Repressive Cosmopolitanism

Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings (left) and chief content officer Ted Sarandos at a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, in 2016. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)
Global technology companies are bureaucracies that prefer uniformity. They’re tempted to make China, or Saudi Arabia, the arbiter of free-speech standards.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE I n Thank You for Smoking, Christopher Buckley offers a hilarious description of a useful concept: The “Yuppie Nuremberg Defense.” The lobbyists at the center of the story are engaged in the business of deploying dishonesty in the service of their unholy corporate masters in the tobacco, firearms, and liquor businesses, and they justify their moral compromises to themselves by saying, “I’m only paying the mortgage.”

It’s a funny conceit, but one that is related to real-world political thinking. It is part of the broader tendency toward an enabling “realism” — never mind that these “realists” often aren’t — about which all