One wonders how Theater of the Absurd writers, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter or Bertolt Brecht would have treated Sergey Aleynikov’s life story. Aleynikov is a brilliant computer code writer who was arrested, not once, but twice based on complaints filed by his former employer, Goldman Sachs. The initial charge was that he took a copy of an open source program when he resigned from the company. “Open Source,” means available and free to everyone, like DNA. Nonetheless, Goldman Sachs argued that once they’d used the program, it became theirs.
On the surface, the claim seemed absurd. The judge hearing the case, however, thought otherwise and sentenced Aleynikov to 9 years in prison. He served some jail time before a second judge heard the appeal and overturned the conviction. Unfortunately, Goldman Sachs immediately filed a second charge, one so like the first that the company seems bent on harassment rather than justice.
What makes this story fodder for playwrights is the investment company’s posture of high-minded outrage. This from an investment bank that helped “the Greek government to rig its books and disguise its debts.” (“Goldman’s Geek Tragedy,” by Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair, Sept 2013, pg. 355.) This from a business that designed subprime-mortgage securities then bet against them and made a fortune. (Ibid, pg. 355.)
Adding to the farce is the complexity of the case. In all probability, the executives at Goldman Sachs don’t understand the issues. According to Aleynikov, writing code is more complicated than playing chess. Metaphorically, what he does is create code for concepts of the game. One has to wonder what judge or jury is competent to rule on the arguments.
Michael Lewis, author of numerous books on the games people play on Wall Street, raises the question of competence in his article for Vanity Fair. To answer it, he pulled together a jury of Aleynikov’s peers, code writers who didn’t know the accused but understood his work. Reviewing the evidence, they concluded that Aleynikov did nothing wrong or if there was an infraction, it was slight. A sentence of nine years had been unjustified and yes… absurd.
Their unequivocal verdict has left Lewis in a quandary. He looks to Greek tragedy to understand Goldman Sach’s bizarre behavior?
If he’d have asked my advice, I’d have told him to reread to the writings of Beckett, Pinter or Brecht instead looking to Greek tragedy for understanding. They’d have reminded him of the folly of his quest. Aleynikov had been Goldman Sach’s prized asset. He left the company and his employers attempted to crush him, not out any cosmic notion of justice. They did it because they could.
(Courtesy of metroradioshow.com)