The SMS text message screamed in all caps:
SETH GODIN IS A COMMUNIST!
photo courtesy of minaka
And that was only the beginning. My cellphone vibrated with new revelations about Godin for the next seven minutes.
What started all this?
My friend – let’s call him “Jim” – just finished Linchpin by Seth Godin. Jim was convinced that the book’s purpose was to inspire an overthrow of the US government and to replace it with a Soviet-style Marxist regime.
I admit that Seth alluded to The Communist Manifesto a few times in Linchpin. I also admit that the book talked about an economic revolution that would change everything about the way we work and make a living. Not to mention, I’ve disagreed with Seth Godin in the past.
But I don’t believe Godin is a communist.
Actually, I think Linchpin is profoundly anti-authoritarian. Here’s why.
First, Godin doesn’t “call for” a revolution. Instead, he observes the revolution that’s going on all around us. He recognizes that people no longer trust the factory system that created a century of unbelievable wealth and prosperity in the Western world. He points out that the nature of work has changed. He isn’t necessarily advocating that change, but dealing with it.
Second, Linchpin helps people break free from the chains held by their corporate masters. Every tea partier knows that corporate welfare is even more dangerous than individual welfare. Every worker who’s left a massive corporation for self-employment or to join a start-up knows the feeling of liberation and release when you hand in your swipe card.
Third, Godin seems a little too happy about making money according to his rules, not the politburo’s, to be a communist. In Linchpin, Seth’s actually telling all of us that it’s okay to break free from our corporate masters, to invest in emotional labor, and to produce remarkable stuff for ungodly amounts of income.
In Jim’s defense, I know from experience that Seth’s research and understanding of subjects isn’t always the deepest. Like me and many others, Seth will run with an idea before validating it completely.
Still, I think Jim missed Seth’s points because some of Seth’s words, phrases, and references touched Jim’s hot buttons. Jim missed the message because of the words used to convey it.
Maybe I avoided Jim’s emotional response to Linchpin because I’ve been reading Seth Godin for years. (It was Jim’s intro to Seth.) Or maybe Jim’s right, I’m wrong, and Seth Godin’s a Marx-loving, Che cheering commie.
Either way, I think Linchpin lacks the evidence for either of us to prove our positions. Both of us interpret the book through lenses clouded by experience and emotions.
Now, go enjoy your weekend after you drop your two cents in the comment box below.
P.S. If you read this, Seth, we’d all love for you to settle the issue.