Sunday, January 6, 2019

Asher Schechter - “It’s Crucial to Break Up Facebook”

Columbia law professor Tim Wu on The Curse of Bigness, neo-Brandeisian antitrust, and the lessons we should learn from the first Gilded Age.

Four decades ago, writes Tim Wu in the introduction to his recent book The Curse of Bigness, the United States and other countries entered into a sweeping experiment that radically transformed their economies and politics. The experiment in question consisted of abandoning most checks on anticompetitive conduct, thus allowing concentrated corporate power to grow undisturbed.

The result: an increasingly concentrated global economy marked by historic levels of inequality and extreme concentrations of economic and political power, with disaffected voters being lured by radical far-right nationalists across the West. “We have managed to recreate both the economics and politics of a century ago—the first Gilded Age,” Wu writes.

Now, he warns, liberal democracies risk making yet another grave historical error by ignoring the well-established link between the concentration of economic power and the rise of authoritarianism. That monopolization poses an existential threat to democracy has been widely known throughout history: Louis Brandeis famously referred to this threat as the “curse of bigness”; in Germany, the rise of fascism was partly facilitated by monopolists and industrial cartels.

Yet in recent decades, explained Wu in an interview with ProMarket, much of this history has been forgotten. The legacy of Brandeis, America’s leading defender against bigness, has been “neglected, almost forgotten,” along with the greater antimonopoly tradition that has been an integral part of US politics for over 200 years. Which is why he decided to write The Curse of Bigness, a slim book that is equal parts historical polemic and urgent call to action. 

Wu, the Julius Silver Professor of Law, Science and Technology at Columbia Law School and also the author of The Attention Merchants and The Master Switch, is perhaps best known for coining the term “net neutrality.” In his interview with ProMarket, he discussed the parallels between the monopolies of today and those of the first Gilded Age and explained why breaking up dominant companies is crucial, particularly when it comes to Facebook.

Interview here - 


Konrad said...

Tim Wu and Asher Schechter help to keep neoliberals in power by confusing war between the peasants with war between the classes.

Explanation . . .

As you know, oligarchs and neoliberals are neither “liberal” nor “conservative. They are separate from both, and above both. They are omnipotent “centrists” and “moderates.” They maneuver liberals and conservatives into battling each other so that both sides remain impoverished and enslaved. They sustain the fake Democrat-vs-Republican duopoly so that the peasants have an illusion of choice and “democracy.”

Tim Wu and Asher Schechter fall into the neoliberal trap when Schechter writes that extreme concentrations of economic and political power result in “disaffected voters being lured by radical far-right nationalists across the West.”

The phrase “far right nationalists” is taken from the pro-neoliberal media.

Wu and Schechter obey neoliberals by looking at everything through a lens of liberal vs. conservative, and by assuming that nationalism is a bad thing. (Neoliberals hate nationalism, since it connotes solidarity among the peasants. Trump is a fake nationalist, i.e. he is a neoliberal.)

In other words, for Tim Wu and Asher Schechter, neoliberalism leads to Nazism, even though Nazism is nationalist, which neoliberals will not allow. For Wu and Schechter, Macron of France is bad, but Marine Le Pen is infinitely worse, since Ms. Le Pen is a nationalist, and therefore a “Nazi.”

What I am saying is that in order to break the grip of neoliberalism, we must not let neoliberals dictate our narrative. Our enemies are not “Nazis” or “Communists.” They are not “nationalists” or “populists.” They are neoliberal bankers and oligarchs.

When Wu and Schechter warn of looming Nazism, they give a weapon to neoliberals. If a populist seeks to defend the masses against oligarchs, the oligarchs can call him or her a “Nazi,” and BOOM --- the masses oppose their would-be defender, thereby keeping themselves enslaved.

It is true that mega-monopolies sustain authoritarianism, but it is not true that authoritarianism is automatically Nazism. Neoliberal authoritarianism is feudalism, in which oligarchs own everyone and everything. Neoliberalism reduces the masses to tenants (serfs) and debt slaves.

Then Tim Wu goes “full retard”:

“There is something alarming about the rise of extremist governments around the world. It has something to do with a sense of discontent as to how the economy functions for people…”

Once again, Wu echoes the neoliberal narrative. Mr. Wu sees Nazis and “extremist governments” everywhere, just as neoliberals tell him to do. For Wu, any alternative to neoliberal fascists is “fascist.” Any government that opposes neoliberal extremists is “extremist.”

If Tim Wu was an economist, this kind of garbage would get him a Nobel Prize.

Konrad said...

Speaking of neoliberals . . .

On 1 Jan 2019, Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as Brazil’s new president. On 2 Jan 2019, I predicted here (in my comments) that Bolsonaro would announce a new wave of neoliberalism that would be worse than ever before. The following day he did just that.

The neoliberal attack is led by Paolo Guedes, who is Bolsonaro’s minister of the economy, plus minister of finance, minister of industry, and minister of trade and planning. Paolo Guedes rules Brazil. Jair Bolsonaro is his puppet.

Guedes was trained as a neoliberal by Milton Friedman at Chicago University, and he imposed neoliberal “reforms” on Chile for the Pinochet dictatorship. Now Guedes will do the same to Brazil, with dramatic tax cuts for the rich, plus wage cuts for workers. Guedes has vowed to privatize 44 airports, plus four seaports, plus Electrobras (the government-run power firm).

Guedes will also privatize the Social Security system, as he did for the dictator Pinochet in Chile. He will also privatize many roads (i.e. give them to his rich cronies). Guedes says his goal is to make Brazil a “minimal state” (i.e. a state privately owned by the rich).

Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil is technically not a neoliberal, but he has no power. He is a moron and a puppet. He rails against “freaks, fags, and feminists,” while leftist Brazilians indulge in Bolsonaro Derangement Syndrome (just like in the USA).

As the Brazilian peasants battle each other, Mr. Guedes (the real power) will impoverish them all, in service to the wealthy. And the peasants will blame each other, not Mr. Guedes.

Kaivey said...

Saint Etienne -

Archway People


Kiss and Make Up

Konrad said...

My preferences in this order:

[1] Kiss and makeup

[2] Archway People

[3] Spring

Regarding the group Saint Etienne, I like Sarah Cracknell's relaxed way of singing. Too many singers try to show off their voices, and end up sounding screechy.

The pretty girl from College Youth (a Canadian group) sings in that relaxed fashion. The song below honors airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger's miraculous landing in New York's Hudson River with no passengers killed or injured (15 Jan 2009).