On the neutrality of the state

by Elias Blum

The problem with government agencies using companies like Cambridge Analytica and Facebook allegedly to swing the results of the Scottish independence referendum is not that these companies may have employed some subtle and underhand tactics, or that they are alleged to have misused data. That’s worrying in its own way, but its kind of incidental.

The real cause for concern is that the state, in contracting with these companies, may not have acted impartially: the boundary between party-politics and public administratio appears to have been blurred.

When the resources of the state, as distinct from the resources of a party, are put behind a campaign, it’s no longer free and fair. It’s a ‘managed referendum’, of the Napoleonic sort. Our future cannot be determined by such means.