In the popular discourse, authoritarianism typically stands as liberal capitalism’s dramatic antithesis. And nowhere are their purported differences more stark than in their attitudes toward individual privacy. While in the liberal capitalist world every person’s home is said to be their castle, in authoritarian regimes, it is just one more state-monitored cage.
Today, however, privacy is disappearing within the walls of advanced capitalist democracies. And multinational corporations, holding aloft the banner of total transparency, are the ones leading the charge.
In 1999, Scott McNealy, then-CEO of Sun Microsystems, famously declared, “You have zero privacy now anyway. Get over it.” Google CEO Eric Schmidt warned that “if you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Mark Zuckerberg, the world’s sixth richest man, decided that privacy was no longer a social norm, “and so we just went for it,” while Alexander Nix, of the data firm Cambridge Analytica — famously employed by both the Brexit and Trump campaigns — brags that his company “profiled the personality of every single adult in the United States of America.”