The consumer is not, as in a previous era of liberalism, a purported equal trader on a market — leaving aside the problematic basis for thinking this ever came about — but a “capital” among others, an entrepreneur most often providing free labor that creates value for others. If the laborer in the factory was the paradigm of alienation in a previous era, today in the West s/he is the freelancer: signing up for one project at a time, often free of charge in order to gain experience or “clips” and without the social safety net of a pension or guaranteed healthcare coverage. We are each a company of one, committed to doing what used to take whole enterprises: we provide our own customer service, do our own investments and taxes, act as our own travel agencies, and, for those lucky enough to have 401(k)s and healthcare, pick and choose among competing options that we once left to the experts. “There’s an app for that!” also means “you’re on your own.”
It’s not just that corporations have speech, as Justice Kennedy argued in Citizens United, a case Brown cites as a prime example in her book. Those who do speak think of themselves more and more as corporations in a do-it-yourself culture. Make bad investments? Choose the wrong healthcare plan? Buy a home on which your bank is owed more than the house is now worth? This is just the risk that comes with newfound economic freedoms. But as we spiral in student loan, credit, and mortgage debts, we are decidedly unprofitable companies of one. The corporations take all the profits; we take all the risk.
i like this. relevant for book