Note — Apr 25, 2021

Democracy, Sovereignty, Technology, and so Called Canada

Seen in → No.170

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This one by Bianca Wylie is about Canada but could be about most democracies. While playing an important role in pushing back on Sidewalk Labs in Toronto, Wylie emphasized the importance of democracy and public good, in doing so she realized that because of who our democracy is built by and for, and considering all its shortcomings, it can actually be hard to defend. She then argues that, to address our history and the problems of our democracy, we must begin by saving it from private interests constantly taking bites “of public infrastructures, processes, and our government accountability as a whole through software, standards, or other means of corporate and commercial power.”

The influence of large technology companies on our society is persistent in ways that a tax has nothing to do with. […]

For many of us, when we hear someone saying “but democracy” we can rightly say “this democracy supports: state violence against those seeking their treaty rights, anti-Black racism, unaccountable police, rampant poverty, environmental degradation, the list goes on”. In other words, arguments for democracy don’t resonate for many. […]

I’m not fighting to defend democracy because the status quo is defensible. It’s not. I’m fighting to not further foreclose the chance — and it’s far from guaranteed to happen — but the opportunity — to use our democracy to address our history. […]

If we want to do better on the lands we live on, we have to hold onto the power that is public rather than private. For only then can we turn around and use it to address and do better by the shaky sovereignty we have and understand and support the sovereignties others have.