Depression, of around two hundred million, skilfully hidden dollars and little of benefit to the poor and black neighbourhoods. As for the traffic congestion, this would continue to worsen. Despite these reservations, Moses’s reputation was at its zenith.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Mary did his finances…
  • Moses was interested in grand design: not listening to the public. He was a kind of a Steve Jobs-type.

Chapter 26 – Two Brothers

One person who was not impressed by Robert Moses’s success was his brother, Paul Moses. Paul always claimed that Robert had cheated him out of his inheritance. Robert’s slightly older brother shared his personality. There were however differences in their idealism. Paul, unlike his brother, wanted class distinctions eliminated, especially with regards to the black community. He was much more interested in common people.  He would also disagree with his mother, unlike Robert.

One difference looms largest of all.  Paul never went into public service. He had a job offer as a consulting engineer, but it was vetoed by Al Smith. Paul always suspected that his brother was involved. Previous to 1930, relations between the two had been friendly, but when Paul irrevocably fell out with his mother and was effectively left out of her will, the relationship changed. At the age of 43, Paul had nothing. He was also alienated by the rest of his family and would never be able to figure out why this had happened, but he would always suspect Robert’s involvement.

Whether Robert had any part in denying Paul his share of the will is unclear, but Robert’s part in denying Paul a job in public service is undeniable. It was clear to contemporary observers that Robert advised La Guardia not to employ Paul. Paul was able to secure temporary jobs but permanent positions were denied him. By 1938 he could not find anybody to employ him at all and his investment in a swimming pool complex was using all the savings he had. He became encircled by a net of debts and he was receiving next nothing from his trust fund.

His appearance changed, as did his spirit, becoming bitter and frustrated. Robert was refusing to talk to him. When Paul found out that Robert was asking to be paid for being a trustee of the funds from which Paul was receiving little or no money, Paul’s frustration turned to rage. Paul hired an attorney to challenge the operations of the trust. However, Robert arranged that the case was to be heard by a judge more favourable to himself. The case went against Paul. Paul’s feeling of injustice became an obsession. Paul turned every conversation into an assault on his brother.

During 1942, Paul became an engineer in the Navy, which rehabilitated him somewhat. After the war however, his difficulty in obtaining work resumed. Although his brother was hiring a multitude of engineers, no offer came Paul’s way. Paul lived the last ten years of his life in poverty. Paul died in 1967.

Robert’s attitude to his sister, his father and his mother in later life was similarly disparaging. He also cut off relations with his wider family. His only close family relationship was with his wife, Mary and his two children. People remarked how different Moses was at home. Mary mothered him, looking after his money and the family bills. She was hostess for his luncheons; a witty and successful one. She was Robert’s respected confidant and advisor.

As Robert gained success however, he became louder and Mary became quieter. The brighter he shone, the more Mary disappeared into the shadows. Robert still spent as much time with Mary, but she had begun to drink. She was hospitalised with alcohol and nervous problems as was to remain in the shadows.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Brother’s undermining each other is a bit weird. Accidents can be cascaded. Paul Moses was not able to get permanent work at the city because his brother undermined him. Was there something about Paul Moses that justified Robert Moses’ choices? Was Paul a drunk or something?
  • Moses is working to delay the projects that he could not be in control of. And destroyed the projects he could not control…
  • Moses was not shy about circumventing the mayor. Moses was shut out of the housing projects as retaliation;
  • Moses developed a habit of taking small institutions and turning them into a great sources of power.

Chapter 27 – Changing

Power and Personality – Interplay.

Moses now started to seek power for its own sake. In 1936, the New York City Tunnel Authority was established to build a Queens Mid-town tunnel. Moses asked to be a member but received no support from La Guardia and as a public official was ineligible. Moses persisted to get appointed but failed. He therefore resolved to destroy it.

The Mid-town tunnel experienced delays which threatened the necessary funding. Moses worked to delay it further by keeping the enabling bill stuck in committee. Most contemporaries thought that Moses tried to destroy the project purely because it was a challenge to his power. This revealed the lengths Moses would go to gain control.

As Federal housing funding became available, Moses hastily made up his own housing plans. The vast power involved attracted Moses. Moses circumvented the Mayor and presented his housing program directly to potential investors and the media, a program that conflicted with the Mayor’s own. However, a copy of the plan had fallen into La Guardia’s hands. As Moses was supposedly broadcasting his program to a large audience, La Guardia had cut him off the air. La Guardia also ensured that the Housing Committee rejected all Moses’s plans. Moses did not receive any of the housing projects.

La Guardia then moved to reduce Moses’s power in parks and transportation. The Mayor started to try to channel Moses’s energy into other areas of public works. However, Moses had always been skilled in taking a small institution and turning it into a source of great power. He was now to turn his mind to the institution known as the Public Authority.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses gained equal status with La Guardia through various means.

Chapter 28 – The Warp on the Loom

The Public Authority was a part private, part public authority and new in the United States, originally set up to collect tolls on rural roads. They mainly became established during the New Deal. Each had been established to fund one new development through the issue of bonds before turning them over to the city. The authority would thus be wound down.

The tolls collected for the new bridges was earning far more than was originally conceived. Normally this meant that the tolls would end faster than usual. However, Moses saw the extra revenues as a source of funds for further development, funds which would have little of the restrictions applying to federal funds. The increase in traffic over the bridges made them a much more attractive investment for the bankers and authorities could issue bonds to raise even more funds. There would need to be a change in the law to allow Moses to keep the surplus and to extend the life of the authority indefinitely. This change would give him the power and the money equivalent to running a sovereign state.

Moses drafted a new Triborough Act for the running of the Triborough Authority, allowing it to re-issue bonds indefinitely. As the authority could only be wound down once the bonds were paid off, the authority could exist indefinitely. The Act also expanded the role of the authority which would now encompass any connected development to the original development. This would allow the Triborough Authority to effectively develop parks, roads and bridges anywhere in the city. More than this, it could develop anything that connected with these developments such as housing. When the Act was passed, the Triborough Authority, and Moses as its Chairman, had as much power over city development as the City of New York.

With the new power of the Authority, Moses has a major say in any development over the whole of the New York metropolitan area. Moses’s methods of persuasion would require secrecy and the Authority would give that secrecy. It would also give him the image of independence over red tape, the champion of the people over the dead hand of bureaucracy. This new institution would be the vehicle for the realisation of his dreams and the new head office would be on Randall’s Island, a moat protected kingdom outside of the jurisdiction of the city.

Moses no longer needed the protection of the Mayor and it was no longer politically possible for the Mayor to fire Moses. From then on, Moses no longer treated La Guardia as a superior, but as an equal.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Robert Moses’ largest defeat was pushing for the Brooklyn Battery Bridge: it was because of Mrs Roosevelt that his plan was thwarted apparently. Or it was just not a good plan and with hindsight, car dependency was a growing problem.

Chapter 29 – And When the Last Wall Was Down

Anxious as he was, La Guardia could not raise the funds he required to create a new system of highways and tunnels necessary for the Great Belt System city. When he went to Moses for the funds, Moses said he could only have it if Moses could be Chairman of the Tunnel Authority. La Guardia had no choice and acceded to Moses’s demand.

Moses started by changing the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel into the Brooklyn Battery Bridge. This plan, for the greatest bridge in the world, provoked significant opposition due to its projected cost which some feared would bankrupt the city. It would take funds away for other essential developments such as schools and hospitals, subways and care centres. However, La Guardia supported Moses and the plans were approved.

What followed was a cry of outrage from some of the richest and most influential citizens of New York. The impact of the bridge on the surrounding landscape would be immense. Battery Park would be effectively destroyed. Local real estate would be devalued. Local office blocks would be blocked of light and air, and taxes would thus have to be reduced, causing a fall in city revenues.

Battery Park and the harbour of Lower Manhattan were of special historical significance to the Reformer aristocrats as being a key site during and after the Revolution, as well as being a haven of peace in the crush of concrete surrounding it. Through its winding lanes and under its trees, the city could be left behind. There were green lawns and wildlife with the lapping of the sea, and within it, the City Aquarium, built on top of Fort Clinton which protected the city during the War of 1812 and which provided the starting point for some of the city’s great parades. The new bridge with its highway would cast the park into shadows. The fight between Moses and the Reformers over the bridge marked his final break with his Reformer past.

Stanley Isaacs was a long time Reformer who in 1939 was elected Borough President. He had led his public life very much in parallel with the early Moses but had continued to keep to his principles. He had come to believe that Moses had abandoned his. Moses, now at the helm of the powerful Public Authority, did not need the support of the Reformers any longer and now turned his fire on them.

The reformers began by challenging Moses’s statement of costs for the bridge, saying that the costs had been grossly underestimated.  They claimed that Moses had not included the costs of the associated approach roads and the rebuilding of Battery Park, and that the Tunnel would in fact be cheaper. Despite the case presented by the Reformers, the bridge was approved as the only development which had the funding, from Moses, and Moses was unwilling to build anything else.

Stanley Isaacs had studied the bills and found that there was a clause that ensured that the city would in fact have to pay a vast sum towards the bridge. He attempted to delay the bill in order for other options could be studied. The Reformers started to drum up support from across the city, including artists and architects, to attempt to preserve Battery Park. The Committee to oppose the bridge also had the ear of the press, allowing much greater discussion. The tide of public opinion started to move against Moses. However, they did not understand how much power Moses had been given. Moses sent an ultimatum to La Guardia that if the Mayor wanted a Battery Crossing at all, it would have to be the bridge.

During the hearing to discuss Moses’s plan, the Reformers demolished the plans in terms of the proposed costs and the effect to Battery Park. When Moses rose to speak, he started by comparing the opposition to the Battery Bridge with the failed opposition to the Brooklyn Bridge. He then followed with a number of personal attacks. As for Battery Park, Moses said it wasn’t much of a park anyway. He said that the city could either have the bridge or not. There would be no alternative. The bill in favour of Moses was passed by the city and the Governor. Only approval by the War Department remained, and perhaps an intervention by the President’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt.

In July 1939 the War Department mysteriously rejected the Bridge plan as an obstacle to navigation during war time as well as being a potential target. On top of this, the War Department loaned the city sufficient money to build the tunnel. Moses was never to forget this defeat and he always suspected Mrs. Roosevelt’s intervention with the President as the cause of it. The key point arising from the “Battle for Battery Park” however, was that it had taken the intervention of the President to stop Moses. The powers of the city government and the New York establishment had been powerless to stop him.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses engaged in revenge tactics; he couldn’t have the Brooklyn Battery Bridge so he tried to destroy Battery Park anyway, first by attempting to destroy Fort Clinton.

Chapter 30 – Revenge

After this defeat, Moses, with his power over parks, made plans to demolish the Battery Park Aquarium at Fort Clinton and replace it with a larger structure near the Bronx Zoo. Most contemporaries agreed that this was purely an act of revenge as it would effectively destroy Battery Park. Again, Moses cloaked his reasons for this development in false reports and surveys, as well as diminishing the value of the structure both aesthetically and historically.

In 1941, the aquarium and the Park was closed in order to start work on the tunnel.

As this was occurring during a Mayoral election, Moses began to pull political strings and threw his support behind La Guardia. The Mayor, once re-elected, felt bound to support him. A vote was cast in favour of demolishing the aquarium, but the fate of the underlying fort remained undecided. Moses stated that the fort had to come down as well as most of it had been largely demolished but upon inspection the fort was seen to be still there. There were moves in Congress to declare the fort a national monument. Moses moved quickly and prepared to demolish the fort, but an injunction arrived just in time to delay the demolition and allow time for the national monument bill to be passed.

The construction of the new aquarium however was to go ahead, not at the Bronx Zoo but at Coney Island. The cost, estimated by Moses as being $200M to be paid by the Zoo Authority, was on completion $11M to be paid for by the city. As the construction wasn’t completed until 1955, the cost of Moses’s revenge was not only in dollars, but also the removal of an aquarium facility for over a decade.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Monopoly power is best, especially if you are the monopoly owner; it doesn’t make it right, it just is.

Chapter 31 – Monopoly

Robert Moses still required power over the Tunnel Authority if his desires were to continue to be fulfilled. Moses asked that construction of the tunnel should stop for the period of the war as the steel linings to the tunnel would be required for war production, even though the linings were in fact cast iron and unsuitable for war production. Moses continued to lobby the La Guardia to hand the construction over to the Triborough Authority siting inefficiency. Moses also tried to smear the Ole Singstad, the Tunnel Authority’s Chief Engineer and Moses’s chief adversary over the Battery Tunnel, by attacking his brother-in-law, but a Port Authority hearing overruled him. Moses wrote directly to the Mayor. Eventually, Moses’s pressure won through and in 1945 the Triborough Authority took control of the Tunnel Authority. The tunnels and their revenues were now his. He now had a monopoly over all river crossings in the city, all future crossings and all of the combined revenues. Through all this the press had kept silent.

Although Ole Singstad was to design the Battery Tunnel, he had to hand the designs over to the Triborough Authority. Singstad was never to be given credit, and he was never to receive another commission from the city where he lived. Although Moses had deliberately underestimated the revenues to be made from tunnels during his fight with Singstad, Triborough was in a large part to be financed by the tunnels in the following years.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • La Guardia stood up to Moses. Moses was responsible for the Triborough Bridge so standing up to him was tough;
  • Don’t tell me, show me what your working with. Moses noticed that models of bridges had a superior way of manipulating people rather then telling them about bridges.

Chapter 32 – Quid Pro Quo

In early 1945 Mayor La Guardia was dying of cancer. Roosevelt was dead, and President Truman was not an ally. His popularity had waned. He announced in the spring that he was not going to run in the next election. The Tammany candidate, William O’Dwyer, despite Moses’s lifelong antagonism towards Tammany Hall, received Moses’s blessing and support. In a paid announcement, four days before the election, O’Dwyer said he was to create a new post to cover all major infrastructure developments in the city. He also announced that Moses had graceful agreed to serve. O’Dwyer won the election by a landslide.

Most people thought that Moses would not last long working with the corrupt Tammany Hall, but most people underestimated how much Moses had changed. He was no longer the Reformer and idealist, but a hard-nosed, power hungry politician. Mayor La Guardia in his last years regretted the amount of power Moses had been given. He thought that now he was gone, nobody would be able to stand up to Moses.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses’ reputation was very clean because he was relatively non-partisan and the general public thought he was the park manager for the most part;
  • Robert Moses knew how to work with Tammany Hall, not against Tammany hall which was an Irish catholic political machine in New York from 1789 to 1966. It was a political movement with ability to raise funds for candidates, coordinate voting blocks and retain a major controlling influence on the Democrat Party in New York. The organizations role evolved over its 200 year history. There were various bosses who ran Tammany Hall and directed political campaigns in order to extract move influence for the core cause of supporting new immigrants particularly new Catholic Americans which were the first non-England immigrant groups to define the New York culture and ambiance. In the Moses era, Tammany Hall was still very powerful although Mayor La Guardia became an new Italian centric political movement dissipating the political machinery of Tammany Hall. There were consistent concerns about corruption because the organization outvoted other coalitions within the Democrat Party to let your supporter know when the inspections is coming with a signal…corrupt. After the Lindsey mayoral election in 1966, Tammany Hall was no longer a factor in voting blocks, unions or otherwise.

Chapter 33 – Leading out the Regiment

After the war, the federal government became more involved in urban development. During the New Deal, most federal funds had been channelled through the city governments. Moses’s new role, as Construction Co-ordinator was seen by many as far too powerful, but O’Dwyer signed it into law. Hidden in the enabling act was a provision for the co-ordinator to negotiate with federal funding bodies, in effect becoming the main broker for the city over desperately needed funds. All roadbuilding in the city was henceforth determined by Moses.

In 1948, Moses was visited by an old Yale classmate, Robert A. Taft, who talked to him about a new concept called “urban renewal”. Moses was already pushing for large projects as head of O’Dwyer’s Slum Clearance Committee and so news that this would attract large amounts of federal funds meant that these plans could be made real.

Moses continued to foster close relationships with the city and state machinery, especially those areas with jurisdiction over his plans. Governors Dewey and Harriman, who ran New York in the post war years, provided little control over Moses, due to the many directorships Moses held and by his control of the city press and his continuing public adulation. Harriman found himself often influenced by expert opinion, many of whom were employed by Moses.

He had also, due to his reorganisation of the civil service years ago, a unique understanding of civil service machinery. Moses offered lucrative consultantships to civil servants to gain favour. Moreover, his control over the Department of Public Works meant he had a veto over all highway projects. When Nelson D. Rockefeller became Governor in 1958, he received a letter from Moses recommending one of his men to the DPW board, continuing his control. Moses would continue to have a stranglehold over the state and federal governments with regards to public works projects.

With the demise of La Guardia, the post war years saw the old Tammany Hall practices begin to take hold. Public office more and more became a means to private profit. Bribery, or the giving of “retainers”, “handling charges” and “fees” in exchange for favours was now back in fashion. Without these, no public work would be forthcoming.

Through his control of housing, roadbuilding and slum clearance, Moses was able to control the sum of three billion dollars in the fifteen post-war years. Most lucrative of all to Moses himself continued to be the Triborough Bridge Authority, which in the fifteen years after the war raised three quarters of a billion pounds independent of state authority.

Moses continued to have a smooth ride from the press. Many attempts to open and audit Triborough’s books was followed by a stern editorial in one of the city’s newspapers, asking why the reputation of the great man should be questioned. Moses carried on spending Triborough funds with complete discretion. The only criteria Moses had to consider when distributing the money at his disposal was how much influence an individual had, and how willing the individual was to use that influence on Moses’s behalf.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses’ reputation was very clean, the reality was less so: Moses was anti-union, pro-banks. Moses would work with a politician then get some incriminating misdeed on the man that is quantifiable and then leverage the threat of private or public exposure…Moses would have a politician do a favour for Moses. And then there would be a dossier. Moses also had private detectives and turned the dark secrets of men’s past. If you ever went out into the cold because Moses wanted these guys to be killed for life from politics. Moses was powerful and so were the banks and legal work as well. They can give you loans. Make them rich beyond their dreams…

Chapter 35 – RM

Age had not slaked the appetite of Moses for work and power. Every morning a vanilla envelope would be ready to be picked up, bursting with Moses’s orders. He was still working long hours, many of them in his Cadillac cum office. Nothing seemed to deflect him.  His impatience was legendary. He would pace his office like a caged tiger and his treatment of anybody who displeased him was brutal.

His physical strength was awesome. He would swim daily, often for hours. He wrote a full-length novel at the same time as running eight departments. Work seemed to make him stronger. This work made him a lot of money, but he spent this money in an attempt to make more by buying influence. His bank account was often nearly empty.

He did however, divert enough Triborough funds to entertain on an epic scale. He had a number of dining rooms, fifty feet long, at a number of his properties. He entertained around one hundred and fifty times a year, with guests numbering between ten and fifty diners. All of the guests were people Moses needed something from.

As for his employees, all were on tenterhooks in case Moses needed their services. His aides referred to him almost as if he were a god. They nodded when he wanted them to nod. They laughed when he wanted them to laugh. They acted as functionaries for his many banquets and entertainments for clients, including lavish shows at the Long Beach Stadium.

For opening ceremonies for large projects, the feast provided, both of food and entertainment, were of a scale rarely seen in a democracy. Attendees were often in the thousands, including Moses’s own court, often flown out of town in a specially chartered plane if it was required. Moses used his hospitality as a subtle reward for services rendered.

Robert Moses held shaping power in New York for forty-four years. He changed the course of rivers. He reshaped the hills surrounding the city and the beaches. He created the parks and parkways. He altered the region’s skylines with his civic buildings and apartment houses.

Robert Moses believed his works would make his name immortal. Barring catastrophe, the works of Robert Moses will be part of New York for centuries to come.

But as well as being an elemental force, he was a blind force. His arrogance, gorged with power, became absolute. As he was above rules, he was above the law. His ego became as titanic as his imagination. His detractors compared him to Hitler. His supporters compared him to Lincoln. His most frequent pose was one of lofty indifference, his arms crossed with hands gripping the opposite bicep, his head tilted back, like an emperor surveying all his works. He surrounded himself with sycophants, the only opinions sought being confirmations of his own opinion.

Three aspects helped to sustain his myopia. Robert Moses had never driven a car, even though his mobile office was in one. His work however was devoted to highways and transportation. These plans had no basis in a lived reality. His work ethic forced him to create projects, not always for the benefit of the city, but to fuel his desire for work and power. And Robert Moses was going deaf. This deafness was partly symbolic, an inability to listen to anybody else. However later that deafness became a physical disability. Then, he couldn’t listen even if he wanted to.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses was a highly social animal. He would entertain guests 150 times per year;
  • He pushed for projects because he enjoyed it, the project would strengthen his power rather than the city needed it.

Chapter 36 – The Meat Axe

The history of road building and urban development through the ages has been one of immense constructions through relatively unpopulated areas, such as the Silk Road bringing goods from the Far East to Europe. But the developments carried out by Moses could only be compared to the reconstruction of Paris carried out by Baron Haussman, in that they were constructed in a heavily populated urban environment. This involved not only a substantial engineering effort, but the management of multiple disruptions in a busy city. In order to construct the new highways which criss-crossed the city, Moses’s engineers had to hack their way through whole communities. In terms of size, Moses’s development was comparable to anything in history. In terms of complexity, it would dwarf them all.

As impressive as the engineering feats were, Moses’s ability to raise the funds for these developments were equally impressive. To Moses, wars were mere inconveniences. Even during the height of the Second World War, Moses was still able to obtain the necessary funds and materials.

Moses manipulated the city like a player moving buildings around on a Monopoly board. He was never happier than when he was developing plans that would totally transform communities as if they were blocks on a child’s game. This also involved complex political manoeuvring. It took the mind of a dictator to carry out these plans, when the persuasion of a specific mind is sufficient. In a democracy, the scale of the public works carried out by Moses was unprecedented. This was carried out, in effect, by ignoring democracy. Moses just laughed at the protests against the highways he built. He said, “You can indulge your every whim on a clean slate…but when you operate in an overbuilt metropolis, you have to hack your way with a meat axe.”

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • He loves the public but hated the people, especially the poor anyone who intervened in his vision was a threat, in a democracy, there would always be a significant group willing to block progress in exchange for rents;
  • A Man For All Seasons; “I would rip down all the laws to get at the devil, but the problem is what if the devil were to turn on you what tools would be left to defend yourself with?”

Chapter 37 – One Mile

Robert Moses built six hundred and twenty-seven miles of roads in and around New York City. This is the story of one mile. It was part of the Cross Bronx Expressway and unlike most of Moses’s roads which carved straight lines through the city, it swerves and bulges. The key to why is in the apartment houses that are located in the route. By going straight on, the road would only have demolished a handful of apartments. By taking the route it eventually did, it destroyed a whole neighbourhood.

This was a poor area called East Tremont with a large, integrated immigrant community. There were few open spaces but there was a large popular park nearby, as well as the Bronx Zoo. There were bustling streets of shops full of small businesses. Many people worked in the garment industry. There were good schools with high standards. The apartments were old but roomy and the rent was low. There was a sense of community; of belonging.

Black and Hispanic residents started to appear after the war and by 1952 they represented ten per cent of the neighbourhood. They were also integrated with few problems. People with decent housing and low rents are more likely to adapt than move out.

In December 1952, letters started to arrive at the apartments, signed by Robert Moses, telling the residents that their home was to be demolished to make way for a new highway and giving them ninety days to vacate. The result was panic. When the residents found out about rent rates in other parts of the city, local committees began to form. They visited other sites where the highway had driven through apartments and saw the chaos it left behind. The city housing department had done little in terms of relocation. This was to be the future of East Tremont.

There was still hope in the form of the mystique of Robert Moses. The committee was sure that they could persuade Moses to change the route. They hired one of Moses’s engineers to plan a new route. By running the expressway through the nearby park, many of the apartments would be saved. But neither Moses or any of his aides would consider a change.

The committee formed into the East Tremont Neighbours Association (ETNA) and appointed a local housewife, Lillian Edelstein, as their head. They tried their arguments with other members of the city authority. They received support from their congressman and city officials. The borough president approved of the new plan, but Moses angrily threatened to remove funds and resign. At the first board hearing, Moses’s plans were denied, partly due to pressure exerted by one hundred East Tremont housewives including Lillian Edelstein. However, in the following board meeting Moses got his way and his destructive plans were waved through. Edelstein needed ten thousand dollars to mount a legal challenge and she worked tirelessly to raise it. Engineers worked on detailed plans for an alternative route which were sent to the press, but the press were of little help.

However, elections were due and the Association directly challenged the politicians. They had positive reactions from Mayor Wagner, who promised to vote for ETNA’s plan. After an intervention from Moses however, where he again threatened to withdraw funds, Wagner broke his promise. At the final board meeting, Moses assembled a group of his own engineers. The tenants had their own engineers and a reporter, who was ejected. ETNA walked out and in their absence Moses’s plans were approved.

So why didn’t Moses change the route? One story is that one of Moses’s connections had property in the area and the curve on the route was in order to avoid it. It could have been merely of whim. More likely, it was to avoid pulling down a bus terminal in which local politicians had an interest. Whatever the reason, once Moses had made a decision, any attempt to overturn it would be seen by Moses as a personal affront.

The final struggle for the residents was relocation. Despite promises from the Mayor, there was little or no provision for relocation and at best, residents were offered properties that were much smaller, much dirtier and much more expensive. Utilities were switched off at the condemned tenements. In mid-1953, the residents were sent letters giving them a month’s notice. By June, have the residents had left. Workers began tearing down the tenements while the remaining people were still living there. Vandals moved in and stripped the vacant properties. Fear would be the greatest relocator of all.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Eminent domain is a contractual weapon Robert Moses used to exact his vision….
  • Wagner had a change of heart and the project goes forward as the community goes up against Moses contra the Cross-Bronx Expressway and there was no reason to go through the East Treamont, Robert Moses didn’t care about the small people; Moses’ slum clearance committee didn’t help him out;
  • Robert Moses believes that if you build a park then you are on the side of angels. So of course the parks are the organic part of the project and the inorganic side was the infrastructure revenue generating tactic.

Chapter 38 – One Mile – Afterwards

The Cross-Bronx Expressway was not to complete development until 1960, five years after the residents had been evicted. To keep the Expressway level, the engineers had to blast through solid rock. Tenements nearby began to crumble. The noise was deafening from the constant drilling and the dirt and dust got everywhere. There were ten thousand people living near the development. They began to move out. New impoverished people, many of them poor blacks, moved in.

After completion, the Expressway caused new problems. The rise of carbon-monoxide from the six-lane expressway below was visible. The noise was constant. Most of the new residents shopped at their old neighbourhood. East Tremont began to die. The park became dangerous. People left faster and faster, and the decay became worse.

The remaining residents tried to work with the city to develop new housing projects. Robert Moses seemed to offer support, but delay followed delay. When they tried to protest, nobody listened. After a while only the very old still lived there. Everybody else had gone.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Cross-Bronx Expressway seems discrimination motivated but there are other factors at play, namely getting what Robert Moses wants done;
  • He used eminent domain to direct the bridge traffic through the Bronx. The controversy was massive, there had been urban renewal projects that hadn’t helped; the people who were cleared from an area had no where else to go, so Moses was the embodiment of this controversial strategy for clearing.

Chapter 39 – The Highwayman

In 1948, automobile production had begun and petrol ceased to be rationed. Traffic increased rapidly and soon New York had serious congestion problems. Moses hit the press with new plans for highways and river crossings. Existing highways and parkways were to be widened. The program announced was to dwarf all previous plans. However, there were increasing calls for a balanced transport system, not one obsessed with the automobile. Mass highways had to complement mass transportation facilities, not compete with them.

Highways influenced housing development differently from transport systems like the subway. Subways required concentrated housing to allow stations to be in walking distance to the stations. Highways served car-owning residents, allowing the development to be more spread out into suburbs further away from the city. But these drivers still needed to work in the city and they would travel there by car and find somewhere to park.

New York’s press was still enamoured with Moses and were failing to express alternatives to Moses’s plans. There were planners and others with more informed opinion who recognised the importance of a more balanced program, but the series of post-war Mayors continued to be persuaded by Moses.

Moses did not seem to be fully aware of the impact of his planning decisions. He was insulated from the people who had to use his highways and move to make space for them. He was especially blind to the poor who could not afford cars and relied on public transport to get to work and live their lives. Despite the clear evidence that more highways meant more traffic and slower progress, Moses continued his highway programs without change.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Paying attention to the poorest people seems to not be his priority….what did Jane Jacobs have to say about him? Oh!
  • Transit in subways was challenging and cars filled the express way.  The Lexington Avenue LRT line was an example of a crammed commuter struggling with a model of commuter transport that led to traffic jams. So turns out that they save money by doing fewer inspections in the transit system to save money so Robert Moses from 1934 to 1968 did not emphasize public transport. As a result, Robert Caro argues that the quality of public transport was in serious decline throughout with swearwords written in graffiti everywhere on the train system because they didn’t prioritize spending on mass transit. Instead New York prioritized upper middle class commuters who use the roadways;
  • Robert Caro (the author) believes that mass transit is the solution to all of New York’s transit problems. Bob Moses believes that investing in car pathways highways is the solution. There’s no clear answer for the time frame in question since the care was just starting to become mainstream when Moses was pushing for highways to cross over Manhattan but Caro has very strong inclination. So the biography of Bob Moses is fantastic detailed, amazing but of course there will be biases.

Chapter 40 – Point of No Return

By 1952, capital revenues from the highway and bridge tolls was half a billion dollars. Moses now had more money for development than the city. Allied to this, the U.S. government were proposing a new Federal Highways fund. Moses increased his plans to use up the money.

Only the Port Authority had more funds than Moses. Moses decided to cooperate with his old enemy in order to tap into their funds to carry out his new programs. The Port Authority realised they had an identification of interest with Moses. Both their plans could only be achieved by cooperation. They agreed to build three new bridges and a connected series of new expressways across the city and stretching out into the suburbs. The two authorities were to make vast profits out of the road tolls; in effect out of the traffic chaos they were creating. Behind Moses was the coalition of special interests: oil companies, the motor industry and politicians, known colloquially as “The Highwaymen.”

In 1955, the two authorities had combined funds of one and a quarter billion dollars, more than enough to create a mass transit system, serving the city into the future and removing thousands of cars from the choked roads. Instead, the two authorities spent their money on the automobile. Not a cent was spent of mass transportation.

Travel on the subways were inhuman. The crowds pushed and shoved on the platforms before being crammed like sardines into ageing trains. By 1965, crowds were being jammed into the trains just short of suffocation. Because of lack of ventilation systems, the subways almost too hot to bear. Trains were constantly breaking down. From being one of the safest subways in the world, the New York system had degenerated into one of the most dangerous.

The floors were filthy. Walls were covered in abhorrent graffiti. Trips into the city from the suburbs took more than an hour.

Railroads were in a bad way as well. Moses’s highways had sucked all the funding away, the highwaymen providing the lobbying and support. The railroads grew poorer and started showing losses. Fares had to be raised and services cut back. This pushed even more people onto the highways in their clean, air-conditioned cars rather than use the crushed, dirty carriages.

The total cost of Moses’s treatment of the railroads and subways needs to be measured in the effect on commuters’ lives. A new illness was diagnosed, “Commuter Stress Syndrome”, and one in four commuters suffered from it. The commute on the starved subways and railroads dominated peoples’ lives. Many considered it more taxing than their actual work. The lives of the residents of New York were being eaten up by the attempt to move from one place to another.

Another effect of the highways was the spreading out of New York into suburbs with spaced out housing but little local infrastructure such as stores and theatres. With this type of low-density housing, mass transit is un-economic. There would need to be a change to high-density housing to allow enough people to use the stations. Building expressways no longer make sense. Only mass transit – the combination of buses, railroads and subways – made any sense. Robert Moses was planning to build a new highway costing $500M. If only $20M were spent on a new railroad, the impact on reducing congestion would be far greater.

Robert Moses was not interested in mass transit. It would mean revising his plans. He quashed all discussion of rapid transit plans, even though they had been fully worked out. The highways and bridges went ahead and as each section opened the congestion got worse. In fact, the bridges had been deliberately built with such low clearance that buses couldn’t pass through as it would have ruined Moses’s original concept. One man’s dream had become a nightmare for generations to come.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses loved power not to become wealthy because he was already wealthy for the most part. He wanted the grandeur of building amazing things. The Borough presidents are powerful at least they thought they were but they aren’t actually and so in the 1965; this turns out wrong under Moses; the board of estimate should have more power…borough courtesy was the logic that borough presidents should only push something that was approved by the borough mayor;
  • He was not beholden to public opinion; Moses used economic forces rather than political bias. Non Democratic forced was the machine.
Part 7 – The Loss of Power

Chapter 41 – Rumours and the Report of Rumours

Highways were only one field of Moses’s activities. There was also housing and the associated slum clearance. A few perceptive people began to see something sinister in what was going on.

In the early 1950s, Reformers had heard rumours about Moses’s clearance sites. When the Reformers visited Moses’s clearance sites they saw the disaster that was the relocation programme.  In front of some of the brownstones, large garbage cans began to appear. This meant that many more people were living in these houses than before. Neighbourhood became more racially mixed and significantly poorer, and with poverty came social problems. Good neighbourhoods were becoming slums. A repository for all the people cleared out in the wake of the new highways.

By 1953, people began to be fully aware of what was going on. If people were being hounded out of their homes, they would move to other areas, increasing the size of the slums. They felt the people should be made aware of what was going on, but their main means of communication, the press, was not interested. They were reluctant to attack Moses.

The Reformers therefore decided to do the research themselves. Statistics were difficult to come by. Moses and his colleagues had manipulated them had hidden them well. Many volunteers visited the highway sites and saw the reality of the relocation programs. Many people had been moved to buildings that were mere shells. They saw the implications for the city. New slums were being created faster than the old ones were being developed. Backed up with the research into the true statistics and plans, the true nature of the relocation plans was revealed. The researchers expected prominent display of their report in the press, but Moses and his team suppressed this. False statistics were inserted into the report. The report was issued nine months after it had been completed, with the changes added by Moses which changed the entire argument of the report. Of all the city’s press, only the New York Post published the report. It was never mentioned in the press again.

However, a commission was set up in late 1954 to investigate the sales of $15M worth of real-estate to one of Moses’s preferred partners for $1M. On investigation it was found that far from being demolished, the apartments were being kept open and rented out. A network of collusion was uncovered where everybody involved in the project was getting rich, and this was only one of many contracts. A normal press investigation would have blazed this all over the city. But the press, still enamoured with Moses, kept his name out of it. Not one investigative reporter was put on the story. As late as 1956, the protests to the plans was still an underground movement. The legend of Moses would have to be tarnished before a real change could occur.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses was able to control the press in order to suppress the story.
  • Corruption requires a network.

Chapter 42 – Tavern in the Town

This chance came when an engineer left his blueprints in a little glen in Central Park. This place was popular with mothers and children, despite being disfigured by a restaurant and carpark by one of Moses’s schemes. It was the centre of the local neighbourhood.

One day, one of the mothers saw some surveyors in the glen. After they had left she walked over and picked up a blueprint they had left behind. The blueprint was for a new carpark to be built on the glen.

When a petition was raised, some notable residents in the area added their names. One of the mothers’ husband was a reporter, who pushed the story. Initially, Moses ignored the protests and planned to go ahead with the development. Twenty-three mothers protesting about a small glen was nothing to worry about, seeing as he had already displaced thousands of mothers building his highways. The Deputy Mayor was interested however.

This protest was different. The protestors were well-heeled, including a number of lawyers, and the issue was clear-cut. A park was being torn up for a carpark serving a posh private restaurant. Central Park was special to New York, frequented by some of its most influential residents. It was also a positive symbol, championed by the press, proclaiming that every part of it was sacred. Not even Moses could convince the city that this was a good idea.

Work started in April 1956. Residents who overlooked the park noticed a bulldozer. A group of women rushed out and went to the site, stopping the earth-moving machine. Reporters and photographers arrived from many papers and media outlets. Within hours, the story was on every TV newscast. The headline became “The Battle of Central Park.” The tactics Moses was using were the tactics he had used for thirty years. But this time, the whole city was aware of it.

For Moses, things had gone far enough. The builders came back under cover of darkness. They surrounded the site with a fence and then the bulldozer arrived. By the time daylight arrived, a tree had already been felled. The women surrounded the site in tears. Papers labelled the Parks Commissioner a bully. The pictures taken were just as devastating to Moses’s reputation. Weeping women were on the front page of every newspaper, dripping of drama and pathos. On a single day, Mayor Wagner received four thousand letters. The image of Moses had been maintained for decades, but now the image was cracked. For the first time he had been portrayed not as a creator but as a destroyer.

This did not stop the work going ahead. An injunction was granted to the mothers, temporarily stopping the work. Moses was confident that this setback was purely temporary, but the lawyers were at work. Any restaurant in the park was meant to be affordable. When the prices of the new restaurant were shown to be far beyond the means of most New Yorkers, another weapon was available to thwart the plan. On top of that, the profits made by the owner of the Tavern on the Green were shown to be the result of paying minimal rent, a concession from Moses. The hint of scandal was in the air.

While Moses blithely went on holiday, the protests raged behind him. The Mayor came into the firing line. The criticism became more wide ranging. The slum clearances were highlighted. On Moses’s return he was door-stepped by the press. His temper broke. He criticised the protestors with his usual vitriol, but this time the protesters were able to respond. Worst was to come. A trial look set to go ahead and many other Moses projects were likely to be aired. For once, Moses had to back down. He hatched a plan with the city council to delay the work to let the furore die down and then offer to build a new playground rather than a car park. The Tavern on the Green fight was over, but Moses’s reputation was never to be regained.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses miscalculated the power of the mothers and the press. Robert Moses went so far as to attack the mothers of Central Park to prevent them from taking down his plans. And there was a television debate with Bob Moses where he said one of the key protesters didn’t even have children so what does she know. And that obviously backfired;
  • Political organizing was becoming a thing. This furore was a critical moment because the democratic forces were able to channel their dis-approval into the mainstream. Probably because of the race and gender of the protesters as well as the timing of liberation in the late 50s. Optics is democracy’s double-edged sword. Poorly informed but powerful in shutting down projects and progress because the flash of a camera bulb made the front pages of the broad-sheets.

Chapter 43 – Late Arrival

At about this time, investigative reporters from the World Telegram decided that there was more meat to the Moses story. In the current climate, the editor gave him the go-ahead. Some groundwork had been done by other reporters, especially around the re-locations. He uncovered few facts not already available, but now they were publishable.

His articles documented the failure of the relocation plans and the subsequent growth of slums. Most importantly, he nailed the responsibility to Moses’s door.

Moses still had purchase with the press. He was allowed a right of reply to all the stories, but the stories kept coming. Disgruntled employees and residents had been looking for such a forum and now letters to the journalists began to flood in. Not one of them was willing to go on the record but the inside story of the Moses regime began to build up. The press remained largely silent.

There was a development that the papers found harder to ignore. The original buyers of the slum real-estate had not paid their taxes. Wagner had no choice but to grant an interview. In it he confessed that he had been miss-led. The journalists still did not understand that it was Moses, not Wagner or the city authorities, who was in charge. City Hall then leaked the arrangements involved in the selling of the real-estate. The original buyers were receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars for doing nothing. Outcry in the press panicked City Hall. They swiftly changed the arrangements of the sale, but what remained was still a scandal.

Meanwhile, Moses was planning the development of Lincoln Centre. Four thousand people were to be relocated, and the remaining land, bought by the Kennedy family, would be worth a fortune. Mayor Wagner was asked to intercede. The New York Times backed him up, citing Moses’s past record of success. Moses also called in support from Washington, which duly arrived. The image was chipped but it was still there.

In 1959 it was triumph as usual for Robert Moses now celebrating his 70th birthday and announcing new projects including the Niagara Falls development. However, a new spate of stories was about to break. A new slum clearance revealed the name of the landlord, Sydney J. Ungar and he was denounced in the press as a slum landlord. A reporter went to the slum clearance location and spoke to the residents. The stories and pictures resulted in a new set of revelations in the New York Post. By March it had become the scandal of “Robert Moses’s slum clearance committee.”

Then came an issue that set the press alight. Again, it centred around Central Park and one other headline grabbing figure; William Shakespeare.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Robert Moses is seen as responsible for causing the Brooklyn Dogers and the New York Giants to leave the New York area. Walter O’Malley wanted to build a stadium on Brooklyn but Moses refused to support O’Malley’s call for Moses to initiate eminent domain. In fact Moses wanted to build a stadium in Flushing Meadow where all the professional sports teams would play at one facility. O’Malley refused and moved to LA.
  • Slum clearance committed relocated people in order to get Lincoln Centre built, what was the point of that? To get poor people out of New York generally;
  • Robert Moses was an advocate for the car (individualism and ending the tyranny of train departure times) and disliked public transport: and so Moses underfunded mass transit systematically.

Chapter 44 – Moustache and the Bard

Robert Moses loved Shakespeare and was keen on the presentations of the plays in Central Park’s amphitheatre, one of Moses’s projects. These were put on by Joseph Papirofski, better known as Joseph Papp. These were well received presentations put on for free attracting all incomes and classes. Moses was pleased with the success. Moses said he would raise the money for a new season and his Executive Officer at the Parks Department, Stuart Constable, informed him of it. Constable however was suspicious of Papp, suspecting him of being a communist. Three months before the festival was to begin, Constable informed Papp, without consulting Moses, that there was no money to put it on.

Moses was unaware of this, but he was famous for supporting his staff. When Papp asked Moses directly, Moses sent him a letter informing him that, despite his promise, there would be no more money. Papp soon realised that the barrier to him was one of political philosophy. However, Papp was a master publicist. He went to the press on the attack. Papp used quotes from the Bard to make his case. Moses showed some respect, but still refused to overrule Constable. However, the press was on Papp’s side. Moses responded by organising behind the scenes pressure and innuendo. Moses followed Constable’s lead and accused Papp of communist sympathies. But the McCarthy era had ended in 1954 and these accusations did not have the same weight. Pub continued his literate attack. He highlighted the civilising effect of Shakespeare in the Park. He attacked Moses’s innuendos directly and he had the press on his side. It was Moses against Shakespeare.

The further erosion of Moses’s name was continuing. Moses now started to fear what was happening and this showed itself in failing health. He had started to look old. The press now wanted the decision to be reversed and started to put pressure on the Mayor. Eventually, Wagner succumbed to pressure and arranged a meeting with Moses, but emerging from that meeting, Wagner had been persuaded to support Moses.

Moses imposed new criteria for the festival, that the festival should raise their own funds. But with the help of local philanthropists, Papp overcome them and the festival went ahead. Papp was now a hero to the local liberals. By 1965, Papp’s troops were playing Shakespeare all over the city.

This battle further tipped the balance against Moses. Moses had become a villain to the public and the press. They knew that in the power struggle between the Mayor and Moses, Moses held the upper hand. The press became merciless.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • The press turns against Moses.

Chapter 45 – Off to the Fair

In May 1959, the New York’s Citizens Union made an information request to Moses regarding the sponsors of the slum clearance program. Moses replied that the records would be available to any responsible body. This was to be one of Moses’s biggest mistakes. At this time, Moses was preparing for the opening of a new dam and he was often working sixteen hours a day so he may have been distracted. Also, his influence with the press may have assured him that nothing would come of the revelations.

He tried to stall, but he could not stall indefinitely. Eventually the files had to be released and journalists were given access to Triborough headquarters. This was the first time in thirty-five years that any of Moses’s files had been made available. The files had been stripped of much crucial information, but the journalists continued to look and one day they found something.

They found an application by a potential sponsor for slum clearance who had links to gangsters. This scandal had something different. The press now had evidence of Moses’s links, however tenuous, to organised crime. A whole platoon of investigative reporters descended on the files. The deals between the Public Works Commission and shady sponsors, including politicians and Mafia bosses, at the expense of the people of New York, became clearer day by day, and Moses was at the centre of it.

The effect on the press on the publication of the revelations was profound. Previously cynical old hacks now became more friendly with the young investigative reporters, resulting in a press room at City Hall no longer cowed by the prestige of Moses and the Mayor. Publishers who had previously blocked stories about Moses were allowing them through. Even the Moses friendly New York Times was running front page stories linking Moses with scandals.

Moses continued to bombard publishers with complaints about the stories as well as seeking support from influential friends and contacts, but these efforts were starting to tip the balance against him. By the end of 1959 the truth about Moses was clear and his reputation was in ruins.

Moses however had one last thing going for him. Due to the amount of power and money he controlled through Triborough, he could not be fired. Reporters continued to ask Wagner what he was going to do about Moses, but Wagner was helpless and could only bluster. The showdowns between the Mayor and Moses were waited for with expectation by press and public alike, but they never came.

In the summer of 1959 however, a graceful way out was offered to Moses: The World’s Fair. Spending for this would be on an international scale. He could not keep his current city jobs if he was to be involved in the World’s Fair, but he could keep his lucrative Triborough job and through this retain control of over $2 billion worth of public works projects. The World’s Fair would give him a clean slate on a clean site. The Fair would rescue his reputation. It would be big news nationally and internationally. Moses thought it would be the project that would crown his career.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • World’s Fair excites Moses.

Chapter 46 – Nelson

The sixth Governor Moses served under was Nelson D. Rockefeller, a fabulously rich man. The Rockefeller family effectively sponsored the Republican Party in New York and they owned the Chase Manhattan Bank. He was a master tactician and a man of great imagination, greatly interested in architecture and housing. Soon after inauguration he embarked on a massive education expansion, building new campuses across the state. He had the arrogance of old money. He was an opponent of Moses to whom no pressure could be applied.

Tension began to build between Moses and the new Governor, whose plans now started to intrude on Moses’s domain, most especially with regards to mass transportation, something to which Rockefeller was an enthusiast. Rockefeller appointed William Ronan to look into mass transportation, an appointment that Moses severely disagreed with. Equally disturbing to Moses was were the delays in extending his tenure over the Parks Authority as he was over the maximum age. Rockefeller kept him waiting every year.

In 1962 this happened again, but this time Moses lost his temper. Moses threatened to resign from all state positions and he left the meeting sure that Rockefeller would cave in. However, Moses had gone too far. On the day after he received Moses’s resignation, Rockefeller accepted it. Both men issued statements to the press. Moses implied that the appointment of Rockefeller’s brother to one of previous posts was nepotism. Rockefeller’s statement accepted Moses’s resignation of all his posts. Expecting outrage from the press, Moses was devastated to see that even the New York Times accepted the decision. People waited to see Moses’s reaction, expecting a fight, but Moses knew he was beaten and he swallowed his pride.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses threatened to resign one too many times and Rockefellar accepted it.

Chapter 47 – The Great Fair

The New York World’s Fair was to be held in 1964. Its site was to be Flushing Meadows, an expanse of marshland half again as large as Central Park, previously used as a waste dump. Moses’s dream was to make this new park the highlight of his career. Moses had wanted to rescue this wasteland since the 1930s, but now the World’s Fair made this a real possibility.

The budget for the project was set at $1 billion. Many read the distribution of these funds purely in terms of how much power it could buy for Moses. Insurance and security expenses were vast, awarded to close allies of Moses. Moses’s previous habit of wining and dining influential people at the project’s expense continued. Contracts were awarded using the criteria of political influence. The rewards for this beneficence soon arrived. Moses was able to raise $60M from the city for the fair.

The fair should have benefitted Moses’s reputation; however, it was eventually to destroy it. He had no experience of this type of project and was not particularly interested in the fair itself. He was more interested in the park, seeing the fair as a temporary inconvenience. He gave each exhibitor complete control over the architecture of their displays. He gave the Port Authority the job of selling the sites. There was no overall vision and this was expressed in the chaotic design of the fair.

After a disastrous trip to Europe, where Moses bullied and disparaged the Bureau of International Exhibits, he was refused official sanction for the fair. Most European countries refused to take part. Public relations for the fair was built around Moses, making the news about the fair concentrate more on Moses’s chickened career than trying to attract visitors. If Moses had ignored the press coverage, the fair’s popularity would have obscured his own bad press, but Moses could not resist fighting back. In 1962 Moses began to critically lecture the press on the dangers of personal attacks, calling them “jackals” and “vultures”.

Moses had been lying for years with impunity. However now the press had their backs up. Moses’s press office began to release details of countries who would be contributing the fair, but on investigation these statements were seen to be untrue. Journalists questioned the economic prospects of the fair. When he lunched with a new set of editors at the New York Times, he stalked out in a rage. There was little or no black presence at the fair. There was no Jewish representation in the religious section. Incidents like these, not the positives of the fair, became the headlines of the day.

The initial attendances at the fair was way below the projected figures. It was not even paying its expenses. After the first season the money had been spent and there was no more coming in. In late August 1964, Moses became fully aware of the fair’s financial problems. He ordered a drastically reduced budget but the economies were too late. He announced to the press that the fair had been a financial success but the press was sceptical and began to investigate.

The day of reckoning came in December. Moses appointed a Rockefeller man as financial director of the fair. The director, at the release of his financial report, announced that the fair was insolvent. There was a mass resignation of the fair’s financial board. Moses flew the world trying to drum up new exhibits. New discos featuring scantily clad women appeared, but the main story was the fair’s parlous financial situation. The headline was “Fair’s choice; Moses or money.” When the fair’s books were audited, the charges changed from incompetence to greed and scandal. No part of Moses’s image was left untarnished. There were moves to get Moses to resign. He refused. Then there were moves to force him out, but too many people on the fair’s executive committee who were making money from Moses. In the second season he was still in charge, so the bad press continued. When the fair ended in 1965, Moses’s name had become symbolic with the public of all they despised, but he still retained power.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • He screwed up the World’s Fair.

Chapter 48 – Old Lion, Young Mayor

In 1966, John Lindsay was elected Mayor of New York. He appointed a Parks Commissioner who had been critical of Moses’s policies. Lindsay tried to remove Moses from all his posts, but he underestimated Moses who was too experienced and resisted.

The Mayor also tried to force through some new mass transportation plans. He attempted to establish a new centralised transport authority. A memorandum of opposition was sent by Moses who pointed out that bond raising contracts could not be cancelled if bonds were still owing and the merger proposed by the Mayor would do this. Moses was offered the choice of resignation or firing. When the Mayor’s transportation chief met Moses to give him the choice, Moses was unperturbed.

The Mayor’s team remained confident that the Governor would support the transport proposal but by the time the proposal reached the legislature Moses’s team had done their work. When the public hearing was held at Albany, a City Hall executive was opposed by Moses, two former governors and a former mayor plus a host of representatives from cross-state power groups. The Mayor had been ambushed. When the press arrived, Lindsay and Moses met face to face, the former nervous, the latter relaxed. Lindsay left early, leaving his assistant to answer questions. For Moses, the line of the powerful proceeded to rubbish the bill. On the following day, Moses launched an attack on Lindsay, saying that he was sitting on millions of dollars’ worth of projects. By this time Lindsay’s bill was dead.

On July 11th Moses had arranged a ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Triborough Bridge. There were crowds bussed in and glossy brochures. There was praise for Moses from the good and the great. But while Moses was still bidding his guests farewell, he received a letter dismissing him from responsibility for highways. He now had only one job left: The Chairman of the Triborough Authority, but he still was in control of Triborough money and he couldn’t be removed until 1970. But the Governor, his most dangerous enemy, was now moving against him.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moving against Moses…

Chapter 49 – The Last Stand

Rockefeller’s transportation plans were now ready. The plan would cost $6.5 billion over five years. The only source of funds was the Port and Triborough Authorities. Now it was time to get rid of Moses. Moses had little to fight back with. The network of power structures he used to control had now almost disappeared. Now Triborough stood alone. If it was removed from Moses’s control, Moses would be gone. Moses’s power over Triborough rested on the bond covenants. A bond holder needed to sue Moses. But a single bond holder would not be able to do it by themselves. So, Rockefeller created a bond holder’s trustee. That trustee was the Chase Manhattan Bank, and that bank was owned by the Rockefeller family.

By 1967, Rockefeller sought approval to issue bonds to raise money for the transportation plans. He had support in the press and the legislature, but support from a public referendum was unsure. The unions were also unconvinced, and Moses was dead against. Moses calculated that claimed surpluses from the plans were in fact deficits that would be picked up by the taxpayer. The public would, according to Moses, be left with a staggering debt. If Moses went to the media, he would be able to wreck the bill. The Governor tried to mollify Moses. Rockefeller met with Moses and after the meeting Moses declared himself in favour of the plan. The Governor had paid for this support with a promise of power. To maintain Moses’s support, Rockefeller had offered Moses a role in the construction. Moses tapped Triborough funds to support the campaign for the bill.

Prior to the meeting with Rockefeller, Moses was preparing to fight the suit brought by the bond holders. After the meeting, Moses lost interest in the suit, even though he was backed by the law and would probably have won. A deal between the Governor and the Chase Manhattan Bank, between one Rockefeller and another, agreed the merger of transport bodies into a centralised authority.

Rockefeller continued to keep Moses on-board, promising a role in the new authority, but a promise was all it was. If there was no contract by March 1st, 1968, there would be no job. Now, having strung Moses along for so long, Rockefeller let Moses go. Moses was offered a post as consultant to the Triborough Authority. This was not a board post, in fact, the post had no authority at all. Moses would be reporting to somebody else and he had no option but to accept it. Moses was now powerless and muted. The age of Moses was over.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Operating the government, the politicians like Robert Moses because he produced project that politicians could champion;
  • He took advantage of New Deal funding to building pools, parks and beaches;
  • Over his 44 year career, Moses always built projects that ensured that he would have even more power, the bridges with tolls for example, with their bond raising capacity;
  • There were no environmental review processes, there is no bullying allowed to the same extent…

Chapter 50 – Old

Moses’s mind was still active, but he had nothing to do. The months ahead drew bleak and terrible. The effect of powerlessness became apparent. The eyes became rheumy, the figure emaciated. A discouraged sigh would be emitted constantly. Moses still sat at his desk at Triborough, but no advice was sought. Soon his former aides were avoiding his office. Eventually, the reality of the situation became clear to Moses; he was being left to die.

Moses was reduced to pleading for a meaningful position. His old cronies tried to fight for him, knowing that their wealth was dependent on Moses having a say in development. Eventually however, everybody realised that Moses had lost all his power. Moses would continue to expound on his past successes, but now people would grow bored and leave. He was now quite deaf and his eyesight was failing. He was still a big man in presence, but the loss of power had a telling psychological effect; he was no longer intimidating.

His intelligence was still active and he still wrote about city planning. He had a city-wide housing program worked out, but the previous flaws were still obvious and now many commentators felt free to criticise them. His desire was to continue to build to save his reputation but the priorities had changed and his plans were ignored. His impotence turned into bitter frustration and violent rages. He could not sit still. He was always anxious to get back and could not get any solace.

There were bright spots. There were monuments and developments named after him. He was named “Man of the Year” in the early 70s by various organisations. He had continued support in some sections of the press. These bright spots however, became fewer and fewer. His name, once a symbol of progress, became a symbol of failure. He no longer had no public platform to express his views. He was asked to host a TV program. The program was a fiasco, partly due to the refusal to wear a hearing aid, resulting in the situation that he was unable to hear anything the other contributors were saying.

By 1972. All of Moses’s contacts were either dead or retired. Once he led battalions, now he had only his chauffeurs and secretaries. His name had disappeared from the press. Moses’s career was over.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Value of getting things done over wielding power to extract money or engage in corrupt acts: Moses was a cut above the both rich, arrogant and corrupt because he always fought opponents with joy and with the aim of expressing the ‘public interest’. He was consistently not held accountable by the electorate (for possible racism, prejudice, relocating the poorest in the name of engineering considerations i.e. the rich etc etc) becoming in effect the most powerful man in New York state for many decades. It was the fact that he was not elected, as a civil servant, he had the goal of wielding power in what he felt was unbiased. He did not value money or corruption through power. He valued the ability to get things done. And so he was closely aligned with the economic modernization of the New York infrastructure of the 20th century.
  • And so he could get away with allocating power in what was in fact a very biased manner which he personally may not have realized was biased; and we cannot confirm every decision was close to objective because we don’t and never will have the data to show just how subjective he was relative to others.
  • Moses tried to argue that the civilian roads were necessary to evacuate New York. He argued every case in order to gain more power. A totalitarian regime can have the will of a single architect the way a democracy cannot. People in a democracy do not sign on to having their own homes demolished for the greater good very often. This is the inherent frailty of democracy as a rather vague construct that doesn’t really exist in a serious way, because it is inimical to progress. Certainly Moses was at the heart of a totalitarian style and many politicians did not seem to mind that.  Proof that democracy dies in darkness. Democracy must do better to counter-act the evidence that Moses “got things done” by also being as or more productive while also accommodating the interests and perspectives of a wider audience (the democratic advantage being crowd-sourced preferences).

Factfulness by Hans Rosling (A Synopsis)

The following is a synopsis of Factfulness by Hans Rosling. It’s a great read on the Ten Reasons We are Wrong About Everything and Why Things are Not as Bad as We Think

Introduction: Why I Love the Circus

Hans Rosling was a physician, academic and public speaker. Together with his son, Ola Rosling and his daughter in law Anna Rosling Ronnlund, he founded the Gap Minder Foundation in 2005 to fight ignorance and encourage what he calls a more factful approach to life. Although this book, like his TED Talks, was written in his voice it is a collaboration between the three of them.

Although he pursued a career in medicine and became a leading academic, Rosling’s true passion as a child was the circus. He loved everything about it and was convinced he would one day live his dream and run off to become a performer. His parents had other ideas; they wanted him to enjoy the first-rate education they didn’t have and so he studied medicine instead.

Hans Rosling actually swalllowing a sword

When studying medicine, he discovered he could stick his hands down his throat further than anyone else. For a short time, he dreamed once again of joining the circus as a sword swallower. Because swords were in short supply, he decided to start with a fishing rod, but found it impossible. It was only later, when treating an actual sword swallower, that he learned the reason why he had failed.

The throat, he was told, is flat and can only take flat objects. To his delight he discovered he could actually do it and, later in life when he began giving talks, he often used it as a finale to his act.

He talks about sword swallowing for a reason. It’s one of those ideas which inspire people to think differently, to question perceptions and, as such, to accomplish the seemingly impossible. This is a key feature of the book.

Another is the continual need to test yourself and question your assumptions. To illustrate he lists 13 questions:

  1. How many girls finish primary school in low income countries around the world?
  2. Where does the majority of the world’s population live: low income, middle income or high-income countries?
  3. In the last 20 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased or halved?
  4. What is the life expectancy of the world today?
  5. There are 2bn children aged 0 to 15 years old. How many will there be in the year 2100 according to the UN?
  6. The UN predicts that, by 2100, the world’s population will have increased by 2bn. Why is this: more younger people or more older people?
  7. How has the number of deaths from natural disasters changed over the last 100 years?
  8. There are 7bn people in the world. Where do they live: mostly in Europe, Africa, Asia or America?
  9. How many of the world’s one-year old children today have been vaccinated?
  10. 30-year-old men have spent ten years in school on average. How many years have women of the same age spent?
  11. In the 1990s tigers, giant pandas and black rhinos were all listed as endangered. How many are listed as more critically endangered than they were then?
  12. How many people in the world have access to some electricity?
  13. Over the next 100 years will the average temperature get warmer, stay the same or get colder?

He sets these tests to people around the world and the majority get them wrong. Our perception of the world is far removed from the reality. His aim in the book is to give people the tools to think in a factful manner, to challenge perceptions and understand the world more completely.

Chapter 1: The Gap Instinct

Our world view is often distorted thanks to the tendency to divide everything into two extremes with a space or a gap in between. For example, we often view the world through the perspectives of distinct groups such as ‘rich versus poor’, ‘us versus them’ or ‘developed and developing countries’.

This is simple and makes it easy to develop a view of the world, but he believes it’s wrong.

To demonstrate his point, he looks at our tendency to divide the global population into developing and developed countries. Those in developed worlds have better access to healthcare, live longer lives and have better access to electricity, while those in the developing world do not. However, the data shows that most people have access to all these things.

In reality, most countries fall into a gap between the perceived developed and developing worlds, with many moving towards the group of developed countries. As such, this divisive world view makes no sense.

Instead, he introduces four categories which can provide us with a better view of the world. These are:

Level 1: Earning less than $2 per day.

Level 2: Earning between $2 and $8 per day.

Level 3: Living off$8 to $32 per day.

Level 4: Bringing in more than $32 each day.

It doesn’t matter where you live in the world; people in each group tend to have a similar quality of life. Those in Level 1 suffer from poor nutrition, live hand to mouth and rely on walking to get where they need to go. In Level 2 people are better off; they can feed themselves have better access to electricity and education but they are not secure. At any time, an emergency could see them slip back to Level 1. At the top is Level 4 in which people can afford a car and an annual holiday.

This produces a more accurate view of the world, one which divides people by quality of life rather than simply where they are living. Even so, the traditional gap-based view of the world prevails.

To combat this, he cites a number of warning signs which can encourage us to slip into the gap-based world view.  

  • Comparing averages between two situations. We forget about the overlap which creates the illusion of a gap.
  • Comparing extremes: For example, thinking of the poorest versus the richest is wrong because most people are in neither extreme.
  • View from above: People in higher income levels look down on lower levels without any idea of the conditions in those levels. If you’re in Level 4, you might think of people in levels 2 and 3 as being poor when in fact they have a much better quality of life than you might think.

The reality of life is that there is no gap. Most people exist in the middle where the gap is supposed to be. Thinking about people in two groups distorts our view of the world. To form a fact-based world view, we have to recognise that many of our perceptions are filtered through mass media which loves to focus on examples which are extraordinary or extreme.

“There is no gap between the West and the rest, between developed and developing, between rich and poor,” Rosling writes. “And we should all stop using the simple pairs of categories that suggest there is.”

Chapter 2: The Negativity Instinct

“The world is getting worse”. It’s a view that we hear often and which, according to polls, most people share. However, it is also wrong. In truth, the world is getting better. We simply don’t notice when it does.

Most humans pay attention to the bad rather than good. As such, they believe the world is only getting worse.

There is some truth in this. The environment is deteriorating and terrorism is higher than it was 30 years ago. Even so, the state of the world is generally improving. However, according to Rosling, these improvements go unnoticed because they aren’t reported and we look back at the past through rose tinted spectacles.

Instead, minor setbacks receive greater coverage. If you look at the news, you’ll be forgiven for assuming that the world is set on a downward trend. However, the facts tell another story.

In the 1800s most people in the world were at income Level One. Extreme poverty was the norm for most people in the world. Today, only 9% of the world is still at level one. Life expectancy has improved from 31 years in the 1800s to over 70 years today. Slavery has been abolished, child mortality is down; plane crashes, hunger and deaths in battles have decreased. Access to electricity, water and health have improved.

Even so, the negative world view persists.

This view is caused by three things: mis remembering the past, selective reporting and the feeling that it would be insensitive to say things are getting better when they are still bad for many people.

When people start living better lives, they can forget how bad things were. They romanticise their youth.

Most reporting is negative. Good news is not news and neither are gradual improvements. A successful flight receives no coverage, but a crash will be splashed across all media outlets.

Rosling suggests three ways to control this negativity instinct.

  • Remember that ‘bad’ and ‘better’ are not mutually exclusive. Things can be bad but they can also be better than they were before. Saying things are better should not be confused with believing everything is fine.
  • Expect bad news. If we recognise that news is likely to disproportionately highlight negatives, we can be better prepared for it. Factfulness is remembering that most of the news which reaches us is bad news and there are plenty of positive developments in the world which do not make headlines. More news does not necessarily mean things are getting worse. It could equally mean that we are getting better at monitoring this suffering, which in turn will make it easier to alleviate it.
  • Avoid romanticising the past. Life was not as good as we think it was, if we present history as it was, we can realise that life, in general, is getting better.

Chapter 3: The Straight-Line Theory

Life does not always work in a straight line, but our thinking does. In this chapter Rosling examines our tendency to assume a certain trend will continue along a straight line in perpetuity. Reality is very different but our straight-line instinct stops us seeing life as it truly is.

He talks about an Ebola outbreak in Liberia. Like most people, he assumed the number of cases would continue in a straight line with each person infecting, on average, another person. As such it would be relatively easy to predict and control as most other outbreaks of disease are. However, he came across a WHO report which said the number of infections was doubling with each case. Every person infected two more people on average before dying.

This spurred him into action. He discusses an old Indian legend. Krishna is challenged by the King to a game of Chess and asked to name his prize if he wins. Krishna asks for one grain of rice to be placed on the first square with the number doubling with each square.

The King agrees assuming it will increase in a straight line. However, it takes him a little while to realise that, by the time it gets to the 60th square, he would have to find more rice than the entire country could produce.

Many people assume the world’s population is increasing. If nothing is done it will reach unsustainable levels meaning something drastic must happen to stop this tend getting any worse. However, UN data shows the rate of population increase is slowing. As living conditions improve, the number of children per family is falling. Instead, growth can be controlled by combatting extreme poverty.

Rosling uses the example of a child. In their first few years, babies and toddlers grow rapidly. If you were to extrapolate that growth for the future, ten-year olds would be much taller than they are. Of course, we know that doesn’t happen because we are all familiar with how the rate of growth slows over time.

When faced with unfamiliar situations, we assume a pattern will continue in a straight line. Instead, he suggests we should remember that graphs move in many strange shapes, but straight lines are rare. For example, the relationship between primary education and vaccination is an S curve; between income levels in a country and traffic deaths is a hump and the relation between income levels and number of babies per women is a slide.

We can only understand the progression of a phenomenon by understanding the shape of its curve. Assuming we know what will happen leads to erroneous assumptions and false conclusions which will in turn lead to ineffective solutions.

To control the straight-line instinct, we must remember that curves come in many forms and we will only be able to predict it when we understand the shape of its curve.

Chapter 4: The Fear Instinct

“Critical thinking is always difficult,” writes Rosling, “but it’s almost impossible when we are scared. There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear.”

This is why the ‘fear instinct’ can be so destructive. When people are afraid, their ability to tell fact from fiction falls off dramatically. Factfulness demands that we control our fear.

Never before has the image of a dangerous world been broadcast more widely and more effectively than it is today. We are frightened of almost everything, but the truth of the matter is that the world has never been safer or less violent.

Rosling starts the chapter by looking back to an old story from his days as a junior doctor. It was 1975 and news came in of a plane crash. The survivors were being rushed to his hospital; senior staff were at lunch which would leave just him and a nurse to handle the situation.

It would be his first emergency and, in his panic, he confused one of the survivors for a Russian pilot and became convinced Russia was attacking Sweden. He mistook a colour cartridge for blood and was narrowly stopped from shredding through a G suit worth thousands of dollars.

Fear stopped him from seeing the situation for what it was. Our minds have an attention filter which decides what reaches it. This is the useful. The word contains vast amounts of information and we have to filter it to avoid overload. However, what gets through tends to be the unusual or scary.

This is why newspapers are full of events which are frightening. However, the more of the unusual we see, the more we become convinced the unusual is actually the norm. Our fear instinct has been baked into our minds by millennia of evolution. Fear kept our ancestors alive, but even though many of these dangers have gone, the perception remains.

The dangers are more real for people in Level 1 and 2 income categories because they are more likely to suffer threats. For example, they might be more likely to be bitten by a snake which might make them jump if they see a funny shaped stick. However, for people in higher income levels, being bitten by a snake is much less likely. Even if they were to be bitten, they have access to good healthcare.

For them, the fear of the snake does more harm than good. Newspapers know these fears are hardwired into our brains so they use it to grab our attention. The same fears which kept our ancestors alive are keeping journalists employed today.

This GOES East satellite image taken Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. EDT, and provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic Ocean as it threatens the U.S. East Coast, including Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina. Millions of Americans are preparing for what could be one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the Eastern Seaboard in decades. Mandatory evacuations begin at noon Tuesday, for parts of the Carolinas and Virginia (NOAA via AP)

The number of deaths from natural disasters has fallen as countries develop better healthcare and infrastructure. Organisations, such as the WHO and UN, help victims in these situations but people in Level 4 aren’t aware of their success because the media reports it as the most serious disaster in history.

It is important to look at things with a fact-based approach to make better use of resources. For example, the 2015 earthquake in Nepal which killed 9,000 people attracted global attention, but diarrhoea from contaminated water kills 9,000 children each year but receives very little attention in comparison.

2015 was the safest year in aviation history but this fact was not reported. The number of deaths from battle has fallen and so has the threat of nuclear war. All these good pieces of news slip under the radar.  

Following the Tsunami in 2011, 1,600 people died escaping Fukushima while nobody died from what they were running away from. Fear of chemicals such as DDT leads to deaths which could have been treated by DDT. The fear of an invisible substance leads to more harm than the substances itself.

Terrorism causes fewer deaths than alcohol but receives far more publicity.

Fear is a terrible guide for understanding the world. We pay attention to things we are afraid of but ignore things which can do us harm. Factfulness is knowing how to tell the difference between actual risks and perceived risks.

Chapter 5: The Size Instinct

From immigration to the number of deaths in hospitals, we consistently overestimate size. In this chapter, Rosling shows how this leads to a distorted view of reality and warps decision making.

He starts by going back to his time as a young doctor in Mozambique in the 80s when it was the world’s poorest country. One in 20 children died. He argued with a friend about the standard of treatment at the hospital. He felt they needed to provide better care outside of the hospital, but his friend believed he should concentrate on improving care within the hospital.

He decided to look at the number of children who died in the hospital compared to those who died outside. To his surprise he found that, while deaths were comparatively low inside the hospital, over 3,900 people died in the community. He therefore decided to go out into the community to provide better care to people who couldn’t get to the hospital.

When looking at a single number in isolation, it is easy to give it too much importance. For example, when he saw he was saving 95% of the children who came to the hospital it was easy to assume he was doing a great job. However, when he compared it to those who were outside the hospital, he realised he had to do more.

Journalists always give us numbers and exaggerate their importance. It leads to solutions which do not help. At the hospital, people would have assumed increasing the number of beds would reduce deaths but, with more information at their disposal, they realised the best path was to improve the levels of care and education within the community.

To avoid the trap of the size instinct, he recommends using the tools of comparison and division.

For example, two million children died before the age of one in 2016. This seems high until you compare it with 1950s number when 14.4 million children died before their first birthday. Infant deaths are falling, but you wouldn’t know this if you only looked at the first figure.

A Swedish hunter killed by a bear received more coverage than a woman killed by her husband. The first incident was a freak event; but it received far more coverage than the second which is a far more common and serious risk. Rather than being concerned by domestic violence, the media became obsessed with an event which is unlikely to happen again for many years.

Another example comes from the Swine flu epidemic which killed 31 people in 2 weeks. However, 63,000 people died from TB in the same period, but it received no coverage.

The lesson is that we tend to over state the unusual and ignore issues which are far more common. It distorts our world view and leads us to make poor decisions. Factfulness is understanding that just because something is more widely reported, doesn’t make it more common.

Chapter 6: The Generalisation Rule

As humans, we love to categorise and generalise everything. While this can help us to simplify our view of the world, it can also lead to distortions. Attributing one characteristic to an entire group based on one unusual example leads to serious misconceptions and can have quite serious consequences.

As he writes, the generalisation instinct “can make us mistakenly group together things, or people, or countries that are actually very different. It can make us assume everything or everyone in one category is similar. And, maybe most unfortunate of all, it can make us jump to conclusions about a whole category based on a few, or even just one, unusual example.”

For example, he begins the chapter by talking about his experiences working in the Congo when he was presented with a less than appetising dessert made from lava. To avoid eating it, he tried to convince them that it was against Swedish custom to eat lava.

Generalisations, he says, are mind blockers. They create a distorted view of reality and often lead people to miss important opportunities. For example, after polling financial experts, he says, he found that they assumed most children in the world were not vaccinated before the age of one. In fact, the vast majority are. For that to happen, countries need a lot of infrastructure, which is also the same kind of infrastructure which is required for factories and other forms of enterprise.

Statistically Valid Things

The belief persisted because these financial experts believed the images of extreme poverty presented about some countries in the media. As such, these experts were potentially missing out on investment and business opportunities because they believed these countries were more deprived than they were.

To combat the generalisation instinct, he suggests travelling. This helps you to get out into the world and gain first-hand experience of cultures as they actually exist, rather than the way they are portrayed in the press.

As with other chapters, questioning is vital. You should always question the different categories you are given. Look for similarities across and within groups; remember to be suspicious of generalisations and to be aware when you are generalising one particular group from another.

Many people generalise African countries but they are not all at the same level of development. This has enormous consequences. The Ebola epidemic in Liberia affected tourism in Kenya even though the two countries are thousands of miles apart.

Majority is an extremely blunt concept. It can be anything between 51% and 99%; which does not produce a realistic picture of any situation.

Examples give a poor picture. Many people around the world suffer from chemophobia, the fear of chemicals, when in reality most are beneficial.

Folders Icon with variations of colors

Assuming you are normal can lead to you generalising others and failing to understand the reasons behind their actions. What is normal to you is not necessarily normal to other people.

Factfulness is recognising what categories are used and keeping in mind that these categories can be misleading. While humans categorise and generalise everything, this can lead to stereotypes which can lead to poor solutions. By travelling and questioning assumptions, you can combat the problems caused by the generalisation instinct.  

He also focuses on what he calls the 80/20 rule. We should always look at items which take up more than 80% of the total. Looking at the world’s energy sources, for example, you might feel they seem equally important, but only three generate more than 80% of the world’s energy.

Divide it by a total to get a clearer idea of the situation. If you look at the total emissions produced by each country, it might seem that China and India produce more Co2 emissions than Germany and the USA, but if you divide it by the population, you’ll see that USA and Germany produce more emissions per head than either China or India. A single number does not provide a clear picture of any situation.

Chapter 7: The Destiny Instinct

When Rosling gave a presentation to a group of capitalists and wealthy individuals about the opportunities of emerging markets in Asia and Africa he was surprised by their reaction.

At the end of the talk he was approached by what he describes as a ‘grey haired’ man who told him, in no uncertain terms, that there was no chance that African countries would ever make it. Despite all the positive data about economic progress he’d seen in the presentation, this man believed there was something about African society which meant they were destined to be poor.

This is an example of the destiny instinct and its roots go back to the earliest history of man. As humans, we often assume that a nation, group or culture’s destiny is determined by general characteristic which we believe it shares. For example, white Europeans are destined to be developed and wealthy while black Africans will always be poor.

This attitude persists even in the face of contradictory data. Not only do people believe it to be true, but they assume there is nothing that individuals in this culture can do to change things. Destiny, as they say, is all.

The instinct stems from evolution when people lived in small groups and didn’t travel very far. It was safer to assume things would stay the same as they wouldn’t need to constantly evaluate the surroundings. It’s also a great way to unite a group.

However, today’s societies are constantly changing. These changes occur gradually which gives the perception that things are staying the same. As such, gender equality is perceived to have remained unchanged around the world, but in reality, things have largely improved.

There is also an idea that Africa is destined to remain poor. However, most African countries have reduced their infant mortality rates faster than Sweden did. Asian countries have moved into the category of developed nations and many countries have escaped extreme poverty.

It was also assumed that the number of babies a woman has would depend on her religion. Religious women were more likely to have babies than those with no religion. However, careful analysis of data shows that the number of babies depends not on religion but income levels.

Other examples include the rise of support for women’s rights and liberal ideas in Sweden. Concepts which might have been far from the mainstream in the past are now commonly accepted.

To control the destiny instinct, you should recognise that:

  • Slow change does not mean no change at all.
  • Be ready to update your knowledge. Knowledge is never constant in the social sciences.
  • Collect examples of cultural change.

Factfulness is the art of recognising that many things appear to be static just because change is happening more gradually. Groups are not defined by their innate characteristics and, just because something has been true once, it doesn’t mean it is set in stone for the future. Like many of the other attitudes discussed in this book, the destiny instinct is hard coded into our evolution, but while it might once have been helpful for our ancestors, it is holding us back today.

Chapter 8: The Single Perspective Instinct

We live in a world in which many people have strong opinions. However, when these opinions are set into a single world view, we can become blind to any information which contradicts us. This is the problem of the single perspective instinct and it can make it very difficult to understand reality.

“Being always in favour of or always against any particular idea makes you blind to information that doesn’t fit your perspective,” writes Rosling. “This is usually a bad approach if you like to understand reality.” 

The single perspective instinct can be alluring. It is the preference for simple explanations and simple solutions to the world’s problems, but life is somewhat more complicated. This single cause and solution view creates a completely warped view of the world.

There are two main reasons why we do this: professional and political bias. Professionals will always see the world from the perspective of their own expertise. A hammer will see everything as a nail and will probably adopt the same approach. Even experts in their field can be wrong.

A poll of women’s rights activists found that only 8% realised that 30-year-old women have spent only one year less in school on average than men. They were so intent on seeing the situation as bad that they ignored the progress their own efforts have brought about.

He warns against relying the media to form a world view. It’s like forming an impression of a person just from his or her feet. The foot is far from the most attractive part of the body, so it doesn’t give you a fair representation of the rest of the person.

In the same way, the media tends to present the worst of the world; the disasters, the catastrophes and the crime. If you form your world view based on media reports, you’ll imagine the situation is much worse than it actually is.

Campaigners often paint the world as getting worse, but they are not aware that progress happening. If they ditched the attitude that things are only getting worse, they could garner more support for their cause.

People love the idea of being able to point to a single cause and single solution. For example, many use numbers to illustrate all sorts of issues, but they do not always represent the best solution. They do not help you to understand the reality behind them.

He recalls a conversation with the Prime Minister of Mozambique who said he believed the economy was making progress. Rosling argued that the data did not show this, but the Prime Minister replied that he did not solely rely on numbers to measure progress. He’d look at the shoes people wore and construction projects taking place. If the shoes were old, it meant that people didn’t have money to replace them. If construction projects were overgrown with grass, it suggested there wasn’t enough money being invested.

There is never a single explanation to any situation. It limits your imagination. Factfulness is realising the limitations of this perspective and finding ways to view situations from a wider range of viewpoints. This will help people to develop a more accurate understanding of the world they live in and to challenge their own world views. 

Chapter 9: The Blame Instinct

We live in a culture which loves to apportion blame. This instinct assigns a clear cause to an event and finds someone who was at fault.

It’s a comforting approach. When things go wrong it is nice to think it’s because of bad people with bad intentions, but that seldom tells the entire story. We attach a lot of importance to individual groups or people, but it also stops us from understanding the world.

Once we find someone to blame, we stop looking for the actual cause of the problem and focus on punishing the person we think is at fault. The result is that we’re unable to prevent it from happening again.

For example, we might want to blame a plane crash on a pilot who falls asleep, but this does not stop another pilot from falling asleep in the future. Instead we should be looking at why the pilot fell asleep in order to stop it from happening again.

Hand in hand with the blame instinct comes the tendency to credit someone for an achievement even if the reality is more complicated. Someone has to take the blame or be given the credit. We love to point fingers if it confirms our belief

Even Rosling himself is not immune. When UNICEF hired him to investigate a company given a contract for malaria drugs, he became convinced that the company was acting improperly. Even before he finished his investigation, he started pointing fingers. In reality, the company was honest but simply had an innovative business model.

The same principle is at work when looking at the number of immigrants killed trying to cross the sea into Europe. It is common to blame the smugglers who traffic these people across the sea in small craft which are routinely dangerously overloaded. In reality, though, the problem is Europe’s immigration policies which state that an airline which brings illegal immigrants into the country will have to pay for their repatriation.

Airlines will not be able to tell if someone is truly an illegal immigrant in the few minutes they have before they board a flight, so they will ban anyone who doesn’t have a Visa. This means that refugees who have a right to enter Europe under the Geneva Convention cannot do so by any legitimate means. They are forced into the hands of the smugglers thanks to official European policy.

Any boats which bring refugees by sea are confiscated by the authorities which is why smugglers turn to cheap dinghies because they cannot afford to lose a larger boat.

On the other hand, we can also be in a rush to give credit to a single person or law. China’s low birth rate is accredited to Mao’s single child policy, but rates had started to fall before the law came into force. Instead the decline was down to institutions and technology that were in place.   

Factfulness is the ability to recognise when someone is being scapegoated and to understand that this stops people creating viable solutions for the future. It is easy to look for a clear solution when something bad happens, but it stops us developing a fact-based view of the world and coming up with a solution which actually works.

Chapter 10: The Urgency Instinct

Rosling’s tenth and final instinct is one which can bring all the others to the fore: the tendency to take urgent action to solve a problem. While this might have served us well in the past, it can cause us to make rash decisions based on incomplete information.

Doctors running for the surgery

The urgency instinct is embedded in our evolution, and in times gone by, it has served us very well. For example, if you think there is a lion in the grass you don’t want to spend time analysing your options; you simply need to start running. It’s always the safest option.

It can also be useful today. If you’re driving and someone slams on the brakes, you’ll have to take drastic action to avoid a crash. However, in today’s modern world, it can often create problems.

While Rosling was a doctor in Mozambique, a disease broke out that paralysed patients within minutes and sometimes caused blindness. He wasn’t certain that it was infectious, but the Mayor didn’t wait to find out. He ordered the military to set up roadblocks to prevent busses reaching the city. To get around these roadblocks, women asked fishermen to take them to the city by sea. It was a dangerous journey and many of these boats were overloaded. They capsized and causes the deaths of women and children.

After some research they discovered the root cause was eating processed Cassava. So, while the Mayor believed his prompt action was the safest approach, it actually caused a number of deaths which should have been avoided.

Alarm clock on laptop concept for business deadline, schedule and urgency

The principal of ‘now or never’, causes people to conjure a worst-case scenario. It kills the ability to think things through and encourages bad decision making. This is why salespeople come up with limited time offers. They are giving you a deadline and introducing a sense of urgency into your decision making in the hope you’ll be rushed into making a purchase.

To compel people to taking action, activists will often try to trigger the urgency instinct. They will stress how urgent a problem is and paint a worst-case scenario of what will happen if you don’t do something now. However, Rosling believes this is counterproductive.

Fear and exaggerated data can numb people to the risks campaigners are warning about which can lead to complacency and inaction.

For example, most countries say they are committed to fighting a climate change but aren’t tracking their progress. It begs the question: how can they truly fight climate change if they are not tracking their progress?

Rosling tells us that the world faces five serious risks: global pandemic, financial collapse, world war, climate change and extreme poverty. The first two have happened before while the second two are happening now.

They need to be approached with cool heads and data analysis rather than sparking fear and urgency. It’s about crying wolf. It can lead to these risks being ignored despite the dreadful consequences. We must worry about the right thing.

The idea of factfulness is to remember that things might not be as urgent as they seem. If you’re afraid and under pressure to act quickly, you are likely to make bad decisions. We must take a breath, take action based on data and be very wary of fortune tellers who insist they know what’s going to happen. Although the world’s problems need to be solved it is not always a good idea to take urgent or drastic measures.

Chapter 11: Factfulness in Practice

The final chapter brings everything together and demonstrates how all the lessons explained so far can be put to practical use. We see each of the ten instincts on show and how factfulness can lead to truly positive real-world solutions.

To demonstrate, Rosling takes us to a remote village in the DRC. He had travelled there to investigate a disease which was caused by eating unprocessed Cassava. The villagers believed he was collecting their blood to sell it and they were angry.

All the instincts discussed in this book were on display. The sharp needles and blood had triggered the fear instinct. The generalisation instinct made them categorise him as a plundering white man. Blame instinct caused them to assume he had malicious intent and the urgency instinct convinced them they had to act immediately, in this case by threatening him with machetes.

Things might have worked out very badly for both him and his translator if it hadn’t been for an old woman who successfully calmed the crowd down and explained that he was trying to help them. Although she was illiterate, she was bringing all the core principles of factfulness to bear in a very dangerous situation. As such, she managed to save both their lives.

In the same way we can bring it to our daily lives, in business, education and journalism and communities. Children should be taught to adopt a fact-based approach to life which will help them to develop a better view of the world and create better solutions. Children should be taught to be curious, to hold two different ideas at the same time. They should be willing to alter their opinions with new facts. This will protect them from ignorance.

Having a typo in your CV can keep you from getting a top job. However, people who make policies are placing a billion people in the wrong continent. Businesses have distorted world views and fail to understand that markets are growing in Africa and Asia. Being an American company is no longer a privilege which will automatically attract employees and customers. If investors relinquish their preconceptions about Africa, they may realise that it contains some of the best business opportunities in the world.

With a more factful attitude, journalists may become aware of their dramatic world views and present something more accurate and useful. However, it is a bit of a stretch to expect them to truly embrace all the principles of factfulness and start reporting the mundane alongside the unusual. The onus is on people to learn how to consume news in a more factful manner.

If you are ignorant at the global level there’s a good chance you’ll also be ignorant at the local level within your own community, company or organisation. They are all using erroneous data to manage their businesses and prepare for disasters.

Leaders in companies, cities, countries and organisations should carry out fact-based surveys to uncover ignorance within their organisations. Only by doing so can they develop a more accurate and realistic world view. Factfulness can be put into practice in all our daily lives, at home at work and in our communities.

Key takeaways from Steve Jobs’ life based on Walter Isaacson’s biography

This is an analysis based on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and other sources of research. Enjoy.

Location Really Does Matter For Entrepreneurs:

You need to be in the right place at the right time. Being exposed to many ideas, variables, and potential inputs for accidental discoveries is better than living in a risk averse environment. In High School, Jobs took an electronics class which would have been less likely in most other cities in the US or Canada. Steve Jobs was fortunate to be raised in Silicon Valley, and because of that location it is less of a mystery as to why Jobs is who he was. Defense contracts in Silicon Valley during the 1950s shaped the history of the valley, military investment was used to build cameras to fly over the USSR, for example. Military companies were on the cutting edge, and made living in Silicon Valley interesting. In the 1930s, Dave Packard moved into Silicon Valley, and his garage was the core of the creation of Hewlett Packard. In the 1960s, HP had 9,000 employees, and it was where all engineers wanted to work. Jobs was ambitious enough at a young age to phone Dave Packard and ask for some parts. That’s how he got a summer job there. Moore’s Law emerged in Silicon Valley, Intel was able to develop the first micro processor. Financial backing was made easier to acquire where rich New Yorker’s retired to…By having the chip technology that could be cost measured for projections, Jobs and Gates would use this metric to revolutionize the technological world.

Childhood Shapes Your Thinking:

Jobs was never interested in cars, but he wanted to hang out with his dad, who emphasized the importance of building quality products, and loved souping up cars. The interior of a product is equally important as the exterior for Paul Jobs (Steve’s Father). Eichler Homes were great designs, with a simple capability that was common in Silicon Valley. Paul also taught that you should know more than the person you bargain with. Paul Jobs could not successfully get into real-estate because he was unwilling to sell, and be like-able. By his teens, Jobs realized he was smarter than his parents.  Steve Jobs was willful, and his parents would go to great lengths to feed Jobs every whim by deferring to his needs. Steve Jobs got into a fight with his dad for smoking marijuana, but by his senior year, Jobs was looking into sleep deprivation, LSD, and other drugs.

Jobs was fascinated by the need for perfection in technology. Later on in the 1980s, he argued that even if you can’t see something, it should be done well. Jobs wanted to ensure that the Macintosh mother board was beautiful, so he had members of his team sign the circuit board. Steve Jobs became more interested in electronics than in car engineering, in particular the laser technology his father was working at Spectra Physics.

Go Get What You Want, If You Have The Courage:

The 9100A was the first desktop computer, it was a huge computer that Jobs saw in the Explorers Club he participated in. Jobs created a frequency counter as part of the club, but he needed a special part so he phoned the home of the CEO of HP, and spoke with Hewlett directly over the phone for over 20 minutes. This conversation got Jobs a summer position at HP. Jobs had pushed his way into the factory. Steve Jobs hung out with the engineers mostly, but he worked in the electronic components section of HP.

Steve Jobs walked into the lobby of Atari in sandals, and demanded that he work as one of the first 50 people for Atari at $5 an hour. Jobs was very intelligent, and excited about technology. Nolan Bushnell used the power of his personality to build Atari, and Steve Jobs learned about this skill in part from Bushnell. Steve was a prickly person, and he had horrible body odor. Steve Jobs was brash, and, at Atari, told many of his co-workers that they were “dumb shits.” Atari didn’t mind his horrible BO because Jobs was agressive, smart, and worked hard. However, Jobs was put on the night-shift at Atari so that no-one had to deal with him during regular work hours.

Education Is For Conformists:

Steve Jobs was not interested in memorizing information but being stimulated. He was sent home repeatedly. Jobs began to excel when he was incentivised by his game-changing teacher Imogen Hill “Teddy” who bribed Jobs into doing Math problems in exchange for lollipops. She further invested in Jobs with cameras and other toys. Steve Jobs was able to convince another kid to give him her Hawaii shirt for a school photo, he knew how to convince others to do things for him early on. Steve Jobs was put forward by one grade for his brilliance. He was not a straight-edged student however.

Assume That You Will Die Young:

Jobs believed that he was going to die young. He worked extremely hard because he was certain that he would be dead at an early age.

The Cream Soda Computer:

Wozniak was able to build a calculator that displayed binary code while drinking cream soda extensively in 1973. Wozniak’s great strength was that he was emotionally and socially inexperienced, was a high school geek who cared more about computers. Wozniak knew more electronics than Steve Jobs, and Jobs was more mature, so they met in the middle. Wozniak and Jobs both listened to Bob Dylan. Dylan’s words struck chords of creative thinking for Woz and Jobs. They bootlegged many Bob Dylan concerts. They even worked as entertainers in Silicon Valley dressing up as clowns to perform for kids.

Go To India:

Steve Jobs went to India to expand his meditation skills. Jobs sought spiritual calm but he could not get into his own inner calm in Silicon Valley. He spent 7 months in India being mentored in meditation. Jobs found a spiritual leader in Silicon Valley in Los Altos. Steve Jobs would do meditations, they learned how to tune out distractions. His friends noticed that Jobs became self-important. Steve Jobs also engaged in primal screaming which helped to resolve his childhood pain. Jobs appreciated intuitive spirituality, he wanted to grow in that way. You need to avoid getting stuck in thought patterns that are really just chemical patterns in your brain. By age 30, many people cannot escape their own grooves. You need to be able to throw yourselves out, according to Jobs. Artists go and hibernate somewhere. To be truly innovative over time, you need to think outside of the box, and escape yourself.

Pranking People Requires Creative Thinking:

Steve Jobs and Wozniak produced a banner with a hug hand flipping the middle finger to all the seniors as the graduating classes marched past during a High School pep rally. This got Steve Jobs suspended. Steve Jobs was interested in pranking his classmates, and even put a small explosive under one of his teacher’s desk. Their most effective prank had been to scramble TV frequencies with a remote control. Wozniak and Jobs would hide in the bushes while university students were watching television.

On cue, the TV would be scrambled with a small device Woz had built, and one of the students would get up to fix it. Wozniak played around so that the student would be compelled to hold an awkward position in order to keep clear the TV signal. Wozniak’s device was highly effective in manipulating people.

Starting A Company Is Very Difficult:

If you’re not passionate about what you are doing, then you will give up. So in order to succeed you need to be passionate, and hardworking. It turns out that Woz and Jobs were not trying to build a company at first but were in fact trying to build a computer that they wanted. They had not gone to business school, and they didn’t even know what the Wall Street Journal was. They wanted to just go build a computer so that they and their friends could use it.

Meet A Brilliant & Noble Engineer:

Jobs was fortunate to meet Steve Wozniak who believed in engineering as the highest, and most noble activity. ‘Woz’ did not believe in marketing, and did not aspire to be in the lime light. Their meeting was truly fortunate. Wozniak’s father taught his son how to build circuits at an early age. His father also taught ‘Woz’ to never lie, accept in the service of a good practical joke. Wozniak had an easier time making eye contact with a circuit than a girl, built a transistor to allow 6 kids to communicate with eachother, read about new computers in his spare time, and focused on designing circuits. Wozniak was socially shut out in high school. Wozniak worked on designing computers with half the number of chips the company had designed in his blue prints. Jobs had inferior tech-skills but had other advantages like charisma and persuasiveness.

Meetups Bring Insanely Great Ideas Together:

The Homebrew Computer Club did not conform to the Hewlett Packard mold, or the hierarchical business structures of the UK, Japan or Germany. In Silicon Valley, USA, there were study groups who were building up computers for creative meetups. These were basically self-fulfillment movements in the California area of Silicon Valley where everyone was sharing ideas, and everybody was gaining from that exchange. For most people, computers were ominous, government machines that would destroy life values. By the mid-1970s, computing was no longer a bureaucratic control mechanism but rather a liberating one.

The Altair computer was available in 1975 from MITS, and Bill Gates started building BASIC which would become the first software product from his company Microsoft. Jobs and Wozniak bought the Altair as well in order to learn how it worked.

Borrowing ideas was the way that Wozniak developed the Apple I. He started to sketch out the idea of the Apple I from 1975 to 1976. Since the Intel 80 was so expensive, Wozniak bought a bunch of microchips that were not Intel compatible. This incompatibility would subsequently not allow Apple computers to work with other software products without some modifications. Wozniak built on the shoulders of previous processor chips, and he wrote the code by hand. When he had built the prototype, and the letters were displayed on the screen correctly, there was great excitement. It could not have happened in New York, London, or a small city in France. Innovation is geographically situated because you need to meet the right people, and be at the right place for this kind of success.

Knowing What You Wanted To Do Earlier On Is Not Great For Entrepreneurs:

Steve Jobs wanted to go to Reed College because Stanford students already knew what they wanted to do. Reed College had a high dropout rate, and they tuned in, turned on, and dropped out. At Reed, Jobs did a lot of drugs, and he still swears by the importance of taking LSD. Steve Jobs refused to go to Reed classes that he was assigned, and focused on taking classes he was interested in, as well as breaking the rules. Steve Jobs decided that using his parents college funding which his parents had saved was unfair so, and he dropped out, but he didn’t want to leave Reed. Remarkably Reed allowed Steve to stay, and he audited classes. Steve Jobs learned about typography, and he found it fascinating. Jobs rejected the lack of idealistic vision in the 1980s, and he believed in the importance of the counter-culture movements of the 1970s.

Steve Jobs Excluded Relevant Information Where Necessary: 

Wozniak was at HP but would come by to play the new Atari games because Jobs was working at Atari. In the 1975, Bushnell asked Jobs to design a single player game which required that bricks fall towards the paddle when struck by the ball, instead of having a computer or a simple wall to compete with. The head of Atari knew that Jobs could not build such a computer programme but he knew that Jobs would likely enlist the help of Steve Wozniak. There was a bonus offered for every chip used below 50. Jobs told Wozniak that this project needed to be completed within 4 days, he then said that they would split the payment. Wozniak was so enthusiastic that he worked hard to get it done on time. The deadline was a false one as Jobs wanted to go apple picking that weekend.

In addition, Jobs did split the payment for the project but he failed to mention the bonus for the number of chips below 50. There were 45 chips so Jobs received 100% of the bonus that Wozniak did not know about. 10 years later on the history of Atari, it was revealed the Jobs was given a bonus and Wozniak was shocked. This program was the basis of the final product which was wildly successful as an arcade game. Wozniak states, “I’m not going to judge Steve’s morality. Apple wouldn’t be where it was without Jobs manipulative nature.”

Have Discipline Over Body & Mind:

Steve Jobs got into a disciplined fasting by eating just apples. He believed that minimalism led to great rewards when encountering complexity, and that experience is relative. Vegetarianism, acid, rock music, and the enlightenment campus seeking culture at Reed College was a laboratory for Steve Jobs’ development. Steve Jobs had extremely terrible BO in college because he did not believe in using any chemicals or deodorants. At Reed, Robert Freidland was able to mesmerize him. Jobs learnt from Freidland about charisma, and the art of persuasion. Friedland was a LSD drug dealer, and was sentenced to two years in prison in 1972. When he was released, Friedland ran for student president at Reed College. Freidland had met the Maharaji in India, and Jobs learned about how a state of enlightenment could be attained through practiced mediation. Steve Jobs had an ability to stare people deep into the eyes. Freidland taught Steve Jobs how to initiate the reality distortion field by bending the situation to his will. Freidland was dictatorial, and wanted to be the centre of attention, and a real salesman. Jobs said LSD helped him to understand the connection with human history, and the absence of the need for profit. Steve Jobs was hardly interested in presenting himself in a proper way throughout the early years of Apple Computer Inc.

Picking A Name Is As Simple As Picking Apples:

Steve Jobs was on a fruitarian diet and he picked apples at the One Brand Farm which was a hippy commune. Apple Computer was a smart choice as a name because it was friendly, and simple. It was counter-culture, and nothing could be more American. Apples and Computers don’t go together so it got people thinking.

Crime Does Pay!!!???: 

If you own an Apple product then you are complicit in supporting crime, kinda but not really… However, we forget that sometimes rules have to be broken in order to innovate. Read the following and see if you agree that we might never have heard of Apple Computers without an illegal gadget called The Blue Box…..

Steve Jobs and Wozniak Created Through Illegal Activity

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Crime Does Pay? Paul Jobs (Steve’s adopted father) made extra money by souping up cars without telling the IRS, and this was duly noted by Steve. When it came to borrowing, Steve Jobs didn’t mind using his high school’s money to buy parts from a major company. After-all, to Steve, hus school had a lot of money. By 1971, Steve Wozniak had read in Esquire about hackers, and ‘phone-freakers’ who had invented a way to cheat phone companies. Woz read the article to Jobs over the phone from college. The so-called Blue Box was invented by a guy named Captain Crunch. It was interesting because the device mimicked the dial tones necessary to connect long-distance calls thereby allowing calls to be made for free. Jobs and Wozniak went to work reading the Bell System Technological Journal produced by AT&T in order to mimic Captain Crunch’s long-distance tones mimicking device. Of course, this was all illegal.

After much research and work, the two Steves created their Blue-Box device which allowed them to call the Pope, Australia, and elsewhere free of charge. Jobs always felt that stealing long-distance calls was fair when a company like Bell was involved. Although it was illegal, Jobs believed they could sell these devices, and they did manage to sell over 100 of them. Jobs did all the pitching of the Blue Box to random people in the Palo Alto area. It was their first real entrepreneurial endeavour. In an illegal market like telephone hacking, however, there were risks. In one encounter, Jobs and Wozniak were robbed of one of these devices by a crazed man who held Jobs and Woz up at gun-point. By doing something illegal, Steve Jobs and Wozniak gained confidence that they could put a product into production. The Blue Box gave them a taste of the combination of engineering and vision. The lesson is that it turns out that crime does pay when the work is the forerunner of something like Apple.

Sharing Ideas Is Fine Up To A Point:

The Homebrew Computer Club (a collection of computer enthusiasts) believed that their ideas should be shared, exchanged, and disseminated. It was coordinated by people who believed that like-minded nerds should all share information for free. They believed that there should be no commerce at the Homebrew Computer Club. Wozniak supported that view, he wanted the Apple I to be shared for free with other people at the Homebrew meetings. Others disagreed. Bill Gates wrote a letter to the Homebrew Computer Club saying the opposite; that they should stop stealing the programming that he and his partners had created.

The letter argued “Who can afford to do their professional work if everyone is stealing it?” Steve Jobs agreed with Bill Gates about sharing ideas. Jobs convinced Wozniak to follow a closed approach, and to sell computers rather than sharing them. Jobs asked that Woz stop sharing the schematics information regarding the Apple I with others, for that reason. Jobs decided to sell these computers by buying 50 panels for circuitry. The closed system had major benefits in his later career. Starting in 1999, Apple created iMovie, FinalCut Pro, iDvd, iPhoto, GarageBand, (most importantly) iTunes, and the iTunes Store. The personal computer was morphing into a lifestyle hub, and only Apple was positioned to create a full (CLOSED) experience where the product was simple, and enjoyable. Therefore, sharing is great up to a certain point.

Most Good Ideas Have To Be Forced Down People’s Throats:

Wozniak did not want to go into business, but Jobs convinced Woz to join Apple. But first, Wozniak decided that he would do the ethical thing by telling Hewlett Parckard about his Apple I product which he had constructed based on his experience and training at HP. Wozniak presented the Apple I to executives at HP, but they did not think a personal computer made any sense. During one Homebrew Computer Club gathering, Jobs showed the Apple I and after his presentation he asked how much people would pay for the Apple I. The room was silent, no one was interested in buying the Apple I. That is, no one but Paul Terrell who owned an electronics store called The Byte Shop. Even Atari was pitched by Jobs, but they thought Jobs was a clown.

Apple’s first order was for a total of 50 computers from Terrell for $500 each. It took until 1981 for IBM which had dominated the mainframe computers industry to enter the personal computer market while Apple dominated as the fastest growing company in the history of the world at that time, and had already been in the process of developing both Lisa, and the Macintosh.

Another example is that Xerox PARC researchers had invented the Graphical User Interface (GUI) which was visual point and click system that would replace the black screen coding required to operate a computer previously. The only problem is that the Xerox management did not want to explore this personal computer technology. The management at Xerox did not understand the vision of these researchers at Xerox PARC and could not see a P&L statement that justified the time and energy to make the leap from photo-copying to personal computers. Steve Jobs would later explain that the Xerox management were “copy-heads.”

Adele Goldberg showed Jobs the Xerox GUI, but she was angry that Xerox was allowing Jobs to see ‘everything.’ She understood that Xerox had “grabbed defeat from the jaws of success” according to Jobs, by giving him access to their R&D work in exchange for shares in Apple. Without Jobs’ visit to Xerox PARC, the Macintosh, and Lisa would not have had the GUI, and Bill Gates might not have subsequently revolutionized computers with Windows.

Run Your Company Out Of Your Parents House In Order To Appear Like a Real Company:

In order to fulfill their first order from Mr. Terrell’s electronics store, Jobs ran Apple out of his parents house. This was complicated by the fact that Jobs’ father would frequently insist that he rightfully watch the end of Sunday football instead of letting Steve program computer chips on the family tv screen. Things were awkward; they even had a company phone number which was diverting calls to Steve’s mother who acted as secretary…

A curious brand marker has been the much vaunted Apple logo. Interestingly, the original logo of Apple was a ridiculous picture of Newton and a quote from Wordsworth (as seen on the left side of your screen). For the Terrell batch, Jobs and Wozniak marked up the price of the computer from production to $666.66 for every Apple I sold. Steve Jobs claimed that he was a private consultant at Atari in order to improve his start-up’s credibility. The original Apple I was displayed at a computer fair. Wozniak was the best circuit engineer, but the Sal 20 was better looking. Apple I looked like it was not created by serious people. That is when Jobs realized he needed to build a fully packaged computer, and he was no longer aiming for hobbyists but for the people who wanted to use a computer which would be ready to run out of the box.

Jobs and Wozniak agreed to start their own computer company with $3,000. Wozniak was excited to start a company with Steve Jobs. Apple started with $1,300 of working capital. Wozniak wanted to use his Apple work at HP, but Jobs insisted that the work should be  controlled within Apple, and not given to HP. Steve Jobs’ idea was to have control over the computer, and Jobs created tools so that no one but Apple employees could open their computers. Wozniak refused to leave HP, and Jobs forced Wozniak to give up HP by calling Woz’s family and friends. Jobs actively cried a lot over the phone to Woz’s family in order to convince Wozniak to quit his day job. The only way to get Wozniak onboard was if he could stay at the bottom of the organizational chart at Apple from 1977 onwards. That was not a problem for Jobs.

Mike Markkula’s Marketing Theory Is Built Around Three Ideas:

First, you need to connect with your customers, and understand their needs and aspirations. You need to understand their needs better than any other company. Second, you need to focus, and eliminate any activities that do not help to achieve your goal. Third, is to impute. You need to make sure that your brand is respected, because people form their opinion of you based on the signals that you convey. You might have the best product but if you present them in a slip-shot manner you will not get what you want. Steve Jobs would always impute the desires of his customers. He cares about the packaging, and cared about setting the tone for how customers perceived the product.

MacKenna’s Advertising Style Worked: The Apple logo was developed as a multi-colour symbol. The brochure read “Simplicity Is the Ultimate Sophistication.” Apple’s display area in computer fairs was always very impressive. There were only 3 Apple IIs that were finished for the computer fair in 1977, but they stacked up Apple II boxes to suggest they had more. Steve Jobs and Wozniak were forced to dress up, and they were trained on how to act by Markkula.

Don’t Worry About A Business Plan Until You Need Investment In A Serious Venture: 

Mike Markkula entered Apple because Jobs needed money to get the Apple II built. They needed to build inventory, and they needed to develop a marketing strategy, and distribution in order to build a business plan. Markkula worked in computer chips, and was excellent at finance, and price measures, Markkula was very successful already. When Markkula showed up he had a convertible. He wrote a business plan that centred on guesstimates of how many people would own a computer in their home. Markkula wanted Apple to balance check books, and keep receipts. The spirit of Markkula’s prediction was true.

Markkula co-signed a bank loan of $250,000. They owned 25% of the stock, and Apple was incorporated on April 1, 1976. He believed that Apple was at a start of an industry. Apple Computer was growing at an incredibly fast rate. The numbers were mind-blowing: from 2,500 Apple IIs sold in 1977, 8,000 were sold in 1978, and up to 35,000 in 1979. Remember there was no market for personal computers before! The company earned $47 million in revenues in fiscal year 1979, making Steve Jobs a millionaire on paper (he owned $7 million worth of private stock). Markkula believed that Apple would go public within 2 years, it went public on December 12, 1980 at $10 per share making over 300 people millionaires. Several VCs cashed out reaping billions in long-term capital gains. Through Markkula, Jobs learnt about marketing and sales. Importantly, Markkula did not want to start a company just to get rich.

Create A Simple Product For Households, Steve Jobs:

Macintosh was built around the idea that people should own their computers and computers should be for the masses. Rather than having to travel to a library or computer centre to use them, computers should be available within the home. It should be pitched as a kitchen appliance and an accounting tool. Few companies thought the computer would have mass appeal but Apple had developed the market and then began losing ground to IBM. Enter Jef Raskin, a professor, academic, and computer specialists who set up what he called the “Macintosh” office off of the main HQ of Apple Computer, Inc. Engineering brilliance was needed but Raskin was too willing to make compromises on the price point at $1,000. Raskin believed in starting with the ambitions of the immediate technology and not with Jobs’ goal of creating an insanely great machine. Raskin did not believe that they could distort reality. In fact, Jobs was moved out of the Lisa project in 1980 for his absurdities with regard to what could and couldn’t be done through the badgering of his subordinates.

Your Product Needs To Be A Full Simple Package:

Jobs went in to pitch Atari for support for Apple II which had colour, a power source, and keyboards. It was rejected partly because Jobs went to the meeting without shoes. Another company, building the Commodore decided that it would be cheaper to build their own machine. The Commodore Pet came out 9 months later which sucked according to Jobs. Jobs was willing to sell to Commodore but Wozniak felt that this was a bad move. They designed a simple case for the Apple II which would set Apple apart from other machines. The VisiCalc also allowed Apple II to breakinto in the Financial market. Jobs wanted light molded plastic, and offered a consultant $1,500 to produce the design. The Apple II had the advantage of not requiring a fan, or multiple jacks. Jobs wanted a closed system, a computer that was difficult to pry open. Conversely, Wozniak wanted to give hackers the chance to plug in, but Jobs did not want that option.

Steve Jobs endorsed the view that less is more, and that God is in the details. Jobs embraced the Bauhaus style which rejected Sony’s approach of gun metal or black. The alternative was to create hi-tech products by packaging the products in beautiful, white, and simple casing. Apple customers understand the value of presenting their products out of the packaging. You design a ritual of unpacking a product. Jobs also felt that intuitive ideas need to be connected in computers

Jobs’ Management Style Was “Shit” from 1977 to 1985 Firing:

Steve Jobs loved to tell people that their work was shit, and would force his co-workers to pull all-nighters to finish applications. When Apple started to get going in 1978 – 1979, he would come into the office, and tell Wozniak’s engineering team that they were all shit. This further distanced the two as Wozniak felt that Jobs was abusive, and had changed. Jobs would cry easily, and he would put his feet in the toilet bowl in the middle of the day to wash them. For more stability, Michael Scott was brought into Apple Computer Inc as the president, Scott was fat, had ticks, and was highly wound.

Scott was argumentative, and Jobs clashed with him. Jobs produced conflict, and he was only 22 years old, but Apple was Jobs’ company, he did not want to relinquish control. Steve Jobs and Michael Scott fought about employee numbers. Steve Jobs wanted to be employee number 1, and Wozniak would be number 2. So Scott made Jobs’ badge number O but in reality Jobs’ pay role remained number 2. Scott was a pragmatist while Jobs was not. Steve Jobs started crying over a one year warrantee for the Apple II. At age 26, he had a successful company and the Apple II. In 1981, Jobs was kicked off the Lisa project and took over Macintosh so that he could make a contribution comparable to Wozniak.

Once at Macintosh, Jobs was considered to be a dreadful manager. Jef Raskin (who had headed the Macintosh team and disagrees with Jobs on most issues) said the following about Jobs:

  • a) Jobs missed most appointments;
  • b) Jobs acted without thinking and with bad judgment;
  • c) Jobs attacked any suggestion without thinking, claimed it is stupid and a waste of time only to turn around, if the idea was good, and propose the same idea as his own a week later;
  • d) Jobs would never give credit where it was due;
  • and e) Jobs would cry when conflicts erupted in board room meeting.

Michael Scott was fired as he became more and more erratic giving Jobs more power. In retrospect, the New York Times wrote: “by the early 80’s, Mr. Jobs was widely hated at Apple. Senior management had to endure his temper tantrums. He created resentment among employees by turning some into stars and insulting others, often reducing them to tears. Mr. Jobs himself would frequently cry after fights with fellow executives.”

A Startup Will Become Impersonal With Success:

Wozniak wanted Apple to be a family while Jobs wanted the company to grow quickly. Jobs felt that Wozniak had failed him because Woz appeared to be unfocused, and failed to get a ‘floating point’ BASIC finished for Apple II. The Apple II launched the personal computer industry. Wozniak had created the machine, and Jobs designed the exterior which was marketed more effectively. Steve Jobs wanted to spur a great advance in computers. This meant that the company had to hire more and more people, and Jobs became increasingly disrespectful towards slackers, and B Players within Apple. The point is you can’t really have a family environment in a startup that scales. And you need to scale in most competitive industries because the big players will try to destroy you at every turn. If you want to have a family like atmosphere then good luck you but expect to fail.

Apple III Was A Bastard Child Idea: 

Apple created a failed project, and it was not marketed well. The design that Jobs insisted on was not manageable for the circuits, and the Apple team all collectively made their contributions to the device so it was a gigantic mess. Steve Jobs insisted that there be no fan in the computer, as a result, the design did not allow the computer to cool properly, and it frequently overheated, the only way to prevent the chips from disconnecting with the mother board was to drop the computer onto the desk which customers were instructed to do whenever they phoned Apple; “Okay, just pick the computer up and drop it on the desk, that should knock the chips back into place.” The IBM PC crushed Apple III in sales. It was a disaster.

Being Abandoned = Ignoring Reality & Discrediting That Reality:

Steve Jobs had an illegitimate daughter that he didn’t bother to recognize as his at first. How’d that happen? In the mid-1970s, Jobs lived in a four bedroom house, and rented the place out to strippers. Chris-Ann Brennan lived with Jobs in separate rooms, apparently they lived as weirdos, and did acid. When Chris-Ann became pregnant with Steve’s child, he became disconnected from the situation, and did not deal with the pregnancy. He could be engaged and disengaged in minutes. Chris-Ann Brennan and Jobs had sex, but instead of taking responsibility, he engaged in character assassination against Brennan, and tried to prevent a paternity test in order to avoid dealing with the possibility of bringing a child into the world. He did not want to take responsibility, and he decided to believe in his own lies, according to Isaacson. Steve and Chris-Ann were 23 when they had their child, which was the same age as Jindal (Steve’s biological father) when he had Jobs. Jobs did not try to help Chris-Ann, and instead would ridicule her.

Walter Isaacson speculates that being abandoned by his biological parents led to this heartless/irrational behaviour, but it’s not entirely convincing and clear. Another classic example of ignoring reality would be when Jobs was diagnosed with cancer, but waited 9 months before pursuing surgery. Ignoring reality is how Jobs got through tough times.

Robert Friedland helped Chris-Ann Brennan have her baby girl but Steve Jobs helped name the child, and Jobs insisted in the name Lisa Nicole Brennan.  Finally, a year later, Jobs agreed to get a paternity tests where he was found 94.1% likely to be the father, and a Californian court forced Jobs to pay a monthly child support bill of $385. Despite the test, he claimed at Apple that there was a large probability that he wasn’t the father. He did this by using statistics improperly. Jobs claimed that 28% of the male population of the US could have been the father. When Chris-Ann heard what he said, she interpreted it as if Jobs was claiming that she had slept with 28% of the US male population.

Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal:

The best way to predict the future is to invent it’ was one of Steve Jobs’ favourite sayings. Jobs was granted access to Xerox PARC which was established in the 1970s as an R&D digital spawning ground in Silicon Valley for Xerox. One of its products was the Xerox Alto which was a new computer interface that went beyond the BASIC systems like MS-DOS (ie. black screen + code commands), and in the process created a desktop that was called the Graphical User Interface (GUI) ie. everything on the screen was visually represented by icons. Meanwhile at Apple, Jef Raskin brought Bill Atkinson on board in the Macintosh division to develop a cheaper version of LISA but of course, Jobs wanted to get on the front of the wave, and “make a dent in the universe”. Jobs began to exert more influence on the Macintosh project which was Jef Raskin’s brainchild. Jobs hated Raskin because he was a professor/abstract thinker, and Raskin was obviously in control of the Macintosh project which Jobs saw as his own way forward.

In 1981, Jobs gave 100,000 Apples shares at $10 per share to Xerox in exchange for access to their Xerox PARC. When Steve Jobs saw the demo of GUI he was amazed that Xerox had not commercialized these innovations: 1) the networking, 2) object oriented programming, 3) the mouse and GUI. With this one visit, Steve Jobs had found the way to connect users to the future with GUI, and a way to leapfrog over Raskin’s plans for Macintosh. Steve Jobs was proud of his stealing the great ideas from Xerox. What transpired was less a heist by Apple but a fumble by Xerox. Xerox was too focused on photocopies, and selling more machines. Ideas are important but execution and positioning is also crucial. Microsoft would subsequently ‘steal’ the GUI concept from Apple, but in reality, Bill Gates had also visited Xerox PARC.

The Bicycle Alternative to Macintosh nameSurround Yourself With “A Players”:

In the early 1980s, Jobs recruited people by dramatically unvailing the MacIntosh, and seeing how interviewees responded to the designs. He even unplugged an engineers computer named Andy Hurtsfeld (while he was coding), and forced him over to Macintosh from the Apple II team because Jobs recognized Hurtsfeld’s A Player status. You need to build your company with a collaborative hiring process where a candidate tours around the company meeting everyone that is relevant for hiring that candidate. Why? Because Jobs may not have always had A player ideas. For example, he wanted to call the MacIntosh the ‘bicyle’ because like an actual bike, the MacIntosh would help the human achieve objectives that were not possible on their own. The idea of the Apple Bicycle was shot down by wiser marketing minds. A Players hold you in check.

When Wozniak crashed his airplane in February 1981, he left Apple Computer. After the launch of MacIntosh in 1984, Scully merged the MacIntosh and Lisa teams with Jobs as their head. Jobs told the Lisa team that he was firing 25% of their team because they were B and C players. The management of the MacIntosh team would all gain top positions in the amalgamation. It was unfair, but Jobs latched on to a key management experience, that you had to be ruthless to produce an A Player lineup.

For Jobs, if you hire a B player you will cause of Bozo explosion. B players always want to hire people who are inferior to them. C players hire D players. So keep the best people in your team, and make sure that you keep the right people in your organisation. He believed that if you let any B players into your organization, they would attract other B players as well. A players love to work with other A players, by definition, they want to grow and be the best. That is what makes A Players valuable.

Reality Distortion Field:

This reality distortion field was empowering. Bud Tribble in the early 1980s said that “Steve has a reality distortion field. In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. […] The reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, an indomitable will, and an eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand.” It was self-fulfilling, you do the impossible because you would believe it. Jobs could deceive even himself which allowed him to con other people. Jobs used this tactic which helps to make irrational goals real. The rules didn’t apply to him. He was a liar, and the Reality Distortion Field is a creative way of saying that he was a liar. As a child, Jobs had been rebellious, and this plays into his special, abandoned, unique self. If you trust Jobs, he will make it happen.

That is the great part about the reality distortion field. If you pretend to be completely in control, people will believe you are, and will be empowered. Jobs was so passionate about Apple and NExT devices, and his force of personality allowed him to change peoples minds as a salesman. Steve Jobs was able to change reality by using charismatic rhetoric, and bend facts. The reality distortion field was never acutely apparent. Jobs was lying quite a lot during team meetings.

As a result, it was difficult to have a realistic deadline since bending facts has its downsides (Think wasteful factory decorations, missing product dates at NExT etc). Jobs did not like manuals, and told Gates in 1984 that they should not have any manuals, but Gates did not bother mentioning that they had an entire team working on manuals for Mac. Bill Gates was completely immune to Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field. When reality hit, Jobs had a difficult time dealing with it.

Be At The Nexus of Humanities and Technology:

Connecting arts with technology is powerful. Jobs practiced Buddhism & mediation. Simplicity is important for a company. And it is evident that Buddhism was instrumental in Jobs’ development of Apple. Keeping it simple is essential to producing a user-friendly product that even the parents of baby-boomers can use. In his senior year, Jobs loved King Lear, Plato, and Dylan Thomas. Steve Jobs took AP English in high school. Jobs worked in electronics, and learnt about literature. Jobs took an electronics class at high school with McCaulum.

At Reed, Jobs audited a typography class which Jobs later argued was responsible for the Mac having typeface or proportionately spaced fonts. Steve Jobs understood that creative people are disciplined but technology people think they are lazy, while technology people do not know how to communicate intuitively to people, and have created a secret language to exclude ordinary people. Steve Jobs bridges that gap beauty through his life’s work. Producing something artistic takes real discipline.

The Believe In A Closed System & Product Control:

The architectural structure and software had to be tightly linked according to Jobs. Functionality would be sacrificed if one were to allow for multiple software producers. While Microsoft could be used on any hardware, Jobs refused to have Apple computers fragmented by the work of partners who did not follow Apple’s rules. On the customer level, Jobs refused to allow users to alter the product, pitching the idea that Apple products were more user friendly (which they were). He did not want to give users control. The closed system is useful for the iPhone era but not from 1981 until the mid to late 1990s with IBM (Big Blue) and Microsoft working across platforms; Apple’s competitive advantage in the PC market eroded dramatically in the early to mid 1980s. By scaling with multiple hardware platforms such as IBM PCs, Dell, and Compaq, software developers had an open-source alternative to the closed Apple system. Bill Gates realised this closed system problem in the early 80s and exploited it. Jobs wanted end-to-end control so that software developers had to buy into the Apple system, however, critical mass was essential for that to work. In 1982, Jobs wanted the industry standard to be Apple software + hardware, he did not want sales cannibalization that comes with allowing other computers to use the Apple Operating System on their computers. But for developers, the labour required to work within Apple’s ecosystem was prohibitive compared to the gains made by working on an open-source PC world. As a result, in 1997, Jobs admitted that they had been overly proprietary, and thus failed to see how that was hurting their marketability from 1984-1997. In the 2000s, the closed system had the advantage as Apple become a premium/closed brand through carefully working with 3rd parties.

Market Research Is For Idiots:

For Steve Jobs, Apple was about producing what people did not know they wanted yet. To be innovative, meant producing what he believed was needed. He was not interested in group testing his products. He once asked, “Did Alexander Graham Bell create a focus group before inventing the telephone?” Customers are going to try to get a better, cheaper computer. Focus groups do not tell you what the customers actually need. Customers do not know what they want.

Macintosh As The 3rd Industry Standard:

Bill Gates’ Microsoft appeared in Hawaii for the software dating game. The Macintosh was the product that Bill Gates felt was revolutionary. The ideal relationship would be for Bill Gates to work exclusively with Apple but that was not Gates’ strategy. Gates wanted to be a competitor, and wrote software for the IBM. In 1982, 279,000 Apple II were sold compared to 240,00 IBM but in 1983 there were 420,000 Apple II versus 1.3 million IBMs and clones. IBM had taken 26% of the market, and IBM/Clones would take over half of the market which included other compatible PCs.

Motivate With The Big Picture:

Steve Jobs was not interested in profiting more than competitors, but in producing a better, more beautiful computer. Macintosh’s team was burned out in conflict, and demoralized but Jobs had moments of brilliance. To counteract the negatives of Jobs’ management style, he would illicit the big picture. In one meeting, the issue was with regard to the booting time/start time for a new computer which was over a minute long. Jobs explained that if you combined 1 million people’s boot times, it would add up to many many cumulative hours of waste. In dramatic terms, Jobs argued that reducing the booting time by a few seconds could save about 50 lifetimes in total.

‘Making a dent in the universe’ was the overarching idea behind Apple. In 1981, IBM released their own personal computer, and Apple was confident about their market position. The problem was that IBM was a more powerful company, and had real strengths in the corporate establishment, and brand recognition. The Big Blue vision was to crush Apple, and IBM was the perfect foil for the spiritual struggle of Apple. Jobs felt that once IBM gains in a market sector, they almost always stop innovating. For Jobs, IBM was a force of evil, later the enemy was Microsoft and then Google subsequently.

Macintosh 1984 AtkinsonJef Raskin decided that Macintosh should use the Motorola processor which was more expensive, pushing the cost of the Macintosh upwards. Interestingly, Raskin did not like the point & click mouse. He did not like icons concept either, both of which Jobs was advocating for at Macintosh. Steve Jobs took over Macintosh in February 1981 by introducing politics, practical perspective, intensity, and bringing in Bill Atkinson into the team. Michael Scott (the CEO of Apple) gave Jobs control because it was not a serious part of Apple (Apple II was still the bread and butter product), and cleared Raskin out of the team abruptly. Jobs was energized by competition against the Lisa team within his own company. Macintosh was a computer platform that would ‘make a dent in the universe’, and help him leave the mark that Wozniak had already achieved with the Apple II.

Unhealthy Competition Within A Company Can Be Corrosive:

Entrepreneurs do not always transition into effective managers. Steve Jobs had a pirate flag waving over his Macintosh office at Apple. The Lisa team was jealous of this renegade team, and stole their Macintosh pirate flag as a prank. The Macintosh members then found the secretary who was hiding the flag under her desk, and wrestled it from her. This bizarre corporate behaviour had a negative effect, it said that Jobs team was better than other ones, and it was divisive within the company.

Steve would not allow Apple II employees to visit the MacIntosh office. Jobs wanted people to know about Macintosh but he wanted everyone else at Apple to know that they sucked even though Apple II was generating the revenue for the company. Steve Jobs’ Macintosh team seemed to be trying to destroy Lisa because Jobs was kicked off the project.

The Lisa team did feel that the Macintosh was undercutting Lisa since people were going to wait until Macintosh was released before buying their next Apple product, as it was announced in 1983 that Macintosh was on the way. In the PR campaigns, Steve Jobs admitted that the Macintosh was better than Lisa, and within two years Lisa was too expensive, and would be obsolete. Within months of Lisa’s launch, Apple had to pin the companies hopes on Macintosh.

The Best & Most Innovative Products Don’t Always Win:

The Microsoft team members wanted to know everything about the OS operating system during their close partnership with Apple in 1983. Gates believed that GUI was the future, and he claimed that the Xerox Alto was the foundation of all personal computers so Jobs was stealing the idea anyway. By November 1983, Gates admitted that there were plans to create an Microsoft operating system to be launched on all IBMs and clones.

The product was called Windows. Steve Jobs was furious. Part of their partnership in 1982 onwards was that Microsoft would not develop any programs for IBM until a year after the MacIntosh launch in January 1983. Unfortunately, Apple did not launch the Macintosh until January, 1984 so Gates was within his rights to proceed with licensing to IBM. Gates came down to Apple, and Jobs assailed Gates “You’re ripping us off! We trusted you.” Bill Gates put it well, “We both had this neighbour named Xerox, and I broke into to house to steal the TV but found that you had already been there.” When Gates showed Jobs what he had developed for Windows, Jobs did not complain that it was stealing because he told Gates right to his face that Windows was a “piece of shit.” Jobs was almost crying about it, and went on a long walk in November 1983. Apple and Microsoft were now in serious conflict at this point. Windows was not launched until 1985 because it was not very good, but Microsoft made Windows better over time, and by 1995, it was dominant. Until the return of Jobs in 1997, there was a dark period of Microsoft dominance in the computer industry according to Jobs. The open system approach that Microsoft adopted by working with multiple hardware partners proved better because it allowed Microsoft to get on to multiple platforms for scalability. Meanwhile, other Apple developers began working with clones as well.

Eras Are Defined By Partnerships & Rivalry – Gates Versus Jobs Round 1:

Two high energy college drops ended up shaping the commercial PC market. Bill Gates created a program for scheduling classes, and a car counting program while in high school. Gates was skilled at being logical, practical, and analytical while Jobs was design friendly, and less disciplined. Gates was methodical in his business style. Bill Gates was humane but could not make eye contact. Gates was fascinated by Jobs’ mesmerizing persona but saw Jobs as rude and cruel. Jobs has always maintained that Gates should have dropped acid to open up his mind to creativity. The only thing Gates was open to was licensing Microsoft to Apple but not on an exclusive basis. Jobs long believed that Gates was not a creative person, and that Gates ripped off other people’s ideas or at least did not have original ideas. Meanwhile, Gates derisively called Macintosh “S.A.N.D.” ie. Steve’s Amazing New Device. Gates mentions that he did no like Jobs’ management style, as Steve had a tendency to call his own co-workers idiots on a regular basis.

The rivalry was also beyond the personal. In 1982, Apple’s sales were $1 billion, while Microsoft made $23 million. Jobs had an attitude with Gates that suggested Gates should be honoured to work Jobs, it was insulting. From Jobs’ perspective, Gates did not understand the elegance of the Macintosh. There were 14 people working on the Macintosh while Microsoft programmers created applications that had 20 people working on programs to Mac.  Their rivalry was deep and probably spurred innovation forward for that reason.

Genius Versus Shit-Head:

For Steve Jobs, you were either a genius or a shit-head/bozo. He sought absolute perfection, and he loved to define people according to this rubric. Steve Jobs tended to be high voltage and might actually say that an idea you proposed is ‘piece of shit idea’. But then he would turn around to propose your idea as his own a week later. Sometimes, he would then take your position in an argument, and agree with you just to mess you up. Jobs could not avoid impulsive opinions, his team at Macintosh were used to moderating his opinions, and not reacting to the extremes of either being a ‘piece of shit’ or ‘genius.’ At Macintosh in the 1981 – 1985 period, Atkinson taught his team to interpret “this is shit” to mean “how is this the best way?” when speaking with Jobs. Steve had a charismatic personality, and knew how to crush people psychologically. In addition, he had huge expectations with his Macintosh team, and it created a fear factor. If you demonstrated that you knew what you were talking about, Jobs would respect you. From 1981 onwards, employees were annually awarded for standing up to Steve Jobs. One marketing specialist stood up to Jobs twice because the marketing projections were unrealistic in 1981. She won the award having at one point threatened to stab Jobs in the heart.

 The Boardroom Showdown & Emotionality:

In May 1985, the boardroom meeting to demote Jobs from Macintosh was nasty. Jobs presented his case first saying that Scully did not care about computers but in response a manager retorted that Jobs had been behaving foolishly for over a year. Scully then presented his case to the board for demoting Jobs and stated that he (Scully) would either get his way or they would need a new CEO. Scully said that Jobs should be transitioned slowly out of the management role at Macintosh. Jobs felt betrayed by Scully. Steve Jobs was emotionally unstable, and even felt as though he should be able to repair his friendship with Scully. Meanwhile, Jobs would spend a lot of time plotting against Scully in light of his career crisis.

Advertising Does Matter:

The 1984 Ridley Scott advertisement entitled “1984” was a way of affirming a desired renegade style, and attached Apple Computers with the rebels, and hackers. Ironically, Apple was a controlled system. Jobs believed in total control. Initially, the 1984 Ad was not popular on the board at Apple. Markkula and Scully thought it was the worst commercial ever, and that they should not put it on during the Superbowl. They were proven wrong by the timelessness of that 1984 Ad. The next advertisement in 1985 was an ad focused on insulting business people by showing them that they were walking off a cliff as if to suggest that they were blindly following the IBM brand. When the commercial was featured at the 1985 Superbowl in January, there was little reaction, and in truth it was a blunder since it insulted the market it was trying to reach. Apple performed poorly in 1985, the ad is not the cause of the outcome but was a symptom of Apple’s situation in 1985; IBM was expanding immensely.

Frame Your Business Around War – Big Blue Versus Apple:

During the 1984 Apple shareholder meeting, Jobs set the stage for the epic conflict between IBM and Apple. The question Jobs asked at the 1984 conference was “Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer market? Will they control the entire information age? Was Geroge Orwell right?” These rhetorical questions helped inspire his company. Afterall, IBM did not have the vision to buy Xerox in the 1950s. Computer dealers fear IBM dominance on pricing. For Jobs, it was about Apple versus evil. Apple is the only hope against Big Blue. With that frame of mind, Apple could do anything. The MacIntosh was finally launched on “time” in January, 1984.

John Scully Hello WorldA Messy Company Can Still Work:

When Scully joined Apple, he was surprised at the disorder, and bickering between Jobs and the Lisa team over a) why Lisa was a failure, and b) why Macintosh had not been launched in 1983. Scully felt that Apple was ‘like a household where everyone were running to the beach when there was an earthquake only to discover a tsunami was approaching that forced them back into the house.’ (Isaacson Biography). Things weren’t great on the numbers side for Scully’s first year as CEO either. He had to announce at the 1984 shareholders meeting that 1983 was a bad year for Apple. It was. The competitors were entering the market with cheaper products that were not as user-friendly as Apple but still semi-useful machines. The Apple balance sheet still showed major growth but IBM had launched the PC, and there were many lower-priced clones on the market in 1981 onward which were harming Apple’s competitive advantage.

Steve Jobs Mike ScullyBut Macintosh was marketed as “the computer for the rest of us” and would refocus Apples efforts away from their core Apple II & LISA product offerings. Apples future was bright because there were 25 million information based users in offices across America, and their work had not changed much since the industrial revolution. The only desktop product people used was the phone until the personal computer. Apple hoped that their market share would expand with the unveiling of Macintosh….1984 would prove pivotal for Apples future (to be continued). Below is the balance sheet for the January 24th, 1984 Apple Shareholders meeting.  Apple was a chaotic start-up turned revolutionary full fledged company. It was a messy operation from the standpoint of senior management but generally Apple worked.

Apple RainbowThe Apple Computer, Inc Balance Sheet In 1983            

Current Assets 

Fiscal Year 1983

Cash and Investments


Receivables – Net






Total Current Assets


Net Fixed Assets


Other Assets


Total Assets


Current Liabilities


Long-Term Liabilities


Shareholders’ Equity


Total Liabilities & Equity


A Clean Factory Is Insanely Great But The Product Has To Sell:

Freemont, California was the location of Apples new automated factory overlooking the Ford manufacturing facility. Apple was more profitable in its early years of existence relative to Ford. Apple was indeed a miraculous company. Jobs spent time going over the machines in the new factory in 1984, at one point, he demanded that the Apple team repaint the machines for aesthetics. This repainting actually screwed up their machines, however, and corrections proved costly. The Apple factory had white walls, and beautiful machines. Jobs believed the factory was a way to establish a passion for Apple amongst employees. Jobs was influenced by the Japanese manufacturing which had a sense of team and discipline. Debby Coleman, a Stanford MBA, was the operations manager. By the end of 1984, the Macintosh’s performance in sales was very low. They had an expensive factory but a failed product.

Being Right Isn’t As Important As Winning

Renegades weren’t such a problem to Steve Jobs. In fact, he respected those who stood up to him if they knew what they were talking about on the Macintosh team. Often if they disagreed with Jobs, they realized that they could ignore Jobs’ commandments, and in so doing effectively spare Jobs the embarrassment of making a mistake or a bad judgement. One such incident involved the disk drive called Twiggy which was defective in the Lisa. The alternative would be a 3½ disk drive which was designed by Sony. The dirty Tokyo disk drive factory in Sony did not impress Jobs and he wanted to go with Alps disk drive which had made a clone of the Sony product. So Jobs decided to do a deal with Alps (a competing manufacturer), but Bob Belleville (behind Jobs’ back) decided to hire Sony in secret without Jobs’s approval.

Belleville hired Komoto who was tasked with building a disk drive for the MacIntosh from 1982-83, but Belleville did not want Jobs to know about this backup plan for the disk drive collaboration taking place at Alps, the Japanese company. Whenever Jobs came through the Macintosh office, Komoto was quickly escorted into a closet, or under a desk where he would have to hide for a few minutes at a time. In May 1983, the Alps team in Japan failed to deliver their disk drive, and asked for an additional 18 more months to work out the problems. It was a disaster as Mark Markkula grilled Jobs about what he was going to do about the lack of a disk drive with the MacIntosh launch potentially being pushed back to 1985? Bob Belleville saved Jobs by interjecting that Bob had a disk drive ready thanks to his secret work without Jobs’ approval. Jobs appreciated this renegade behaviour, and swallowed his pride. So we can infer that winning is more important than being right in management.

Imperfection Is A Moral Wrong:

Jobs required perfection. When Adam Osborne produced a messy portable computer that was sufficient , Jobs would cry that “Osborne just doesn’t get it!” as he would frequently storm around the Macintosh office. Steve Jobs refused to compromise on perfection in the name of price, and deadlines. If someone didn’t care to be perfect they were a bozo in Steve Jobs view. There were many bozos at Apple. Jobs did not hand trade offs well. Steve Jobs wanted a smooth looking Macintosh computer, and underwent many adjustments in the design of the Macintosh system.

He pushed to have rectangles with rounded corners included in a basic Mac program. Jobs learned to love type-faced fonts for the Macintosh. Since the computer could allow such fonts, they developed different one named after streets in New York. The Macintosh fonts would help launch deskstop publishing, and allow people outside of publishing houses to learn about the value of font styles. Steve Jobs went through 20 different title bars on the Macintosh OS screen before he was satisfied. When his colleagues claimed that the title bars were not that important, Jobs went crazy, title bars were going to be viewed every day by millions of people!

Bringing In An Outside Expert Can Be Costly:

Steve Jobs was too rough-edged to be Apple CEO so Markkula and Jobs went shopping for an alternative. They focused away from the tech sector to find a marketing genius. John Scully was an outsider who was an expert in management, and a consumer marketer who had a corporate polish. He invented the Pepsi Challenge campaign at Pepsi, and he was good at marketing, and advertising. Scully was struck by how poorly marketed computers were in the mid-1980s. Scully did not actually like computers because they seemed to be too much trouble, however Scully was enthusiastic about selling something more interesting than Pepsi Co.

Scully decided that Apple should work on the idea of ‘enriching their users lives’. Scully was good at generating PR, and excitement around Pepsi. The ability to generate a buzz about Pepsi would be replicated by Steve Jobs in the unveiling of new Apple products subsequently. Initially the two hit it off very well in their meetings about Scully joining Apple. They both admitted to be smitten with each-other over the big ideas surrounding computer technology. Jobs knew how to manipulate Scully’s insecurities to his advantage. Jobs and Scully seemed to understand each-other, and they had become friends, and emotional confidants. The problem was that most marketing people are paid posers, according to a former Apple manager. Scully actually did not care about computers but cared largely about marketing, and selling an idea to the public.

When Jobs showed Scully the Macintosh, he was more interested in Steve Jobs presentation skills than the computer itself. Scully claimed to share with Jobs goals but he was not 100% enamored with the product. Steve Jobs knew that Scully would be able to teach him the most, and Scully successfully sold Jobs the idea of his being appropriate for Apple. Jobs asked him famously: “do you want to go on the rest of your life selling sugar water, or do you want a chance to change the world.” Scully received $1,000,000 in salary, and a $1,000,000 signing bonus as the new CEO of Apple in April 1983.

The Original Macintosh Had Bad Sales:

During the planning for the release of Macintosh, the marketing costs needed to be factored into the price according to then CEO John Scully. Scully said $1,999 price was too low because the marketing budget required to spend more in order to sell Apple to the masses. As a result, they set the price to $2,499 for the Macintosh. Steve Jobs argues that this price was the reason that the Macintosh did not sell well in 1984. After the 2nd quarter of 1984, Macintosh started to slump in sales. It was slow, dazzling but not powerful enough. In addition, Macintosh had only 2 applications so there was a major software development gap. It was beautiful but Macintosh used a lot of memory. Lisa functioned on 1000K of Ram. Macintosh had 128K of Ram. There was lack of an internal hard-disk drive.

Jobs wanted to have a floppy disk drive. Macintosh did not have a fan so it over heated easily. When people became aware of flaws, reality hit. By the end of 1984, Jobs made a strange decision, he took unsold Lisa’s grafted on a Macintosh emulation program, and sold them as a new product. Jobs was producing something that wasn’t real, it sold well, and then it had to be discontinued within the company once the extra LISA’s were sold.

People attend the annual Apple Expo at the CNIT center at La Defense in Paris September 15. Apple p..The distribution system did not respond to demand effectively, and there was an inventory backlog which was unintended by Apple Inc. Macintosh very simply did not sell well enough for the production level of building a copy of the computer every 23 seconds. This would later help Jobs realise that a Just-In-Time inventory strategy would be better suited. This was Dell computer’s competitive advantage.

On balance, Jobs’ marketing from 77 to 85 was brilliant but there were some patchy points. Not everything that Apple did on a marketing level had been genius under Jobs’ influence in the 1977-1985 era. We always talk about the 1984 commercial but check out the worst Apple ad ever from 1985 which reads: “you corporate hacks are buying IBM computers without really thinking.”

Fall From Grace Through Management Incompetence:

Scully thought that Jobs was a perfectionist, while Scully didn’t care about products at all. Scully did not learn quickly in his new role but was instead focused on marketing and management rather than the products according to Steve Jobs’ recollection. In addition, Scully seemed to be clueless that Jobs was manipulating him with flattery, while Scully believed in keeping people happy and worrying about relationships.  Outside of Apple, the market responded negatively to Macintosh and by mid-84 into 85 a crisis was growing. By early 1985, the managers had told John Scully that he was supposed to run the company and be less eager to please Jobs. Also, Steve Jobs was told to stop criticizing other departments in Apple which was becoming difficult to stomach. Sales in the first quarter of 1985 were only 10% of their projections. Management changes were on the horizon.

Steve Jobs’ abuse of others increased through character assassinations and intense and direct criticism but this was also coupled with a quickly declining market share. Many middle managers rose up against Jobs. Noting the increased tension, Steve Jobs asked Scully if Jobs could create a Macintosh in a book-like format while also heading an “Apple Labs” project as a new R&D off-shoot of Apple Computers. From Scully’s perspective, if Jobs agreed to leave Macintosh, this solution would solve the management issues and get rid of Jobs’ presence at Apple’s head office. Jean-Louis Gassee would move in to take over the Macintosh only if he could avoid working under Jobs. The problem was that Jobs did not want to quit MacIntosh but wanted more responsibility by running both Macintosh and the new R&D project. Finally, Scully had a meeting with Mike Murray. By mid-1985, Apple executives started to blame Jobs for the miscalculated forecasting of Mac sales and resentment built up due to Job’s management style. Mike Murray, Jobs’ lieutenant in marketing, wrote a memo summarizing the problems that Apple had. Murray laid a lot of  blame on Steve Jobs which was a coup considering his closeness to Jobs. Murray pointed out that Jobs had a controlled power-base within the company which created a strategic alliance amongst high value employees. When Scully confronted Jobs, he said that it wasn’t going to work with Jobs’ approach at the Macintosh division. Jobs said that Scully did not spend enough time teaching Jobs as an excuse for the demotion that Scully was proposing ie start an R&D division outside of Apple. Jobs was erratic, he would reach out to Scully, and then lash-out at him behind his back. Jobs would phone one manager at 9pm to discuss Scully’s poor performance, and then he would phone Scully at 11pm to say that he loved working with Scully. The end of the line for Jobs was approaching quickly.

Being Vindictive Is Part Of Leadership:

In 1985, Jobs refused a $50,000 bonus for Macintosh engineers who went on vacation during the bonus awarding period. Andy Hurtzfeld quit because he didn’t like Macintosh’s team, or Jobs. Woz and Jobs were no longer friends. As an expression of that, Jobs also shot down Wozniak’s universal remote control company ‘Cloud 9’ by arguing that the design agency should not be allowed to work with 3rd party companies such a Woz’s. Steve Wozniak left Apple saying that the company was not being run properly for the past 5 years. Jobs was vindictive, and convinced himself that Woz’s remote control designs was a problem because it resembled other of Frog’s designs which were used to design Apple products. In 1999, Adobe refused to write programs for the iMac, so when the iPhone was released, Steve Jobs refused to allow flash on its products arguing that these products ate too much battery power, when in reality the core problem was that Adobe had screwed Apple in the past. In other words, being vindictive is part of business leadership as far as Steve Jobs is concerned.

Steve Jobs Rolling StonesRolling Stone PR Stunt:

Apple wanted to build a relationship with Rolling Stone magazine, and Steve Jobs pitched them to get on the cover but they rejected Jobs’ idea. In response, Jobs said that Rolling Stone was a piece of shit in the early 1980s to a Rolling Stone journalist, and that they needed to get a new audience of people who care about technology.

Finding Similarities Between Yourself & Your Business Partners May Not Be Good:

John Scully, and Steve Jobs were perfectionists, and they were self-deluded about each other. They had different values, and Scully did not learn quickly. Jobs managed to manipulate Scully into believing Scully was exceptional. Jobs was secretly astounded at Scully’s deference. Scully would never yell at employees, or treat them horribly as Jobs had. Jobs tried to find similarities between himself and Scully in order to justify choosing Scully as Apple’s CEO. Thinking in this way is a mistake.

Eras Are Defined By Partnerships & Rivalry – Gates Versus Jobs Round 2:

As Jobs stepped in the limelight again at MacWorld 1997, he announced a partnership with Bill Gates’ Microsoft stating that a zero-sum game (between Apple and Microsoft) was not the way forward. Gates had stolen the Graphical User Interface from MacIntosh which was borrowed from Xerox PARC, but had struck a deal with Scully to not release a GUI until after 1988. When Windows 2.0 was released, Apple sued them unsuccessfully for IP theft. By 1997, Gates refused to help Amelio create a Word processor. When Clinton began building an anti-trust case against Microsoft for their near monopoly (particularly their destruction of Netscape), and other unethical business practices, Jobs told a Justice department official to continue if only to allow Apple to develop an alternative.

Steve Jobs closed a simple deal with Gates with the agreement that Apple would stop suing Microsoft for stolen IP, while Microsoft would have a $150 million stake in Apple with non-voting shares, and produce Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Explorer for the Mac. At MacWorld 1997, this decision to work with Microsoft was very controversial, and there was a public relations gaffe that Jobs would later regret. When introducing Bill Gates at MacWorld, Jobs decided to have Bill Gates beamed into the auditorium via satellite. The only problem was that Bill Gates was put on a giant projector screen over looking the audience like a powerful overlord or Big Brother.

Force An Ultimatum To Get Control Of A Company:

The Friday executive meeting (in May 1985) was where Scully would confront Jobs about the attempted coup. Jobs said that “Scully was bad for Apple, and the wrong guy, you don’t know how to develop products. I wanted you to help me grow, and you have been ineffective in helping me.” Jobs said that he would run Apple better, so Scully polled the room with each person explaining who would be better for Apple. “It’s me or Steve. Vote.” Everyone supported Scully, and Jobs started to cry again. Jobs left Apple with his core MacIntosh staff. Scully was very upset about what happened. Scully’s wife confront Jobs in a parking lot and said that he had nothing behind his eyes other than a bottomless pit.

Never Tell The Allies Of Your Opposition That You’re Planning A Coup:

As the summer of 1985 approached and Jobs was transitioning out of his leadership role as the head of the Macintosh division, he begged Scully to reverse the boardroom decision. Scully refused and argued that Jobs had failed to get another Macintosh out to market. May 14th, Tuesday 1985, with a boardroom present Jobs was defiant and argued that it was alright to have Apple II and Macintosh developing two different disk drives. Jobs begged Scully again not to move him out of the role, and in-front of the board, Scully said no. The die was cast. Scully was planning on going to China to launch the opening of Apple to the Chinese computer market, so Jobs started to plan his coup around the Memorial weekend visit that Scully would be going on.  Jobs went around canvassing for the support needed to swing the board against Scully.

The board was largely with Scully. Jobs revealed his plans to Jean-Louis Gassee who was the guy that Scully was going to replace Jobs with. Naturally, Gassee told Scully who immediately cancelled his trip to China. Jobs refused to accept the reorganization of Apple with Jobs as a product visionary. Jobs did not want to play ball. Jobs was excluded from management reports. It was a personal and career disaster for Jobs.

Targeting The Education Market Is Not Lucrative:

In September 1985, Steve Jobs announced to the Apple board that he would be focusing on a computer for the higher education market in a new company of his own. This was an outstandingly strange decision since it is not as lucrative as other areas, but he saw a market share for himself. Apple dominated the education market so Jobs took with him key people who would be useful for his goal. Their team would then have proprietary information about Apple’s future goals in the education sector. Jobs raided key employees in a somewhat vindictive manner. Even Markkula was offended at how ungentlemanly he was behaving. So Apple sued Steve Jobs for (a) secretly taking advantage Apple’s plans for the product, (b) secretly undermined Apple by getting new people, and (c) secretly being disloyal to Apple by using their information.

How To Save A Dying Tech Company – Return To Your Successful Roots:

Jobs believed that killing the Macintosh clones was the way forward in 1997. He felt that licensing the Mac OS software to third party hardware producers was a mistake and that the largest battle was the software licensing problem for Apple. The problem was that by having a closed system, Apple had to manage its own software development. Microsoft dominated because they produced software that was cross-platform. The clones of Apple cannibalized Apples’ own computer sales even if these clones had to pay Apple software at $80 per sale. Jobs believed that hardware, and software should be integrated, and Jobs wanted to control the user experience from end to end. With this return to Apple’s roots, Jobs was setting a course for creating a closed, highly controlled user experience that had pros and cons.  

Brilliant Failures Help You Grow:

NeXT was created to build beautiful computers but they completely flopped in the market place because of important issues like price and release date timing. Jobs was able to explore his whims as an artist at NeXT which would be useful later on. The logo of NeXT was designed by Paul Rand who did the IBM logo and it arguably one of the best in tech in the 1980s. The logo boasted big potential that did not fully materialize as it had at Apple. Meanwhile, Jobs had asked Frog (the design firm involved in various Apple products) to not work with Wozniak and threatened legal action in order to harm Wozniak’s ability to create his own company (Woz had departed Apple in 1985 citing disappointment with how Apple had changed under Scully and Jobs). In addition, Jobs resolved the lawsuit placed against him by Scully and Apple after his departure. NeXT agreed to a) not compete with Apple by launching only after March 1987, b) produce an education computer only, c) NeXT could not use an operating system compatible with Apple. The final one was a bit silly since that was not in its interests.

NeXT Logo

Design Should Not Trump Processing:

The NeXT cube was difficult to manufacture because the cube was built at 90 degree angles and got stuck in the moulds. The modules/moulds were extremely expensive to fix. Jobs insisted on a mat black casing but this was indulgent at best. The screws inside the machine had to have expensive plating to hide their presence. As usual, Steve Jobs was eager to put people down at NeXT. Jobs treated his employees harshly because he believed in excellence. At Apple in 2000, the Apple Cube was a huge failure. Jobs admitted that he over priced the 2000 – 2001 Apple Cube like he had done with the NeXT computer, and the Apple stock cratered after the release of the Apple Cube in the same way that the NeXT computer under-performed after its release. History frequently repeats itself with Jobs; both success and failure.

Do Not Disrespect Your Potential Business Partners:

Gates did not like NeXT, in particular he did not like the lack of compatibility of the NeXTWorld application specifications with the rest of the software industry. When Jobs invited Gates to visit his NeXT offices, Jobs made Gates wait for 30 minutes in a glass waiting room while Jobs chatted with multiple people in clear view just to spite Gates. The two hated eachother. Gates was not cooperative largely due to external factors, just as he was with the iPhone but treating Gates poorly did not help Steve Jobs’ business development strategy. Gates thought the black casing of NeXT did not make sense, and refused to allocate staff to develop for it. Gates did not think there was a market for the NeXT computer because it was yet another closed system like Apple itself. NeXT was based on an optical disc which was impressive but Microsoft did not like the end to end control that Jobs inevitably pushed for. Steve Jobs tried to get NeXT software on the IBM in order to get further sources of revenue but by the late 198s, IBM was tanking out of the computer operating system market. The core problem was that NeXT Step was not compatible with anything! Microsoft wanted the monopoly, and Gates did everything he could to prevent Jobs from going forward with his project. Jobs cut off the possibility of NeXT clones that could expand the base of available computers in the market thereby increasing the potential sale of NeXT software but he stubbornly remained an advocate of the closed system.

Get Real On Your Lean Startup:

Jobs gutted, and rebuilt the building that he purchased for the NeXT headquarters….twice. He wasted a lot of money on designing colourful machines at the NeXT factory much like the Macintosh factory. He also invested in an amazing factory that would be highly valued when it had to be shutdown. NeXT’s stair cases were built out of sturdy glass, an idea later applied to Apple stores. The process of ‘conbon’ was applied at NeXT. The tech office was lavish.

Get A VC Who Missed Out On A Previous Winning Opportunity:

the initial 18 months of development needed to get NeXT going required $7 million dollars of Jobs’ own money. NeXT was valued at 30 million dollars, and there was little to show for it, and no revenue. Ross Perot was dazzled by Steve Jobs’ vision based on a now famous documentary about NeXT. Ross Perot had made his fortune competing against IBM and had become a VC for other aspiring entrepreneurs in tech. The fact was that Ross Perot missed out a deal with Bill Gates at Microsoft during the early days at Microsoft and Perot deeply regretted it. Ross Perot would get 16% of equity in the company for $20 million after Jobs put in another $5 million meaning the company was worth $126 million dollars. Ross Perot built a narrative around Steve Jobs about “a rags to richest genius who had to either start a company or get a job, a week later the Apple I was finished.” It was a fantasy that Ross Perot created.

Avoid The Problem Of Focusing On The Small Battles & Not Seeing The Big Picture:

October 1988, the NeXT launch was an amazing event. After 3 years of consulting with universities across the country, Jobs was betting the company on new technology. Every minor detail was analysed and reworked as the release windows passed for the NeXT computer. In an effort to seek out the best quality technology, Jobs built a highly advanced product but NeXT did not have a floppy disk which was rare for the era. NeXT was risked on the lavish use of Steve Job’s finances to set up his company, and he targeted the higher education industry. The problem was that the features were great but the price of the product was $6,500. At the launch, the applause was scattered when Jobs announced the price tag, the academics were extremely disappointed at the launch event for NeXT because the machine was too expensive. Apparently, the education sector representatives of his NeXT launch were shocked at the cost given the feedback that NeXT had no doubt received. The price has to be low enough to scale the product into universities, other wise the sales pitch has to be extremely aggressive. This price shock was reflected in the sales.

Instead of focusing on price, Jobs’ team focused on features and other details…universities didn’t buy the product. Pricing a product is essential. Most of the features were trivial for the NeXT. In addition, there were too few people interested in building software for the NeXT, and the price was a massive deterrent. In addition, the NeXT was incompatible because few developers were designing the software needed to use the product. Jobs’ strategy was to target the workstations industry where Sun was dominant. It failed, and in 1991, NeXT stopped making hardware much like Jobs had given hardware up at Pixar. By the mid-1990s, NeXT was working in the Operating System market exclusively.

Gain Financial Control Against Your Business Partners:

Pixar needed to challenge Disney’s dominance in animation. Toy Story’s success was heavily associated with Disney which was frustrating to Jobs because Pixar created Toy Story. Jobs felt that Pixar was helping Disney roll out their movies and taking all of the credit for Toy Story. Pixar ran and created the movie, and Disney was the distributing channel. There was a need to go public with the Pixar considering that Toy Story was the top grossing film in 1995.

When Pixar was in trouble in 1988, Jobs needed to fire people which he did with a complete lack of empathy. The company was failing partly because their mass market animation hardware did not sell well. He gave these redundant employees a notice of two weeks, but this was retroactive from two weeks before the date of termination! Fast forward to 1995, Pixar was worth $39 per share on the first day of the IPO, Steve Jobs made $1.2 billion dollars in the initial IPO stage (a huge portion of its value). With the success of the IPO, Pixar wanted to assert a co-branding relationship with Disney, rather then being just a studio. Steve Jobs fought to make sure Pixar was every bit as valuable as Disney which later resulted in a Disney take over at a huge valuation.

Art Reflects Reality:

Jobs bought Pixar from Lucas films and became a majority stakeholder in 1986. Pixar was technology meeting art which was perfect for Jobs who wanted to live on the intersection of the humanities and technology. He looked into the finance, and strategy in the late 80s to familiarize himself more with the bean counting elements of business. Jobs spewed out all kinds of crazy and good ideas at Pixar meetings. He even tried to sell hardware, and software design via a digital animation product called Renderman but this did not sell well. In the early 1990s, John Lasseter came up with Toy Story. Originally, Woody was a nasty character (who acted like Steve Jobs) but finally they decided to change the story so that Woody was no longer a mean character, and the film was very successful after much difficulty with Disney. A Bug’s Life tells the story of an Ant with all kinds of crazy and good ideas, but he gets in trouble with the colony and he is then expelled from the colony. He goes out to find a solution to the colony’s grasshopper problem, and ends up saving the colony. It basically follows the same life pattern as Steve Jobs who was fired from Apple, only to triumphantly return.

Rivalry Of The Ants & Breaking With Disney:

Woody Allen’s Antz film was not a huge success but it was used to challenge the Disney production A Bug’s Life. Katzenberg (Dreamworks) wanted to copy Pixar’s Ant movie, and so Hollywood had two Ant movies being made in the same year. Katzenberg have a falling out with Disney in the mid-90s after being responsible for productions like Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Later Finding Nemo was the most popular DVD and sold $0.867 billion, and Pixar made $521 million with the showdown from Disney. Pixar was producing the films, and Disney was the distribution channel.

Build A Board That Cannot Operate Independently of the CEO:

During his transition into the leadership of Apple, Steve Jobs hired Larry Ellison, and other board members who were all loyal to Jobs. This would allow Jobs to take complete control over the company, and give him the breath of control needed to execute the long list of chances that were needed to fix Apple. Once the board was set, Steve Jobs become the CEO of Apple, and he took a salary of $1. The next step would be to rebuild the company. Instead of building Apple off of the divisions in a product line model used originally, with Jobs, there were to be no divisions with independent bottom-lines. Jobs wanted to have a cohesive structure so that he could directly control the company from the top down. He would be able to interact with smaller teams, who were in constant dialogue with each other rather than in painful competition against each other. Instead of a competitive bureaucratic structure where teams competed against eachother, Apple was now a heavily top-down organisation.

  Do Not Chase Profits, Chase Value:

By 1996, Apple had a 4% share of the market from a high of 16% in the late 1980s. Apple had expanded into every technology sector with a wide variety of products over the decade + that Jobs had been outcasted. John Scully did not think that high-tech could be sold to mass markets. According to Jobs, in the 1990s, Scully brought in corrupt people that wanted to make money only for themselves rather than create new ideas through Apple. Scully’s drive for profits at the cost of market share reduced Apple’s value. Apple’s decline was due to its inability to innovate in any area. The Macintosh hardly improved after Jobs had left. In one instance, Jobs was asked to autograph a late-1980s model of the Macintosh keyboard but first he insisted that the arrow keys be removed. Jobs hated the arrows on the keyboard and viewed it as an example of bad decision-making within Apple. Apple was almost sold to Sun and HP in 1996, Apple’s stock fell to $14 in 1996. In 1994, Gil Amelio became the CEO of Apple and wanted to integrate the Apple with Windows NT which would have corrupted Apple further. Amelio did not like Jobs much, and thought Jobs was trying the reality distortion field at every point of interaction.
tion. Amelio was probably right.

Do Not Force Other Businesses Into Your Closed System:

In 1983, Jobs loved Microsoft Excel so he made an offer to Gates. If Gates agreed to produce Excel exclusively for Apple for the first 2 years, then Jobs would shutdown his team working on BASIC, and license Gates’ BASIC. Gates accepted. This deal became a lever in future negotiations. When Jobs decided he wanted other companies to produce software for Apple, he exercised a clause in the contract with Gates so that Microsoft would not get an automatic bundling in every Macintosh sold. Instead of getting $10 per Application, per Macintosh sold, Microsoft would have to sell their products separately.

Gates knew that Jobs was good at playing fast and loose with the truth so he was not actually that upset because he then turned around, and started work on versions for IBM. Microsoft gave IBM priority, and Jobs’ decision to back out of the bundling deal was another major mistake by Jobs. When Gates and Jobs unveiled Excel, a reporter asked if Microsoft would be creating a version for IBM. Gates’ answer was “in time.” Jobs’ response was “Yes, in time, we’ll all be dead.”

apple boardHow To Save A Dying Tech Company – Fire The Board Or Resign:

In 1997, Apple was losing good people so Jobs pushed to give the best people a re-pricing of their stock options to ($13.29 per share) as Apple’s stocks were so low that they were nearly worthless. This was not considered good corporate practice. Having quality people was essential to ensure the success of the company. When the board said it would take 2 months to do a financial study, Jobs said he needed their absolute support now. His response was that he would not return on Monday if the board did not agree, Jobs needed to make thousands of decisions, and this was just one hurdle. Most of the board was happy to leave subsequently. Jobs said that the problem with Apples products was that they sucked.

Steve Jobs 1997 Insult ResponseMerge Your Venture With A Giant That You Can Take Over:

NeXT was failing and idea of being bought by Apple in 1996 was a tantalizing prospect for Steve Jobs. He wanted to get back into Apple while Larry Ellison of Oracle wanted to get more money by buying Apple outright. However, Jobs wanted the moral high ground by not making money in the process of transitioning back into Apple. In 1996, Steve Jobs negotiated with Gil Amelio the purchase starting with Apple Computer buying $12 per share for $500 million valuation of NeXT. Amelio countered with $10 per share for $400 million valuation of NeXT, and Jobs agreed as long as he received a payout in cash.

Jobs would hold 100 million in cash, and 35 million in Apple stock. Gil Amelio was not sure about giving Jobs entry into the board of Apple because of the history of 1977-85. You could say that Gil Amelio was caught in Jobs’ reality distortion field because later Amelio would realise that Jobs was positioning himself to destroy Amelio as CEO of Apple. Jobs’ return to Apple was fortuitous; if you can merge with a major company then you are effectively be hired by that company. Bill Gates said that Amelio was an idiot for bringing NeXT into Apple, and that Jobs was a salesman without an engineering understanding. An early example of the feathers that Jobs ruffled circa 1997…

How To Save A Dying Tech Company – Make Products Not Profit, Fundamentally:

Do not race to the bottom on prices. Get your user to have an emotional connection with the product. Amelio’s approach was to build a cheap product based on sketches of bolder ideas. Jobs believed in digging into the depth of what a product should do. You need to understand the essence of a product in order to get rid of the parts that are not fundamental. Can you get 1 part to do 4 times as much work? Design was not about surface but design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation. A good design can be ruined by a bad factory production. Products should be pure and seamless. Do not let the engineers drive design. Apple worked the other way. Jobs found Jonathan Ive to produce the core designs at Apple going forward.

There is an Apple office that Ive’s runs which is built around models for future design to see where the products are heading, and to get a sense of the whole company on one desk. Apple has patented hundreds of devices. They built the modern Apple company around the assumption that design and product trump profits. Together Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive produced the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, PowerMac 5, iBook.

Skate Where The Puck’s Going, Not Where It’s Been:

“Skate where the pucks going, not where it’s been.” – Wayne Gretzky. Jobs believed that it was his goal to understand what the customer wants before they do. The iMac is about inspiring with a beautiful plastic blue, and it was translucent so that you could see into the machine. The casing would help to give all the components. The simplicity of the plastic shell had to be perfected, and they even studied jelly beans to see how it would be attractive. Some people at Apple wanted to conduct a study to see if the cost of the translucent casing would be justified by focus groups, Steve Jobs said no. iMac should sell for $1200, and produce an all in one consumer appliance. iMac did not include the floppy disk drive but it was ahead of its time. iMac was friendly so much so that there was a handle on the top of the iMac to actually pick it up. Jobs almost started crying because the iMac had a tray instead of a slot drive. May 1998 was the iMac launching. In 2001, iMac was changed to have a sunflower type design.

The Loser Now Will Be Soon To Win:

Jobs believed Amelio was a bozo. Gil Amelio did not actually present or sell himself particularly well, and he famously bombed on stage at MacWorld in 1996. That particular presentation was very poor and unplanned. Once back inside Apple, Jobs was too honest and spoke with one of the board members Willard who asked Jobs what he thought about Amelio. Jobs said that Amelio was not in the right job, and then added that Gil Amelio was the worst CEO ever. Famously, Gil Amelio had explained to a journalist that “Apple is like a ship, that ship is loaded with treasure, but there’s a hole in the ship. And my job is to get everyone to row in the same direction.” That lack of logic in this statement spoke to Amelio’s lack of efficiency as a leader.

Ellison tried to call for the drafting of Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple. When Amelio confronted Jobs about the possible takeover, Jobs denied any of it but refused to declare that he was not positioning himself for a takeover. Jobs loved to dish out flattery with Amelio, meanwhile Jobs was busy turning the board against Amelio, and Apple’s dire situation financially. People were leaving Apple, and thinking of leaving Apple which is never good when your people are an important asset. Amelio was fired because he was incompetent, but once Jobs was offered the CEO job, Steve Jobs moved into the interim CEO because he was still running Pixar. After years in the wilderness, Jobs was back at the top of Apple. The first thing he did there was to commit a subtle by significant vindictive act: Jobs hated the Newton personal assistant because you needed a stylus and also because the Newton was one major innovation of John Scully’s. Scully was the man who kicked Jobs out of Apple in 1985. Jobs cancelled the Newton.

The Internet Is Made For Music:

Napster, Limewire, and other music file sharing websites allowed the illegal downloading of music on a massive scale, and a precipitous decline in sales of traditional distribution platforms for music which began dropping by 9% in 1998. The executives at the music companies were desperate to agree on a common standard for copy-right protection. If the music industry could agree to the coding of music across the industry, they might be able to get a head of the Peer-to-Peers. Sony and Universal came up with Press-Play. EMI had their own system alternative, each had a subscription based system where you would rent the music, and the two competing solutions would not license each other’s songs. The interfaces were clunky, and the services were terrible, the record companies did not get how to solve the problem. Warner/Sony wanted to close a deal with Jobs, largely because Warner/Sony did not know what to do. Steve Jobs was opposed to the theft of creative products even though he bootlegged Bob Dylan in the 1970s. If people copied Apple software, there would be no incentive for new music other than from the passion of musicians.

Creative companies never get started, and it’s wrong to steal, and it hurts your own character according to Jobs. iTunes was the alternative to the brain-dead services, iTunes was the legal alternative to P2P where everyone wins: a) users would no longer steal, b) record companies generate revenue, c) artists get paid, and d) Apple disrupts the music industry. Steve Jobs had a tough pitch with record companies because of the pricing model, but he used the fact that Apple was still only 5% of the computer market to convince them that such a deal was not have a major impact oo their bottomline. So if iTunes was destructive, it would not be quite so too damaging. Apple was a closed system, and so these Record companies could use Apple as means of controlling the MP3s.

Record companies got $0.77 of the $0.99. People wanted to own music, not rent, or subscribe to it. The subscription model did not make as much sense. Record companies had made a lot of money by having artists produce two or three good songs with 10 fillers, the iTunes store would allow users to select only the songs they liked, further upsetting Record companies. Steve Jobs’ response was that piracy had already deconstructed the album. He closed deals across the music industry which was astounding. Jobs bridged the gap between technology and art.

Brand Yourself Differently:

Think Different – the new slogan was not perfectly grammatical if you think about what you are trying to say: it is most appropriately think differently. Steve Jobs explained that Apple’s future in 1997 was to think differently. The craziness of Apple’s customer base was that they had a sense of creativity and uniqueness that others did not. Steve Jobs argued that Apple was distinctive as a brand, and they formulated a brand image campaign to celebrate what creative people could do with their Apple computers. The Think Different campaign was about reminding themselves about who they were. Here’s to the crazy ones, who think differently. Their television commercial was historic, as well as the posters for Think Different. Jobs believed in the renegade brand that people would choose because it made them feel proud and exclusive.

Create Complimentary Product Offerings Without a Lead Loss Generator:

Sales of the iPod would drive sales of the iMac, and vice versa. They got a triple bang for the buck in advertising by invigorating the Apple, Mac, and iPod. Steve Jobs completely dominated the market for music players by putting all of his advertising spending on the Mac into the iPod. So the iPod advertised more aggressively at about 100 times more spend, than the closest competitor. The beautiful iPod cost $399, some people said that iPod stood for “idiots price our devices.” The iPod was about intersection between technology & arts, software & music. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Cannibalize Yourself Because If You Don’t Others Will:

When iTunes was released, Microsoft managers realized that they needed to create direct user value with an end to end service. Gates felt like an idiot once again, and Microsoft wanted to move forward although it was caught flat footed by Apple. So Microsoft tried to copy iTunes. When Apple created the compatible iPod, and iTunes systems for other PCs it meant that PC users would not have to buy Macs to use the iPod. Steve Jobs did not want to put iTunes on the PC. The cannibalization of not selling Macs was out weighed by the potential iPod sales. Once iPods went PC, Apple was on its way to be extremely extremely lucrative. Jobs said that iTunes for Windows was the best application for PCs ever. When Microsoft came up with Zune, it was obvious that they did not care about the music or the product. Steve Jobs believed that an iPhone might cannibalize sales for Mac, but it would not deter Jobs. When the inventor of the Walkman tried to compete against Apple, they were held back by cannibalization because Sony had a music department etc etc. In 2004, the iPod Mini was the next innovation which helped eliminated the portable music player competitions. Apple’s market share in the portable music player industry went from 35% to 75% in 18 months. The iPod Shuffle also helped grow it further because people like to be surprised. Jobs decided that they should get rid of the screen, you don’t need to navigate all you needed was to skip over the songs you heard.

Focus On What People Really Want…1,000 Songs:

 Jobs could not include the first CD burners in the iMac because he hated trays. The mark of an innovative company is that it knows how to leapfrog when it finds itself behind in the development of new innovation. Napster exploded in growth, the number of blank CDs sales also increased massively in 1999, and Jobs worked hard to catch-up. Steve Jobs wanted to make music management easy. You can latterly drag, and burn a CD. Jobs bought a company called SoundJam, and instead of an interface to see your songs, Jobs wanted a simple search box. In 2001, iTunes was free to all Mac users. The next step was to create a portable player which was the simple interface. Getting all the record companies alongside iTunes would be the complicated part. By the fall of 2000, Apple was working towards this goal.

Fidel and Rubenstein clashed over the iPod because Fidel was charismatic, and wanted to claim control, and he had already been shopping around other companies to pitch his idea of a portable software based device which later became the iPod. They found small company to help them with the Mp3 technology. Steve Jobs wanted white on everything for the iPod, the purity of the white headphones became iconic. Steve Jobs pushed the idea of their iconic advertising. Apple’s whole history was making the software, and hardware together so the iPod made strategic sense. Gates said it was great, too bad it was only for Macs… By 2007 iPod was half of Apple’s revenues.

Steve Jobs Said that Google’s ‘Don’t Be Evil Mantra’ Is *Bullshit*:

Android’s touch screen features was clearly stolen from the iPhone. They had a grid app list much like the iPhone. The swipe to open, pinch to expand, these were all Apple ideas that Google was implementing. Google was engaged in grand theft as far as Steve Jobs was concerned. Jobs went to Google, and shouted at everyone there. Jobs wanted Android to stop stealing their ideas. The open source code approach was valuable because Google was able to sell their platform to multiple mobile phone providers where Apple had more control. Nonetheless the Apple App market is much larger than the Google one to this day.

Get Yourself Into The Cloud & A Castle:

Apple’s MobileMe was a failure because it did not sync data. It was expensive but iCloud was the future. This was not a new idea. In 1997, Steve Jobs explained that at NeXT he had all of his data on the server. The idea is that you won’t have to back up your computer by downloading into the iCloud. All you stuff is on the server, Jobs was talking about this idea as early as 1997. The concept that everything would work simply has been applied to cloud computing. Microsoft said that CloudPower would allow individuals to access their content wherever they are but this opens up the door to licensing agreements etc. In a final twists, the Apple Campus is under construction and will be completed in 2015. It is similar to Google HQ. Copied?

Don’t Fear Changes In Industry & Anticipate Competitive Market Disruption:

The digital camera industry was destroyed by cellphones, and Steve Jobs knew that in order to stay ahead of the wave, they would have to cover the cellphone market as well. The iPhone was born out of a concern that Nokia et al would eat Apple’s lunch by creating mobile photos that could easily play music, just as Nokia et al had crushed Kodak. Motorola was a stupid company to Jobs because the Rokr was a joke. Jobs realized that the iPod wheel was not going to dial phone numbers. Jobs was working on the iPad with the touch screen system before the birth of the iPhone. The ability to process multiple touch items was Steve Jobs’ ideas. They wanted to transfer the track pad to the computer screen. Ive never made a demonstration with other people because he know Jobs would shoot it down. The tablet development was put on hold, and shifted to the iPhone screen. Jobs split the multi touch track pads and wheel based iPhone plans. The case could not be opened, and Apple made sure that people could not access the iPhone. The iPhone was three products bundled into one: 1) internet interface, 2) mobile phone, and 3) touch controls. The iPhone was a massively successful product even though it was the most expensive phone in the world $500. Ballmer said the iPhone sucked because business people want a keyboard. Apple sold 90 million phones within months.

Create An Inventory Management System & Build Stores That Work:

Everything you do incorrectly is in order to get it right. If something isn’t right you can’t fix it later. Steve Jobs wanted to control the customer experience, which included the experience of creating wood, stone, steel, and glass an Apple store. Mega chains were where the salesman did not care about Apple because other products were available. Jobs was impressed by the Gap store business, and Jobs hired Drexler from Gap to build a prototype of the store. Tim Cook, reduced key suppliers from 120 to 24, forced many to move closed to Apple’s plants. He helped save Apple a great deal of money. Apple stores were strategically placed in Covent Garden London, or in New York. Sales are quickly tabulated using Oracle technology every 4 minutes so that they have a lean manufacturing production line, and the building of products can respond to market demand quickly.

Converge Old Devices Into 1 New Device:

Is there room for something in the middle of the iPhone and PC, Jobs asked in 2010? The iPad allows people to bring technologies together. The iPad was not sold as well as the iPhone. The name iPad was ridiculed as a women’s hygiene product. Gates still believed that it’s a nice reader but didn’t like the iPad. Further divergence in views suggests that Gates believed in a stylus while Jobs said we already have 10 stylus’. There were 800 emails in Steve Jobs’ inbox. The iPad had the limitation that it was for consumers but does not facilitate creation. The iPad arguably mutes the user turning you back into a passive observer. The question about iPad was whether it should be closed. Google’s Android was an open platform that could be used openly. The iPad was the clearest test of the closed-system model versus the open-system model. In the end, iPad was the most successful consumer product launch in history with 1 million sold in the first month. Jobs was in the process of changing the print industry, he closed deals like he did with the music industry. Apple would take a 30% take of the subscriptions sold, and Apple would have all of their purchase information which they would use later on. The problem was the publishing industry did not want the subscription base to be controlled by Apple since Apple would then change the prices. Steve Jobs believed that the paper textbook was going to be a industry ripe for digital destruction, and created digital versions of the products. The Chinese employees are paid $2.00 per day. It takes 5 days, and 3500 hands to produce 1 iPad in Foxconn China.

Do Not Ignore Medical Diagnoses:

When Jobs was diagnosed with cancer, he did not rush to have surgery to remove the tumour found in his pancreas. Instead, he tried to see if other treatments would work. Why was he hesitant? Partly because he had difficulty with the idea of opening up his body. He went under herbal remedies and psychic treatments as a result of his quibbling. As a response to his psychological concerns, Steve Jobs tried to cure himself in strange ways: reality is unforgiving. Once again, he was able to filter out the world, and ignore stuff that he does not want to confront. Jobs had been rewarded for willing things away, but in July 2004, the cancer had spread. Finally, he underwent surgery in 2004 but a less radical surgery.

The cancer had spread into the liver. Had doctors operated 9 months earlier they would have possibly arrested it. When he had a liver transplant in 2009 by going to another state and by having a multiple listing, the liver Jobs received was the product of a car accident that killed a 25 year old. Steve Jobs lied about his condition throughout the last years of his life by calling it a hormone imbalance. The privacy rights of the CEO had to be weighed, but Jobs also embodied his company more than most CEOs so the impact of negative news regarding his health could have an impact on the stock.

Make Peace With Your Old Enemies:

Microsoft had stolen the interface developed by Apple with multiple clip windows etc. IN 1997 Jobs announced that the only way forward was to make a deal with Bill Gates and Microsoft. In 2007, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs got together to talk about technology. It is an EPIC discussion.

Follow Your Heart:

there is no reason to not follow your heart, and gain meaning because you will be dead one day. Don’t live someone else’s dream. Stay hungry, stay foolish. The Stanford University commencement address is considered one of the greatest commencement ever made.Jobs did not believe that people should be materialistic but should seek to be valuable.

Steve Jobs Was A Brilliant Jerk

From the creator of Going Clear, Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine is about the now infamous career flaws of one of the most successfull entrepreneurs in American history. It looks like a good rehashing of memories from 2012 when everyone you knew + your grandma read the Isaacson’s biography.  I’m certain Kutcher and the script writers of the disappointing Jobs film are going to have a front row seat as they didn’t actually read the Isaacson biography….’cause that film sucked badly.

Steve Jobs:
  • a) abandoned his own daughter and girlfriend,
  • b) cheated Wozniak out of a bonus at Atari,
  • c) verbally assaulted the LISA team and created intense competition between teams,
  • d) screamed at Macintosh developers regularly,
  • e) cried like a baby when the iMac CD tray was a tray not a slot,
  • f) fired employees with retroactive consequences to their salary,
  • g) parked his car in the handicap spot,
  • h) sped down the highway regularly,
  • i) discovered his Syrian father (who also abandoned him) was the owner of the restaurant chain he frequented regularly but never came by to say “hi”,
  • j) tried to instigate a coup against foolish management and lost…
  • k) cried whenever someone disagreed with him,
  • l) attacked creative ideas for being idiotic then within a week apprioriated them as his own,
  • m) called his co-workers idiots and bozos whenever they fell short of his goals,
  • n) his colleagues had to hide a disc drive developer in the Macintosh supply closet (whenever Jobs visited) in order to prevent Jobs from discovering a parallel disc drive solution was being built which ultimately saved Jobs from disaster as his solution failed,
  • o) he refused to donate to any charity ever,
  • p) built and painted an expensive factory at NExT meanwhile the product completely bombed,
  • q) refused to give shares to one of his earliest Apple colleagues even though the guy put in many hours into the project and begged Jobs for a small part of the equity,
  • r) made his step-mom answer early customer service calls to Apple without pay (laugh out loud)….
  • s) took the tv away from his step-dad who wanted to watch football in order to program Apple’s……
  • t) declared war on IBM as a means of galvanising his company,
  • u) claimed Microsoft was stealing Apple’s ideas when both actually stole from Xerox PARC,
  • v) tried to destroy Adobe and any organisation that expected fair treatment…

This list is not exhaustive & what can we learn from this list, right?

This is an analysis based on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and other sources of research. Enjoy.

Running a Company from the Financial Perspective | Accounting Analysis

Accrual Accounting versus Cash Accounting

Accrual basis = immediate recognition.

Cash basis = when the case is received.

Before we dive into earnings management as a subtopic within business analysis and valuation, it is helpful to understand the difference between Accrual and Cash Accounting. The cash basis is only available for use for companies has no more than $5 million sales per year.

The accrual basis is used by larger companies because matching revenue and expenses in the same reporting period so that the true profitability of an organization can be discerned.

Cashflows are harder to manipulate. The big difference between the two is when the transactions are recorded.

Cash basis: Revenue is recorded when cash is received from customers, and expenses are recorded when cash is paid to suppliers and employees.

Accrual basis: Revenue is recorded when earned and expenses are recorded when consumed.

Revenue recognition is delayed under the cash basis until customer payments arrive at the company. Similarly, recognition of expenses are paid under the cash basis until such time as supplier invoices are paid.

Revenue recognition: a company sells $10K of green widgets to a customer in March which pays the invoice in April. Under the cash basis, the seller recognizes the sale in April, when the cash is received. Under the accrual basis, the seller recognizes the sale in March, when it issues the invoice.

Expenses recognition: a company buys $500 of office supplies in May, which it pays for in June. Under the cash basis, the buyer recognizes the purchase in June, when it pays the bill. Under accrual basis, the buyer recognizes the purchase in May, when it receives the supplier’s invoice.

Creating Cookie Jars: by deferring revenue that was genuinely earned or by taking additional expense by taking on excessive reserves for bad debts (we’ll explore this in a future post)

Debt Covenants: Keeping ratios within certain ranges. Debt/Equity. Lender have a capped upside. So lenders like covenants; What if you are ear to violating your covenant? Then you might adjust the bonus threshold.

Opacity of the Firm: capital markets & stakeholders. Competitive consideration: opaque firms will use the argument that they can’t divulge financial statement performance to the same degree as other firms because of their competitors.

You have to sit in awe of the most in genius management invention of all: Plausible Deniability


How to adjust financial statements for distortions?

How firms communicate with financial statements and how regulations and managerial discretion affect statements for distortions. There are several steps to Accounting Analysis:

Step 1: Identify Principal Accounting Policies:

Key policies and estimates used to measure risks and critical factors for success must be identified. IFRS require firms to identity critical accounting estimates. For example banks issue credit risk and interest rate risk. For airlines, depreciation is important because their biggest asset are the planes themselves. Therefore, for airlines, depreciation is a critical accounting policy. It is also where the accounting manipulation can occur.

Step 2: Assess Accounting Flexibility

Accounting information is less likely to yield insights about a firm’s economics if managers have a high degree of flexibility in choosing policies and estimates. If the firm is using GAAP accounting; there is limited flexibility for example look at how restrictive R&D and Marketing cost are under GAAP. How much of the flexibility has management already used? For other areas under GAAP, there is a lot of flexibility for example credit risk. Is the company being aggressive or conservative? A firm that is conservative now has the potential to be aggressive.

Step 3: Evaluate Accounting Strategy

Flexibility in accounting choices allows managers to strategically communicate economic information or hide true performance. How has their accounting differed from competitors? Are the accounting strategies changing regularly; think of CGIs accounting policy changes in the last decade. Does the firm have realistic assumptions in the past.

Issues to consider include:

  • Norms for accounting policies with industry peers
  • Incentives for managers to manage earnings
  • Changes in policies and estimates and the rationale for doing so
  • Whether transactions are structured to achieve certain accounting objectives.

Step 4: Evaluate the Quality of Disclosure

Managers have considerable discretion in disclosing certain accounting information. Is the firm providing adequate information about their strategy and explain the economics of its operations? Are those accounting policies justified adequately? Is the firm providing equally helpful disclosures in bad times? Firms that are more transparent are potentially far less likely to conduct earnings management.

Issues to consider include:

  • Whether disclosures seem adequate;
  • Adequacy of notes to the financial statements
  • Whether the management report section sufficiently explains and is consistent with current performance
  • Whether accounting standards restrict the appropriate measurement of key measures of success

Step 5: Identify Potential Red Flags

Unexplained transactions that boost profits. Here are a few examples.

  • Unusual increase in inventory or A/R in relation to sales
  • Increases in the gap between net profit and cash flows or tax profit
  • Use of R&D partnerships, SPEs or the sale of receivables to finance operations
  • Increasing Gap between Net Income and Cash Flow from Operations: firm may be fiddling with accruals.
  • Unexpected large asset write-offs (suddenly just write something off)
  • Large year-end adjustments
  • Qualified audit opinions or auditor changes
  • Related-party transactions (Valeant and Philidor)

Maybe we should list MORE!!!!…..

Red Flags in Accounting used for Earnings Management by (some) CEOs and CFOs Today

Note that Earnings Management is not illegal in some cases, in fact, it’s a strategy used by many companies believe it or not. Just like a Prime Minister who announces a snap election, a CEO can engage in earnings management (the manipulation of Financial Statements) behind a wall garden that only he or she and their team is privy to…..The following at POSSIBLE red flags, it’s hard to tell in reality, but here are things to look for with publicly traded companies:

Income smoothing: Companies love steady trends in profits, rather than wild changes in profits  No kidding! Income smoothing techniques (i.e. declaring high provisions or maybe deferring income recognition in good time) led to lower wild changed in reported earnings. Items to look out for is a pattern of reporting unusual losses in good operating years and unusual gains in bad ones.

Achieving forecasts: Is there a pattern of always meeting analysts’ earnings forecasts, an absence of profit warnings, or interim financial statements consistently out of line with year-end statements? Is a company making changes in accounting policies that revise profits upwards in years when underlying earnings have fallen, and vice-versa? Could be a redflag!

Profit enhancement: Current year earnings are boosted to enhance the short-term perception of performance which is what shareholders and analysts crave!

Accounting-based contracts: When accounting-based contracts are in place such as loan covenants, any accounting policy that triggers a shortcoming can circumvent the debt covenants….

Gap between earnings and Cash flows: Is there a large gap between earnings and cash flows? Is that gap increasing? If so there may be poor accruals.

Reported income and taxable income: Is reported income vastly different from taxable income, with no explanation or disclosure? That’s a problem.

Ratios: Do obsolescence analyses reveal old inventories or receivables, declining gross margins but increasing net margins, inventories/receivables increasing more than sales, or more leverage ratios?

Unusual financial statement trends: What is the relationship between revenue and (earnings per share) EPS growth? Is there a weird pattern of year-end transactions? What is the timing and recognition of exceptional items? What is the relationship between provisions for bad accounts and profits? It’s within a CEOs discretion due to asymetric information.

Accounting policies: Have there been recent changes in accounting policies, such as off-balance sheet financing, revenue recognition or expense capitalization? Furthermore, have the nature, purpose and effect of any changes been adequately explained?

Incentives for management: Are there incentives for managers to boost short-term profit to increase compensation (i.e. bonuses based on EPS and share option plans).

Audit qualifications: Are any auditors’ adjustments outlined in an audit report significant?

Related party transactions: Are these material and to what extent are directors affected

Manipulation of Reserves: Has there been under-provisioning in poor years, over-provisioning in good year, a manipulation of reserves, aggressive capitalization of costs, overly optimistic asset lives, accelerating expenses and increased write-downs in good years, and exceptional gains timed to offset exceptional losses?

Revenue recognition: Has there been a premature recording of revenues, recognizing sales prior to physical movement of goods, recognizing service revenue from service contracts prior to service being performed, upfront recognition of sales that should be spread over multiple periods, percentage of completion estimates out of line with industry norms?

Transaction timing: On the revenue side, have deliveries been sped up near the year end? On the cost side, have discretionary expenditures, such as maintenance and R&D, been delayed to future periods?

Regulated industries: Is there a pattern of engaging in accounting practices whose principal purpose is to influence regulatory decisions (i.e. lowering reported profits where the perception of excessive profits could prompt unfavorable regulatory action)?

Internal accounting: In a multi-division company there may be incentives to shift profits to divisions (or subsidiaries in relatively low tax jurisdictions) to reduce the overall tax burden.

Commercial pressures: In the anticipation of mergers, takeover bids or IPOs, there could be pressure to create a favorable perception by, for example, lowering credit standards to temporarily boost sales OR pumping up the value of the company at the risk of harming long-term customer relationships.

Other: When a company has foreign operations and is re-translating overseas subsidiaries’ results, a functional currency is determined for each entity. However, has the company taken advantage of ambiguous situations or facts, manipulating the selection to generate favorable currency gains or minimize currency losses? Has a company allocated joint costs among long-term contracts to create the appearance that no contract has produced losses, thereby avoiding an immediate loss provision?

The existence of these potential red flags do not indicate anything wrong per se, but should lead a prudent analyst to undertake diligent investigations to see if they are justified by company-specific factors. If distortions do exist, an analyst should, to the extent possible, undo the distortions to better evaluate a company’s financial performance within a historical and competitive context.

Step 6: Undo Accounting Distortions

  • Taxable income
  • Cash flow statement information
  • Management Guidance: no one is forcing management guidance, except management themselves.  What MG is specifically, is when a C-suite manager provides insight into the company to investors or analysts. If you are close to the target. I’d like to get that bump rather have a small loss. You want to cross the Threshold of Zero.

Elon Musk: Leaked Email in August 2016

So if you Tweet the kind of things that provoke strong reactions, that are basically the standard musings I might have made as teenager, you probably have no problem manipulating financial analysts! Expectation management is a tactic that Musk and other CEOs will leverage when the short-term performance for what is a long-term Bezos-style play (Tesla) . Elon Musk (graduated of Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada and whose mother is a Saskatchewanian) is of course a bat-shit crazy badass. In August of 2016, he was saying his Tesla Q4 expenditure will be huge, in the run up to new production line, so he’s providing a small negative estimate of profitability to his own employees and then intentionally leaking the email to the press to get the word out to financial analysts. Leaks in politics = leaks in business.

Here’s the full text that Bloomberg has published:

I thought it was important to write you a note directly to let you know how critical this quarter is. The third quarter will be our last chance to show investors that Tesla can be at least slightly positive cash flow and profitable before the Model 3 reaches full production. Once we get to Q4, Model 3 capital expenditures force us into a negative position until Model 3 reaches full production. That won’t be until late next year.

We are on the razor’s edge of achieving a good Q3, but it requires building and delivering every car we possibly can, while simultaneously trimming any cost that isn’t critical, at least for the next 4.5 weeks. Right now, we are tracking to be a few percentage points negative on cash flow and GAAP profitability, but this is a small number, so I’m confident that we can rally hard and push the results into positive territory. It would be awesome to throw a pie in the face of all the naysayers on Wall Street who keep insisting that Tesla will always be a money-loser!

Even more important, we will need to raise additional cash in Q4 to complete the Model 3 vehicle factory and the Gigafactory. The simple reality of it is that we will be in a far better position to convince potential investors to bet on us if the headline is not “Tesla Loses Money Again”, but rather “Tesla Defies All Expectations and Achieves Profitability”. That would be amazing!

Thanks for all your effort. Looking forward to celebrating with you,


“Gap in profitability” So he can’t miss this target badly. In the end, he sold a large build up of environmental credits: so that they could hit Tesla’s target thus satisfying the analysts who wanted to short the stock.

  • Dead giveaways that this is for analysts? Um, technical language that his employees without financial training might not dig.
  • Also, just being a total douche communicator because he probably doesn’t like analysts.

Research & Development GAAP versus IFRS

As a side note: Under IFRS, R&D is significantly more complex. Under US GAAP you will have your R&D costs expense as they are incurred.  Under IFRS, research costs are expense but IFRS has broad-based guidance which require companies to capitalize development expenditures, for internal costs, when certain criteria is met. In IFRS, intangible assets are capitalized and amortized under IFRS but expense under US GAAP. Therefore, this difference means that for IFRS; you need to distinguish research activities with development activities.

Research costs are costs created to plan an investigation or undertake research with the aim of gainin new scientific or technical knowledge. Example, search activities for alternatives for concrete rail ties.

Development costs are incurred in the application of the research findings or knowledge to plan or design for the production of new or substantially improved products before the start of commercial production. Example, testing a new smart phone OS to replace the current OS.

Under IFRS, here was when you would start to capitalize development phase of a project. When it is technically feasible to complete the intangible asset so that it will be available for sale. Its intention to complete the intangible asset and use it is another trigger.