by Cathy L.Z. Smith
Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Ihave, for a very long time, been troubled by the issues surrounding agency, specifically the morality of agency for hire. Having once, I confess, thought of pursuing “the law” as a profession, and understanding fully that no one has any use for a lawyer whose specialty is “Constitutional Law” (that being the last aspect of law that people who hire lawyers are generally interested in), I ultimately came to the conclusion that the level of law I would be relegated to practicing would almost certainly involve me in relationships that I would find morally repugnant. Hence, I became a bureaucrat instead, yeah, I know.
Be that as it may, I was watching an interview with J.D. Vance (author of Hillbilly Elegy, which I have not read) in which it was revealed that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate in the State of Ohio. I kept listening anyway. He really is an interesting character. He is a Yale graduate who did, and does, represent everything that Yale graduates typically consider beneath not only contempt, but mere notice. Fortunate for him, if not for Yale, that he made, at a symposium, the acquaintance of one Peter Thiel, for whom he subsequently worked.
One of his most interesting talking points had to do with the undue influence of “Big Tech” which influence, having been there for quite some time and engaged in “shaping”, one might say “grooming” us for a while, came crashing onto the scene during the months leading up to the 2020 election and not only has “big tech” not backed off, it has instead doubled down in every conceivable way. (See the postscript to this article for an interesting illustration of my claim of early shaping activity by social media.)
Now every time republicans start talking about “Big Tech” (not, of course, to confess about the major campaign donations they have all received in order to remain utterly ineffectual), they fall back on the tried-and-not-so-true assertion that the tech companies are, after all, private companies, and they cannot be made to follow the rules that allegedly govern our governors. Vance rejects that argument (as do I). His grounds for rejection are that these companies (and, indeed not just these, but many, many others) are granted privileges, dispensations, corporate personhood, and other get-out-of-jail-free cards by the government. A nice, cozy little arrangement, don’t you think?
But I don’t think he takes the argument far enough, so here I am, coming back around to my issue with agency. The United States Government, being absolutely barred (ha ha ha) from engaging in the suppression of “free speech” (with, you know, little exceptions here and there) has, instead, engaged as its agent the conglomerated leviathan currently known as “social media” to act in its behalf. It started (to the extent I was paying attention) with my postscript, but soon graduated to bigger and much more influential arenas, including removing a sitting President of the United States from a platform that offered him the opportunity to speak directly to the people whom he was elected to represent—and notably without the beneficent translation skills of the likes of Katie Couric, Mike Wallace, Don Lemon, all of the Cuomos, what’s-her-name Madcow, and the harpies who infest that adult Romper Room known as “The View”. And when they were done with Donald Trump, they came for the rest of us. (If you’ll recall, he warned us: “They’re really after you, I’m just in the way.”)
I have the honor of having been booted from Twitter in January 2020, along with my daughter, and thousands (millions? I don’t know the magnitude of the purge) of others because I would not stop talking about things that Twitter didn’t like … and we hadn’t even gotten to COVID at that point.
So here’s the meat of my argument, for those who have managed to last through the rant: the United States Government is engaging in illegal activity by proxy through an agent “Big Tech”, with which it shares a relationship steeped in immoral and illegal give-and-take that should put them to shame, and I maintain in prison, but does not.
So, let’s talk about agency. If you hire an agent to do a legal thing for you, and he does it well, and is successful, you should both get “the credit”.
If you hire an agent to do an illegal thing for you, and he does it well, and is successful, you should both get “the credit”.
If you pretend to be a person, and another thing that behaves as though it were a person, “hires you” (continues to grant you privileges, dispensations, corporate personhood, and other get-out-of-jail-free cards—and utterly fails to bring those things up for discussion in spite of promises to the contrary to those whom they claim to represent) to engage in an act that you yourself are forbiddento perform, you should both get “the credit”. And indeed, I think they should.
What is “the credit” for shutting down the free and unfettered exchange of ideas in a context that is, for a large part of the population, the de facto medium of two-way communication?
What is “the credit” for causing a significant portion of the population to speculate that an election was tampered with, merely because they are not allowed to discuss among themselves (having no access to the corporate mainstream and no way to interact with its assertions) the possibility or to present evidence to support their speculation?
What is “the credit” for wrecking an economy with unconstitutional mandates and threats of harm (unemployment, and even assault) while shutting down the ability to discuss the legality, efficacy, and morality of those actions?
What is “the credit” for keeping the people who are most affected and least represented from the opportunity to gather together to discuss what is happening to them, to their lives, to their children, to their businesses, to their families?
What is the credit for keeping loved ones away from the bedsides of those who are sick, or dying?
What is “the credit” for coercing an entire population to submit themselves and their children as “subjects” in the largest clinical trial in the history of the world while shutting down the ability, not only of the unwilling participants, but the medical professionals who have specific knowledge of not only medicine but public health to discuss that coercion?
What is “the credit” for perverting the very meaning of words and actions—for insisting that looting, burning, destruction, and murder are mere “demonstrations”, while simultaneously insisting that a protest that resulted in the death of one of the protestors at the hands of a criminally-negligent “officer” and that otherwise consisted of damage no greater than trespassing in a facility that those protesters are forced to pay for at gunpoint and which has traditionally been known as “The People’s House”?
Theoretically, “the credit” to those who increasingly and obviously see themselves as “rulers” rather than representatives, is ejection from office at the hands of their constituents. What happens to them beyond that is the matter for another article altogether. Jail, at least, seems reasonable.
But “the credit” for those who have, by proxy, engaged in activities that would have been illegal if carried out by those who engaged them as agent should be the nothing less than the death of “corporate personhood” and the surrender of all privileges and dispensations.
And here we get to the real problem with agency. We know that there are individuals who acted with full knowledge of what they were doing and what the consequences of those actions could or would be. The myth of corporate personhood shields all of those actors from the consequences of their actions. And that is not acceptable.
I didn’t jump on the Trump bandwagon right away … it took some convincing to get me there. But once I did a strange thing began to happen on my Facebook page. I began to get ads for products that I would never have gone in search of (on Facebook or elsewhere). And I’m certain that the embarrassing nature of those products was designed to prevent just the sort of confession that I’m making here. Suddenly I was getting ads for garments called “mankinis”. Now, I’m not and never have been a prude, but it just took me 15 minutes to figure out how to find out what these things are called, which I offer as evidence that they didn’t just come up on my feed based on my past browsing history. And once Trump was out of office they simply disappeared.
Was that worth reading?
Then why not: