facebook, economic pressure, and opppressive legislation
March 31, 2016
As happened last year with Indiana, a bunch of businesses are condemning the recent transmisogynist legislation that was passed in South Carolina. The headline that grabbed my attention was about Zuckerberg and Facebook. I didn’t read the story since I’m not particularly interested in what the corp that routinely targets trans women has to say about anything.
Yesterday, I got on a bit of a twitter rant about how annoying it is that our current socio-political context has economics so intimately intwined with it that we can no longer imagine governance without economics (or at least without economics being a primary facet, rather than something secondary).
This is kind of a great example. Everyone praises these businesses for coming out against oppressive legislation… except, I continue to find it troubling that corporations have such a massive, disproportionate influence on politics. The link above said that Indiana lost out on something like $60 million dollars after passing the law and the corporate backlash.
What it doesn’t say is who was most likely to feel the impact of that loss. Because I guarantee you that it wasn’t the economic elite. Nor was it likely to be the politicians, other than a few sleepless nights as the whole thing unfolded.
But beyond this…
What we should notice about this and what we should be worrying about is that corporations are able to force governments to bend to their will.
I’d be the last person to say that either democracy (as we have it) or our current governments are anythin but evil, but at least they have some level of accountability to the ‘people’ that corporations simply do not.
So facebook can make headlines oppossing an unjust law… while still enforcing policies that end up locking out trans women from one of the most important online social spaces. Facebook can look progressive for challenging this law while it continues to erode and degrade our overall expectation of privacy (while also invading our privacy via surveillance and data collection).
The problem is that it has proved difficult and impossible to get facebook to change on any of these accounts. Occassionally they do some hand-waving to placate their users, but not much has changed. With South Carolina’s law, however, it is already being challenged in the courts. As can most (all) legislation passed by the government.
Sure. The current judicial/carceral system is violent and must be dismantled. But at least it is some kind of mechanism that can (occassionally) be used to hold the government accountable.
In short: I don’t actually think it is a good thing that corporations come out and ‘support’ these social causes. All it does is underscore just how violent and broken the system really is.