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Apple & the Guardian: Partners in a death spiral

by Jonathan Cook

This report on Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit to a UK school to promote the company’s new coding curriculum for schoolchildren could hardly be a better illustration of the way the Guardian newspaper serves as a key propagandist for aggressive global corporate capitalism, helping to create for it a façade of humanitarianism.

The Guardian presents Cook (no relation) as a concerned global citizen, a gay man who fights for LGBT rights and might have been Hillary Clinton’s running mate if things had turned out differently. The article could just as easily have been a press release straight out of Apple headquarters.

Unchallenged by the Guardian, Cook claims via the article to be promoting coding as a universal language bringing people together and serving as a great leveller of mankind, offering everyone the chance to become … multi-billionnaire Tim Cook.

Or as the Guardian puts it:

The one-year coding curriculum adopted by Harlow college, half an hour north of London, is intended to teach students computing skills through the use of a variety of games, lessons and interactive materials. Every student is given an iPad loaded with coding apps and tools, and the teachers guide them through the concepts of coding.

There is not a hint of scepticism or suggestion that Cook and Apple are using the schools coding programme to promote their products among a captive and impressionable audience, and to counter growing concerns – even among those in the hi-tech industries – that the social media integral to Apple products is designed to be addictive and damaging to children.

Indeed, the emphasis of the article is on an apparent concern from Cook – who has no children – with the welfare of his young nephew. The piece accepts at face value Cook’s claim that he gets to decide how much time his nephew spends on social media rather than, as happens in all other families, the boy’s actual parents. Cook says he limits his exposure

In fact, given the growing alarm over the likely role of social media in impairing children’s development, Cook’s visit might be better compared to inviting the CEO of a tobacco company into schools to promote sports as a welcome complement to the habit of smoking 20 a day.

According to Cook, his famous predecessor Steve Jobs’ passion was to “serve humanity”, with Cook readily jumping at the chance to join that mission when Jobs poached him from IBM. “I finally felt aligned,” he adds.

So how did Cook contribute to serving humanity at Apple as senior vice-president of worldwide operations? Here is the Guardian’s extremely brief and bland summing up of his early career at Apple, the period that presumably proved him worthy of being Jobs’ successor:

He closed factories and warehouses, replacing them with contract manufacturers in Asia. He also kept costs under control and secured long-term deals in soon-to-be-crucial parts for the company, including flash memory storage for the iPod Nano, iPhone and iPad, which locked out competitors.

If one pauses long enough to decode that passage – and the Guardian gives every appearance of preferring you don’t – it reveals Cook (as one might expect of a successful CEO of a global corporation about to become the richest in the world) as a ruthless, cut-throat businessman, who turned large numbers of Apple’s employees out on to the street and left many others in far worse conditions, working for “contractors”.

But why delay over trivialities like that? Let’s get back to how great Cook and Apple are. The Guardian hastily returns to hagiography:

Since then, he has put his own stamp on Apple. In a 2014 profile to mark Cook’s announcement as person of the year, the Financial Times noted his passion for doing “things for other reasons than a profit motive, we do things because they are right and just”. As CEO, he has championed health, e-waste and renewable energy initiatives (claiming to run its own facilities mostly on renewable sources) plus Apple’s educational coding projects.

There’s more, much more – and not a word of it suggests that Cook might be primarily thinking of Apple’s brand image, and the effect on sales, as he puts on a few sticking plasters to try to conceal Apple’s central place in an unsustainable pyramid scheme of endless growth and wealth creation on a planet with finite resources.

Cook has, says the Guardian, “become a vocal proponent of privacy against global surveillance, and education to fight issues around gender diversity.”

So presumably all those security flaws and backdoors – the ones we know about so far – that allowed Big Brother states claiming to be western democracies to spy on us were unintended by Apple and its competitors. There is absolutely no way they might have been efforts by these mega-corporations to placate our increasingly authoritarian governments, in a trade-off to ensure no obstacles were placed in the way of their business affairs.

More Cook: “Introducing coding at an increasingly early age will help gender diversity too.”

Now one can see why Clinton might have wanted Cook at her side, the good business cop to Donald Trump’s bad business cop. Cook obviously knows how to exploit identity politics – to the exclusion of other kinds of politics – to maximum effect.

Please do not think I am so naive as to believe that either Cook or Apple could operate in any other way in what is a dog-eat-dog corporate business world. This is not criticism of them for being who they must be in a global competition in which one either devours or is devoured.

But let us not also kid ourselves that this neoliberal world we have allowed to be created in our names is not deeply sick and self-harming – and that, now with climate change accelerating, we are not caught in a death spiral.

We have to change course. That can only happen when we recognise that the corporations we idealise are really psychopathic in nature, and that the corporate media we trust is enabling and hastening their – and our – descent into madness.

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair


  1. matc says

    Very interesting read here Mr Cook. First time I have been exposed to your work. Off Guardian take a bow. The articles and authors you expose and link your readership to are extremely informative.

    Mr Cook – I noticed in recent weeks an overflow of Fraudian articles regarding bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. All articles are in an extremely negative light. I then read your blog post regarding the Fraudians connections with HSBC. HSBC being the Fraudians biggest advertising customer. One wonders if HSBC is expressing concern (through the Fraudian articles) for their market position regarding how and where cartels wash their dirty money (which is well documented)? Cryptocurrencies must be cutting into their bottom line, no?

  2. Carrie says

    Considering Apple are making their products more and more difficult to renovate and fix – even down to making it virtually impossible to replace an iPhone battery without the proper “tool kit” and taking out the innards of the phone – their claims to be committed to sustainability are a joke. They do everything they can to make their products disposable and unsustainable. They don’t even bother to support phones older than about four years now.

  3. ‘……could hardly be a better illustration of the way the Guardian newspaper serves as a key propagandist for aggressive global corporate capitalism, helping to create for it a façade of humanitarianism.’

    I am a homoeopath. For years my colleagues and I have observed the Guardian’s part in the orchestrated slander of a system of medicine that has greatly benefited the world. This really is nothing new.

  4. Alan says

    Yet another example of a morally and ethically bankrupt corporation attempting to increase it’s share value. Can we be surprised given the present regime views education as a business opportunity and our children as commodities.

    • “Yet another example of a morally and ethically bankrupt corporation attempting to increase it’s share value ”

      Which one as both Crapple or Al-Guardian both appear to be mor\lly and ethically bankrupt to me !!

  5. Matt says

    This article, written by Meduza and published in English on BF, exposes the reality of Kaspersky:

    Another excellent article by a Russian news organization is this one:

    Both Meduza and The Bell are Russian independent news organizations, with a level of depth far higher than the MSM or the tabloid conspiracy theory pro-Kremlin blogs.

    • Just checking – are you calling us a “tabloid conspiracy theory pro-Kremlin blog”? 🙂

      • Matt says

        No, that comment was not directed towards off-G. Although I do disagree with some of the posted articles, I find off-G is one of the last alt-media websites where one can have nuanced, respectful discussion.

    • bevin says

      The Bell article- a pity to see Herzen’s title being used for such purposes- is certifiable drivel. It is well established that the “hack” could not have occurred as claimed.
      But never mind about that: the details of the operation in its entirety appear to be on the verge of being made public- see Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, for example.
      Matt is becoming a regular hasbara presence.

        • BigB says

          #ReleaseTheMemo: Sara Carter (who broke the story ) said the memo – destroying the Mueller probe and Steele dossier (allegedly) – should be declassified and released “by the end of the month.” As Greenwald said: Trump could leak it at any time. Which is kinda ironic: as Greenwald has sat on the bulk of the Snowden cache for four years?

      • Matt says

        “is certifiable drivel”

        Well, you will have to explain why. And also account for why those cybersecurity men were arrested and charged with treason by the Russian government. I’d like to remind you that The Bell was started by Elizaveta Osetinskaya, one of Russia’s premier independent investigative journalists. She was the chief editor of RBC’s editorial office, after heading Vedomosti and Forbes Russia. The former two are, arguably, the top independent investigative media outlets in Russia. This isn’t the Western media repeating some lines again.

        “Matt is becoming a regular hasbara presence.”

        There is is. Again. I post something that someone disagrees with, and they proceed to insult. Better yet, they call me “hasbara”! Ah, if only I were paid for this. I’d do it all day. But considering I only post a a few times every few days/weeks, I probably wouldn’t earn enough anyway.

        This is why you are so easily tricked by conspiracy theories. You randomly accuse those you disagree with of being “hasbara”.

  6. George Cornell says

    Jobs was a brilliant visionary but his “passion was to serve humanity”? That is hardly the sentiment emerging from his biographers. He was by most accounts a pretty shitty human being.
    As for being Hillary’s running mate, one can just see the DNC calculating the timing of having a gay man on the ticket with the Pant-suitable HRC.

    • The mask of philanthropy is that and no more. If you watch the film Network, you see a scene that I suspect Jobs also had – of being ‘educated’ as to how the world works. The Return of Jobs was not to follow his own vision any more, but that of the Big-data network of things in which, if he played along, he could have a big slice of pie. He didn’t like being pushed out the first time but grew stronger from it, but the second time was – I think – more than he could bear. When was he pushed out the second time? When he was allowed to run a marketing front instead of a creative vision. Sure there are iconic devices and ‘success’ but at a price.

      Oh I don’t mind being wrong on this – but I feel enough there to paint the picture. There’s always more to life than a sketch. Jobs wanted to change the world. In a sense he did and it also changed him.
      I agree the PR is PR.

  7. I remember a conversation about four decades ago with my father, a lifelong Democrat in the University of Chicago liberal tradition, about American politics and the Jews. “The only difference between the right and the left as far as the Jews are concerned,” he told me, “is that the right kicks us in the teeth and the left use first then kicks us in the teeth.”

    It turned out to be one of the very few bits of political/life advice he ever offered me, but I never forgot it. Just seemed apropos here: the high tech and media drug lords of the Brave New Digital World use us first, then kick us in the teeth.

    [edited by Admin for typo]

    • Brutally Remastered says

      Well if the jews in America thought they were being “used” in your old dad’s days then the jackboot is surely on the other foot now.

      • I believe it helps to differentiate the power class from the ‘mind-captured identity’ in any group-think. I read an interesting article republished on SOTT that I felt added something to this perspective.

        Vigilance against deceit cannot only look ‘outside’ – but must identify our own proclivity to be deceived – ie what we want to be true because it has a payoff for our personal or group interest.
        And then of course we fear to ‘lose’ any such ‘advantage’ and are captured in a false ‘self’ interest.

        My sense is that ‘power class’ of any background operates the same basic premises and are in a sense ‘birds of a feather’. And of course a nurtured grievance can operate vengeance – and generally does.

        I see that anyone who seeks to ‘use’ another is themselves being ‘used’. But is unaware of the deceit operating them while self-specialness and power-struggle have ‘captured their mind’.

        on your ‘handle’…
        Perhaps everyone coming into the a human lifetime is ‘brutally re-mastered’ to identify in the masking of a self-protective persona. But what is covered over is still You – and can only be covered over, by inducing you into giving power to fear by reaction. And so in this world we seem split between two mutually exclusive ‘masters’ but only one truly knows You. The other uses you to protect itself in the belief it IS you.

        • Which comment did you accidentally reply to? I can move it to the right place if you like

            • I think the comments must be doing their glitchy thing again. Sorry – there is nothing we can do until we can afford the money and time to upgrade

              I moved the comment by the way

  8. Apple and Microsoft and Facebook and Google are all proof that too big to fail isn’t some unintended consequence of a lousy plan or a failure to plan. Too big to fail — like digital addiction — IS the plan. Cook and Gates and Zuckerberg are merely the smiling, benevolent faces of the new Fascism, the new religion of the state…

  9. Cooking the Apple.. a CEO’S half baked ideas about the future of our kids corporate bondage.

    Steve Jobs’ big idea was to control the internet completely so he could sell us things, Cook is just continuing that idea of total control.

    So ..Cook as stated by the Guardian having, “become a vocal proponent of privacy against global surveillance, and education to fight issues around gender diversity.” is just nonsense.

    There is and never has been anything expansive about the Apple business model, it has always been totally reductive, self-serving and monopolistic.

    Hardly a model for the future of humanity.

  10. John A says

    Did Cook stop off in Harlow en route to Davos?
    Apple has produced nothing innovative or remotely interesting since Jobs died. Production in sweatshops in China, offices in almost no tax Ireland, god know how much money held offshore waiting for Trump to cut tax rates. Paying their taxes would be far better for society and young generations than throwing a few baubles at a school in Harlow.

  11. Very sharp and astute comment from Jonathan Cook. I particularly liked this part:

    Now one can see why Clinton might have wanted Cook at her side, the good business cop to Donald Trump’s bad business cop. Cook obviously knows how to exploit identity politics – to the exclusion of other kinds of politics – to maxmimum effect.

    Indeed. The altruistic corporate businessman saviour and his basket of delicious apples come to save the world from the greedy foul-mouthed corporate businessman baddy. With this piece the Guardian has unwittingly shown the world why Trump offends liberals so much. It is not because he is uniquely terrible or evil, Tim Cook is cut from the same global capitalist cloth after all. But, unlike Cook, Trump does not disguise his vileness with flowery PC rhetoric and pretend altruism. This is an unforgivable sin because it reminds liberals of their own guilt and complicity in the destruction of lives and forces them to confront their utterly shameless hypocrisy. This makes them very uncomfortable but they are too cowardly and gutless to own their selfishness and they seek to ease their cognitive dissonance by elevating language above actions.

    The naked greed and exploitation of others that Trump revels in is exactly what liberals and fake leftists support when they lionize a guy like Tim Cook who makes psychologically manipulating school children for profit a virtue. They have no problem with this or Cook’s company Apple screwing workers, evading taxes and giving the finger to its own customers by underclocking the CPUs of its overpriced devices to avoid having to spend a few dollars to fix a problem it created. But please, do it nicely! Say a few flattering things about the LGBT “community” while flogging Apple’s products and the Guardian will write up a hagiographic “article” for you and you can save a couple bucks that would otherwise have gone to the advertising budget.

    It’s a variation of the Shithole Principle: you can invade, sanction and destroy as many countries as you like and murder their citizens by the millions…but for God’s sake don’t you dare speak disrespectfully about them, they are human beings! Such backasswardness and wilful self-delusion is literally sick and a sign of serious collective mental illness.

          • Who set up the appointment?
            Idolizing – or demonizing fallen idols, (scapegoating) are two sides of one coin.
            But I am not suggesting that you should not engage in such.
            Everyone operates through their personal take.
            If we are transparent rather than opaque in our personae, we are less able to be run by our fears and denials.
            Fear and denial runs ‘Them’, through everyone.

            Whatever documented acts are credited to JFK, he acted with and with the core lobby of power that supported him. Support in politics has its price, and disappointment can exact a price. Or you can see the whole thing a psyop – but then you have to start according supernatural power to ‘Them’.

            If ‘They’ are serving the role of our hatred, projected as if to claim (relative) innocence and right to judge and deny, then everything is working as intended in the chosen operating system.

            Not that manipulators cannot learn the way the personality construct works, by breaking it down, so as to then define a map, predict and outcome and take a controlling position. That is the operating system of domination and control (evasion and defiance to the quality of relationship).

            • I decided a long time ago that I should skip your comments and certainly not respond to those few I might not skip. Nothing’s changed.

  12. “Silent weapons for quiet wars” runs beneath the sideshow of conflict dynamics to institute global technocracy, wielded of course by the insiders to the setting up and operation of such systems of control.
    It is on a need to know basis – and the narrative to any level of access privilege may assume it is privy to more than others but is no less fed and led.
    Partial thinking can belief its own thought. The idea that energy systems can be exploited and harnessed to serve intended outcomes can mask private gratifications. Such private gratifications can become a ‘power class’ running on a common belief in power struggle as the core or stark fact of human existence under death – and so a death cult operates the attempt to coerce or induce the sacrifice of the living to support a private sense of alignment in power over life, hidden behind the mask of serving humanity.
    This can be seen as the ‘elitism’ of a power class predating upon the rest of the population – and the resources that are for all – and our children and generations to come. It can no less be seen in the demand of the population for ‘unconsciousness’ or protection and escape from innate responsibility for living. The latter is less obvious because it is in our own mind and hides by being focused upon as the minds of others – whether perpetrators, victims or ‘saviours’.
    A true salvation from the cycle of victimhood as power, is awakened responsibility of receptive awareness. It remains true that the meaning of a thing is what you use it for. But unless we wake up to a true gratitude for the meaning that living is, we operate as if built in meanings run a prison planet.
    If we want wishful fantasy to overlay or cover the true, we then generate false currency and seek to strengthen it by inducing or recruiting others to share in it. The true remains always and forever true – but this has no meaning in a framework of distorted and filtered ‘meanings’ put together by all the king’s horses and all the king’s men. True is known by alignment and extension of expression.
    Meanwhile the investment of identity in what is not true, masks who you are the inherently the uncovering of, when you are willing to align in unified purpose rather than attempt to force alignment on fragmented and conflicted purpose.
    The Ideas that are basis of our experience of the world, change and evolve. But beneath all changing appearance it remains true that you give and receive as one – that is what you give out sets the measure of your receiving – and what you insist on ‘receiving’ in place of true will set the measure of your thought, word and deed as your experience of your world.
    Tyrannous thought dictates through a sense of ‘an offer you cant refuse’. This may be an inducement to privilege – with the understanding that to not take it will result in personal pain and loss. Discerning what is due to Caesar and what is due to God (Inherency of being) is not going to arise from Caesar’s thinking or mind-framing.
    There is a choice here, but it is never the choice as fear-thinking frames choosing. All roads lead to Rome indicates the nature of power structure on Earth, but all roads lead Home is the alignment in the power within Life that we forfeit in attempt to have power over it.
    A lifetime is a journey of experience and discovery at a deeper level that the narrative overlay of surface thinking and is always engaged and lived now. Collectively, we cannot but enact the conflicts that lie within us, but in the recognition of this is a new choice of no longer persisting in reaction, but instead listening where life is – instead of running where we think it is or should be.
    So the Guardian is but another guardian of a a narrative manipulation? Then if you look there, look to see the truth that denial implicitly reveals (as indeed Jonathan Cook has in some degree above).
    The desire for true is a receptivity and alertness and not a demand in comes in the forms or the channels of the old way of thinking and seeing.
    It isn’t that journalism can demand the truth, so much as journalists can refuse to settle or accept less than true , and thus persist in holding to account, by giving true witness. Inconvenient truths may be denied, and so speaking truth to power is wise not to operate personal grievance – which is so easily subverted, or used to self-invalidate or self-incriminate.
    This calls for feeling what we feel and finding a way to integrate and align more deeply – instead of splitting in terror or rage – or a well intentioned but blind attempt to order all things in shades of grey. Consciousness is a scope and spectrum of experience. Control by limitation is tool we have become unconscious tools of, and so ‘everything is backwards’.

    • I thought is was the BBC that was keeping Al-Guardian from collapse as the BBC only advertises its job vacancies in Al-Guardian and the BBC purchases a chunk of Al-Guardian’s daily print run. Yet another reason I no longer pay the BBC veiwing tax.

      • George Cornell says

        Getting harder to tell them apart , both suffering from glaring hypocrisies and systematic lacunae on the really important things. They over report the potentially bad things as part of a general scaremongering approach to the Middle East.

        They report all the real and imaginary Putnophobic news fit to print and they grossly underreport the good news, like the Koreas now talking, training together and marching together for the Olympics. An analysis of their bulletins is very telling about what really matters to them. Nice to see the Koreans begin to realize that the US is more malevolent than each other.
        In fact the American media seems crestfallen at this important development. The Armed Forces may be seeing their dream opportunity of getting a chance to try out their newest toys and once again killing wholesale in jeopardy.

        Reminds me of Iraq, where the UN’s inability to find WMD was met with extreme disappointment until they realized they might get away with ignoring the UN, and did so. Now how would the phony-to-the-core US react to a joint N and S Korean nuclear program?

    • Because something is hollowed out to be tooled does not make it ‘collapsed’ excepting that economic and technical changes served such a design. What has collapsed is perhaps our illusion of the world.

      Corporate globalism is done and dusted but for the ‘Trade’ deals. The nature of a global egoism is the use of collapse, scarcity and fear to ‘sell itself’ as sole protector. Fear monopolises attention to then assert itself as the only reality; kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, betray or suffer betrayal etc. So the only thing keeping our relationship with anything real from collapsing is in willingness to bring fear into the open instead of hiding it in a masking protection or cover story.

  13. Fair dinkum says

    Keeping Guard(ian) over the Cook(ing) Apple $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$tew ?

  14. MichaelK says

    What’s really disturbing is how far the Guardian has lurched to the political right over the last few years on a whole range of issues. True, the Guardian’s reputation as the UK’s ‘leftwing’ newspaper, was never really justified; but it used to allow critical voices access on occasion, now that’s ended, seemingly definitively.

    Their treatment of Corbyn p has been disgraceful and incredibly negative and partisan. Assange and Wikileaks have been consistantly smeared by a campaign that keeps hitting digusting new lows, designed to destroy Assange and tar him as a ‘far-left’ radical and agent of Russia, minus any real evidence for these wild assertions.

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