Michael S. Malone addresses the great disaster of our times: Free enterprise capitalism metastasizing into Corporate Enforcer of Correct Speech and Thought and China Ally.
You don’t have to be very old to remember when Silicon Valley represented the shiny technological future.
It was the land of brilliant entrepreneurs starting fast-moving new companies. An enclave of perpetual optimism, where the brightest young people went to change the world — and got very rich in the process. A place that didn’t grow old, but revised itself every decade into something perpetually exciting and new.
But today, to many Americans, Silicon Valley has become the locus of everything wrong with a technological revolution that has grown dark and totalitarian. It is the heartland of cancel culture, it’s giant social networking companies censoring free speech. It uses its wealth to influence elections. And its companies are in bed with some of the worst regimes on the planet. Congress and the Federal Communications Commission are looking at ways to break up the biggest Valley companies. Polls show that a majority of Americans no longer trust Big Tech. And surveys have revealed that a sizable number of Valley workers can’t wait to leave.
What happened? How did it all turn so bad so quickly? …
Freeware may be the most pernicious invention of the last few decades. You don’t buy tech anymore; you rent, you subscribe and, most of all, you get it for free. How can you say no, especially if you’re an adolescent? And all you have to give up is every bit of information about your life so that it can be sold around the world.
You no longer own your own data. That may not seem like a big deal now, but we are rushing towards a world of tight social control. The single most soul-rotting characteristic of modern Silicon Valley is freeware. It has granted companies absolute cultural, financial and political power, the kind that no company before them has ever known. And that power has corrupted these companies absolutely. …
Besides freeware, the other great discovery of the last 20 years has been that if you give consumers a platform and the tools to create their own product, they will happily become your unpaid slaves and not only surrender their personal data but also spend thousands of hours making you rich. And because of that, you don’t have to grab increments of market share from your competitors. Instead, you need to scale to an almost unimaginable population of users/slaves who become so committed that it is almost impossible for them to escape. After that, you can even control their words and actions — an opportunity too great to pass up.
Amazon.com Inc. said it recently removed a three-year-old book about transgender issues from its platforms because it decided not to sell books that frame transgender and other sexual identities as mental illnesses.
The company explained its decision in a letter Thursday to Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Braun of Indiana and Josh Hawley of Missouri, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The senators had written last month to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos requesting an explanation of why “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” was no longer available on Amazon nor on its Kindle and Audible platforms.
“As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” Amazon said in the letter, which was signed by Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, referring to sexual identities that include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, among others.
“When Harry Became Sally,” written by the conservative scholar Ryan T. Anderson, was published in February 2018. The book focuses on a variety of issues including gender identity.
“Everyone agrees that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that causes great suffering,” said Mr. Anderson and Roger Kimball, the publisher of Encounter Books, the New York-based nonprofit that published the book, in a statement Thursday in response to Amazon’s letter.
“There is a debate, however, which Amazon is seeking to shut down, about how best to treat patients who experience gender dysphoria,” they added, calling their book “an important contribution” to that conversation. “Amazon is using its massive power to distort the marketplace of ideas and is deceiving its own customers in the process,” they said.
Amazon’s decision comes as the nation’s largest tech platforms are under increased scrutiny regarding the decisions they make over which content is acceptable.
There are many intensely-charged cultural and political issues on which rational, well-educated men will inevitably disagree.
The etiology and moral status of homosexuality and gender dysphoria is a striking example of just such a controversy.
So, how has it come to pass that large consumer corporations, like Amazon, have recently appointed themselves as dictators and Platonic Guardians in charge of deciding in favor of the preferred position of the Radical Left, and using their business platforms and strategic position in Society to shut down debate and outlaw the very existence of an alternative viewpoint in polite society?
We shop at Amazon, but nobody elected Mark Zuckerberg or Brian Huseman to any position in charge of “public policy” of any kind.
If the owner of my local grocery or hardware store got too big for his britches and started telling customers how to vote and what to think, he obviously wouldn’t stay in business very long.
The Big Tech billionaires, sitting on top of companies currently enjoying accidental and ephemeral de facto monopolies are flushed with wine and insolence. They must have read too many left-wing sophisters and economists who tell you that such marketplace predominance is totally defensible, permanent, and secure. They are dead wrong. Alta Vista, not so very long ago, was the cat’s pajamas of search engines. Yahoo and AOL used to be hot stuff. The examples of absolutely sector dominant companies that are now one with Nineveh and Tyre is limitless.
Amazon can be replaced, and I have news for Mr. Zuckerberg: he has pissed away serious quantities of customer loyalty and good will. I used to like and admire Amazon. I preferred shopping with Amazon. Not anymore. Venture Capitol, just offer me any reasonable alternative and I will be delighted to drop Amazon and all the rest of today’s Big Tech Dictatorships permanently. That happy day is coming. Count on it, Amazon!
Cancel culture doesn’t exist, they say. And yet with the flick of a switch, billionaire capitalists voted for by precisely nobody have just silenced a man who is still the democratically elected president of the United States. With the push of a button in their vast temples to technology, the new capitalist oligarchs of Silicon Valley have prevented a man who won the second largest vote in the history of the American republic just two months ago — 74million votes — from engaging with his supporters (and critics) in the new public square of the internet age.
Not only does cancel culture exist — it is the means through which the powerful, unaccountable oligarchies of the internet era and their clueless cheerleaders in the liberal elites interfere in the democratic process and purge voices they disapprove of. That’s what Twitter’s permanent suspension of Donald Trump confirms.
The new capitalists’ cancellation of the democratically elected president of the United States is a very significant turning point in the politics and culture of the Western world. We underestimate the significance of this act of unilateral purging at our peril. It demonstrates that the greatest threat to freedom and democracy comes not from the oafs and hard-right clowns who stormed the Capitol this week, but from the technocratic elites who spy in the breaching of the Capitol an opportunity to consolidate their cultural power and their political dominance.
Twitter’s ban on Trump is extraordinary for many reasons. First, there’s the arrogance of it. Make no mistake: this is the bosses vs democracy; corporates vs the people; exceptionally wealthy and aloof elites determining which elected politicians may engage in online discussion, which is where most political and public debate takes place in the 21st century. Those who cannot see how concerning and sinister it is that a handful of Big Tech companies have secured a virtual monopoly over the social side of the internet, and are now exploiting their monopolistic power to dictate what political opinions it is acceptable to hold and express in these forums, urgently needs a wake-up call.
Secondly, there is Twitter’s deeply disturbing justification for why it suspended Trump. It says Trump’s account ran the ‘risk’ of ‘inciting violence’. And yet the two tweets of his that it cites do nothing of the sort. In one, Trump describes his voters as ‘great American patriots’ and insists they will have a ‘GIANT VOICE’ in the future. In the other he confirms that he will not be attending the inauguration of Joe Biden. That’s it. In what warped moral universe can such standard, boastful Trump-made statements be interpreted as calls for violence?
So, the Establishment has decided to address the grievances of people who feel disenfranchised, silenced, and subjected to double standards with much more disenfranchisement, silencing, and double standards. Seems like an on-brand move for the most corrupt, unwise, and incompetent – yet remarkably arrogant – ruling caste America has ever known. Good plan – deny them the right to pick their 2024 president, clap like trained seals as corporate overlords cut off their ability to express themselves, and continue to treat their own supporters well and dissenters much, much worse. That’s sustainable. Say, let’s put out this blazing fire with this handy can of gasoline.
Yeah, they are having fun for now. While the supine GOP is tweeting hack cliches about Muh Not Who We Are, the left is trying to tighten the noose. But we’re woke. Rasmussen puts Trump’s popularity at 51%, rising after the riots. We aren’t blaming Trump for the riots. And we sure aren’t rolling over for these bastards.
I am watching this, and I usually avoid long videos, principally because it is interesting to see, and hear, the superhumanly energetic figure who manages to teach law, write lots of books, and produce the single most important conservative blog at a scale of productivity that continues to astound.
His take on Big Tech Social Media is also obviously of considerable interest. Glenn Reynolds is already on the record as advocating the break-up of those “Internet monopolies,” a basically incongruous position for such a libertarian thinker.
He may be, of course, a just a trifle prejudiced here. Big Tech Social Media came along and turned out to be a powerfully effective competitor to the blogosphere. It cut my traffic down into only a fraction of what it used to be, and I expect its impact on the Instapundit blog was also impressive.
I’d normally myself be totally against Antitrust persecution of corporations, but the Big Tech leviathans are themselves hypocritical political partisans systematically misusing the power that’s fallen into their laps to create totalitarian satrapies in which non-politically-correct, often merely conservative speech is stomped out.
I’m currently serving my second 30-day sentence in Facebook jail. This time based on a stupid misinterpretation of my technical description of the characteristics of Fascism as a pro-Nazi posting, doubtless by some low-level employee with English as a second language.