How consumer marketing distorts democracy.
By Jim Sleeper
July 2, 2018
Greenwood explains that “corporate speech is . . . not the result of anyone’s autonomous behavior” but reflects only “the hypothetical interests of a creature given reality by the market and the law: the fictional shareholder.” He challenges courts’ “implicit theory of the corporation as an individual citizen with a mind and will of its own, entitled to a deference due to an autonomous, self-governing individual . . .” Rulings determining that “the people” have a right to the information in commercial speech have, in Greenwood’s judgment, “trivialized the important issue at stake, which is not the neutral distribution of information but rather a political power struggle in which rhetorical volume is extremely important.”
Jim Sleeper is a lecturer in political science at Yale and the author of Liberal Racism (1997) and The Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York (1990).
Read the fill article on the Baffler website.
First Amendment’s Slippery Slope: Why Are Civil Liberties Advocates Joining Forces With the Right?
Rich people have free speech rights. Do the corporations they run? That question is destroying democracy.
By Jim Sleeper
Aug. 3. 2018
“First Amendment theorists tend to be astonishingly unwilling to make distinctions; something in the field seems to demand simplistic overarching claims,” says Hofstra University law professor Daniel Greenwood, who has written extensively against equating business corporations with rich people in public decision-making, as if the former were individuals with minds and wills of their own.
One might make that argument credibly enough about a nonprofit corporation such as the ACLU or the NAACP, created by citizens precisely to “speak” for public interests. But Apple Inc. “has no members and represents no one” in political debate, Greenwood notes. “Its power comes from its sales, not supporters of its opinions. That should be a difference that matters” in public decision-making, as should the difference between shareholder-driven juggernauts and wealthy individuals, who don’t stop being citizens just because they’re rich. Corporations aren’t citizens at all.
Read the full article on the Salon website.