Rat In A Cage

One of the mysteries of the last few years has been why it is that a company like Disney would be willing to bend the knee to all kinds of demands from authoritarian regimes like China but be so hostile to Republicans in Florida. On the face of it, this makes no sense. For example, it is not uncommon that Disney seeks to push an agenda in the film and television offerings that it makes, but at the same time this agenda has often been disguised by the company when it offers these films and television shows in areas like China and Saudi Arabia, for example, where the company goes out of its way, it would seem, to respect local sensibilities, without showing any similar interest in providing a similar respect for sensibilities when it comes to American conservatives. Similarly, the company has shown a willingness to bend the knee to dictatorial initiatives by California governors but has deliberately provoked and even sued Florida’s own governor because of its political incompetence.

One of the characteristic shortcomings of Disney throughout its recent history has been a refusal to accept that it was subject to the same rules as everyone else. For many years, Disney was permitted to rule over a sizable portion of Central Florida in a way that failed to prepare Disney for the reality of change. Long ago, in the 1960’s, Disney had received a special improvement district for an area outside of Orlando, Florida, where Walt Disney sought to form an experimental future city, but after his death, his successors found out that building towns was hard but that seeking to control development for its own profit was far more lucrative. While Florida’s own political culture matured in a direction that emphasized sunshine and the transparent operation of government entities as a disinfectant for corrupt politics, Disney remained mired in an age of crony capitalism where it sought to manipulate its puppet special district to support its own gain, unaware of the dangers that resulted from a consistent failure to operate according to the laws and norms of the state as a whole in which it operated but whose ways it had failed to appreciate.

We can determine from this that where a company has long been the recipient of special privileges, even if (perhaps especially if) those privileges are exercised in bad faith and fraudulently, they remain blind to the possibility of losing those privileges and often act in such a way that provokes others to attack the source of their corrupt power. The fish is the last to notice that it lives in water, and the privileged entity is the last to realize that its privilege makes it vulnerable not to hostile attack but merely to the threat of losing their special privilege and simply being put on a level playing field, at a heavy cost to itself. Why is it that we are so immune to seeing ourselves as receiving benefits that we are not owed and do not deserve? If we were aware that privileges did not make us powerful but rather made us vulnerable to the removal of these privileges and placing us in an unfamiliar position of simply being put on the same level as everyone else, we would be far more likely to avoid abusing those privileges.

We do not own property. Instead, property owns us. The things we own and the things we have shape us accordingly. When Walt Disney world was awarded large amounts of land in Central Florida, the company thought that it had been granted powers that made it the equal of the state that had granted it those privileges, instead of realizing that it had been tied to the area where its privileges were given, and should have been all the more sensitive to conditions there. Like a French noble in ancien regime France, Disney had been blinded to its special status and instead pushed its weight around as if it was a king, not realizing that the ground of its privilege was in danger of being swept up in the midst of revolution. Had it been aware of conditions that threatened its privileges, it may have decided to behave differently. But that ship has sailed a long time ago, and a company that thought itself to be a king has found itself to be merely a rat in a cage.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s