By Alexander Saint-Cyr
A man used to know his place in the world. He used to know his station and his class. So to, did he know where his loyalties lied and from where his sovereignty derived. A man used to be secure in knowing that a royal bloodline was responsible for his liberty and well-being, or an immutable set of laws writ down by wise men, or even by the poplar agreement of upright landholders. This is no longer the case.
In our modern world these centers of authority no longer exist, by violent overthrow or slow erasure they no longer compel loyalty or wield the apparatus of power. The trusted entities that used to ensure proper running of the national wealth engines no longer function as they were intended.
Whether you consider yourself a defender of laissez-faire capitalism or you take a protectionist approach, one cannot deny that the traditional rules of the market are being squelched. When you consider what constitutes the core of efficient market values, the first concept that probably comes to mind is competition. Without proper competition from a plethora of forces surely an overbearing monopoly would spring up in every industry and sector. This is only prevented by the principle of free competition.
This means of course that taking action against potential competitors, legal or otherwise, with hard power or soft, is strictly forbidden as a business practice. Without healthy competition between corporate entities, products never evolve and improve, allowing one entity to name their own price and become eternal tyrants over their domain.
The prime example of this in most of our minds is the case of Standard Oil. Perhaps the greatest example of a monopoly in the past, Standard Oil is the corporation that made the Rockefeller name synonymous with wealth and private collusion. Despite this power and wealth, Standard Oil was infamously broken up under the first big use of the Sherman Anti-Trust act and subsequent Clayton Anti-Trust Act that would be later amended to it. The text of the act makes a clear distinction between an organic monopoly gained by merit and an artificial monopoly gained by conspiracy as defined by the act.
Five companies are the Standard Oil of our time, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon. They have what is in effect a vertically integrated cartel. Between the five, colluding among themselves, they control the entirety of the online financial and information industry. When a competitor emerges, they first refuse to process transactions through Paypal and Stripe who greatly depend on the five for business. If the competition still survives then their very web address and hosting rights are revoked with the thinnest veneer of casus belli imaginable in each case. Apps are denied access to the platforms that may threaten one of the five.
These actions firmly deposit the tech despots outside of the realm of ‘merit’ monopoly and thrust them into the gaping morass of ‘conspiracy’ monopoly, bringing innovation and market functions to a rancid, decaying rot. Whether the tech despots should be broken up into smaller companies like Standard Oil before them or heavily regulated to make sure others are allowed to compete is outside of the scope of this article, but there is no doubt that this state of affairs cannot continue.
The question now is, “From where will this correction of the market come?”
The federal government was once the center of trust in these matters, empowered by the constitution to act in these interests. Unfortunately the financial collapse of 2008 and the too big to fail mentality showed us our government’s unwillingness to do what must be done if it eroded the stability of the central finance system for even a sliver of time.
It’s clear that any initial action taken towards Anti-Trust action on Big Tech would result in the multi-headed hydra of international finance, Tech oligarchs, Washington Lobbyists and coastal elites masquerading as free market libertarians” to further halt the momentum before locomotive of reform could even leave the station.
Perhaps the first step involves addressing things as they are, before we act on how they should be. Big tech is a public utility in our everyday lives, the arbiters of such a service should be controlled by the national sovereignty, whatever shape that now takes.
This brings us back to our original question.
In the market, who is sovereign?