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; free to change my opinion;
  • Writing about does not equal endorsing 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. Enjoy; 

Hero, Villain or Mixture of the Two? Always 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….Male 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 doesn’t do anything for those who 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 marshall 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 an Albany sweatshop, 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.


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 Xeroc 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 Goggle subsequently.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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.  


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.

Nintendo Business Strategy Analysis for 2017 and Beyond

The following is an analysis of Nintendo’s strategic position in the marketplace. What we’re looking at here is analyzing how they performed in the past, what are the strategic challenges? What is the challenges of their industries, because they are in several industries actually if you think about it, and how can they improve the performance? So hopefully, you enjoy.



As I said, it’s a strategic analysis of the consoles and handheld devices industry with Nintendo and where it fits within that. So it’s a hardware dedicated video game platform that we’re interested in understanding. That means we’re not interested in necessarily at the core of the software, which is where Nintendo actually does really well and they sell quite a lot of licensing etc. around their products and characters. It’s not the core focus, it will be on consoles. So just give an introduction, the team here, this is the team that we had and their names are below. I’ve just kind of made everyone anonymous. Because I thought it was more appropriate to do so.

Anyway, so here we go, let’s talk about the first thing. Let’s get a bit of a business overview here. So there’s a $4.6 billion worldwide market for hardware and games and software and this industry is very competitive and it requires a lot of intensive research and development. So that’s just the general gist of the industry, so how does Nintendo fit into this? What is Nintendo, first of all? Well, if you remember maybe as a kid, at least I did on Christmas day, getting a Super Nintendo was probably the best Christmas present I ever got. It was I think 1992 and I was pretty excited about it. I didn’t really know what it was to a certain extent. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did know what it was because a buddy down the road, he had the original Nintendo system and we used to play Mario together.


Anyway, so what makes Nintendo interesting is their core value proposition. What is it about Nintendo that makes them so strong in the marketplace? And I think there’s three or four, in a sense, core areas where they dominate, and its one is the plug-and-play. So here, much like Apple, it’s a user-friendly computer interface that you can use here and Nintendo allows young children to play video games interchangeably without any technical skill whatsoever. So you can swap in games easily done, and that was quite a significant initiative in the early ’80s. You also have this element of characters and trust. So you’ve got Mario, who’s basically a Disney-like Mickey Mouse and at the same time, you have parents who know that the video game content is tightly curated by Nintendo and it’s well-put-together. Everyone loves Nintendo products for this reason, right? And you also have this integrated closed sys, so like Apple or even we use in this sentence here, Amazon’s Kindle line of e-readers, Nintendo really needs to have cooperation from a whole ecosystem of publishers because it’s a closed system. They’re very controlling of the content that’s made and of course, this is the big revolution we’ll talk about later in terms of timing. They basically disrupted the arcade industry and video computer…computer games industries in the ’80s.

In terms of business units, we know Nintendo’s quite complex. It’s got quite a few subsidiaries and it really thrives on locking customers into their closed system through the appeal of flagship characters and obviously, we can think of Super Mario Brothers as that leading experience and software that everyone wanted to play. But we wanted to focus in on the console hardware itself because that is an area where we can parse and avoid talking about the App Store and Android stores in great depth which complicates our analysis quite a bit. So in essence, were treating Nintendo here as a manufacturer and in fact, they’re on the 8th generation of consoles at this point.

I think it’s important now to talk about the value chain that exists for Nintendo. So you’ve got this idea of a pretty well-established industry now. It’s about 25-30 years…35 years old actually. And it’s gone through quite a bit of change but there’s still some fundamentals. So you have publishers, they’re the people who are responsible for financing and managing the marketing titles. They’re very much a part of getting game developers to produce good content, and then launching it on various console platforms. So you can think, of course we’re talking about Sega historically, Sony, Xbox and Nintendo. Then you’ve got the actual developers, really a critical piece obviously, the people who actually create the games. Sometimes that’s third party, but sometimes Nintendo itself creates games in-house. But no matter what, you still have to have third-party developers to really give the ecosystem as it were, right? The array of potential games you can play. You want to give it the widest breadth as possible.

And then you’ve got at the core of it, what we care about here, is the console makers themselves and that’s Nintendo’s story directly. Certainly, consoles actually are a loss leader to a certain extent. That’s kind of built into the model and there’s a lot of in-house research and development that is undertaken to make the consoles effective and innovative, so you can think of when Wii came out there was a lot of R&D that must have been at play in order to make that major leap that they did in 2006. So you also have distributors, so those are obviously kind of connected to publishers in that they sell and get the video game software, part two and the consoles, to the various marketplaces. And of course, you’ve got your retailers, so you’ve got the classics, the major players like Walmart, but you also have these small boutique electronic stores like E&C Games on Spadina in Toronto, Canada. You know, these are enthusiasts who love Nintendo.


So you can actually see here then that… I’m just going to bring my cursor out, 1.87% is where they are and the industry is .84%. So the industry is unattractive but they actually are doing competitively well in an industry that is very unattractive. Still an unattractive industry, but they have a competitive advantage in an underperforming industry, interesting enough. You’ve got a 10%, so just giving a little more color to that, I don’t think it’s really worth getting into the nuance here. And again as I was saying, a return on sales is way more important than ROA. You could read that on your own time.

So looking at this in a more visual format, I’ve got this piston chart. You’ve got the industry average here… Sorry I can’t get this cursor out of the way. Maybe I’ll just remove the cursor. And then you’ve got industry average and you can see that Nintendo has a competitive advantage. If we look at just 2015 data… If you look at the ROS globally again, it’s 5% and then the industry is underperforming at -4.2% of less of the actual average there and you can see Nintendo has a disadvantage in the global economy but actually an advantage in the industry. A bit nuanced here, but basically the message is: “Stay out of consoles. Don’t go… If you’re going to start a new business, don’t try to build a plug-and-play console system for television sets”, that’s pretty much the message here.

But the console generation pressures is why arguably this is all happening. So the technology change makes every manufacturer of this hardware wary and probably weary as well because you have to basically start a new… Build a new console roughly every 2.5 to 5 years, and you’ve seen that. You’ve got your PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4, so clearly they have to generate new platforms regularly to stay relevant. And the ROS piston chart here, again just giving a little more flavor to this, it’s much like Macintosh’s 1984 situation with the Macintosh. What I mean by that is actually, the original Macintosh which was released in 1984 was actually not very successful. It wasn’t very powerful as a computer and as a result, of a lot of software developers really didn’t line up to build on the Apple Macintosh platform. Now, as a result, Apple struggled greatly. They even got rid of Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple in 1985 because of the struggles the company was under. So if you’re going to make a closed system, you better make sure your product is very very good. This is why consoles are just so unattractive if you’re unsuccessful in your product. Of course, Nintendo’s in this business because, you know, secretly if you can create a really great console and get lots of buy-in from software developers, you’re in the money as it were.


Expanding a bit on this, Michael Porter’s five forces are probably one of the most critical tools for analyzing any business, so we will just go through it really quickly here. Buyer power is medium… Sorry. As a Power of Suppliers’ medium, Buyers Power’s medium, Threat of Substitutes medium, Rivalry is high and Threats of Entry are low.

Let’s go through this quickly. So there’s a high dependency on outside manufacturers that produce key components or simple products. You also have the sort of everyone wants to work for the big three if you’re going to be producing software products or hardware, sorry. Again sorry, confusing… We’re working on the hardware suppliers issue here so the cables, the actual plastic casing and all this has to be accounted for, so they don’t necessarily have that much to pop supplier power, but another supplier would be the game developers themselves. So you might actually have a game that launches exclusively on the Wii U as is the case with Bayonetta 2. Here clearly they don’t have that much as a supplier power. They’re giving it up, they’re saying, “Nintendo you’re so great, we want to work with you”, so the relationship isn’t, you know, like Nintendo completely owns the suppliers that they work with. They can affect Nintendo’s success, and as I said earlier if they don’t want to play, if they don’t want to cooperate with you and build games for your platform, you’re in serious trouble.

On the buyer’s level, so buyer power, consumers are constantly looking for the next console, so they can kind of mess around with your goals, but at the same time they’re really loyal. A lot of people love Nintendo consoles, so it’s a bit of a mixed conversation here and sales of consoles are really all about the video games that are launched which are extremely popular. In fact, I remember when the Nintendo 64 came out, I was really excited about Goldeneye because that was an amazing game that my cousin had bought and was playing on his Nintendo 64, so I had to get a Nintendo 64 for that reason.

Threats of substitute is another key idea. Here it’s a… just to make sure you understand it, the threat to go do something else with your money, your time. So there’s obviously lots of substitutes now, particularly with smartphones and computers which we’ll talk about a bit. And then there’s the development of portal system,s which is good because you know, Gameboy and Nintendo DS actually really do well in this space, but there is always that threat. There’s so many other places and areas of activity that you can apply for entertainment and so as part of this, Nintendo’s responded by trying to create “a home entertainment centre” around their product.

Rivalry is really interesting. I mean, you can recall perhaps there was Sega company which eventually was disband. Basically, they in the 1990s were really competitive against Nintendo and really critical of Nintendo’s Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis advertisements were really aggressive and even to this day, you can see a lot of game theory between the different players. So Sony and Xbox, they’ll try to time the release of their latest console in line with what their competitor is going to do. So it’s kind of a prisoner’s dilemma situation if you’re familiar with that theory.

And then you’ve got the Threats of Entry, it’s really not that high. People don’t want to go create consoles, particularly because of the fact that it is so difficult to do but an important point at the very bottom that I wanted to highlight is that entry is possible. In fact, that’s what Sony and Microsoft did in the ’90s. Of course, entry is possible when you’re a huge successful business already, when you look at Microsoft in particular and Sony as well. And I also want to point out at the bottom there, I don’t know if you can see that flashing thing there, okay.

So value creation, those three: the supplier, buyers, and substitutes. That’s the places, those are the ideas, factors that inhibit or allow for the creation of value. So and then if you look at the value capture side of things it’s the rivalry and entry that is really critical. So clearly the value capture area is a bit weak in this particular industry because of the intense rivalry when they’re competing to steal literally, take away customers or hopefully have customers buy both platforms or, you know, multiple platforms.


So I think we need to dive a little deeper on Nintendo’s brand identity and so again, I’ve already emphasized it’s about beloved characters, child-friendly and plug-and-play components, but I wanna understand what they did recently that’s quite fascinating. They’ve kind of moved to broad differentiated and again, we have to give a little background around what Michael Porter talks about here. If you can see at the bottom here you have four quadrants, so you’ve got on the left, you got broad and narrow and at the top, you’ve got low cost and differentiated. These are different businesses or positions that you could take as a business, so you could see that the arcades were narrow and low-cost. So they were only focused on, you could only literally play one game on an arcade machine and it was relatively low cost. It’s not like customers had to buy an arcade to play it. No, you actually had arcades, literally the places where you could play these games and for the longest time, I’d say Nintendo was quite narrow and differentiated. When we see differentiated, we mean premium so more expensive, exudes premium characteristics like distinctiveness whereas low-cost is not as distinctive so, clearly they are… They were for the longest time narrowly differentiated and then 2006 they said, “Why don’t we include…expand our market”, “Let’s go after adults”, “Let’s go after seniors”, “Let’s try to have fun with that” and that’s exactly what they did.

So customer segments is really important, I think. As you can understand, with the introduction of the Wii, Nintendo was really targeting on non-gamers quite a bit and if you look on the right I’ve got a quote here from Miyamoto, the creator of Mario and other major successful characters from Nintendo, was basically saying, “We’re trying to make it from machine that everyone, parents can love” this is what the brand is. And I think earlier on, I think in the business overview section I had sort of the value propositions of Nintendo, and here I’m saying that we’ve actually added one.

So you’ve got the plug-and-play closed system, beloved characters, child-friendliness but then you also have the non-gamers casual gamer segment. That’s what Nintendo said, “We’re going to take over in 2006 with the Wii” and they were very very successful in doing so. And again, their philosophy is it’s a toy. They are very much a playful company in that sense and the Wii contributed to the idea of who they are rather than detracting from it. They actually made a lot of sense for them, so you’ve got…and this is a really tough market. You have to have, you know, strategic issues here.


So there are a lot of strategic issues that they have to deal with and I’ve mentioned it earlier. As mentioned, you know, this decision of the short life cycles of their platform. So you have a lot of other issues as well like excess and industry…inventory. So for example of your console’s really unsuccessful and you produce a million versions of this device and only half a million are actually sold, then you’re in serious trouble and you have too much inventory, and as we’ll discuss later, there’s a resource intensive console life cycle again, so you’re constantly propping up and preventing the industry from going into decline through releasing a new console or literally distracting yourself which is what they did with the Wii. And that was really a critical move, by the way. So the traditional gaming to new neo-gaming, this is kind of how they managed to keep themselves propped up, and you can read a little more on this on the bottom. I’m not gonna go through this in detail.

They have some obvious strategic challenges. You’ve got cannibalization I’ll just mention, where you have handheld devices and then now Nintendo is considering working a lot more with other platforms like smartphones, very similar to what Apple had to do with iTunes for the PC, and of course as I mentioned again and again, the closed system disadvantages, I should say closed by the way. Nintendo is a premium game developer with exclusive hardware and so if you people don’t buy into it then you really suffer and there’s a nice little quote at then end there just to round this whole section up.


Industry trends, so Nintendo started multiple S-curves and I think it’s quite interesting just to see how they might have been…they might be about to be toppled by smartphone but it’s not totally clear what the future holds.

So here’s the story, you’ve got way back in 1980, you’ve got the PC revolution and arcades, the market is growing. And then the home entertainment games industry kind of explodes with Atari and Nintendo. Atari goes bankrupt pretty quickly but Mario Brothers and the Nintendo system is very successful and throughout the ’90s in 1995, you have a Nintendo 64 and you’ve got a lot of success. So that should be shifted over this thing here, probably should be over here but what… No worries. So you’ve got multi-dimensional games, 3D games, and then take a look at this. Basically they jump their own curve, their S-curve and bring in and reposition Nintendo radically with the Wii and that’s sort of been the curve they’re going on, and now we have… We are seeing further hybrids. Nintendo’s bringing out its own hybrid called Nintendo Switch, but smartphones are clearly disrupting them and this is in a very short period of time here, this is 2006 and 2007. So things are changing fast.

An interesting sort of look at what the consoles did. You had Nintendo, you had Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, GameCube, the Wii, and the Wii U, you can clearly see the stock prices impacted by the success and innovativeness of a console. So clearly Nintendo’s Super Nintendo was I remember when I got it at Christmas like I mentioned earlier, it was a pretty big deal for me, and then Wii was also quite revolutionary because it was saying, “Let’s have casual gaming rather than hardcore gaming as the true value proposition of Nintendo.”

And I think the big challenge now is to understand, is this actually a glide path to history? Are the consoles as an industry in complete decline? And I think actually the answer is no, I think there’s still space here. But principally, I think also that the space is portable. People want to have the portability that a Nintendo DS or Gameboy allowed. Given that everyone is so used to smartphones now, the smartphone culture which has emerged in effect since 2007 since the release of the iPhone has been shaped by this drive towards portability. And actually, if you look at the performance of the consoles historically, Gameboy is actually one of the most well received consoles and Nintendo DS as well. So more so, than even the PlayStation Sony, the original CD-based PlayStation and PlayStation 2 was quite successful. So there’s a story here that people… The customers do like handheld devices and Nintendo needs to respond to that.

So now we want to look at sustainability. What is Nintendo going to need to do in the next couple years in order to remain relevant and grow as a business? Is it sustainable? Should they just abandon hardware, get rid of consoles and just focus on licensing their various characters? That’s a very legitimate question to ask, it’s a really legitimate question to ask because if you look at that industry as we already looked, at it’s not that great.


So we applied the VRIO approach here, so we’re asking the question is this valuable company? Obviously, they’re valuable. It’s a great manufacturer, well-known IP. Do they have the resources and capabilities? Yes, they’ve got the resources and capabilities, and is it easy to imitate them? No, it’s not easy to imitate Nintendo. They’ve got such a great reputation and style. I mean, I can imagine people could, it’s not that unbelievable to imagine but when it comes to the console, I don’t see that many big opportunities in the space. Although you could argue that with the Raspberry Pi anyone can build the console pretty quickly and do something cool with it. So I mean, I expect maybe the console industry to actually be disrupted independently of the software components, eroding of smartphones, eroding Nintendo’s profitability, but you also have the are they organized question? So is the firm organized? Nintendo is organized to succeed. I mean, they have had difficulties with CEOs not knowing where to go, being incredibly dependent on the success of consoles, the console that they launched, so those are also major issues but generally I think they’ve they focused on hardware which is has been a risk, but that’s their true identity. It’s a combination of software and hardware like an Apple. So, and as you can see with Apple, if you get things right the sky’s the limit in terms of profit.

Sustainability through innovation. So I just want to walk through these ideas about what Nintendo’s doing. They’re an industry where it’s a Red Queen industry, in a sense that you have to be running full speed at all times just to stay in place in the console industry because all these competitors, there they’re coming up with great new consoles to compete against you. And so I created sort of this quadrant system here. You’ve got on the vertical axis, you’ve got the real world to virtual and then to the left is ultra violent and the right as child-friendly. Clearly, Nintendo occupies that right side, the child-friendly side with Super Mario Maker and Pokemon Go which is augmented reality. So I can expect in the near future maybe they’ll do Mario Kart outdoors. I think that’d be hilarious, people running around in parks playing Mario Kart. And the competitors on the other side, there they’re just dominating in Halo, Battlefield, really graphic intensive games, high-resolution graphics.

So an interesting thought will be where do they go with this augmented reality? Do you think you can imagine people running around pretending to shoot each other? Probably not a good idea. But anyway… And then just to emphasize this is Mario’s Super Mario Run which is now available on Apple devices, so smartphones obviously. Big deal because for the longest time Nintendo refused to work with Apple’s platform, predominantly because of the terms and conditions and the commission that Apple gets for every company that has software on their platforms.

So I guess just to close off on this section, sustainability through new console adoption is critical. You need to get everyone on board and as I’m saying here, in order to succeed in 2016 everyone needs to switch to Nintendo Switch, and why I think Nintendo Switch is exciting because they are taking into account the revenue realities that, yes, Gameboy and Nintendo DS were the most successful Nintendo platforms. So if they’re the most successful Nintendo platforms then maybe we should make our console portable. That’s exactly what they’ve done here, so you’ve got plug-and-play, a closed system, as usual, beloved characters, child-friendly, casual gamer plus the new core proposition has to…core value proposition has to also take into account portability. So clearly, they’re making some great strides in the right direction. Of course, it all depends on execution. It depends on the execution for Mario Run, it depends on the execution for Nintendo Switch games, are the games any good? That has yet to be seen yet, so no judgment either way but that’s going to be critical. The actual customer experience has to be first and foremost.


Finally, I just want to talk about strategic options. You’ve got the sort of, you know, general launching more hybrids, which is what they’re doing with the Switch, continue with the idea of the home entertainment center with the Wii Karaoke you can see here, you know, there’s potential areas that they could work on. They certainly have also done some work on past glories and they could look into virtual reality like everyone else is trying to do, just to introduce some additional value to a really challenging industry with consoles. So one framework that I’ve applied here is Roger Martin’s five questions framework. And we’ve positioned this as two options, so you’ve got remain as a game, toy company, or become a technology expert. This is sort of a throwaway thought about what Nintendo could do. And I think they generally seem to be doing the right things as you might have noticed with the sustainability section, they seem to be kind of doing exactly what we’re talking about.

But this section just all popped up at once. There’s a lot of words here but the questions you have to ask for any strategic decision is what are your aspirations as a company? What do you want to achieve? If you want to remain a toy then you want to be the preferred toy to play at all time and you want to make sure that Mario is marketed even to the level of theme park ride and create situations where you play Mario as a toy and he’s a fun character. If your aspiration is to be a technology expert, Nintendo would have to go and extend its expertise into retail channels and probably go build some Nintendo stores in every urban center and have intense video game parties or what not.

Where do you… Where we play? Which is important, but what areas does our company need to play to win? So with the option one, remain a toy, the current profit profitable niches and then also a family in senior homes and casual settings. Same thing with the option to how do we win? This is kind of a key question, the character awareness, creation of new characters, expand the fun to other dimensions.

Option two, if you want to be a technology expert, you’d want to specialize in stores and promote Nintendo expertise, become the industry technology champion for high-resolution graphics, which is not what they’re doing as you know. What capability do they need to make this happen? They need to attract more technology and creative talent, acquire more Miyamoto-style talent, you know, the creator of Mario. If they want to be a technology expert they should hire retailer management from existing tech examples, IE, you know, hire someone from Apple Store who runs the logistics around that and get some experts actually in those stores like the Apple Genius Bar. Get some Nintendo geniuses.

Finally, management systems. What management systems do they need to succeed? In option one, if you want to remain a toy company you want to have that horizontal diversification to create different plat…different areas of your marketing and that includes a theme park, for example. We’ll throw that idea out there because Nintendo is so similar to Disney, it’s kind of shocking. And finally option two for technology experts, what would you do with the management system? What management systems do you need? You need that vertical integration within the value chain, so actually try to absorb the publishers and developers a bit more. Don’t try to diversify, so don’t go into theme parks or cruise ships or whatever you want to do with your loved characters. Stay within your niche and focus on the technology, and own the value chain, thereby making it more difficult to imitate.

So, in conclusion, that’s the whole presentation. Thank you very much for listening to this. If you have any comments or questions, awesome. Please leave them below the video. If you liked this video please subscribe to Professor Nerdster and thank you very much for your time.



1.Nintendo Annual Report 2016. (2016, April). Retrieved November 30th, 2016, from

2.Shah, Nick. MBA Fellows Project: The Video Game Industry, And Industry Analysis from a VC Perspective. Tuck, Dartmouth. Center of Digital Strategies. (2005). Retrieved November 30th, 2016, from The Video

3.Microsoft X-Box’s Gamble. Tuck, Dartmouth. Center of Digital Strategies. (2002). Retrieved November 28th, 2016, from

4.Krishnan, Vijai. Gaming: Corporate Strategy in a Multi-Screen World. (April, 2013). Retrieved November 28th, 2016, from

5.Business Case: Nintendo’s disruptive strategy: implications for the video game industry. Harvard Business Review, 2008.

6.Game Industry Magazine. (2016, April). Retrieved November 30th, 2016, from

7.Nintendo President Challenge. Fortune. (2016). Retrieved December 8th, 2016, from:

8.Pokémon Go. Fortune. (2016). Retrieved December 8th, 2016, from:

9.List of Best Selling Game Consoles. (2015). Retrieved December 8th, 2016, from

10.Extensive Industry Analysis Interview with Erika Szobu: Youtube Personality ( at A&C Games on Spadina Ave, December 12th, 2016

Soviet Union to Russia: Understanding what Russia wants through an Academic Lens

Communism, Post-communism & Nationalism

The following are in depth research notes on Communism, Nationalism and Russia from the perspective of both Eastern and Western academic thinkers.

Politics, history, psychology are complicated. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the territorial maps were redrawn. Many Russian nationals become minority citizens of new countries that were formed. The following is an analysis of that story. It’s implications for nationalism studies today and in the future. And in some ways an answer to what Putin wants.


Facts & Figures                                                                                                       

List of previous questions:

Was the resurgence of nationalism in eastern Europe in the 1980s a cause or consequence of communist failure?

What role does nationalism play in post-communist states?

SOURCES: Ronald Suny, Valery Tishkov, Jemery Smith, George Schopflin, Ernest Gellner, Stephen White, Alexander Motyl

Case Examples: USSR (Poland, Latvia, Chechnya, Russia) or (secondary) Yugoslavia (Croatia, Serbian, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Kosovo, Slovenia, Montenegro)

  • Ronald Grigor Suny, The Soviet experiment : Russia, the USSR, and the successor states (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998), Chapter 12.
  • Jeremy Smith, The Fall of Soviet Communism (London, Palgrave, 2005), pp.16-20, 73-79.
  • Brubaker, Rogers, 1994. “Nationahood and the National Question in the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Eurasia: An Institutionalist Account”, Theory of Society, vol 23, no. 1, pp. 47-48.
  • George Schöpflin, ‘Power, Ethnicity and Politics in Yugoslavia’, chap 23 in Nations, Identity, Power (London, Hurst, 2000).
  • Tishkov, Valery Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in and after the Soviet Union: the Mind Aflame London: SAGE, 1997. Ch. 2
  • Alexander J. Motyl, Sovietology, rationality, nationality: coming to grips with nationalism in the USSR (New York, Columbia University Press, 1990).
  • Ronald Grigor Suny The revenge of the past: nationalism, revolution, and the collapse of the Soviet Union (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1993).
  • George Schöpflin, ‘Nationhood, Communism and State Legitimation’ and ‘Power, Ethnicity and Politics in Jugoslavia’, chap 12 in Nations, Identity, Power (London, Hurst, 2000).
  • Stephen White, Communism and its Collapse (2001).
  • *Henry E. Hale, The Foundations of Ethnic Politics: separatism of states and nations in Eurasia and the world
  • *Philip G. Roeder, Where Nation-States come from: institutional changes in the age of nationalism


  • Defining, Background, Foundations (Detailed Background)

What are the debates regarding the collapse of the USSR in 1991?

The first point is to ask whether the post-1991 nation-states of the former USSR were already defined as national quasi-states (to use Roeder’s term) within the USSR. Generally the answer is: YES.

Less clear is why YES. It seems to me there are in principle three major explanations:

  1. The national explanation – a sense of national identity had been created which was important. One can then argue whether this was a Soviet invention or not.
  2. The statist explanation – the individual republics had institutions and interests which gained an advantage over other institutions and interests. (Roeder, 2008)
  3. The International Relationship (IR) explanation – the international community would only accept sovereignty for state-like entities. 

Counter-factual of the USSR: why did it breakdown into nation-states? Why not into a multicultural/national power.

Thesis: primordial nationalism is only important when USSR prospects of collapse are high: the resources are utilized to reorganize political power when the USSR’s centre collapses.

International self-determination recognition used the primordialist approach so as to avoid precedent setting for any political movement.

Nationalism Studies was Re-invigorated with the Breakup of the Soviet Union (1991)

  • The Soviet Union was divided into territorially defined republics so had an ethnic colouration – ethnic nationalism defined the breakup of the Soviet Union.

USSR COLLAPSE: HISTORICAL NARRATIVE                                                  

The Soviet Union‘s collapse into independent nations began early in 1985.

After years of Soviet military buildup at the expense of domestic development, economic growth was at a standstill.

Failed attempts at reform, a stagnant economy, and war in Afghanistan led to a general feeling of discontent, especially in the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe.

Greater political and social freedoms, instituted by the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, created an atmosphere of open criticism of the Moscow regime.

Gorbachev ushered in the process that would lead to the dismantling of the Soviet administrative command economy through his programs of glasnost (political openness), uskoreniye (speed-up of economic development) and perestroika (political and economic restructuring) announced in 1986.

Gorbachev doesn’t want to intervene in the affairs of others.

Additionally, the costs of superpower status—the military, space program, and subsidies to client states—were out of proportion to the Soviet economy. The new wave of industrialization based upon information technology had left the Soviet Union desperate for Western technology and credits in order to counter its increasing backwardness.

Unintended Consequences: Gorbachev’s efforts to streamline the Communist system offered promise, but ultimately proved uncontrollable and resulted in a cascade of events that eventually concluded with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Initially intended as tools to bolster the Soviet economy, the policies of perestroika and glasnost soon led to unintended consequences.

In all, the very positive view of Soviet life, which had long been presented to the public by the official media, was being rapidly dismantled, and the negative aspects of life in the Soviet Union were brought into the spotlight[5]. This undermined the faith of the public in the Soviet system and eroded the Communist Party’s social power base, threatening the identity and integrity of the Soviet Union itself.

The dramatic drop of the price of oil in 1985 and 1986, and consequent lack of foreign exchange reserves in following years to purchase grain profoundly influenced actions of the Soviet leadership.[1]

POLITICAL: Several Soviet Socialist Republics began resisting central control, and increasing democratization led to a weakening of the central government.

Gradually, each of the Warsaw Pact nations saw their communist governments fall to popular elections and, in the case of Romania, a violent uprising. By 1991 the communist governments of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania, all of which had been imposed after World War II, were brought down as revolution swept Eastern Europe.

The USSR’s trade gap progressively emptied the coffers of the union, leading to eventual bankruptcy.

The Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991 when Boris Yeltsin seized power in the aftermath of a failed coup that had attempted to topple reform-minded Gorbachev.

To break Gorbachev’s opposition, Yeltsin decided to disband the USSR in accordance with the Treaty of the Union of 1922 and thereby remove Gorbachev and the Soviet government from power. The step was also enthusiastically supported by the governments of Ukraine and Belarus, which were parties of the Treaty of 1922 along with Russia.

But by using structural reforms to widen opportunities for leaders and popular movements in the union republics to gain influence, Gorbachev also made it possible for nationalist, orthodox communist, and populist forces to oppose his attempts to liberalize and revitalize Soviet communism. Although some of the new movements aspired to replace the Soviet system altogether with a liberal democratic one, others demanded independence for the national republics. Still others insisted on the restoration of the old Soviet ways. Ultimately, Gorbachev could not forge a compromise among these forces and the consequence was the collapse of the Soviet Union.

If the causes are above why did nation-state solution emerge WHY NOT multi-nationalism?

Two competing approaches to the causality of USSR collapse:

Answer MUST be conscious of TIMING: (PRE) = pre-collapse (POST) = post-collapse

(A) On the one hand, there are those, like (Motyl, 1990), who argue communism was inevitably doomed as a container, freezer or prison house of nations, a repression of nationalism and that nationalism brought communism to the brink in 1980s. This paper argues that nationalism was a preexisting and competing ideology throughout Soviet Union history.

(B) Nationalism was a weak, insignificant phenomenon, like (Tishkov, 1997), adding it was the benefactor of a chess-game miscalculation by political agents, pragmatic decision-making. Nationalism needs to be stoked up by the leadership. Looks at socially engineered states such as Ukraine, the Baltics + Caucasus. Capitalism + agency defeated Communism. (cause) Nationalism is the benefactor. (consequence)

(C) Self-determination was used to bring the USSR together, it was also used to tear the USSR apart. International factors must be explored.

Answer MUST be conscious of TIMING: (PRE) = pre-collapse (POST) = post-collapse

Whether there was a nation narrative before or during the USSR, it only matters after! SO what? (A) doesn’t matter until the collapse is eminent.

  • Communism as inevitably doomed, repressive/non-acccomodative & Nationalism caused the collapse: the law of declining Empires applies, a natural reaction against Russification.



Nationalism was the key benefactor of collapse: but was it the cause?

Causality            On Collapse                              Nationalism

Tishkov, 1997    top-down (elite-error)             not-inevitable      engineered

Suny, 93,98       nationalism instrumental         not-inevitable      engineered/primordial

Motyl, 1990       repressive commies                 inevitable           primordial

Martin, 2001      affirmative action empire        not-inevitable      primordial

Gellner, 1983      wrong address repressive     unknown            modernity/engineered?


  • Western Academic Perspective: “Standard view of break-up of Communism and nationalism: National aspirations suppressed. Nations denied their autonomy by the might of the centralizing force of Moscow and the Party. The Communists tried to create homo sovieticus.
  • Marxist-Leninism’s Ideological Competition: They were scared that nationalism would compete with Marxist-Leninism as an ideology. Lenin etc had witnessed lots of unrest in the Empire in the 1880s as the Tsar attempts to Russifying.


  • Soviet Man: Soviet went back-and-forth on the idea of creating a monolithic new nation. Stalin, in particular, attempted to create “Soviet Man” through co-ordinated education, language, history; learning Russian was a means of social advancement. HOMO SOVIETICUS: Russian education language, history, means of advancement, territorial integrity, cultural distinctions: republics given more autonomy.
  • Stalin crushes nationalism > changes the alphabets.
  • BUT republics always keep their territorial integrity, have their cultural institutions, and non-Russians promoted to power. Tokenistic – people dancing in cheesy national costumes – but significant.
  • Never a Soviet passport (unlike Yugoslavia) Soviet Union never overtly calling for Russian nationalism….“The center never attempted to homogenize the multinational country and create a single nation-state. There was a Soviet people but no Soviet nation. No-one was permitted to choose ‘Soviet’ as their passport nationality.” (Suny, 1993)
  • Nationalism Under Cloak: Stalin was Georgian but power was Russian: Even if it wasn’t perfectly repressive, the Soviet Union actually masks nationalism under the cloak of communism: it failed (perhaps inevitably) and so nationalism becomes the logical successor…..
  • In the post-Communist world, there were both nationalist ethnic groups that preceded the Soviet Union such as the Baltic states – acquired in 1945 – while others were constructed, mutated and altered – the Central Asian states – during the 70 years of the communist post-nationalist experiment.

How did the USSR handle the nationalist question?


  • Czarist Russia was only threatened against Polish but not much else was significant. Czarist Russia in 1880s attempted to Russify their empire. (Breuilly)
  • Germans supported Polish and Ukrainians against Russian hegemony.
  • Russian Revolution of 1905: was a reaction against Russification provoking a confused response. The frustration of the Russian Revolution of 1905 typifies the national fact which the socialists learned could not be rejected outright. In that particularly confused affair, it was both a socialist and a nationalist revolution that had failed. Only through pragmatic compromise – against mutual anti-imperialism – could a new political system emerge in 1917.
  • From the inception of Bolshevik Revolution, pragmatic decision-making accommodated self-determination as a means to “recruit ethnic support for the revolution, [but] not to provide a model for governing of a multiethnic state.”[1]
  • Lenin Prevailed and 1922 the USSR based on Ethno-Territorial: Russia Belurasi, Urkain Azerbajan and Georgia 6 Republics. It stuck to the nation principle than anyother state.
  • Stalin had 15 non-Russia republics in the 1930s. There were 17 national regions the Republic had a constitutional right for succession under the 1936 constitution. There was elaborate ethnography which was linked to educational entitlement. There was titular nationalities employment in Ukrainian an Affirmative Action system. Ukrainians rose in the Russian government. Nikita Kruschev was Ukrainian for example. (Breuilly)
  • Affirmative Action Empire: The Soviet Union “was the world’s first Affirmative Action Empire.” (1, (Martin, 2001)) It was the multiethnic state’s character that forced a confrontation “with the rising tide of nationalism and respond by systematically promoting the national consciouseness of its ethnic minorities and establishing for them many of the characteristic institutional forms of the nation-state.”
  • Nationalist in Form, Socialist in Content: Stalin in the mid-1920s accepted the special Central Committee conference on nationalities policy, (Martin, 2001), Stalin believed in ‘Nationalist in form, socialist in content’ ((Martin, 2001) Stalin treated them as real nations.
  • Ideological Goal of Communism: was to redirect the postal error of nationalism through homogenization and steady process of integration. This is most apparent under Stalin who “extended the state’s power over all aspects of public and social life, the Soviet leadership no longer was willing to tolerate the autonomy of art and culture that it had allowed in the 1920s. (Smith, 2005) Artists were to be mobilized as ‘engineers of the soul,’ in Stalin’s words, to become on more tool in the construction of socialism.”[2] What emerged was a de facto empire under the guise of communism. (Suny, 1993)
  • Nations to be Frozen: Assimilation what not viable in the short-term but the Bolshevki’s believed “national consciousness was an unavoidable historic phase that all peoples must pass through on the war to internationalism.” (5, (Martin, 2001)) nationalism is NOT ephemeral as this paper has demonstrated. But it is wrong to assume it is forever. If primordialism can show that it existed before modernization then it is a long-term reality, if modernization theory is correct, it may be a shorterm step on the way to internationalism[3].
  • BUT the KEY INSTITUTIONS were the centralized planning, army and secret police.

After the Stalisnist period: Corruption and nomenkaltura officially specifying who is allowed to have control in the system. Secession was made punishable by death. THIS IS ARGUABLY about totalitarianism. Appeal to Russian language and history in the 1941. There was a fixity. Signs of decline was very clear by the 1980s. There was shift to bilingualism in USSR. There was no Russia communist party: only none Russians had a communist party only the non-Russian republics had their own communist system. There was corrupt kinship in the republic areas THEREFORE THIS lays the groundwork for nation-states. (Breuilly)

Gellner’s Wrong Address Thesis:

  • (Gellner, 1983) In typical Gellnerian fashion, he amusingly suggests the Wrong Address Theory that in the competition for the hearts and minds of the polity, the Marxist message “intended for classes…by some terrible postal error was delivered to nations”[4]. In other words, cultural conceptions have more appeal than the proletarian conception of identity.[5]
  • This (A) argument argues that there was significant cultural factors such as language, symbols and traditions inherent in the ethno-nations before the USSR. The question is are they important? NOT UNTIL the Collapse is imminent says argument (B).


This Sleeping Beauty, Prison House or Freezer description of the Soviet Union has many supporters, particularly in the capitalist academia (inevitability of collapse)

  • For the primordialists: Nation academics: the freezer metaphor makes sense.


Bolshevik’s SAVED the APPARATUS of RUSSIAN EMPIRE, Just as Yeltsin SAVED the Russians from DISINTEGRATION, totalitarian Putin Regime:


“Nationalism, then, may be, and clearly often is, a potent weapon of regionally or ethnically based politicians who aspire to material largesse or political power. But nationalist behaviour is not just means to, and the nationalist ideal is not just a rationalization of, non-nationalist goals: the ideal can be an end in itself and can be the most rational means for pursuing that end. That is to say, nationalist behaviour may also be the rational response of bona fide nationalists – individuals with a sincere and strong belief in the nationalists ideal – to opportunities to pursue their goals.” (Motyl, 1990).

(Brubaker, 1994)

  • Brubaker said: “Those policies…were intended to do two things:

(1st): to harness, contain, channel, and control the potentially disruptive political expression of nationality by creating national-territorial administrative structures and by cultivating, co-opting and (when they threatened to geto out of line) repressing national elites;

(2nd): to drain nationality of its content even while legitimating it as a form, and thereby to promote the long-term withering away of nationality as a vital component of social life.” (Brubaker, 1994, pg 49)

Tishkov says Brubaker wrong:

1) overestimated the existing political architecture, (including strategy for promoting the slow death of nationalities. {1940s (withering away of nationalitity) versus the 1980s (they realized they couldn’t do away with these things).

Brubaker also makes the common mistake of 2) overlooking the roles of momentum, improvised reactive actors, a search for immediate responses for challenges (political opportunism) and power dispositions in the Soviet State. TISHKOV sees manipulation from the centre as a game of chess. And “constant struggles for power in the Kremlin” (36,Tishkov, 1997).

1) Nationalism as a cause of Communist failure: (Breuilly says no way)

  • Nationalism trumps Communism: explains conflict between China and Russia.
  • ‘Primordial’ explanation – the Soviet Union ‘froze’ the nationalisms, especially under Stalin, and they re-emerged after the collapse
  • Strong significance on national identities before the existence of the Soviet Union (ie. before the Bolshevik Revolution)
  • Ronald Suny: ideas of nationality are deeply embedded in nations’ understandings of their pasts
  • Jeremy Smith: the Soviet system used repression and ‘Russification’ to put a lid on nationalist movements… re-emerged once Gorbachev’s glasnost policies took effect (ie. emphasis on blaming Gorbachev)
  • Ethnic and territorial loyalties that were present in the former Soviet republics
  • Soviet Union as a ‘prison house of nationalities’ based on the repression of national identities that ‘burst out’ – a key factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union. 


  • Nationalism was not a strong influence until after the Bolshevik Revolution and Lenin’s ‘national policy’ that defined the republics and autonomous regions within the new Soviet Union
  • The ‘national’ question was not significant in late Tsarist Russia in the late 19th century and early 20th
  • Majority of the republics were not ethnically homogenous – multi-ethnic composition for many years before the Soviet’s ‘national’ policies based along ethnic lines were introduced.
  • For most of the Soviet period, the nationality policies were successful in integrating people (Jeremy Smith, 2005)


  • (A) Primordial nations re-emerge. Those who think nations as natural. The Soviet Union was a create FREEZER they had recognition but no political power BUT as the freezer breaks down, the nations re-emerge, there is mutation.

(Tishkov, 1997) TISHKOV’s CHARACTURE of (A) Arguments

  • USSR as an “empire-type polity whose history was marked by territorial expansion, colonial methods of rule and the cultural assimilation of ethnic groups by more dominant language and cultures”
  • Crimes of mass deportation: and repressions, annexation and liguidation of sovereign state entities, destruction of environment, undermined ethnic groups.
  • USSR language policy: the Russian-language policy through its international Communist ideology, suppressing attempts to establish political cultural autonomy for ethnic minorities unless these attempts were sanctioned by central or perepheral elite.
  • Communist ‘bureaucracy strictly regulated the daily lives of the citizenry, violating their rights and freedoms and ignoring the interests connected with ethnic culture and values.

Top-down social engineering/undervaluing nationalism’s contribution (Tishkov’s, 1997) critique against (A) basically: Western theorists are over deterministic, Soviet Union was NOT, according to Tishkov, the last empire of the late 20th century,

(A) Scholars emphasize the inevitability of national emergence because of the USSR’s repressiveness. BUT (Tishkov, 1997) does not think it was inevitable. Western tautology: the law of collapsing Empires.

  • Nationalism as socially engineered, weak & benefactor: Collapse was not inevitable (Tishkov et al): Agential, Accommodative, manipulation: Riding the Tiger, Marxists ideology, pragmatic decision-making, post-communist signposts turn to nationalism:

Answer MUST be conscious of TIMING: (PRE) = pre-collapse (POST) = post-collapse

  • But the “ancient hatreds” – primordial, deep-freeze – thesis hardly explains what happened in 1989-91.”
  • (B) Instrumental nations are invented: quick-thinking politicians in non-Russia areas and concluded that if they were to acquire power they found nationalism as the basis.
  • (D) Reforms weaken the centre> crystallisations of power elsewhere. There have been very few cases that go for seccession from the centre and end up with war and the centre winning. A lot of the outcomes are unintended. Gorbachev’s political reforms had the effect of unintended consequences.
  • (E) Democratization weakens elite power> need for popular mobilization and external support. The claim for national independence and nation-self-determination particularly if it is framed in democratic terms. Breuilly saw what happened at the CENTRE of the USSR. What happened at the centre, reduced the capacity of the elite to prevent revolt: public unrest.
  • 1970s the centre couldn’t distribute as much. Economic system was inefficient. Regional barons 9party bosses gave them more and more power. Dissolution of USSR there was a running off with the family silk: once regional leaders say that authority was undermined: they switched to nationalist to preserve leadership. (it occurs again and again) there are still Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev in Kazakstan. NATIONALISM is INCIDENTAL. Break up of USSR allows regional bosses to take over with nationalism as the new ideology.
  • CRUCIAL THING IS THE CENTRE VERUS PERIPHERY; Why were the leaders happy to enjoy. Why did they stop going along with the essential Moscow line? Steal the family silver. (Slezkine, 1994)
  • Nations exist because we say they exist. So this is about politics.
  • 1st School of Thought: (A) Totalitarian at the Top Managing everything. (A) Then the politicians and public groups are constraints against (B): BUT (b) is what really matters
  • 2nd School of Thought: (B) is reacting against society, Russian public was very active in the Soviet Union: there is no sociological data to back these claims…. USSR looks like a monolith but it wasn’t.

(Connor, 1984)

What is the relationship between nationalism and communism?

(Walker Conner, 1984): ethnonationalism.

National Question in Marxist-Leninist Theory and Strategy: 1984: Princeton University

Conner reaches four broad conclusions:

  • That communist endorsement of the right of national self-determination, including the right of secession, was instrumental in the success of the Soviet, Yugoslave, Chinese and Vietnamese revolutions;
  • That the prescriptions laid down by Marx and Lenin for post-revolutionary nation-building and national integration are too disjointed and contradictory to form a coherent strategy; Walker points out the abrupt and sharp changes in policies such as language, education, culture, personnel recruitment and regional investment: COUNTER-argument: his examples are deviations from Marxist-Leninest orthodoxy rather than symptoms of doctrinal contradictions. Some incoherence’s could also be viewed as pragmatism.
  • That communist regime have regularly deviated from the few clear guidelines that Marx and Lenin did lay down; reincorporating secessionists, geerymandering of national boundaries, deportation of nationalities from their ethnic homelands, curtailin national language education and national self-expression THIS is natural for antipathy with ‘survivals of the past, a commitment to rapid economic modernization and a vested interest in attracting majority support.
  • That nationalism is a continuing and growing problem throughout the communist world: this is less convincingly demonstrated in a variety of cases.

CONCLUSION: Marxism-Leninism is flawed for a failure to recognize that nationalism is a ‘permanently operating factor’ in modern history.

Jeremy R. Arael: “From this perspective not only Marxism-Leninism but the many the rtheories that post a negative correlation between ethn-centricism and socioeconomic modernization are also ‘fallacious’. In fact, however, the pertinet data are considerably more ambiguous than Conner implies. While he introduces a useful corrective to an already widely questioned bit of conventional wisdom, he almost certainly overstates his case. Switzerland, after all, is not entirely a produce of wishful thinking, and even Yugoslavia may turn out to be more than a passing illusion – even if its surivival owes little, if anything, to Marxist-Leninist theory.” JeremeyR. Arael.

(Slezkine, 1994)

The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or How a Socialist State Promotes Ethnic Particularism: Title: USSR & Ethnic Particularism

  • Bolshevik’s news that the national was powerful.
  • The Great Transformation of 1928-1932 turned into the most extravagant celebration of ethnic diversity that any state had financed. It accepted ethno-territorialities nationalities. THERE was the Great Retreat in the mid-1930s where Stalin changed the alphabet (for example).
  • “…explanation that class was secondary to ethnicity and that support of nationalism in general (and not just Russian natonalism or ‘national liberation’ abroad was a sacred principle of Marxism-Leninism.
  • Stalin said that the “Finnish nation exists objectively, to not recognize it is ridiculous: they will force us to if we don’t.”
  • Soviet nationality policy: allows for the coexisted of 1) republican statehood and 2) passport nationality. 1) the former assumed that territorial states made nations, 2) primordial nations might be entitled to their own states.
  • (Slezkine, 1994) “USSR was an apartment where different rooms housed nationalitities: but the tenants of those rooms barricaded their doors and started using the windows, while the befuddled residents of the enormous hall and kitchen stood in the centre wondering: should we recover our property? Knock down the walls? Cut off the gas?” Russians decided to let GO.


Nationalism was one of the important elements in the State-structures. But these collapses could only come about once the Communists withdrew from Satellite states. (Breuilly)

  • Instrumentalist nation academics: saw the Soveit System was collapsing, Russia lacked the will to preserve USSR. There was a need for a new basis of ideological power.


(Tishkov, 1997) -> political manuveuring, top-down nation-building, collapse not-inevitable, (some) nationalisms were engineered to manage SU politics:

  • Political Agency: Taking a hard agency approach, Tishkov argues that it was political agency at various junctions that explains the sporadic nationalist policy changes and that the collapse of the Soviet Union could have been avoided with proper distribution of graft to the political elite[6] of those 15 union republics accommodated into the USSR by 1956.
    • 1917: Marxist ideology’s success was only possible through pragmatic manipulation of some preexisting ethno-nationalist movements in the Russian Empire.
  • Nationalism was WEAK or unimportant until the 1980s: His emphasis on agency, private motivations of actors detracts from the contribution nationalism made prior to, during the early, middle and the post-Communist stages of this complicated historical narrative.
  • NATIONALISM was used against bourgeois movements.

LONGTERM goal of Soviet Union was to ‘demystify and discard nationalism.

  • Incoherent Contradictory M/L Policies: the subsequent contradictory nationalist policy of socialist federalism, retrenchment of dominant ethie (Russian) and social engineering under Stalin was a complicated bi-product of political agents responding to continued pragmatic concerns.
    • Central Assian: large block of Islam > Salin fears this > constructed separate republics in the Caucasus.
    • Marxist revolution was international but only in the Russian Empire did it occur: minority nationalities were given their republics to help in the revolution…

Social Engineering:

  • a) Unitary control was not a viable option and socialist federalism would territorialize ethnicity creating further identities and ethnic distortions.[7] The problem with any form of federalism is that it both garners necessary support from elite leadership of the satellite republics but hinders unitary integration to the dominant ethnie. (Tishkov, 1997)
    • 1st the Inventory of ethno-nations: Social Engineering “meant inventing nations where necessary.” (30, Tishkov) Tishkov believes in the census of 1897 there were 146 languages an dialects in the country.
    • Lenin said that the state proclaimed the right of self-determination for ‘formerly oppressed nations’
    • b) Federalism Produces Ethnic Particularism: therefore is not a supporter of federalist systems since they “promote ethnic particularism.”[8]
    • Long-Term v Short-Term Goals: Long-term goals of communism called for unity “within a single state”[9] but short-term political expediency called for Lenin’s socialist federalism and state driven ethnography.[10] (Tishkov, 1997)
    • Improvised Nationalism Policy: argues that “the ethnic policy of the Soviet Union was designed on an improvised basis partly to meet the serious challenges issuing from the regions and ethnic peripheries of the Russian empire, and partly to meet doctrinal aspirations.”[11] (Tishkov, 1997)

Territorialized Nationalism: When USSR broke up there was long existing territorial boundaries: these territorial republics were ethnically mixed: ethnography in USSR legitimized these groups.

  • The post-Communist consequence, for Tishkov, was that territorially entrenched republics under the USSR were then transformed into nation-states by their political elite. This leads Tishkov to conclude that the USSR created those nations rejecting the prison house or freezer description of the Soviet Union by western academics who see the collapse of communism as inevitable, particularly (Motyl, 1990).[12]

(Alter, 1985)

  • Russian Nation as New: Russian nation in an ethnic sense was introduced to public discourse rather recently as a logical ingredient of what official propaganda and academic language had labeled ‘the building of Soviet nations.
  • Stalin never really denied that nations existed.
  • Stalin Russian Appeal: mobilized the “glory of Russia’, its deep historical roots’, its mystical soul’ as part of popular mobilization during World War II.
  • Later it began to reflect social changes within the Soviet Union, especially in the demographic patterns and growing social mobility of non-Russian nationalist.
  • New Russian nationalists: clothed their hegemonic motives with emotional rhetoric about the impending extinction of the Russian people and the degradation of their traditions and culture (Tishkov, 1997)


  • Two hand approach:
    • “pursued a harsh policy of repression and hyper-centralized power;
    • they carried out a policy of ethno-national state-building, accompanied by support for prestigious institutions and elites as a means to preserve the integrity of the state and exercise totalitarian rule.” (39, Tishkov).

Tishkov doesn’t believe in the triumph of nations. “It is rather a small layer of political and intellectual elites who set themselves up as the representatives of the nation and formulate national demands, with little or no pressure from or consulation with the mass of the people, in order to fulfil their own agendas.

a Tishkov is about political agency, individual actors affecting the consequences of nationalist movements, they didn’t have to TURN TO NATIONALISM: it wasn’t inevitable: it was easiest…


  • As Gorbachev attempted to reform the centre, opening up first the economy and then the political sphere, disparate groups – including those claiming to represent national interests – started to assert themselves.
  • -> Soviet Union -> Collapse nationalist states. The Baltic’s had a recent historical memory, therefore were first to secede from the USSR. Historically, each part of the USSR’s collapse has a unique particularistic narrative: we CANNOT claim that it was all a socially engineered and that nationalism were weak IF existed. Tishkov’s belief that nations were meaningless instruments of state actors is grossly misleading.
  • The Baltic nations had a historical memory before 1945, therefore were first to secede from the USSR. (<-Tishkov says they were socially engineered)
  • (POST) The Poles would have trouble believing their historical nationalism was a socially engineered project from Moscow. As we’ve seen, the USSR had to managed nationalisms from the beginning and would not have gained control of the Russian Empire without the consent and support of this competing ideology.

(Breuilly, Lecture) The Nationalist Resurgence and the Collapse of Communism

  • The Gorbachev era and reforms > instability> non-Russian republics as power arena. Gorbachev came to power much earlier than the USSR usually allows. Gorbachev wanted USSR to remain competitive against the West. He wanted to great levels of competition: economic reforms failed. Political participations in local and federal election. There was a turn against established elites. There was a shifting conflict into the republics.
  • Non-intervention policy > impact on the Warsaw Pact state> collapse late 1989-ealy 1990> variations > state/nationhood combination. Gorbachev sees the unraveling. Yugoslavia multi-party, The Berlin Wall falls in November, Czech, Romania December Ceausescu executed.
  • There was major dissident: their platforms were anti-communist BUT they saw the genuine national. The state structures were important. It was a statist system. The Soviet Union withdrew their incompetent regimes. Breuilly will not focus on non-USSR regimes.

(Breuilly, Lecture) The politics of collapse supports Tishkov

(1) Unintended Outcomes: the accidental collapse argument: USSR The non-Russia republics> the range of aims. Independence often an unintended outcome> key was Russia action.

  • Russia was less willing to concede independence. Republican structures meant that all of these keen Baltic states and EuraAsia were given independence. We should not confuse outcomes with preferences. (Breuilly, Lecture) We cannot say that having independence was not the necessarily desired outcomes. The more rapid independence. Just as the key to the Warsaw states: the key to the none-Russia republics.
  • There was the failure of the August 1991 coup in Boris Yeltsin. Russia had decided they didn’t want the burden. The Russian action triggered the outcomes elsewhere. Although nationalism was important, it wasn’t the cause. There was major dissident: their platforms were anti-communist BUT they saw the genuine national. The state structures were important. It was a statist system. The Soviet Union withdrew their incompetent regimes. (Breuilly, Lecture) will not focus on non-USSR regimes.
  • Liberalization can lead to self-destruction very easily…..



  1. Simplistic top down approach: excludes the cultural approach that would argue that nationalism was a more significant force beyond its political instrumentalism and that social engineering did not create the post-Communist states in every case or by itself. Underlying Tishkov’s emphasis on the Soviet political agents is his neglect of the nation and ethnic group existence beyond the “construct[ed] realities that could correspond to political myths and intellectual exercises.”[13]
  2. Secondly, there is a more nuanced reality to the post-Communist nation-state formation. It would be misleading to argue that these preexisting ethno-nationalist movements were not influenced by the Soviet Union – nationalist formations particularly in the Central Asian cases were greatly influences by the USSR – but they were not created solely by top down engineering. Tishkov undervalues the fact that the USSR was a diverse multi-ethnic and multi-national political society at its inception. Multilingual groups existed regardless of subsequent Soviet social engineering that had been legally entrenched in the political structure.
  3. CULTURAL FACTOR: top down approach to nationalism underplays significant cultural factors such as language, symbols and traditions inherent in the ethno-nations before the USSR. Tishkov is not completely wrong since each part of the USSR’s collapse has a unique particularistic narrative; one cannot claim that it was all a socially engineered, but it is partially true since the Soviet Union did shape the subsequent nation-states through political decisions of its leadership as Tishkov suggests. Smith’s critique: “Tishkov’s account of nationalism is deficient. In identifying elites as both the inventors and propagators of nationalism, he perhaps goes too far in dismissing the ‘nation’ as a meaningless category in academic discourse; however false its foundations, however much it is a tool of political elites, natiaonlism cab e a powerful mobilizing force and the issue of the connection between elite scheming and mass mobilisaions is inadequately dealt with.” (1545, Smith).
  4. Value-Laden Tishkov: NOTE THAT RUSSIAN ACADEMICS are more likely to claim that the Russians created the Baltics, Poland, Ukraine etc: because they were under the Russian Empire, then Soviet Union.


Causality debate: Nationalism was not the chief cause of the collapse but one of the primary beneficiaries of that collapse.

2) Nationalism as a consequence of Communist failure:

  • ‘Instrumental’ explanation – nations and nationalisms were invented in response to the collapse of the Soviet Union
  • John Breuilly: instrumental nations were invented through the collapse of the Soviet Union and the failure of the Communist regime – the republics responded to the collapse with the need to form new political institutions and adopt a new ideology to replace Communism (lecture).
  • the non-Russian republics didn’t necessarily want independence – often an unintended outcome (Breuilly)
  • The structural conditions facing the Soviet Union – deteriorating economic situation, geopolitical weakening at end of Cold War – were the principal causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union, not because of nationalism.
  • Gorbachev’s political and economic reforms weakened the Soviet centre and allowed the republics more political and economic control over resources
  • Ronald Suny: as economic decline accelerated, people reacted by adopting only other form of personal identity open to them – of the nation.
  • Instrumental approach places emphasis on the impacts of Gorbachev’s reform policies in the late 1980s as a key explanation for the invention of the former Soviet nations – especially Jeremy Smith – blames nationalist resurgence on Gorbachev and that his reforms in the 1980s provoked violence and downfall of Soviet system
  • Alexander Motyl: Role of republican elites who led anti-Soviet oppositional discourse – powerful in their own republics… also several were imprisoned during the 1960s under Brezhnev and later released in the 1980s. Gorbachev actually reinforced oppositional elites by legitimizing their opposition to the central state – through ‘perestroika’, ie. official liberalization policy.



  • why was the only ‘alternative’ identity nationalism? (critique of Suny)
  • why did these movements take on a ‘national’ character and not another type of opposition?
  • Motyl: importance of language and culture to non-Russian republics – role of symbols, memories and postwar independence (ie. brief periods of independence of most republics in the 1920s following the Russian Revolution)
  • downplays ethnic ties and kinships – prominent in republics, especially elite groups were ethnically based.

  • 3 BIG CASES & Belarus

What role does nationalism play in post-Communist states?

THESIS: Important to point out differences because whatever we try to say generally about communism and nationalism is only going to be right in some cases. Diversity proves a point: communism had not succeeded in homogenizing.


Engineered                  Primordial

Ukraine                       Ukraine






*ROMANIA: Katherine Verdery (see: “Nationalism and National Sentiment in Post-socialist Romania”, Slavic Review, 52:2, Summer 1993).

  • (Verdery, 1993) socialism couldn’t expunge national consciousness created in the 19thC
  • leaders of Communist parties held power in environment where all other organizational entities had been dissolved – nation was a natural option once the centre had collapsed
  • Shortage-alleviating strategies were common: when there’s a shortage of hair dye, only the Hungarians get serviced..
  • Post-communists: blaming minorities for the country’s ills rather themselves, externalizing blame
  • Sociological: “Most East Europeans are used to thinking in secure moral dichotomies between black and white, good and evil.” US vs THEM and “Social Schizophrenia” of communism has to be replaced by “other ‘others’”
  • Soviet Union was the first state in history to be formed of political units based on nationalism. (Suny, 1998)


  • USSR post-collapse are frustrated that the Baltic states claimed independence because the Russian imperialists feel that they engineered those states…..
  • Post-Communism: Role of Russia as successor of Soviet empire; new states in the Caucasus and the Balkans since the 1990s; on-going ethnic conflicts and independence movements in post-Communist states (eg. South Ossetia-Georgia, Kosovo) – legacy.
  • Remaining Communist Political Elite.



South Caucasus comprises:

Georgia (including disputed, partially recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia)

Armenia Restoration of independence

Azerbaijan (including disputed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic)


*BALTICS: (most keen) quick to seceessed but the Russians were depriveldged. There is questions about this ethno-nationalist. EU gives these groups the rights.




All had historical memories of independence. Not socially engineered.


*UKRAINE: Divided between social engineering and pre-existing nationalism: linguistic distinction. Civic national perspective rather than an ethnic.


*BELARUS (Central Asian Republics) stay close there. They don’t have the nationalist sentiments.

Close connection with Russia. Russia was less willing to give up.

DON’T confuse outcomes with preferences in the case of Belarus. This was a process of Unintended outcomes: can’t read back from the final outcome to the role of nationalism.


*RUSSIA: “The dog that didn’t bark” : imperial nationality is not interested. There were specific features: land based empire. There was a civic nationalism volunteristic. Ideas of restoring the USSR model, expanding power to the disapora, protector of Russian abroad. This was prevented by the August 1991 coup: Boris Yeltsin decides that Russia no longer wanted the burden. Crucial fact is the policy act in Moscow. Not the Renaissance in Putin: there is been only ONE CHECHNYIA. People though Russian nationalism would be violent. But that hasn’t happened there is amore important issues.

Warsaw Pact Cases: Czech/Slovaks (only nationalism), nationalism wasn’t key here: it was state power capitalism issues.

Yugoslavia serves to demonstrate the importance of political resources as a foil to USSR. Relationship between the agency of actors: Milosevic -> Serbian nation territory not willing to give up control.

A LITTLE primordial a LITTLE modernist:

*Henry E. Hale, The Foundations of Ethnic Politics: separatism of states and nations in Eurasia and the world

(Hale, 2008)

  • “Uncertainty Reduction’: naturally to support something that everyone can agree on within a new polity: ie. national objectives. It gives people a map: it wasn’t an emotional primordial approach but it wasn’t of interests (modernists) but it was about having a signpost.
  • Secessionist republics tore on global superpower apart and plunged Tito’s Yugoslavia into homocidal chaos BUT WHY?
  • While Lithuania spearheaded secession from SU in 1990, neighboring Belarus remained loyal to the idea of integration.
  • While Slovenia and Croatia seized the chance, Montenegro+Serb remained
  • (Hale, 2000) wonders a) why some ethnic groups fight for secession, b) why some ethnic groups fight for multi-national states to find that secession = affluent ethinc group + autonomous already + least assimilated.

Despite implicating ethnicity in everything from civil war to economic failure, researchers seldom consult psychological research when addressing the most basic question: What is ethnicity? The result is a radical scholarly divide generating contradictory recommendations for solving ethnic conflict. Research into how the human brain actually works demands a revision of existing schools of thought. At its foundation, ethnic identity is a cognitive uncertainty-reduction device with special capacity to exacerbate, but not cause, collective action problems. This produces a new general theory of ethnic conflict that can improve both understanding and practice. A deep study of separatism in the USSR and CIS demonstrates the theory’s potential, mobilizing evidence from elite interviews, three local languages, and mass surveys. The outcome is a significant reinterpretation of nationalism’s role in the USSR’s breakup, which turns out to have been a far more contingent event than commonly recognized. International relations in the CIS are similarly cast in new light.

*Philip G. (Roeder, 2007) Where Nation-States come from: institutional changes in the age of nationalism

  • “Institutional advantage” (Roeder, 2007) There was a map to negotiate a position. There was a constant playing on the national to achieve power. The federalist system PRODUCES quasi-national states. The republics each have one foot out the door already: they have the institutional advantage. It wasn’t just a matter of cognition. Roeder: stresses the institutional. There was a constant political negotiation with eachother.

COMBINE These two books see why that institutions of Republican entities would come to dominate post-Soviet politics. So Breuilly and Primordialists have a middle ground here.

To date, the world can lay claim to little more than 190 sovereign independent entities recognized as nation-states, while by some estimates there may be up to eight hundred more nation-state projects underway and seven to eight thousand potential projects. Why do a few such endeavors come to fruition while most fail? Standard explanations have pointed to national awakenings, nationalist mobilizations, economic efficiency, military prowess, or intervention by the great powers.Where Nation-States Come Fromprovides a compelling alternative account, one that incorporates an in-depth examination of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and their successor states. Philip Roeder argues that almost all successful nation-state projects have been associated with a particular political institution prior to independence: the segment-state, a jurisdiction defined by both human and territorial boundaries. Independence represents an administrative upgrade of a segment-state. Before independence, segmental institutions shape politics on the periphery of an existing sovereign state. Leaders of segment-states are thus better positioned than other proponents of nation-state endeavors to forge locally hegemonic national identities. Before independence, segmental institutions also shape the politics between the periphery and center of existing states. Leaders of segment-states are hence also more able to challenge the status quo and to induce the leaders of the existing state to concede independence. Roeder clarifies the mechanisms that link such institutions to outcomes, and demonstrates that these relationships have prevailed around the world through most of the age of nationalism.

  • International Causality


  • (Hutchinson, Revision2) “What is the role of international factors: the buildup of post 1989 territorial split up into ethnic categories: what might be the factors that explain the survival of these entities. Was it the international communities desire to keep the patchwork. The reluctance of accepting the sovereign states. They are more likely to support territoriality in the Ukraine: it’s the role of international recognition.”


Reform enabled crystallization of the centres in the regions. They never wanted a war of secession. If the centre resists it: the centre usually win those wars.

  • WESTERNERS love self-determination framed on democratic claims so those elites are central.
  • 1) Seeking ‘States” to recognize > Warsaw Pact, non-sovereign republics.
  • 2) The problem with other claims. Once one claim is recognized there is a fear of creating a doctrine of succession rights. The way around this is to say that these states aren’t new at all. With Poland there is some difficulty in recognition. The same reasoning in the Republics in Yugoslavia. A federalist system was half-way into secessionist movements. There have been problems in Bosnia Herzegovina. In the case of Kosovo: was part of the republic of Serbia. Russia has the difficulty of Chechnya didn’t fit the same structure as other non-Russia republics for Federal System transition self-determination.
  • 3) Specific features> e.g. The creation of German was ingenious, German-German simply create lander in East Germany and allow those landers to vote into West Germany, German decision to recognize of Croatia changed Yugoslavia, émigré influence, the EU and Baltic states. Germany recognized Croatia 1st which destroyed Yugoslavia. The EU has played a crucial role.
  • You could argue federalist system was a natural movement to self-determination: Bosnia/Croatian and Serbian and Kosovo: clear cut case but was part of Serbia.

EMERGENCY KNOWLEDGE: Self-determination:













State as unitary actor > narratives and “games” States act. Diplomatic: Britain this, France does this; it is very rational choice theory. There is a narrative history OR sometimes descriptive of game theoretical.

International “anarchy”: SUPRA-state authority does not exist. With these simple assumptions you can go on to other things.

State interests/preferences > State powers (how to measure) >

State reason (best use of power to realize interests)

The state wants to impose power. The state has interests and preferences. The state has powers. Some states are more powerful than others. The economy, stability, support by the subjects. Quality of leadership is more difficult to measure. ONCE a state has rationally gauged its powers, you have already defined the uses of SUCH TERMS. The term is Ends or the methods.

Order out of anarchy > diplomacy and war > international order

As plural, conflictual and consensual (in the sense that states recognize that they all have same reasoning capacities: this should produce stability)


Non-state actors: not states that have power: international corporations, religious groups, illicit organizations, there is a question of international organizations.

International norms: not simply self-interested actors: liberal democratic states behave rather differently. These leads to international society.



The state as sovereign > indivisible power with nothing above or below > a modern world? Sovereignty: key assumption: it is an indivisible source of power, backed up on the means of violence. There is no comparable authority is above or below. THIS is a new framework BUT also doesn’t exist in parts of the world today.

The state as territorial > indivisible power with nothing beyond > modern?

The notion of a sharply defined state territory is arguably a product of modern history.

The distinction between state-society and state-state relations > reflected in distinctions between academic disciplines

Externally the state enters into discussions with other states.

Mirrored in nation/nation-state distinction

Nation (sovereignty) and Nation-state (state)

HISTORICAL JUSTIFICATIONS I                                                                                

THE STORY OF WESTPHALIA: treaty of Westphalia 1648. A European wide settlement of the disputes in Question:

  • Formal equality of states: recognized the actual power of larger states.
  • Rejection of any authority above that of the state: Holy Roman Empire or Papacy.
  • State consent as the basis of legal obligation: treaties and diplomacy
  • Territorial integrity: supported the territorial integrity of the sates making the agreement.


Non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other recognized states (1555 Peace of Augsburg: ‘Cuius regio, eius religio’(`in your kingdom, your religion’)

The treaty of Westphalia recognized Lutheranism, Catholic,

The religion of the people did not switch to the religion of the new prince.

Complications: three recognized religions, guarantors, non-territorial “states”(Holy Roman Empire) involved


HISTORICAL JUSTIFICATIONS II                                                                               

AFTER WESTPHALIA French hegemony was given up officially. They then developed the balance of power ideal.

European diplomacy > Utrecht > balance of power > dynastic policy as fitting the IR model > but arguably a source of disorder

Dynastic wars, calculation, deliberate removal of passion, Frederick the Great anti-Machiavellian but he is Machiavellian, Paul Schroeder: the consequence of all of this is great deal of instability egotistically; lack of an overarching norms was a product of that time.

New state formation: 18/19thcenturies American Revolution + British North America, Greece, Bulgaria, 1878 Treaty: it was certain nations accepting intervention or non-intervention.

New state formation: after 1918: there is a new source of international legitimacy: the state as a territorial bound unit in the 1884-85 Berlin Conference decides where the African territories are defined. National self-determination Woodrow Wilson was used to legitimate Hapsburg Empire. Unlike before, there was the establishment of international organizations. There was new order of nation states. There were a number of bilateral minorities where people had to sign and respect.

New state formation: after 1945 decolonization, the UN

New state formation: after 1989: there was an attempt to square the legal order of sovereign state. Along with this shift to creating a series of states that were explicitly recognized, there was a whole set of political theory which sustains these states.

Political theory, international law and the sovereign state


THE MODEL OF THE STATE                                                                                       

  1. Normative not descriptive > stateless zones and

Empires > adjustments to IR model

It’s arguable that the concept of the normative. Are these states aspiring or do they actually establish this. Much of the world is still stateless and empires and there are adjustments to the IR model.

  1. The internal problem of sovereignty: state as divided, not unitary > possible answer: “switching interests” They cannot be called unitary, there are different interests. Can someone understand German foreign policy if we don’t understand the shift of political democracy to authoritarian regime. These can be constantly switched: its external interest will change.
  1. The external problem of “sovereignty”> transnational economic and ideological power relationships. When one state

THE IR RESPONSE: THE NEED FOR MODELS The world is complicated. At least this simplifies matters: this model works.

  • What alternatives are on offer?




SOVEREIGNTY AS NECESSITY: John Locke, Hobbes necessary political power of the state, social contract

SOCIAL CONTRACT: sovereignty is based on a social contract that people have.

EQUALITY AND DEMOCRACY: this implies that they are democratic and equal

INSTITUTIONAL SOLUTIONS – elected institutions and so forth. This adds to the impersonal nature of the modern state.


LEGITIMATE STATES AND INTERNATONAL RECOGNITION – this increases the notion of legitimate states. Once you have the idea of a world of states: you have legitimacy based on sovereignty THEN HOW DO YOU Conceptualize popular sovereignty.




The concept of self-determination: Kant It is about some actor that has rational moral autonomy of the human being. He talks about collectivized and nationalized.

Collectivizing the concept: Herder, Fichte

Identifying the nation > before the people can choose it is necessary to choose the people

How do you identify the nation: before people can choose you need to find the people WHERE IS the right is exercised. How elections turn out is the question of the boundaries: it seems to be who exercises the democratic process.

The conceptual tension between “popular” and “national” sovereignty: how are the majority and minority constructed. The collectivity is no just the people it is the nation according to the academics. The idea of national self-determination can then conflict with popular sovereignty within a state.




Who are the “people”?

Who is the “nation”?

States equal nations: sovereignty and non- intervention > separation/union as rare > no region has a “right” to self-determination. UN says that nations = state. This makes separation/union are rare. This implies the rarity of the dominant groups blocking out the notion of changes through state boundaries.

States do not equal nations > the right of separation/union > justifiable intervention > territorial change as potentially frequent

Nations are very distinct from a given state. It can be used to justify intervention to support such rights. There is not just a tension between popular sovereignty.




Before the 19thcentury: qualifying Westphalia > dynastic sovereignty

18/19thcentury: justifying new states > revolution > unjust rule > identity

The right of revolution on unjust rule. They are based on just rule based on the identity of the people. BUT this is an ambiguous term. The declaration if 1789: Citizens & the Nation. Is it the collective cultural French nation applied here?

Post-1918: justifying new states > Wilson’s Fourteen Points: he talks about national self-determination: is it to be used on democratic consent? There might be territorially difficulty. The rules were only applied to the LOSERS but many thought that the rules were not APPLIED to the winners in the Middle East. Tere were problematic issues of drawing boundaries: this was tremendously difficult. Turkish in habitants in Greece etc. The new danger of self-determination becomes a national purifying act.

CONSTANT AMBIVALENCE > justice (religious, political etc.) > democracy > identity

National self-determination as new power ideology

The dangers of “new state formation”


Post-1945: justifying new states > anti-colonialism UN 1960 Resolution: Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples confines right of self-determination: “. In respect of a territory which is geographically separate and is distinct ethnically and/or culturally from the country administering it.”

USSR & US were anti-colonial. They also so that ethno-national identity was highly problematic. UNITED STATES would have been geographically BUT not ethnically or culturally distinct to the nation administrating it. Under that resolution.

Post-1989: justifying new states

State renunciation (Russia 1991) > federal units as “quasi-states”

The 1960 Resolution doesn’t really work. The quasi states of the USSR: the Baltic States had been independent. The problem can even be applied in the case of Yugoslavia. At least to parts of the Yugoslavia before it broke up.

Federal units annexed East Germany: Lander before merging with the Western German portions.

Blurring “state”, “popular” and “national”

Erecting barriers against separation and union: the real problem is when there is no state: Croatia and Serbian, Bosnia and Kosovo. Russia and Chechnya. The view of the state is a NORMATIVE VIEW. It is not what they actually are; it’s what they should be.

IR view of state as norm rather than reality



it means that irredentism there is an issue of normative language is producing the world of fixed nation-states: it reifies them. SO

Arguments for secession: positive/negative; rights/identity. Seeks the political and democratic argument. If a clear majority wants to succeed. It is what they have decided. This is the positive argument.

The negative argument: it is what others have decided about that state. If the inhabitants are subject to violence. The second would focus on the particular inhabitants of a territory.

Arguments against secession: arbitrary, creating and intensifying conflict, recipe for instability

The opponents would say that such a right would cause much trouble. The opponents say that giving such countenance: it may bring about ethnic groups genocide to prevent such independence from ever occurring. The international response would be problematic.

Once a region has a right of succession: what if a region within a region. There is always a minority within a minority: this will produce a further set of justice: it may also create non-functionally small states in the world.

From collective to individual rights: arguments for intervention > arguments against

The current record of intervention is not an encouraging. The states will use self-interest, which wouldn’t have anything to do with human rights. They are trying to get rid of sovereignty as a whole. Removing the ideas of the state as hard units. This is moving towards notions of autonomy. This is a way to create national recognition while not challenging state sovereignty.

From self-determination to autonomy > end of sovereignty argument? > Norms or “real”?

It is often language in which arrangements will be legitimized. This is all misleading fiction. This actually justifies the current state control. SOME MIGHT say that the IR model doesn’t apply well and is an over simplification.

From norms to “realism”: can we build in a sovereign state. Modern state has been very good at resisting on sovereignty. An irrational actor

Bangladesh is the only real example. Is secessionism is some kind of breakdown. There was a break down and leads to disputes; It is a question of whether we confuse a final claim versus the BARGANING that goes to avoiding that claim. The interwar years: it was realistic to making ethnic language. BUT it became illegimate to make that kind of language. It had to be put in civic terms. People now frame arguments in multiculturalism.


The changing languages of norms and “realism”>

Is the sovereign nation-state still a “realistic” power unit or an acceptable normative concept?

The language is implicated in the vary process itself.

Recent relevant publications

On the continuing importance of imperial states:

John Darwin, After Tamer lane: the global history of empire (2007); Herfried Münkler, Empires: the logic of world domination from Ancient Rome to the United States (2007)

On secessionism in contemporary Europe see the books by Hale and Roeder listed in last slide of my communism and nationalism lecture

As general reader: John Baylis, (eds), The Globalization of World Politics: an introduction to international relations(4thed., 2008)

(Elie Kedourie, 1960/93) Nationalism


  • Before Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) our knowledge was based on sensations and the memory of sensations. As a result you could argue that people were the prisoners of their sensations. Therefore, liberty and other virtues were difficult to prove.
  • Kant showed a way out of this predicament. He argued that morality and knowledge are separate things. The first is the outcome of obedience to a universal law which is to be found within ourselves, not in the world of appearances that is at the base of the second. Man is free if he obeys the laws of morality which he finds within himself and not in the external world. Only when the will of man is moved by such an inward law can it be really free, and only then can there be talk of good and evil, of morality and justice.
  • This inward law is denoted by Kant as the categorical imperative. This was a new and revolutionary formula because it was totally independent of nature and of external command. For Kant the natural world could not be the source of moral value, neither the will of God. Good will = free will = autonomous will.
  • Kant’s doctrine makes the individual the very centre, the sovereign of the universe. This however has consequences for the believe in the existence of God. Due to Kant’s theory God is reduced to an assumption which man makes in asserting his moral freedom. Man is no longer the creature of God, but the creation occurs the other way around.[14]
  • The logic of his doctrine was carried further for example by the theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) for whom religion was only the spontaneous expression of the free will. Everything must contribute to the self-determining activity of the autonomous individual. Religion functioned as the perpetual quest for perfection, a perfect way of self-cultivation.
  • Kant’s doctrine influenced not only theology it also had consequences for politics. Autonomy becomes the essential end of politics. A good man is an autonomous man, and for him to realize his autonomy, he must be free. Self-determination thus becomes the supreme political good. In other words, the idea of self-determination could from now on be seen as the highest moral and political good. Kant did attempt to discuss politics in terms of his ethical doctrine, for example in his treatise on Perpetual Peace (1794).[15]
  • Kant’s ethical teachings expressed and propagated a new attitude to political and social questions. Several habits and attitudes were encouraged and fostered by the doctrine. They helped to make self-determination a dynamic doctrine.
  • According to Kedourie, Nationalism found the great source of its vitality in the doctrine of self-determination. Both the French Revolution and this Revolution of Ideas constituted nationalism.

James (Mayhall, 1999) “Nationalism & International Society”

+The Domestication of National Self-Determination

-new sense of international legitimacy post 1918: equating popular sovereignty with end of Europe’s dynastic empires (later anti-colonialism)

-groups who political self-determination heightened after 1918, view taming of national self-determination as betrayal

-thus, these “new” self-proclaimed national groups challenge the state

-this indeterminacy is because boundaries of collective are not given by nature

-though existentially this is may not true (J.S. Mil) – nation as a group whose identity is forged by particular interpretation of its own history

-when it is acknowledged that there is no external objective criteria to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate collectives, turn to an open test of public opinion to solicit the wishes of individuals in respect to their collective identity (this was strategy of Versailles Conference)

+Weakness of establishing self-determination by plebiscite

  1. Assumes collective identity already exists
  2. Discounts agenda (whoever controls the questions of the plebiscite usually can manipulate the outcome.

+At first, these weaknesses not acknowledged by liberals after WWI; but soon became obvious when redrawing the map of Europe, in respects to three situations:

  1. Problem of minorities: scrambled throughout Europe (virtually impossible to assign a territory that wouldn’t exclude at least some nationals)
  2. Question of territory: previously this was decided by conquest, which now was seen as politically incorrect, but then how do we determine which states are legitimate?
  3. State integrity v. security : winning powers willing to use plebiscite to determine new states, but did not want to apply it to their own territories (e.g. British not willing to settle Irish question by plebiscite)

-Kashmir dispute is a contemporary example:

-formula of partition allowed rulers to choose India or Pakistan, Hindu rulers at the time chose India, despite overwhelming majority of Muslims

-after uprising which led to a de facto partition of the state, India willing to conduct plebiscite – thus presuming that Pakistan was not in position to determine outcome – yet since it was clear vote would not favor Indians, it was never actually honored.

-this example shows when using a plebiscite it is impossible to prevent intrusion of political and strategic interests of the major powers.

+From the League to the United Nations

-trouble with redrawing European map based on language of self-determination was that it created political problem of minorities and substituted national determination for the idea of an act of self-determination (Wilson aware of potential for tyranny)

-protection of national minorities under League proved ineffective

-thus UN charter anxious to play down cultural nationalism to obtain cooperation between states that was already collectively guaranteed.

+The Conventional Interpretation

-even after 1945, whenever nation came into conflict with state; it was the people who had to move (e.g. 10 million Germans uprooted after WWII, mass population transfers following Indian partition)

-refugee became typical in 20th century

-concept applied to removal of European powers from overseas territories

-post-colonial tests of public opinion to settle disputes over self-determination ruled out by regional organizations established in newly independent African and Asian states

-revision of artificial boundaries created by Europeans no longer central to many African political agendas following independence

-national self-determination is ironic: conquered world by legitimizing state; yet also attempts to freeze political map by bringing an end to territorial division of the world.

-national movements are mostly unsuccessful in overthrowing conventional interpretation of self determination

-what challenge doe nationalism pose for contemporary international order, and under what circumstances is it likely to be successful?

+Two Challenges:

-conventional interpretation (anti-colonial) of national self-determination is clearly a compromise

-thus remains vulnerable to those who feel underrepresented

-main challenges are irredentism and main rationalist challenge with secession

-irredentism: any territorial claim made by one sovereign national state to land with another

-supported by historical/ethnic claims (e.g. Argentina claim to Falkland Islands, Moroccan claim to Mauritania, Spanish to Gibraltar)

-claims to land is combined with appeals to popular sentiment

-claims by national core to peripheral lands, used by government as a means of mobilization and to secure popular support

secession: successful secession is very rare, but term also applies to unsuccessful separatist rebellions against the state

-any attempt by a national minority to exercise its right to self-determination by breaking away to join another state or establish independent state of its own

-secession depends on group sentiment and loyalty; form of mass politics organized from below rather than above

-seems likely that irredentist claims (except where supported by powerful secessionist sentiment) will be defeated when submitted for legal arbitration.. thus many not constitute a permanent threat to international order

-secession is a more standing challenge (based on ‘rationalist’ world in which self-determination is seen as a basic human right)

+The Preconditions for national success:

-territorial revision is rare, thus so are the circumstances that are conducive to it

-8,000 identifiable separate cultures, yet only 159 independent states.

-the three great waves of state creation associated with collapse of empires

-but no more empires to collapse (at least formal..)

+Three circumstances where secession has potential

  1. Regional patronage : if two superpowers reluctant to support secession and a stalemate occurs – opportunity for region power (with its own interest) to assist the national movement. (e.g. creation of Bangladesh – Americans supported Pakistan, Soviets – Indian; India ultimately able to intervene and support secession)
  2. Superpower competition: ideological rivalry between US and Soviets led them to encourage ethnic separatism in order to weaken the other side or gain a tactical advantage; also used to obtain leverage in global diplomacy (e.g. American support of Kurdish rebellion in Iraq not motivated by American desire for an independent Kurdistan, but to weaken Iraq internally for their Iranian allies)
  3. Constitutional Separatism: possibility of secessionist demands being peacefully accommodated for ; only examples are Norway secession from Sweden in 1905 and Irish Free State from UK in 1921 – neither power willing to preserve unity by forcefully suppressing the demands for separation and did not want a civil war; also structural restraints – in each historical sense of identity predating nationalist era and generally accepted, contending parties led by liberal nationalists shared belief in parliamentary system.

-since 1960s, western countries seen ethnic revival (Basque movement, IRA, Quebec)

-though separation will continue to be resisted, Mayhall contends that if the demands persists it might become easier to accommodate in industrial societies.

8) Why did territorial rather than ethnic nationalism triumph after 1945: collapse of the USSR?

(Hutchinson, Revision2)

  • You can’t say that territorial won. You have both in the USSR. Ethnic nationalism in the USSR was obvious. Was territory the core focus or was it the nature of the people so that you have to redraw the territory of the people: African boundaries?
  • When USSR broke up there was long existing territorial boundaries: these territorial republics were ethnically mixed. The argument was that the driver of anti-USSR sentiment was ethnic: it was ethnic antagonism was the explosive. You look at the caucuses: Azerbaijan, Armenian, and Georgia.


  • The definition of triumph: you could argue about yes it emerges as a territorial block: you would have to know about the USSR or cases: you don’t need to know all of them: just know two or 3 specific cases>>>\


  • Why is the question being posed in these terms: after Empire what emerges in the world. You get a proliferation of nation state formation. The proliferation of nation-state after 1945: so when the Q asks why: what factors does one look to: the role of empire: it leaves open the idea of whether these collapses have occurred because of internal pressures. Metropolitan state -> you can argue that you have to look at the reasons for the way the empire produced movements of resistance. Its possible that the empire collapsed from military exhaustion, military defeat and there was no nationalist movements around.


  • YOU Might want to think about the TIME: which era will YOUR ANSWER FOCUS ON PRIMARILY?


(A) (B) (C)


  • Gellner’s incisive Wrong Address Theory was not predicting the collapse of communism.
  • nationalism wasn’t exactly suppressed under Communism (taking from Katherine Verdery). It was always there. In fact, communism nurtured national consciousness, it exacerbated ethnic tensions, and it laid the seeds for strongly nationalist citizens to emerge in many places.
  • Communism attempted to blanket over nationalisms (Sleeping Beauty/Prison House.Freezer effect of communism) but pragmatic communist political leadership requires mobilization via the peoples ethnicity THERE Was something there before communism arrived: nationalism was present and reorganized.
  • The post-Communist states were territorially designed by the Soviet Union therefore the SU did have a significant influence on nationalism. BUT Tishkov overemphasizes the top down explanatory model of agents of control.
  • No Russian communist party, no Soviet passport. NOT all republics wanted sucession. Baltics different. Collapse somewhat of an accident. But the cause was not nationalism.
  • COMMUNISM is a powerful centralizing political doctrine that competed viably against nationalism but could not overcome the simple appeal of the doctrine of nationalism.
  • Fear of demographic Russian decline
  • Counter-factually, nationalist territories would have emerged regardless of communism in the Czarist Russia along bourgeois nationalist lines.
    WHY was Yugoslavian ethnic violence so high after communism’s failure? Because these were longstanding grievances where as the grievances of the Russian empire were centred against a highly dominant Russian ethnie.
  • Linguistic unification as a primary but not necessary contingency still



  1. Nationalism was given force by the way in which communism disintegrated. See Tishkov: elites within the Republics: before they had had power, but not privilege. By declaring themselves nationalist and playing the popular politics game, they could now have both.
  2. Nationalism NOT the cause of the break-up of Communism, but a secondary. Symptomatic. Gorbachev’s reforms, his acquiescence, the economic situation, and the spillover effects of other revolutions all more important.
  3. More nationalism a consequence of break-up, inc exclusive kind. Discrimination – eg against gypsies – as leaders and peoples seek to take advantage of new order.
  4. Verdery argues that the nation was a default setting after communism. I agree with this point.
  5. Federal states do reiefy nationalist groups: they are subcontainers in the state that serve dual contradictory purposes: protect/empower cultural groups + manage cultural group (superficial forms of nationalism). The dominant ethnie attempts to Russify the populations.
  6. The post-Communist states were territorially designed by the Soviet Union therefore the SU did have a significant influence on nationalism. BUT Tishkov overemphasizes the top down explanatory model of agents of control.
  7. Russians felt they were shouldering the burden of the EMPIRE>
  8. (F) CAUSALITY: USSR forgets the war, economic collapsed,



EU entrance: needed to pretend to be civic nationalism: USSR Russian dominance is very obvious.

Yugoslavia has a lack of resources -> too small to survive.  

  • Counter-factual of the USSR: why did it breakdown into nation-states? Why not into a multicultural/national power.
  • Your Thesis: primordial nationalism is only important when USSR prospects of collapse are high: the resources are utilized to reorganize political power when the USSR’s centre collapses.
  • International self-determination recognition used primordialist approach so as to avoid precedent setting for any political movement.
  • IT IS THE STRUCTURE at the CENTRE reduced the will to hold power in the regions.
  • Answer MUST be conscious of TIMING: (PRE) = pre-collapse (POST) = post-collapse
  • Whether there was a nation narrative before or during the USSR, it only matters after! SO what? (A) doesn’t matter until the collapse is eminent.
  • Nationalism was an outcome of the republican system of government: Breuilly.


The more things change the more they stay the same: POWER POLITICS

Russian Empire > Bolshevik Revolution >

[1] (Martin, 2001), Terry. The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923- 1939. London: Cornell University Press, 2001, pp 2.

[2] Suny, Ronald Grigor. The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union. (Standford, Stnaford University Press, 1993), pp. 259.

[3] The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923 -1939, by Terry (Martin, 2001).

[4] Gellner, Ernest. Nations and Nationalism. Oxford: Blackwell, 1983, pp. 129.

[5] Although Gellner may not have believe in the inevitability of the collapse of the Soviet Union, his description of the relationship between communism and nationalism seems to have gained further confirmation from that collapse.

[6] Tishkov, p. 294

[7] Tishkov, pp. 31.

[8] Smith, Jeremy. Review work(s): Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in and after the Soviet Union: The Mind Aflame by Valery Tishkov. Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 49, No. 8 (Dec., 1997), pp. 1544.

[9] Tishkov, Valery. Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in and after the Soviet Union: the Mind Aflame. London: SAGE, 1997, Chapter 2, pp. 30.

[10] Ibid, pp. 30.

[11] Ibid, pp. 30.

[12] Motyl Alexander J. Sovietology, rationality, nationality: coming to groups with nationalism in the USSR (New York, Columbia University Press, 1990), pp. 47.

[13] Tishkov, pp. 30.

[14] If the categorical imperative imposes on us the duty to promote the highest good, then it is necessary to assume the existence of God, a perfect being, since an imperfect being could not be the source of the highest good. Therefore it is morally necessary to assume the existence of God. Kedourie, Nationalism, p. 17.

[15] In this work he sets out the conditions for a stable, peaceful international order. The civil constitution of every state should be republican, because for Kant a republican state was one were the laws could be the expression of the autonomous will of the citizens. Only in such a situation could peace be guaranteed.

Synopsis of Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty

Slides from Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty

Piketty’s Thesis: Thomas Piketty’s thesis is that the rate of capital returns is greater than the rate of economic growth in developed countries. The message is clear “forget about income/salary inequality, take a look at wealth inequality!” Wealth is getting collected and retained at a faster rate than economic growth is occurring in the overall economy. This assertion is a much more sophisticated argument than the classic “the rich are getting richer.” Private wealth is increasingly concentrating in the hands of ‘the few’ which is troubling since it’s doing so at a faster rate than the rate of new wealth creation. It’s also troubling (if it’s true) that ‘the few’ are just lucky & riding compound interest into a promising future instead of creating true value through their own productivity. This trend has been tracked over the last 250 years and with increasing accuracy since developed countries have implemented income tax. Piketty’s challenge is to address the issue that wealth concentration will grow relative to economic growth in the future without any significant policy changes.

Therein Lays the Controversy: Piketty’s solution is to create a progressive global wealth tax (i.e. a tax that targets all accumulated equity rather than in the income tax and cash). His argument pushed him into global super-stardom in 2014. From The Economist to the Wall Street Journal, Piketty’s data based argument was an important turning point in thinking about taxation policy and wealth distribution.

Editorial Input: Of course, everyone is getting richer: just ask your great great grandparents if they ever skyped with their parents 10 km away, instantly for <$0.01 per minute. Your great grand parents lived on average 25 years less than your parents etc etc. Even those below the poverty line today are more wealthy than some of middle class from the 20th century (Um: kinda, depends how you measure wealth). As a species, we are rich relative to our ancestors. And of course, remember that money is a PROXY for VALUE, it doesn’t track a bunch of valuable things like, you know, love and happiness for example. What’s novel about Piketty is he’s saying that wealth (the measurable part) is growing faster than that economic benefits (the measurable part) of new technology, productivity etc. What to do about it requires more thought, multi-variate testing and anticipated the unintended consequences of public policy.

Capital in the 21st Century / Le capital au 21e siècle

The book is in four parts;

  • Part 1: Income and Capital
  • Part 2: The dynamics of the capital/income ratio
  • Part 3: The structure of inequalities
  • Part 4: Regulating capital in the 21st century

Income and Capital: The Database

The World top incomes database: Piketty has collected data about income tax because it is available since it’s creation; starting in 1913, the US brought in Income Tax (hence the thought that world war was the motivator is not correct); Canada in 1917, UK in 1915, France 1915. Taxation is excellent for gathering information about citizens in a positive sense, to better empower them and to use that revenue to improve the infrastructure of society; AND to allow citizens to understand how money is shaping their life. It focused people to consider their finances. Income tax also is the basis of Piketty’s data set!!

Income Going to the Top 10% (what this graph below shows)

The theory that Income Inequality should decline over time has been proven false in the US. In the past 30 years, the share going to the top has moved to almost 50% of all income. Remember income is all cashflows of an individual. There is a trend towards 50% of the income going to the top 10% today in 2014. So the problem is that the CEOs are getting paid really well but we don’t see extra benefits of their effort in the business; or at least it is difficult to measure. It is difficult to understand how a top manager is able to generate a $10 million income both for and against productivity gains from that individual. It doesn’t mean that CEO isn’t worth every penny and more, it’s just we can’t measure that value well…..

The key for Piketty is that income is, in fact, over-rated. He believes that income inequality is not as interesting or important as is wealth inequality.

Wealth distribution is more important long-run. The total value of capital and real-estate assets has increased since in the 1960s as you can see below. The inequality in property is very serious. This doesn’t necessarily have to lead to an inequality as a whole. But this graph does represent job income inequality. It dropped as income tax was applied and is creeping back up.

Three Central Points of Capital in the 21st Century:

  1. The return of a patrimonial (or wealth-based) society in the Old World (Europe, Japan): Wealth-income ratios seem to be returning to very high levels in low growth countries. Intuition is that a slow-growth society, wealth accumulated in the past can naturally become very important in the future. In the very long run, this can be relevant for the entire world. Population growth in Europe and Japan is low.
  2. The future of wealth concentration: with high r-g during the 21st century (r= net-of-tax rate of return, g=growth rate), then wealth inequality might reach or surpass 19th century oligarchic levels; conversely, suitable institutions can allow to democratize wealth. Wealth inequality tends to concentrate better and that we should have more transparency and have more diffusion of wealth.
  3. Inequality in America: is the New World developing a new inequality model that is based upon extreme labour income inequality more than upon wealth inequality? Is it more merit-based, or can it become the worst of all worlds?

Point 1: The return of a wealth-based society

The ratio of wealth and capital concentration was supposed to a constant, at least that’s what economics textbooks advocate. However in the data, it is not a constant.

The Beta of private capital. Beta being the level of inequality. Here we can see that over time the level of private capital has grown over time in rich countries from 1970 to 2010. The database is a combination of data which includes real-estate prices and is a bit messy.

Public Debt versus Private Wealth

The rise of wealth in Europe on the private side has grown, but look at the public capital. Many doom sayers are abound stating that public debt is a fast approach train wreck. For example, the balance sheet of Italy would show that they have more debt than they have equity. The rise of public debt is significant as an issue in public discourse. However, this concern about public debt to GDP has to be squared against the private wealth that is left by the babyboomer generation etc. In reality, we own our lives as private citizens. The private wealth of Europeans and North Americans towers over the public debt accumulated by our respective governments. So…….

Imagine a market with 100 people in it. If we think about capital as a pile of apples, it might be illustrative. As individuals we have stock piles of apples. The top 10 each have 15 apples (7 apples are hiding in their trousers), the next 45 have 5 apples and the other 55 people have 1 apple. The issue is that over time, top 10 are getting more apples per year at a faster rate than the 45 people with 5 apples and the other folks with having 1 apple each, and getting a sliver more per year. Wealth is concentrating privately and the government isn’t able to do much about that with out new ways to track wealth. In the long run, if you have a lower growth rate, the total stock of wealth accumulated in the past can naturally be very important giving the top 10 the ability to advance their progeny in ways that the 45 middle class and 55 lower class folks can’t.

Piketty says the following:

  • “Will the rise of capital income – ratio Beta also lead to a rise of the capital share alpha in national income?
  • If the capital stock equals Beta = 6 years of income and the average return to capital is equal to r = 5% per yea, then the share of capital income (rent, dividends, interest, profits, etc) in the national income equality alpha = r x Beta = 30%
  • Technically, whether a rise in Beta also leads to a rise in capital share alpha = r Beta depends on the elasticity of substitution <a) between capital K and labour L in the production function Y = F(K,L)
  • Intuition: <a) measures the extent to which workers can be replaced by machines (e.g. Amazon’s robots)
  • Standard assumption: Cobb-Douglas production function (<a)= 1) = as the stock Beta goes Up, the return r goes down exactly in the same proportions, so that alpha = r x Beta remains unchanged, like by magic = a stable world where the capital = labour split is entirely set by technology
  • But if alpha > 1, then the return to capital r goes down falls less than the volume of capital Beta goes up, so that the product alpha = r x Beta goes up.
  • Exactly what happening since the 1970s-80s; both the ration Beta and the capital share alpha have increased.”

Point 2: The future of wealth concentration

In practice, we have extreme wealth concentration occurring. The direction of national wealth is declining. There was no decline in wealth concentration With income tax, the progressive taxation in France, land was only 5% of the wealth in the 1910s. So what are the forces that explain the wealth concentration?

r being bigger than g means that wealth will get amplified over time without intervention.

r and g are moving further. r is larger than g. The growth rate is slow than the rate of return. The industrial revolution increased the growth rate but the rate of return increased as well. So that suggests that inequality has gone down in the 20th century but it’s growing again. The gap between r and g did not change that much before World War 1. 

We should be concerned about the concentration of wealth over time! – Piketty

Solutions: Piketty’s Want Equal Access to Skills

You want the most number of people getting access to the information and skills they need to succeed and thrive. It’s the diffusion of equality. The university system, practical education systems that need to improved. You need to reconcile efficiency with access to universities. Inequality to a point can be good for growth and innovation but if inequality gets too extreme it is not good for growth. Inequality before World War I was not helpful according to Professor Piketty. Certainly levels of inequality are just and good, but at a certain point that inequality is counter-productive. Europe had a higher level of inequality Pre-World War 1 than the US.

Solutions: Understanding the Mathematics of Equality

Piketty doesn’t really like Genie Co-Efficient. However, looking at the numbers is more powerful. He believes that thinking about wealth around percentages is better. And by the way, Globalization is a positive sum game, Piketty.

Theoretical Deduction is an Insufficient Basis for Policy Development

Piketty started by collecting data. He wasn’t starting with a hypothesis specifically. He wanted to take his theories of inequality and explore if they were valid based on data collected from >30 countries. Data is better than ideological frameworks. 

Transparency and Sanctions

You cannot ask politely for banks to provide more transparency if their clients are benefiting from opacity. Opacity facilitates wealth protection. Steeply progressive tax systems didn’t seem possible until governments brought in the income tax in the 1910s. So Piketty is suggesting a wealth tax is gonna happen, expect it. Sometimes the governments do not have a plan for how to use the funds but with a wealth tax perhaps paying down the government’s public debts is a possible area to fix, thereby lowering interest payments on the declining public debt and liberating that wealth to energize government funding…or something. More research required.

It’s All About the Wealth Tax

Niall Ferguson The Square and the Tower

Niall Ferguson “The Square and the Tower”

There is the Square and the Tower; both are networks. The tower is the intellectual elite and the square is the general public in this metaphor. Ferguson’s findings are that there is a continuum of hierarchical structures as well as social networks. History repeats itself in many ways with the social media of today. Hierarchically organized family prevail, but then social networks are empowered to challenge the hierarchical order within each era.

We do in fact flip between the Org Chart of a company and the Network of Family in our own lives, according Niall Ferguson.

Think about Google as a crawler of the internet network that looks at the credibility of website: starting with sites such as and flows outwardly from there. History is hierarchical in the hands of government. History is typically written by the victors. So it should be looked at through the diaries of the leaders of the past and how they leveraged networks to achieve their ends (Nazism and Communism in particular).

Niall Ferguson had to become a Network Scientist to Write this Book: it’s anthropology, engineering, interdisciplinary. But networks inherently are around the idea that birds of a feather flock together: we congregate into clusters. We drink the cool-aid.

Social Media Today

List of social network enablers ie. the technology that crazy uncles have used throughout history:

GuttenburgPrintingPress, CarolusNewspaper, NiepcePhotography, MacconiRadio, FarnsworthTelevision, Silicon ValleySocial Media

Global Community is Not Great:

Luther was wrong to believe that if everyone had a copy of the Bible, everything would be amazing according to Ferguson. The network is not a happy community; they start to polarize. Martin Luther -> social networks. Luther thought that we would get the priesthood of citizens. We don’t get a happy network, we get a viral tumult of ideas, according to Niall Ferguson. The polarization in the US; its Conservatives and Liberals is partly a function of networks.

  1. The point is that technology is not that big of a leap; Martin Luther certainly was an innovative thinker. But we wouldn’t know it if he didn’t have a printing press.
  2. Facebook is a Smaller World Phenomenon: things spread more rapidly: the reformation spreads faster than in the renaissance, for example;
  3. Things Go Viral: is about the structure of the network. The network is as important as the meme.
    Witch crazes spread virally, equally crazy ideas go viral. To deny there are witches = you are a witch would be an example of social pathology then and now. A cognitive error that is shareworthy (like it or not).
  4. Networks never sleep: they are complex system. Networks are bad at defense: the KGB penetrated the UK government in the 60s for example.
  5. Networks are not equal: there are few nodes that are equal. We can graph who knew who, it would be some of you are better connected than others.
  6. The Nazi and Bolshevik Parties should be studied to see ‘how were those networks structured.’ We need to understand Fascism and Communism from a networked perspective, according to Ferguson.
  7. The Power has moved from Washington to Silicon Valley> the Chinese have figured out how to extend it’s position; they can monitor and respond and has extensive collective behaviour: how do you align with a social credit score.

We need a new Guide for Totalitarianism:

China believe the world is going well ahead: there are constraints. They have the largest bourgeoisie in history in China: they can’t alter the needs of bourgeois: you desire property rights; and it can be arbitraged but Ferguson is going to watch for the Bourgeois revolution in China but so is Xi JinPing!

The Importance of Counter-Factual:

Counter-Factual should be explicit in history. The Hillary Clinton presidency would have meant gridlock and angry Alt right reactionaries, calls for impeachment and a Trump TV Network….

Populists don’t last long: it doesn’t deliver benefits to core supporters. And the president will fail to deliver according to Ferguson. Populism -> is not dead in Europe. Muslim’s will be 20% of Europe in the mid-21st century. Ferguson implies that there will be cultural conflicts as a result….

Attacking conspiracy theorists as a credible Historian is very difficult. Again, Ferguson is worried about his street credibility. The power of the Freemasons is smaller because it shows that they didn’t manage to prevent certain events from occurring. If you can’t have private conferences then you are not intellectually free, according to Ferguson.

The social mobility at the bottom of the pyramid. Basic Income is not a patch. The distribution of the medicaid is not going to work according to Ferguson. Distribution of spending is inefficient where as UBI might work.

China’s economic expansion: The US and China could still go to war. The Chinese don’t really care about a trade war. One Welt and one Asia. Chinese Welt-Politik is a reality, according to Ferguson.

US is susceptible to a cyber-attack: it’s a known fact: how large of a disruption could that be? Preparations must be made, according to Ferguson.

Ferguson on Trump and Advertising, FacePalm!

  • Ferguson is wrong on Trump and he knows it. But he must protect his credibility amongst fellow academics (close-minded for sure). Facebook and Twitter are what caused Trump to win? The single causal variable? The leading variable even? Doubtful! Facebook was a variable but to be true data scientist, we have query this assertion. Why? Because the +75,000 votes across the many counties that Trump won in the swing states were spread out and you have to assume that all 75,000 changed from Hilary to Trump because of something their crazy (Russian) uncle wrote on their feed that inspired critical few to Trump’s camp. Hindsight is a revisionist’s dream: we tend to think things were inevitable AFTER an election when before they were uncertain…because they were, folks. Predicting the future is extremely difficult.
  • Ferguson claims that Trump would never have won without Facebook sharing and advertising? This is a totally clueless claim, from someone who probably hasn’t advertised on Facebook, because the power of Facebook advertising to shift opinion is overstated….earned media is perhaps a term Ferguson is not familiar with at all. Absent Twitter, Trump would have not had the reach for sure but Twitter exists, alas. Absent Facebook ads, I’m more dubious….because Facebook is highly overrated as a platform.
  • Facebook is not the cat’s meow solution for advertising effectively, it’s an improvement but not a gold standard in 2016 or ’18. For example, if you see an ad on Facebook for Coca-Cola BUT you were thinking of buying a Coca-Cola before you see that ad; how do we really know the ad caused the Coca-Cola purchase that you make after seeing the ad? We don’t. Same if you didn’t want a Coca-Cola, saw the ad and then went and bought a Coca-Cola, the ad may have changed your mind subconsciously or consciously or maybe something else happened between the ad exposure and the decision to buy Coca-Cola! We can’t know either way without direct access to your brain at the point of purchase. If we could know it, the person who invented that technology would be a billionaire in very short order**.
  • The same problem applies with an ad for Trump or Brexit, Facebook facilitates echo-chambers where people are already interested in Trump or Coca-Cola or Brexit. It doesn’t mean Facebook shaped that interest; it only means that Facebook is trying to generate revenue off of advertisers who don’t know which people will convert but will spend the money to get awareness at least as a baseline. Facebook is trying to convince social scientists that their platform is amazing because it captures data better than a billboard BECAUSE it is in Facebook’s interest to claim it is the cat’s meow.  Human beings consistently screw up your marketing experiment by having agency/choice. If you believe an ad can switch opinion in the subset of the population that was voting for Hillary but saw the ad and switched to Trump then you should make that rather nuanced case. It’s a rather narrow pool of people effected which also implies THEY, the Russians (a country with the GDP of a tiny country indeed), KNEW the exact 75K people in question which is incredible. I guess you could say a larger pool was targeted and only 75K mattered in the end, fine but how could you believe that it was on the basis of an ad on Facebook alone? There were surely other factors that are inputted into a voter’s decision, therefore, you have then accept that other factors impacted the 75K which invalidates your central claim that Russia won the election.
  • What’s interesting about Ferguson is that over the course of the book tour, every interviewer wants his thoughts on Trump. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Ferguson is disingenuous because he is evidently preoccupied with what other people think of him and his klout amongst academics would be damaged if he said anything positive about Trump’s ability to tap into the Square. And most people are emotional rather than rational in political matters because they are passionate without a post-ideological framework…another billion dollar value technology yet to be invented. Academia is so partisan that people aren’t intellectually free to explore counter-arguments in some sense. In these interviews, Ferguson goes for “Trump is the devil, now let’s get drinks in the history department!” Of course, even anything I write here could be misconstrued. I’m a political scientist, trying to maintain objectivity and independence. Oh, and I am not an American citizen so I have no say.
  • **Zuckerberg is a billionaire because eye balls are valuable in and of themselves. Advertising does work BUT only in exceptional cases. All you need is 1 person out of 1000 to get an Return on your Investment in some situations. There are definitely examples of direct marketing where you see a product on Facebook and then order it immediately in the moment, but that’s very very rare 0.01% of the time. Despite the rarity, advertisers spend billions on platforms like Facebook because there are many eyeballs visiting that site ie. brand awareness is mixed in with direct marketing. And Facebook wants you to believe they are the signal and not the noise.

Why People Vote The Way They Do

Models of Voting Behavior:

If you don’t know about these models you’re screwed!
• Research on voting behavior focused on political orientation or social background characteristics.
• Academics seemed to focus on these two models: developed in the US and widely used. They came to be seen as competing models. 2nd model was a critic of the 1st model.
• EACH SCHOOLS characterization of the other school’s models striped away the other model.

1) The Columbia School Model: Sociological Model by Godey

• First major study based on modern methods (Ohio) – US Presidential Election 1940. You see what percentage voted NDP, Liberal: they went out to interview people systematically. America was in upstate New York for them. Compared to Eerie Ohio and Amera, NY.
• What was interesting was how the voters made up their minds. They went back to interview people on 7 different occasions. The 7th interview was after the election. They tracked people. How did people change over the course of the campaign? How do people choose a president?
• There was little literature on surveys: you have to formulate expectations: you have to ask the correct questions.
• The OBJECTIVE – try to understand how people would make up their mind during a campaign.
• The ANALOGIES – What process would you liken voting to? How to choose a life mate? (Social network). Columbia School came up with Purchase decisions as the method for making a voting choice:
• They likened these parties to market products: advertising = promotional campaign to buy product. Voters = Consumers.
• Interested in the psychology of choice. How did advertising by parties affect people’s voting choice?
• There was a belief that the media could have massive effects.
• That’s why scientistis studied a small communities: they would have the same influence, same media, and same radio stations.
However, they choose a really bad election: 1940 election was unfortunate because there was a war. FDR was running for his third term. You didn’t need the campaign to help you decide that Roosevelt was effective or not. Brand Loyalty was substantially high. THEREFORE THE campaign had minimal effects.
• Very few changed their votes. Few people were undecided. It was the staunch Democrats and staunch Republicans: if you were a Republican your vote would be crystallized. WHY was the effect only to reinforce?
• You have to take your core seriously. You need to remind them why they are Liberal or Conservative BUT you do need to reach out.
• WHAT happened was that Republicans paid attention to Republican ideas and Democrats paid attention only to Democratic ideas? Each systematically over-estimated their chances of winning.
• The undecided felt conflicted, this is called: cross-sectional pressures.
• They were disappointed with the results.
The Sociological Model of Voting
• Secondary Factors: Primary Factors:
Socio-Economic Status________________>
• Sex________________________>
Religious and Ethnic Group Affiliation___> VOTE
• Age________________________>
Regional and Urban Rural Differences____>

The Index of Political Predis