Past Evil As Evidence Of Current Sagacity

I'm also trying to get 'the nerd department' going as a phrase I use

Past Evil As Evidence Of Current Sagacity

I've been relistening to the QAA series on Cambridge Analytica. It was a great listen for lots of reasons (not least because there’s a walk-on part for a friend of mine). It centers around Chris Wylie, a Canadian who was involved in various political campaigns on the data/advertising side. He started his own company, attempting to pitch various political groups including the Trump campaign and Vote Leave. He then, with the connivance of the (charitably) credulous Carole Cadwalladr, managed to reinvent himself as a whistleblower.

The fundamental pitch he had is: “hear this from someone who’s done it: all this stuff is insanely bad and terrifying.” Never mind that he was using this to throw people off the scent of the bad shit he himself had been up to (pitching the Trump campaign on his basically fake services). The question the show asks of “what incentive do whistleblowers have to whistleblow if you crucify them for the bad things they’re a part of” is a fair one, but this appears to be a case of moral hazard. The whole thing was basically Wylie’s idea in the first place: he wasn’t some guy enmeshed in a system who slowly realised its flaws—he actively sought it out.

You get this elsewhere: with the ‘stoic’ lad who used to run the marketing for American Apparel; the Social Dilemma lad who used to run the evil bit of the Facebook nerd department; the minimalist lads who used to work… wherever, I don’t know: all these people who have cashed out of their egregiously lucrative careers of moderate-to-severe corporate evil, performed some absurd self-aggrandisement masked as very mild self-flagellation and transitioned into even more lucrative careers as media personalities—and in Wylie’s case, to a different kind of corporate evil, working in the nerd department of fast-fashion giant H&M.

It’s the liberal inverse of the phenomenon you can sometimes see with comedians who've said something a bit too problematic: they use their cancellation as an excuse to lean into their more problematic material to appeal to their new audience of dislikable people. Or the old Trots who became neocons. I've talked about past foolishness as evidence of current sagacity; this is past evil as evidence of current sagacity.

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