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Understandings of privacy as a human right fetishizes it as a universal necessity exacerbating the exploitative and violent nature of consumer capitalism

Fuchs 2011 [Christian. "The Political Economy of Privacy." The Internet & Surveillance 8 (2011).//shaREEF]

Etzioni (1999) stresses that it is a typical American liberal belief that strengthening privacy can cause no harm. He stresses that privacy can undermine common good (public safety, public health). That privacy is not automatically a positive value has alo been reflected in criticism of privacy. Critics of the privacy concept argue that it promotes an individual agenda and possessive individualism that can harm the public/common good (Bennett 2008, 9f; Bennett and Raab 2006, 14; Etzioni 1999; Gilliom2001, 8, 121; Hengladarom 2007, 115;Lyon 1994, 296; Lyon 2007, 7, 174; Stalder 2002; Tavani 2008, 157f), that it can be used for legitimatizing domestic violence in families (Bennett and Raab 2006, 15; Lyon 1994, Lyon 2001, 20; Quinn 2006, 214; Schoeman 1992, 13f; Tavani 2008, 157f; Wacks 2010, 36) that it can be used for planning and carrying out illegal or antisocial activities (Quinn 2006, 214; Schoeman 1984, 8), that it can conceal information in order to mislead and misrepresent the character of individuals and is therefore deceptive (Bernett and Raab 2006, 14; Schoeman 1984a, 403; Posner 1978/1984; Wasserstrom 1978/1984), that a separation of public and private life is problematic (Bennett and Raab 2006, 15; Lyon 2001, 20; Sewell and Barker 2007, 354f), that it advances a liberal notion of democracy that can be opposed by a participatory notion of democracy (Bennett and Raab 2006, 15). Privacy has also been criticized as Western-centric concept that not exist in an individualist form in non-Western societies (Burk 2007; Hongladarom 2007; Zureikand Harling Stalker 2010, 12). There have also been discussion of the concept of privacy based on ideology critique (Stahl 2007) and intercultural philosophy (see for example: Cappurro 2005; Ess 2005). These critiques show that the question is therefore not how privacy can best be protected but in which cases whose privacy should be protected and in which cases it should not be protected. Many constitutional privacy regulations acknowledge the limit is of privacy and private property and that unlimited property can harm the public good. So the fifth amendment of the US constitution says that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty or property”, but adds: “without due process of law”. It says that private property shall not “be taken for public usem without just compensation”. Artile 14 (1) of the German Grundgeetz says that “property and the right of inheritance shall be guaranteed” and adds: “(2)Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good. (3) Expropriation shall onlybe permissible for the public good”. Similarly, the Swedish Constituion (The Instrument of Government, Chapter 2) guarantees “the property of every citizen”, but adds that this is not the case when expropriations is necessary to satisfy pressing public interests” (s18). Liberal privacy theories typically talk about the positive qualities that privacy entails for humans or speak of it as an anthropological constant in all societies, without discussing the particular role of privacy in modern, capitalist society. Alan Westin (1967), on the one hand gives examples from anthropological literature of societies without privacy, but on the other hand in contradiction to his own examples claims that privacy is a universal phenomenon that can be found in sexual relations, households, personal encounter, religion, puberty, and that is related to gossip and curiosity. Bloustein (1964/1984) argues that privacy is needed for protecting individual dignity, integrity, independence, freedom, and self-determination. For Westin (1967), privacy provides individual autonomy, emotional release, self-evaluation, and intimacy. Fried (1968/1984) seep privacy as a context that enables human respect, love, friendship and trust. Benn (1971/1984) says that privacy is a general principle needed or respect, freedom and autonomy. For Rachel (1975/1984), privacy is needed for protecting individuals from competition and embarrassment. Gerstein (1978/1984) argues that intimacy cannot exist without privacy. For Gavison (1980), privacy protects freedom from physical access, liberty of action, freedom from censure and ridicule, and promotes mental health, autonomy, human relations, dignity, pluralism, tolerance, and democracy. Ferdinand Schoeman (1984a) argues that privacy enables social relationship, intimacy, personality, and personally validated objectives thatare autonomously defined. Mergulis (2003a, b) says that privacy enable autonomy, emotional release, self-evaluation, and protected communication. Solove (2008, 98) argues that privacy is a pluralistic value and provides a list of the values privacy has been associated with: autonomy, counterculture, creativity, democracy, eccentricity, dignity, freedom, freedom of thought, friendship, human relationships, imagination, independence, individuality, intimacy, psychological well-being, reputation, self-development. Given the preceding discussion, the following values can be added to this list: emotional release, individual integrity, love, personality, pluralism, self-determination, respect tolerance, self-evaluation, trust. Such analyses do not engage with actual and possible negative effects of privacy and the relationship of modern privacy to private property, capital accumulation, and social inequality. They give unhistorical accounts of privacy by arguing that privacy is a universal human principle that brings about positive qualities for individuals and society. They abstract from issues relating to the political economy of capitalism, such as exploitation and income/wealth inequality. But if there are negative aspects of modern privacy, such as the shielding of income gaps and of corporate crimes, then universalistic liberal privacy accounts are problematic because they neglect negative aspects and present modern values as characteristic for all societies. Karl Marx characterized the appearance of the “definite social relation between men themselves” as “the fantastic form of a relation between things” (Marx 1867, 167) as fetishistic thinking. Fetishism mistakes phenomena that are created by humans and have social and historical character as being natural and existing always and forever in all societies. Phenomena such as the commodity are declared to be “everlasting truths” (Marx 1867, 175, fn34). Theories of privacy do not consider privacy as historical, that do not take into account the relation of privacy and capitalism or only stress its positive role, can be based on Marx be characterized as privacy fetishism. In contrast to privacy fetishism, Moore (1984) argues based on anthropoligial and historical analyses of privacy that it is not an anthropological need “like the need for air, sleep, or nourishment” (Moore 1984, 71), but “a socially created need” that varies historically (Moore 1984, 73). The desire for privacy, according to Moore, develops only in societies that have a public sphere that is characterized by complex social relationships that are seen as “disagreeable or threatening obligation” (Moore 1984, 72). Moore argues that this situation is the result of stratified societies, in which there are winners and losers. The alternative would be the “direct participation in decisions affecting daily lives” (Moore 1984, 79).

Privacy as a right ignores the interrelatedness of human existence and shifts to a paradigm of greed and competition

Fuchs 2011 [Christian. "The Political Economy of Privacy." The Internet & Surveillance 8 (2011).//shaREEF]

There is no pure individual existence. All human existence is socially conditioned. By conceiving pricacy as individual right, liberal privacy conceptions fail to grasp the social existence of humans. Marx described the position of the relation of the private and the general in the theories of bourgeois political economists. “The economists express this as follows: Each pursues his private interest and only his private interest; and thereby serves the private interests of all, the general interest, without willing or knowing it. The real point is not that each individual’s pursuit of his private interest promotes the totality of private interests, the general interest. One could just as well deduce from this abstract phrase that each individual reciprocally blocks the assertion of the others’ interests, so that, instead of a general affirmation this war of all against all produces a general negation. The point is rather that private interest is itself already a socially determined interest, which can be achieved only within the conditions laid down by society and with the means provided by society; hence it is bound to the reproduction of these conditions and means. It is the interest of private persons; but its content, as well as the form and means of its realization, is given by social conditions independent of all” (Marx 1857/58, 156). So it is Marx’s argument that the notion of the private in the classical political economy is individualistic and neglects that all individual actions take place within and are conditioned by society.

Notions of privacy promote a possessive individualism that destroys communal cohesion by instrumentalizing life for capitalist accumulation

Fuchs 2011 [Christian. "The Political Economy of Privacy." The Internet & Surveillance 8 (2011).//shaREEF]

The individualism advanced by liberal privacy theories results in egoism that harms the public good. Marx furthermore stresses that modern society is not only based on individualism but also on egoism (Marx 1843b, 235-237, 240). Liberty in bourgeois society “is the liberal of man viewed as an isolated nomad withdrawn into himself […] The practical application of the right of liberty is the right of private property” (Marx 1843b, 234)”> Modern society’s constitution would be the “constitution of private property” (Marx 1843a, 166). The right of private property in the means of production and to accumulate as much capital as one pleases would harm the community and the social welfare of others who are by this process deprived of wealth:The righto property is thus the right to enjoy and dispose one’s possessions as one wills, without regard for other men and independently of society. It is the right of self-interest” (Marx 1843b, 236). “Thus none of the so-called rights of men goes beyond the egoistic man, the man withdrawn into himself, his private interest and his private choice, and separated from community as a member of civil society” (Marx 1843b, 236f).Marx further criticizes that the private accumulation of capital results in the concentration of capital and thereby of wealth: “Accumulation, where private property prevails, is the concentration of capital in the hand of a few” (Marx 1844, 41). David Lyon notes that the liberal “conception of privacy connects neatly with private property. Mill’s sovereign individuals were characterized by freedom to pursue their own interests without interference, by rational, calculating and self-motivated action in transforming nature to their own ends. This presupposes a highly competitive environment, in which one person’s freedom would impinge on another’s hence the need to balance values like ‘privacy’ with others (Lyon 1994, 186). Crawford Macpherson (1962) has termed this Marxian critique of liberalism the critique of possessive individualism. Possessive individualism is the “conception of the individual as essentiality the proprietor of his own person or capacities, own nothing to society for them” (Macpherson 1962, 3). According to Macpherson, it is the underlying worldview of liberal-democratic theory since John Locke and John Stuart Mill. The problem of the liberal notion of privacy and the private sphere is that relatively unhindered private accumulation of wealth, as the neoliberal regime of accumulation has shown since the 1970s, comes into conflict with social justice and is likely to result in strong socio-economic inequality. The ultimate result of Mill’s understanding of privacy is an extreme unequal distribution of wealth. So his privacy concept privileges the rich owning class at the expense of the non-owners of private property in the means of production.

Defense of privacy is inherent to maintaining the inner-workings of capitalist exploitation—the separation of public/private allows endless corporate greed that maintains systems of poverty, poverty, and racism

Fuchs 2011 [Christian. "The Political Economy of Privacy." The Internet & Surveillance 8 (2011).//shaREEF]

There is an inherent connection of privacy, private property, and patriarchal family. Engels has stressed the inherent connection of the private sphere with private property and the patriarchal family. “The first class antithesis which appears in history [slavery] coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamous marriage, and the first class oppression with that of the female sex by the male. […] The administration of the household lost its public character. It was no longer the concern of society. It became a private service. The wife became the first domestic servant, pushed out of participation in social production” (Engles 1891, 474, 480). The Marxian analysis of the political economy of privacy was partly reflected in the works of Jurgen Habermas and Hannah Arendt. Marx stresses that capitalism is based on a separation of the state and bourgeois society. The latter would be based on private property. Man “leads a double life. […] In the political community he regards himself as communal being: but in civil society he is active as a private individual, treats other men as means, reduces himself to a means, and becomes the plaything of alien powers” (Marx 1843b, 225;see also: Marx 1843a, 90). This Marxian moment of analysis is a crucial element in Habermas’ theory of the public sphere. During the course of the development of capitalism since the 19th century, the world of work and organization became a distinct sphere. With the rise of wage labour, industrialism, and the factory, the economy became to a certain degree disembedded from the private household (Habermas 1989, 152, 154; see also: Arendt 1958, 47, 68). Consumption became a central role of the private sphere: “O the other hand, the family now evolved even more into a consumer of income and leisure time, into the recipient of publicly guaranteed compensations and support services. Private autonomy was maintained not so much in functions of control as in functions of consumption”, (Habermas 1989, 156). Therefore privacy is for Habermas an illusionary ideology –“pseudo privacy” (Habermas 1989, 157) – that in reality functions as community of consumers: “there arose the illusion of an intensified privacy in an interior domain whose scope had shrunk to compromise the conjugal family only insofar as it constituted a community of consumers” (Habermas 1989, 156). A central role of the private sphere in capitalism is also that it is a sphere of leisure: “Leisure behavior supplies the key to the floodlit privacy of the new sphere, the the externalization of what is declared to be the inner life” (Habermas 1989, 159). Expressed in other words one can say that the role of the private sphere in capitalism is as sphere of leisure and consumption that Habermas identifies is that it guarantees the reproduction of labour power so that it remains vital, productive, and exploitable. Habermas (1989, 124-129) stresses for Marx the inherent principle of universal accessibility of the public sphere is undermined by the facts that in capitalism private property of the means of production is controlled by capitalists and workers are excluded from this ownership. The separation of the private from the public real obstructs “what the idea of the bourgeois public sphere promised” (Habermas 1989, 125). Hannah Arendt (1958) reflects in her work the Marxian notion that the liberal privacy concept is atomistic and alienates humans from their social essence. She stresses that sociality is a fundamental human condition. Privacy is for her in modern society “a sphere of intimacy” (Arendt 1958, 38). For Arendt, the public realm is a sphere where everything can be seen and heard by everybody (Arendt 1958,50). It is “the common world” that “gathers us together and yet prevents our falling over each other” (arendt 1958, 52). Privacy would be a sphere of deprivation, where humans are deprived of social realtions and the possibility of achieving something more permanent than life itself” (Arendt 1958,58). “The privation of privacy lies in the absence of others” (Arendt 1958, 58). Arendt says that the relation between private and public is “manifest in its most elementary level in the question of private property” (Arendt 1958, 61). In modern society, as a result of private property the public would have become a function of the private and the private the only common concern left, a flight from the outer world into intimacy (Arendt 1958, 69). Labour and economic production, formerly part of private households would have become public by being integrated into capitalist production. The theories of Marx, Arendt, and Habermas have quite different political implications, the three authors have in common that they stress the importance of addressing the notions of privacy and the public by alayzing their inherent connection to the political economy of capitalism. Countries like Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monao, or Austria have a tradition of relative anonymity of bank accounts and transactions. Money as private property is seen as an aspect of privacy, about which no or only restricted information should be known to the public. In Switzerland the bank secret is defined in the Federal Banking Act (47). The Swiss Bankers Association sees bank anonymity as a form of “financial privacy” that needs to be protected and of ‘privacy in relation to financial income and assests”. In most countries, information about income and profits of companies (except for public companies) is treated as a secret, a form of financial privacy. The problems of secret bank accounts and transactions and the intransparency of richness and company are not only that secrecy can in the economy support tax evasion, black money, and money laundering, but that it masks wealth gaps. Financial privacy reflects the classical liberal account of privacy. So for example John Stuart Mill formulated a right of the propertied class to economic privacy as “the owner’s privacy against invasion” (Mill 1965, 232). Economic privacy in capitalism (the right to keep information about income, profits, bank transactions secret) protects the rich companies and wealth. The anonymity of wealth, high incomes, and profits makes income and wealth gaps between the rich and the poor invisible and thereby ideologically helps legitimatizing and upholding these gaps. It can therefore be considered an ideological mechanism that helps reproducing and deepening inequality. Privacy is in modern societies and ideal rooted in the Enlightenment. The rise of capitalism resulted in the idea that the private sphere should be separated from the public sphere and not accessible for the public and that therefore autonomy and anonymity of the individual is needed in the private sphere. The rise of the idea of privacy in modern society is connected to the rise of the central ideal of the freedom of private ownership. Private ownership is the idea that humans have the right to own as much wealth as they want as long as it is inherited or acquired through individual achievements. There is an antagonism between private ownership and social equality in modern society. How much and what exactly a person owns is treated as an aspect of privacy in contemporary society. To keep ownership structures secret is a measure of precaution against the public questioning or the political and individual attack against private ownership. Capitalism requires anonymity and privacy in order to function. But full privacy is also not possible in modern society because strangers enter social relations that require trust or enable exchange. Building trust requires knowing certain data about other persons. It is therefore checked with the help of knowing certain data about other persons. It is therefore checked with the help of knowing certain data about other persons. It is therefore checked with the help of knowing certain data about other persons. It is therefore checked with the help of surveillance procedures if a stranger can be trusted. Corporations have the aim of accumulating ever more capital. That is why they have an interest in knowing as much as possible about their workers (in order to control them) and the interests, tastes, and behaviours of their customers. This results in the surveillance of workers and consumers. The ideals of modernity (such as the freedom of ownership) also produce phenomena such as income and wealth inequality, poverty, unemployment, precarious living and working conditions. The establishment of trust, socio-economic differences, and corporate interests are three qualities of modernity that necessitate surveillance. Therefore, modernity on the one hand advances the ideal of a right to privacy, but on the other hand it must continuously advance surveillance that threatens to undermine privacy rights. An antagonism between privacy ideals and surveillance is therefore constitutive of capitalism. Liberal privacy discourse is highly individualistic; it is always focused on the individual and his/her freedoms. It separates public and private spheres. Privacy in capitalism can best be characterized as an antagonistic value that is on the one side upheld as a universal value for protecting private property, but is at the same time permanently undermined by corporate surveillance into the lives of workers and consumers for profit purposes. Capitalism protects privacy for the rich and companies, but at the same time legitimates privacy violations of consumers and citizens. It thereby undermines its own positing of privacy as universal value.
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