Confounding political legitimacy with markets

In response to a short twitter conversation about the Australia Day ‘Google Doodle’ that required a fuller explanation.

Using corporations to gazump political argument, or using corporations to legitimize political argument, has always troubled me. The latest case in point is the ‘Google Doodle’ used for Australian Day.

The doodle was appropriate for the day, and I’m sure appropriate for Google’s target market.  This in itself says a lot, but to consider the doodle a ‘pointed political statement’ as claimed by New Matilda is to relinquish political agency to the commercial market and undermine the hard work of political activists.  Corporations follow the market and follow governments, but they do not always follow good principle.  Spectacular examples include the Krupp, Bayer and Volkswagen corporations during World War 2.  Continuing with World War 2 example, the behavior of these corporations contrasts to the individual activists who resisted during that period.

Political enfranchisement is a right of all citizens irrespective of what they consume and in which target market they are located.  Sound argument cannot, and should not, be legitimized or delegitimized by corporate marketing machines.  Corporations rarely act voluntarily against their own self-interest. The ‘Google Doodle’ was not an act of political sacrifice but an act of commercial marketing. This contrasts to the sacrifices made by political activists over the centuries who have toiled for justice for Australian Aboriginals including the stolen generations.

The ‘Google Doodle’ comes in the wake of many years of hard fought political activism by activists for Aboriginal rights. That the cause is now appropriate for use in the commercial market is a testament to their efforts; but Google is not leading this debate.

Sure, the doodle indicates that Australians are probably comfortable with the notion of a ‘Stolen Dreamtime’, and that it’s time for Australia’s political processes to digest Australia’s history in full. But we should never cede political legitimacy to marketing machines.

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