The big news in the politics world right now is the failure of Hugo Chavez, President of Venezula, to renew the broadcast licence of the television station RCTV whose broadcasts were questioning Chavez's rule. Although there has been much debate on the topic it is still pretty clear that it is censorship of the media. However, the station has turned to YouTube to publish its views and has, so far, received over 175,000 views and is the most subscribed channel of the week.
The power of capitalism and the company is being clearly displayed. The government wants to censor RCTV but it is failing to do so. The combined power of communications technology that is making information widely available and the incentive of companies to broadcast their message has transcended the power of the government.
From my point of view it's a wonderful day: it demonstrates the supreme power of capitalism and shows how the company can dominate over governments. This is wonderful in one sense: it means that governments such as Chavez's can't enact laws that restrict freedom of speech and, theoretically, other liberties. Unfortunately, there are also downsides: if the company is more powerful than the government then we have a power ruling over us that we have not permitted to do so. The advantage of a company is that it has to be providing some benefit because it is earning money but that doesn't mean it is providing benefit to me, a company is an amoral being and so it will benefit whoever has money, with no regard as to the benefit of those without money. It is like the simple utilitarian state in that it will attempt to bring the greatest benefit to the greatest number with no regard for the minority or basic human rights.
Fortunately the powers that companies have to overrule governments at this point are limited to actions that are legal in one country but not in the one they are carried out in. To explain: what I mean is that no company is empowered by technology to do something that is illegal in all countries, they have to have a physical host somewhere and, in that country, they will be held accountable to the law. For example Pirate Bay does things that are illegal in the UK but are totally legal in Sweden, and so they can carry on their business, so long as they remain hosted in Sweden but they could not carry out fraud on their website because that is illegal in Sweden.
This, however, is not a solution to the problem, companies can still do things to me against which I cannot be protected by the laws of my country. Hence there is a power over me that I have no permitted.
Overall it's turning out great right now but empowering companies in this way could certainly have some unpleasant consequences and, from a political theory standpoint, the public is certainly in a weaker position.
Disagree? Let me know.