Apple and the Enduring Moral Order

Apple and the Enduring Moral Order

First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent….

A society in which men and women are governed by belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, by personal convictions about justice and honor, will be a good society—whatever political machinery it may utilize; while a society in which men and women are morally adrift, ignorant of norms, and intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad society—no matter how many people vote and no matter how liberal its formal constitution may be.

Russell Kirk, “Ten Conservative Principles,” Adapted from The Politics of Prudence, 1993.


The world is a complicated place.  And on occasion, one finds it difficult to know what is right to want, what is the right thing for which to hope.

American corporations, for example, have the constant potential to produce moral quandaries.  On the one hand, we should all want American companies to do well.  They provide jobs, pay taxes, bolster the economy, expand savings for retirees and other investors, and so on – and all of that is in addition to delivering products or services that people want or need.  When corporations perform exceptionally well, everyone else, presumably, does well by extension.  This is particularly true when the corporation in question is the indispensable American company of the last decade or so.  As General Motors President Charles Wilson never said (but certainly meant), “what’s good for GM is good for America.”

On the other hand, one who believes in an “enduring moral order” in which “moral truths are permanent,” can rightly find a certain amount of satisfaction when permanent moral truths are reinforced by events and when corporations that violate those truths are forced to confront the errors of their ways.

Regular readers undoubtedly know that we are fans of fables and parables as the means by which to transmit the wisdom of the ages, the moral principles that have always and will always be true.  In the absence of such stories, there are other sources of enduring truths, and in today’s case, we turn to the Book of Psalms.  The first of these Psalms (Psalm 1) dates from roughly 11,000 years ago – which is about as “eternal” as human existence gets – and begins as follows:

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

If only someone had told Tim Cook.

As I note in my Chapter on Apple in The Dictatorship of Woke Capital, after Steve Jobs died, Cook sold his individual soul and the company’s collective soul to the Chinese Communist Party.  In so doing, he created two massive issues.  First, he turned himself and his company into hypocrites.  Cook fashions himself a social justice warrior and net-zero pioneer at home and uses shareholder wealth to pursue left-wing social and environmental goals.  Meanwhile, his company has long stood credibly accused of using slave labor in China, has a documented history of abysmal working conditions at its subcontractors’ facilities, and builds its products mostly using coal-generated power.

Second, and more to the point, Cook placed himself, his employees, and his shareholders at the mercy of the CCP.  As I noted in the book, “Apply needs China pretty desperately….Not only is China Apple’s largest manufacturer, but it is also Apple’s second-largest market. Apple’s rise to become the biggest and most valu­able company in the world was fueled in large part by its growth in China.”

So, what happens when Cook can no longer satisfy the CCP’s demands?  What happens to the company when it can no longer do for the CCP what it needs done?  What happens when to Apple’s shareholders when the relationship between Cook and Xi spoils?

We don’t know the complete answers to these questions, but we suspect that they are disheartening.  More to the point, we suspect that we’re about to find out:

Apple Inc.’s iPhone sales in China fell by a surprising 24% over the first six weeks of this year, according to independent research that may stoke fears about worsening demand for the marquee but aging device.

The figures from Counterpoint Research add to pressure on the iPhone, which has struggled to replicate its usual success in the world’s largest smartphone arena. China’s mobile market shrank by 7% in the first weeks of this year, and the top share went to Dongguan-based Vivo, which targeted the budget segment, according to Counterpoint. To stimulate demand, Apple rolled out rare discounts on its web store in January, and online resellers are now cutting prices by as much as $180.

Apple shares slid 2.4% in New York on Tuesday morning. They have fallen about 11% since the start of the year. The company lost the title of world’s most valuable company to Microsoft Corp., and this month it was also removed from Goldman Sachs’ list of highest-conviction investments and Evercore ISI’s tactical outperform list.


If only someone could have seen this coming.  If only someone could have come up with some catchy enlightening and instructive phrases that could have warned Cook that his strategy was perilous, phrases like, “Live by the sword; die by the sword,” or “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas,” or maybe just “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked….”

What a pickle.  We’ll admit that we’re feeling a little smug to see Cook and Apple get a taste of comeuppance.  At the same time, with the Magnificent Seven driving much of the bull market, we’re a little worried about the larger impact of this comeuppance.  We can only hope that Cook takes this lesson to heart and makes Apple a company that “yields fruit in season” and whose “leaf does not wither.”

Fingers crossed.

Stephen Soukup
Stephen Soukup
[email protected]

Steve Soukup is the Vice President and Publisher of The Political Forum, an “independent research provider” that delivers research and consulting services to the institutional investment community, with an emphasis on economic, social, political, and geopolitical events that are likely to have an impact on the financial markets in the United States and abroad.