- Paperback: 185 pages
- Publisher: South End Press; 1st edition (July 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0896082539
- ISBN-13: 978-0896082533
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,995,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Amway: The Cult of Free Enterprise 1st Edition
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This book follows a non-fiction 3rd person as well as an autobiographical view of Amway during the 1970's up until 1984 proving to be a great historical work documenting how Amway has changed - or not - over the decades. The author discusses regular, though tough, retailing of products, something that is even harder to do today, and his experience with sponsoring people seems less challenging while keeping people in the organization has not seemed to change - he notes that 4/5 tend to quit, but if you get someone in for someone else, they'll usually stick around for fear of losing something.
The three most interesting points I took away from this book were:
1. Butterfield divulges that he was in the Downeast organization, which isn't surprising since he was a professor at a college in Vermont. Most people who write books about their time in Amway leave this detail to be vague or indiscernable.
2. When discussing racism, it is noted in the story that as people assimilate to The System, race and other differences become a non-issue. In fact, he notes that "rednecks, crackers, and klansmen" would willingly sponsor blacks and help them to be successful if they had the opportunity.
3. On materialistic goals that are made to inspire children of IBOs, the best point was made in saying "Having [children] put material goals on a refrigerator is teaching them to relate to objects, not people; the object becomes the explanation for the parent's absence, and then a substitute for the parent, and finally a means for controlling the family." He follows up by mentioning that this form of behavior modification is good to pacify the child, but not for inspiring autonomy.
On point 3, a parent leaves the home inspiring the child with a future trip to Disney or 6 Flags. When the child misses mom or dad, he looks at the object and knows that that is in his future. Later, he learns to form a bond with the idea of what this will be like, and when things go awry from the years mom or dad has been less than involved and he acts out, the object is the reminder of why mom or dad is always out. "Do you think I like being away all the time?" the loving parent may say. "I do it for you," he says to the child as he points to the dream the child once wished for. In the end, the material dream is like an idol rather than a thing, and it is used to motivate behavior that would otherwise not make sense.
Having almost been sucked in myself years ago, I was able, with Butterfield's help, to "autopsy" my own Amway experience, seeing clearly once and for all the formulaic and even cult-like approach sponsors use to lure novices.
My only issue with this book came about two pages before the end when -- out of the blue -- Butterfield inserted a seemingly-random gripe about Palestinians tormented "under zionist [sic -- HIS lowercase, not mine] occupation," a comment out of place in a book of this type, and surely in bad taste in light of ... terrorist events in the middle-east and the U.S.
That aside, this book is enlightening, a treat to read and a must for anyone who's ever been burnt (or singed) by a pyramid scheme of this type (or knows someone who has!).