Today I was reading Paul Tassi's smart article on Forbes urging Facebook and Google to follow in Reddit’s footsteps and enact a blackout in protest of SOPA. (“Reddit’s SOPA Blackout Admirable, But Google and Facebook Must Follow” http://onforb.es/z2d6NV). And it reminded me of the blog post I didn’t finish ages ago about the Occupy Wall Street movement.
"Huh? What do these two things have to do with each other?" you ask.
I thought you’d never ask…
On the surface both are current issues about politics. They are both protests in light of something political. But one is a real proposed action that is about to go into effect (or not), and the other is a movement that (seemingly) has no actionable item or direction. But underneath, both are an opportunity to address democracy. I’d better tackle the OWS issue first.
What I meant to post in mid-October is the following:
Occupy Anywhere Against Commercial Totalitarianism
A recent NY Times article (http://nyti.ms/yRuzNo ) about the Occupy Wall Street demonstration really upset me. It was a quote from one of the “Wall Street Guys” who was attempting to defend himself and his peers.
[He said] that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. “They need to understand who their constituency is,” he said.
Talk about purchasing power.
I have to give this long time money manger credit: he lifts the wool from over our eyes, and rubs the truth in our faces. I couldn’t have illustrated the heart of the problem better myself. Basically, this guy is saying that whoever has the money to support candidates, or policy, control the people in power. Huh? I mean, sure— we all knew that. We talk about it freely on an issue by issue basis. We see it everyday, although we don’t recognize it as something fundamentally against the principles of democracy. It has gotten to the point where big business capitalism has out-shone a free market economy and turned us into a state of commercial totalitarianism.
There. I said it.
We live in a state of commercial totalitarianism, and no longer a democracy.
Is this what we should continue to accept in the United States of America? Is this what our forefathers envisioned?
So that was my unpublished post from October.
The underlying answer to the OWS issue is that people feel they have lost their voice. And they have. Individuals no longer have power to influence policy.
On the other hand, corporations do.
In walks Reddit, and Paul Tassi’s plea.
Reddit’s users (and creators) are natural opponents of SOPA, and they are planning on exercising their democratic power as an organization. If they have any power all is still a question. But if a bigger company - say a Google, were to do something similar, then that would be a seemingly democratic protest gesture. And it would be one that has a potential serious impact. But in essence, it is the same use of commercial totalitarianism that I mentioned above— the one that the OWS protesters acutely feel—The corporation makes the protest on the people’s behalf.
At least, in this case, they would do it in realtime, rather than with their budgets, through a bunch of lobbyists. It is the best power to the people that we have at the moment. Google? Facebook? Will you interpret the voice of the people?