I know, there’s no earthly reason for me to do this, and I have no interest in controversy. It’s just that I recently read Isaacson’s Steve Jobs and Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, and I’m unwittingly confronted by similar men.
Interested in confirming my suspicion, I sought another reference and landed on August Kubizek’s obscure memoir, “The Young Hitler I Knew.” I’m roughly 30 pages in and there are numerous parallels, too many to ignore.
While the two obviously pursued wildly different directions–Hitler, a horrifying hate-mongering murderer, and Jobs, a revolutionary genius who deftly merged humanities and science–the similarities are striking. Let me elaborate and decide for yourself.
These men were frighteningly arrogant, so much in fact, they endeavored to change/dominate the world. Jobs is famous for saying he wanted to “put a dent in the universe.” Pretty sure he did. Apple products are ubiquitous.
Hitler, as we all know, wanted to create a master race, to literally change the face of our planet. Thankfully, his failure is diversity’s triumph. And could you imagine, everyone walking around with Brillo-styled mustaches? No thanks, Adolph.
Jobs used what co-worker’s called his “reality distortion field,” an enigmatic plying of what was once considered impossible. A close cousin to Jobs’ reality-bending is Hitler’s sheer force of will. He even made a movie about it–the propaganda film, Triumph of the Will, is 114 minutes of unapologetic Nazism. No bag of popcorn could make this film bearable.
Need for Control
Jobs’ entire Apple platform is based on a closed system, a digital hub of compatible devices who don’t always play well with others, for example, the former incompatibility between the iPad and Flash. Jobs so wanted to control the user experience he insisted that his engineers manufacture machines that couldn’t be manipulated by layman tools. Incidentally, Jobs’ need for control was the opposite of his early collaborator, Steve Wozniak, a tinkerer by nature.
Hitler’s desire to control doesn’t require much explanation, maybe just referencing his plan to dominate, oh, let’s say, Europe. And that Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda, at his side? Nuff said.
Indifferent to Nothing
For Jobs, your work was either sh*t or insanely great, no middle ground. Hitler was either red-face incensed or furiously passionate, no gray area. Everything mattered to these two, which, in many ways, mirrors the temperament of an artist.
Jobs’ love of the Bauhaus movement, architecture, music, the marriage between form and design–all are well-known. But did you know this? Prior to becoming a raging despot, Hitler, in his teens, led a Bohemian life, not working, painting, writing poetry, attending operas. I’m not kidding, this is what Hitler did as a kid. Mind = Blown.
Distaste for Formal Education
Hitler showed little interest in traditional schooling, having dropped out of High School at 16. Although he later applied to Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, he was rejected, twice. They’re such good judges of character, those Viennese.
Jobs never earned a college degree; he dropped out of Reed. No longer matriculating, Jobs somehow convinced the college’s administration to let him audit courses he deemed worthy, without care for any prescribed curriculum. Speaking of convincing people…
With Jobs, Mac product launches were like rock concerts. Jobs could whip a crowd into a frenzy in no time, the attendees screaming and clapping in a froth of desire. Sound familiar?
And the Eyes
Jobs actually worked at cultivating the “no blink stare.” He used this to great effect when negotiating contracts, and generally subjugating the meek. The stare’s effect was said to be aggressively hypnotic. Akin, the intensity of Hitler’s eyes, the boiling fury behind them, is well documented.
While They’re Similar…
Their differences are many. For one, Steve was capable of love. He married and made a family. Hitler married Eva Braun, then, less than 48 hours later, they committed suicide together (nice honeymoon, folks). Safe to say they knew the cavalry was coming.
The following two quotes relate to thinking. The philosophical difference is plain.
- “It is such good fortune for people in power that people do not think.” Hitler.
- “Think different.” Jobs.
Oh, and One More Thing…
Combined, Steve Jobs and In the Garden of Beasts boasted 60+ weeks on the NY Times best-seller list. That said, I can’t be the only one making these connections. Sure enough, a quick Google search led me to fellow WordPress blogger, My Little Piece of Cyberia, and his far better analysis, Steve Jobs, Adolph Hitler – Kindred Souls?