Faith History

Jesusism-Paulism, Part VI: Embrace and Extend

“Nobody ever got fired for buying Big Blue.”

For years IBM’s strength rested on vendor-lock in and vendor-compatibility. A company that wished to buy electronic computer equipment had one choice, Big Blue, which offered complete systems that were entirely under the control of IBM. IBM’s keyboards communicated in IBM EBCDIC to IBM terminals, connected through IBM wires to IBM mainframes, IBM hard drives, IBM tape backups, and IBM power supplies. The complete solution set took the world by storm, offering One Ruleset (Buy IBM) which entailed numerous sub-products. The system worked.

The Islam of the 1970s

In the same way, the One Ruleset of the Koran swept aside the old Roman world, tearing up the Orthodox and Arian peoples it subjugated, rolling back much of the Christian 4GW revolution. Islam did this almost as an afterthought, as it also spread into formerly Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Animist countries. No one ever got fired for buying Big Blue, and no one ever got beheaded for embracing Islam.

The IBM of the Dark Ages

But IBM met Microsoft.
And Islam met Catholicism.

A famous example of Microsoft’s embrace and extend philosophy is the Redmond corporation’s response to SUN’s Java Programming Language. Java was one of a line of programming languages, beginning with C, whose goal was to make it easy to write a program one time and run it on many different computers. Java went even farther than its predecessors, however, in that the computer would translate the written Java code into a java file that could be read the same way under all programming languages.

The Islamic / IBM solution would have been to fight this, and wipe Java off of the map. This is exactly what Islam did when the Sharia legal code completely displaced ancient Arab laws, completely displaced ancient Roman law, and completely displace ancient Persian laws, in the lands it was implemented. Sharia covered the transition from boyhood to manhood, the transition from bachelorhood to the single life, who may be drafted, and who may be head-taxed. The One True Way had an answer for everything.

International Business Machines similarly displaced everything that came before with the Operating System/360. MFT, MVT, BOS/360, TOS/360, and DOS/360 were all specific prescriptions of the OS/320 system, mere details of the IBM way. The conscious goal of IBM was to turn a corporate customer “all blue,” where custom-built IBM hardware ran everything.

Microsoft’s response to Java was smarter. Instead of condemning Java, calling it a stupid language, and ignoring it, Microsoft opted to embrace and extend. Microsoft devised Visual J++, an implementation for Java that actually provided the best interface for developing Java applications yet. Microsoft perfected the nature of Java from a good idea that was hard to work with to a good idea that was easy to work with.

Microsoft also extended J++ by adding features that were unique to Microsoft’s Windows operating system. These extensions fixed Java’s biggest weakness, lack of speed, by allowing J++ programs to operate the same as programs written in other popular languages (C, C++, etc.) and even faster than Microsoft’s own Visual Basic language.

When SUN complained that Microsoft’s embrace of Java, when Microsoft’s love and generosity to a potentially dangerous rival, was unfair, Microsoft refused to look away. Microsoft continues the development of Java-like languages. Today, if you want to use a Microsoft Java-like language that taps into all the power of the Microsoft .Net programming environment, you can, for free: Visual J# 2005 Express. Even more lovingly, Microsoft’ primary programming language, C#, is famous for being frighteningly similar to java. And just as the Jesusist-Paulists advised one to repair evil with kindness, Microsoft responded to SUN’s increasing hostility with more love: giving C# away for free.

If “Embrace & Extend” sound like a way of penetrating a market and separating the customers from the old market-leader, it is. Embrace & Extend are the first two pages of the PISRR stages of victory.

Penetrate, Isolate : Embrace, Extend

As embrace & extend leads to a form of subversive victory, the paranoid accusation that Microsoft secretly wished to “embrace, extend, and exterminate” simply makes no sense. Microsoft wishes to embrace, extend, and own.

Down the PISRR Way

Though, more charitably, “extinguish” can be seen as being the very final step, to a world where every individual mattered. As Microsoft’s early vision went, “A PC on every desk and in every home.”

Reharmonize and Win

One can view this as a variation of the original OODA/PISRR loop of victory

However, under the Embrace & Extend system, whether implemented by Microsoft or by the Jeusist-Paulists, the circle is broken. Once the system is embraced and extended into pre-existing systems, and rival organizing principles are abolished, there is nothing more to do. The war would have been won.

The Microsoft Way… The Christian Way

The Jesusist-Paulists of the Catholic Church behaved the same way. They embraced the old cultures of Europe, refusing to look away when revulsion would have been easier than love. And they extended the old orders, giving new life to the status quo ante sancata romana ecclesia. For instance, in southern France where the old Senatorial families still held sway, the family names of the early bishops were the same as the family names of the last Senators. In Ireland, where an indigenous Church had grown after the abduction of the slave boy Patricius, Romanization was handled primarily through institutional fusion. And in the Viking North, the Church refused to look away from the bloody tribes — instead embracing them.

It would have been easier to have and ignore. But the Christians loved, and embraced.

And, of course, extended. Even across the crippling Islamic blockade of western Europe, the practice of slavery faded away. The locus of Jesusism-Paulism, the Bishopric fo Rome, continued intellectual engagement with the Byzantine Empire to the east, continued doctrinal promulgation throughout Europe, and in general did all that a conquering power could do.

Yet even as the Church loved and embraced and extended the cultures of Western Europe to serve Jesusism-Paulism, the counterrevolutions had begun. The old Maoism of Greek civilization was not dead, and for a thousand years, it rolled back the success of the 4GWarriors.

What followed next may have been Christianity, but it was not Jesusism-Paulism.

But those are stories for other times.

Jesusism-Paulism, a series in six parts
1. Love Your Enemy As You Would Have Him Love You
2. Caiaphas and Diocletian Did Know Better
3. Every Man a Panzer, Every Woman a Soldat
4. The Fall of Rome
5. The People of the Book
6. Embrace and Extend

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13 thoughts on “Jesusism-Paulism, Part VI: Embrace and Extend
  1. Microsoft is Love?

    Great post!

    This and your Christian Love = urge to create public goods post has me stirring on an religion, economics and 5GW post. When I get back to blogging that is.

  2. This is completely nutty.

    Every time we schematize (abstract) or compare by analogy, we then have to use “is like” rather than “is”. But you continually write as if abstractions and analogies had the same truth status as observable facts.

    For example: “Mr Cheney is a rabid dog. Rabid dogs should be shot. Therefore Mr Cheney should be shot” does not follow, because the first sentence is an analogy, i.e. “Mr Cheney is like a rabid dog.”

    “No one ever got fired for buying Big Blue, and no one ever got beheaded for embracing Islam.” so IBM is “the Islam of the 70s”? Plleeease.

  3. Microsoft is love?

    Somewhere out there, some Mac and Linux fans' brains are going into meltdown. . .

  4. Great post, and lots to think about. The only thing I didn't get at all was why the old IBM logo was labeled “Islam of the 1970s”, since Islam was still around. Wouldn't “Islam of the Computer Industry circa 1970” be clearer?


  5. Sean,

    Google attacking Microsoft symmetrically. Hence Writely (now Google Docs & Spreadsheets [1,2]) as a “pearl harbor” moment [3,4]. Other Microsoft competitors have taken the same tact. The war between Microsoft and Google is essentially between one NetWar firm and another. So I guess you could say it's one 4th Generation Application Provider v. another 4GAP.



    The IBM was of 1970s was the Islam (submission to one ruleset) of the 1970s. The faith of Muhammed is the Islam (submission to one ruleset) of our world.


    Eddie's post is beautiful. I need time to think about it.

    There's definitely 5GWish features of Christianity, and they are worth exploring (Luke 10:3-4, etc etc). Eddie's post appears to focus more on Christianity as a mass movement, though, essentially hoping to tie the fates of Christianity and American statecraft together. I have some thoughts on that….


  6. On careful consideration I got what you were trying to say, and I agree with your point. I was just trying to highlight that the current caption can confuse simple-minded folk like me. You geniuses have blind spots like that. 😉


  7. Rick,

    It's not often a commentator here has his own wikipedia page [1] or has been featured by the international press [2]… so welcome to this humble blog!

    Your warning on the use of analogies is well taken. It would be foolish to say that 1970s IBM was islamic merely because both were safe choices, in certain times and places. Rather, my argument is this: 1970s IBM was islamic in that it argued for a single-vendor. single-path way of doing business. The Islam that swept aside the Roman and Persian Empires did this too.

    Thus, while IBM and Islam /were like/ each other, both IBM are Islam /were/ single-vendor, single-path solutions.


    Good point (and thanks for the kind words 🙂 ). Yet the chance to be both accurate and provocative is a rare one, so I'll keep it for now. 😉


    I'm looking forward to it!


  8. Microsoft uses love, but only to commercial ends.

    God established wealth, and certainly there is nothing wrong and much right with money, but to the extent Microsoft is an advocate for Microsoft's shareholders, Microsoft uses love to glorify mammon.

    So perhaps the Mac and Linux zealots would like the analogy more if Microsoft is seen as a daughter of Mystery Babylon the Great….

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