Democratic Corporatism

Is there such a thing as Too Much Democracy? That’s what The Economist determined about California ten years ago, pointing out that when every voice counts, nothing gets done. We can’t build housing because that would infringe on the rights of owls. We can’t clear fire hazards because that infringes on the rights of oak trees. We can’t build high speed rail because that infringes on the rights of eels. I’m beginning to see the appeal of autocracy.

Direct democracy tends to be the pet paradigm of left-coast utopians who have no idea how government works. Most corporations are authoritarian, but Google, Facebook, and many other tech companies have a culture of radical transparency where every employee has an opportunity to voice concerns. That’s manageable when a company is small and homogenous, not so much when it’s big and global. Facebook execs can’t meet with Taiwan’s president without offending thousands of Chinese employees, and Google can’t sign a defense contract without half the office walking out in protest.

Compare to Apple, a company that dispenses with democratic ideals and embraces tyranny. Remember that time Apple fired an employee after his daughter inadvertently uploaded a video clip of an iPhone X? That’s the type of company that has no qualms entering China.

As Google and Facebook have realized, it’s time to scale back participation. The best way to reduce input from the masses is to keep them in the dark. My former classmate works for Apple designing LCD screens, but he’s not allowed to know what device the screens attach to. The LCDs might display the countdown timer for nuclear warheads for all he knows. Radical secrecy keeps people from questioning corporate strategy.

The US government has mastered this well. After the Vietnam War, the Trilateral Commission determined that we suffered an excess of democracy. People knew too much, and protesters tanked our war efforts. We can’t stop the masses from protesting, but we can stop them from knowing what to protest. That’s why the press is no longer allowed to publish photos of war casualties, or even report on what countries we invade. That’s why we had to prosecute Chelsea Manning.

Democracy thrives in darkness.

6 thoughts on “Democratic Corporatism

  1. We need rail, just not high-speed rail. Only those that consider their time so fabulously valuable get any benefit from it and it will be priced out of the reach of average Californians. The problem isn’t being informed, it’s being myopic and entitled to things that average people cannot afford and that do nothing for their quality of life.. We can’t build public housing, because the artificial shortage of it simply props up the ridiculous property values. If anyone can live there, what is that going to do to inflated property values? There is so much NIMBY bullshit going on in SF it’s ridiculous. People need to stop breathing their own effervescence, and get back to reality.

  2. Elaine – A good article as usual, but where is the substantiation for the claim, “the press is no longer allowed to publish photos of war casualties,”? They don’t do it but not because of a statutory prohibition. Maybe their press credentials get yanked?

    We see the mainstream press unwilling to reveal newsworthy information such as the name and background story about the “whistleblower.” His name is stated as the “apparent” whistleblower only in some conservative media without large readership. The statutory prohibition on releasing the name only applies to the Inspector General who receives the allegation.

    It’s bit of a mystery why Trump, who seems to care little about most prohibitions has not done so.

    1. The 1917 Espionage Act was effectively a ban on publishing photos of war casualties, because it prohibits anything that might interfere with military recruitment. The public saw very few photos of dead soldiers during WWI and WWII. Vietnam was an exception – we never declared war, so the Espionage Act didn’t apply. During the Iraq War, Bush banned even photos of coffins, for “privacy and dignity” of the deceased. The ban has since been lifted, but photos may only be published if the family of deceased grants permission.

      The CIA controls MSM. Not sure about Trump though.

  3. I interpret your remarks as no legal ban exists on photos at present, just good manners. Certainly battle field photos would be news worthy and no challenge could overcome 1st amendment freedom of press. Always interesting to see what the press decides is exempt from disclosure to us.

    1. The law is… “flexible”, for lack of a better term. Julian Assange has been charged with violating the Espionage Act for publishing Chelsea Manning’s docs. NYtimes, WaPo, and all the other MSM outlets escaped prosecution, even though they published the same information. I suspect that if Manning had leaked the files to NYtimes instead of Wikileaks, it would have gone straight down the memoryhole.

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