The logic of the corporate enclosure of the public sphere is truly a neoliberal wonder to behold. As our power elite steadfastly refuses to acknowledge any broader responsibilities or demands than the mandate to continue amassing ever greater quarterly returns, the rest of us meekly pantomime an odd parody of consent of the governed by focusing inordinate attention on the ever-mythic specter of enlightened corporate political agency. At least, we’ll cry, Twitter and Facebook will de-platform that rabid lunatic Alex Jones—that’s accountability! Or, at a minimum, we’ll plead, Nike will cast Colin Kaepernick in their sneaker campaign—that’s solidarity! Or again, at the very least, we’ll point out, Amazon is bringing jobs to Long Island City—that’s leadership!
In our actually existing consensual reality, it of course matters not a whit that the culture-war sport of celebrating corporate censorship betrays any supposed democratic commitment to protecting the rights of all citizens on an equal basis, subtly charging both Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey with the power to decide what is and is not free speech. (“If Trump supporters don’t care about my speech, I don’t care about theirs,” a typical liberal disputant will snort on any given social-media platform, in full Frank Rich dudgeon.) And no matter that Nike, a Hydra of exploitative global supply chains with dubious labor practices, degrades Kaepernick’s protest of racialized police brutality to the inert and content-free mantra “Believe in something”—a funny-except-it’s-not late capitalist parody of empty advertising slogans. (“Say what you will, but Nike is taking a risk and making a powerful statement,” the contented liberal online commentariat will predictably tweet.) Amazon might hold entire cities hostage, dangling jobs in front of desperate mayors in exchange for public cash, private development contracts, and access to municipal security apparatuses, but “only New Yorkers could complain about getting 25,000 jobs,” Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost scoffs.
damn this whole piece is so well-written