Big Tech’s monopoly power as a threat to democracy

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“A man always has two reasons for the things he does—a good one and the real one.” Pierpont Morgan

It was a year ago this month that the New Republic’s then-editor Franklin Foer published its controversial cover story on Amazon.com.

In it, Foer accused the online retail/media behemoth of being a coercive monopoly and calling for breaking the company into pieces, Teddy Roosevelt-style.

Foer’s article, “Amazon Must Be Stopped”, sparked a heated and often vicious debate that most people probably missed, a debate about the politics of tech power and private monopoly power. That’s because — as I’ve said and written many times since uncovering the wage-theft Techtopus conspiracy — what Big Tech fears most in politics is not Guy Fawkes-masked revolutionaries, NSA snoops or anti-NSA whistleblowers or anything else that dramatic—but antitrust law and anti-monopoly politics. Taxes and other regulations are also big worries—but for Big Tech, the number one threat is antitrust law and America’s long tradition of antimonopoly politics, a dormant political volcano since the Reagan years.

Under the subheader—“It’s too big. It’s cannibalizing the economy. It’s time for a radical plan.”—Foer wrote:

Shopping on Amazon has so ingrained itself in modern American life that it has become something close to our unthinking habit, and the company has achieved a level of dominance that merits the application of a very old label: monopoly

That term doesn’t get tossed around much these days, but it should. Amazon is the shining representative of a new golden age of monopoly that also includes Google and Walmart [and Facebook—M.A.].

By calling out Amazon as a coercive monopoly that should be busted up — and by giving a deeper political-historical context to anti-monopoly politics in the US — Foer’s article stirred up the Silicon Valley billionaire class’ deepest fear: The resuscitation of anti-monopoly politics adjusted to the new circumstances and new realities.

And that was exactly the purpose of his New Republic article: To reanimate America’s antimonopoly political consciousness, adjusted for a new political economy and Big Tech’s unique species of coercive monopoly power…

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