economics Politics

State Capitalism in the Internet Age

In 21st century societies, we must consider the commanding heights the state must jealously guard also consists of social media, search, and online retail.  The lords of facebook, twitter, google, and amazon are gatekeepers of communication with enormous power over culture.

While anyone would be wary of government control over these services, the obvious approach is to maintain these systems without interfering with their function.
They were developed in private shops just as the telephone was but likewise cannot remain solely private.

Social media in modern society is part of the basic communication grid like landlines are.
Would we rather have government or Zuckerberg with power over the telephone service?

Since we consider telephone a utility, how about we ask the same question about other utilities?  What if Zuckerberg could turn off your water or electricity if you say something he doesn’t like—Total Recall-style?
In real life, facebook is a private business that can refuse service.  The only real deterrant against dictatorial control is the potential for poor service to encourage the rise of competitors.  

However, when there’s an entrenched monopoly it is much harder for a correction to take place through market forces.  This is why, even though governments are flawed, it’s necessary to have firm regulations in securing these vital arteries.
For many, facebook is almost a prerequisite to participate in normal society.  Imagine if the DMV could refuse to issue you a driver’s license because they don’t like you!

The core problem is that some services are natural monopolies.  We refer to many of them collectively as “utilities.”  It makes sense to have an electrical grid, railroads, waterworks, sewage, trash under one organization.  These are domains where the barrier to entry is high and where bottlenecks mean competition can clutter or even cripple the system.  The last thing anyone wants is 20 different companies building competing pipelines or powerlines.

On the internet, no one wants to go back and forth between 20 different search engines. I’m sure plenty of readers here remember switching between webcrawler, altavista, askjeeves, yahoo, and about a dozen others before google got in front of the pack and never looked back.

Who looks back nostalgically to a time when you couldn’t get amazon’s low prices, unequaled variety, and numerous product reviews?  Remember when people got movies and video games hoping they’d picked something decent?  Or back when many people got thick consumer reports magazines in the mail?

Perhaps even more importantly, amazon’s natural monopoly of internet retail has become a platform for countless small merchants and authors.  Why not just make some regulations to prevent abuses and keep this mostly the way it is?  The government could even use amazon as a dial to control incentives for a micro-merchant economy.

It’s good to let a natural monopoly be, but as we can see with water or electricity, we can’t play the market game of price discovery.  The solution is to have the state regulate prices, allowing the monopoly a modest profit.  To some this might sound like some kind of commie plot, but just think for one second what the electrical bill would look like without government price controls.

Beyond prices, we should consider that an area’s water supply can’t be switched off on a whim.  Even when people don’t pay their bills, there must be fair warning.  This strikes no one as being outlandish or communist.  We intuitively understand that basic infrastructure must be protected by special rules.

While the natural monopolies of the internet are mostly free for users, we can see there are still prices in a less tangible way as we depart from an enlightenment-materialist mindset.
If we extend the anti-abuse principle we realize there must be strict anti-manipulation policies for social media and search just like there is for the stock market.

On Twitter, shadowbanning, promoting the tweets of dectractors while burying supportive tweets, or manipulating the list of trending hashtags aren’t that different from insider trading. One party rigs the game for unearned monetary profit, another tries to manipulate a collective culture to serve a private agenda.
Both are means of subverting the entire society.
Some kind of government SEC would watch over natural internet monopolies and punish those who try to cheat.

What cannot be allowed is for these private mass entities to run rampant with no control at all.  Even if we have a perfectly selfish ruler who just wishes to stay in power, ceding control of the commanding heights is dumb and suicidal. 

When was the last time the electric and water companies were a serious threat to the power of the state?
What about social media tycoons, big banks, the insurance industry, or the military industrial complex?
The answer speaks for itself.
The ruler who does not control the commanding heights creates a free market for the control of government.

By Giovanni Dannato

In 1547 I was burnt at the stake in Rome for my pernicious pamphlet proclaiming that the heavens were not filled with a profusion of aether, but rather an extensive vacuum.
Now, the phlogiston that composed my being has re-manifested centuries in the future so that I may continue the task that was inconveniently disrupted so long ago.
Now, I live in Rome on the very street where I (and others) were publicly burnt. To this day, the street is known as what I would translate as 'Heretic's Way'. My charming residence is number 6 on this old road. Please, do come inside and pay me a visit; I should be delighted to spew out endless pedagoguery to one and all...

10 replies on “State Capitalism in the Internet Age”

I don’t think government control of media content providers is a very good idea. Especially in the age of “protected classes” that cannot be criticized because “hate speech”, “cultural appropriation” and the human rights fake victim racket. Best to use anti-trust laws and break up monopolies. I use Netflix and Amazon but I’d much prefer giving my money to someone I actually like.

The government — with its monopoly on violence — should perhaps not directly run such corporations.

In Canada, where I’m from, there are “crown corporations” — government-tasked corporations, but in every other essence like normal private-sector businesses.

Perhaps you want such a concept, rather than total direct governmental control.

Oh, and while you’re at it, why not check out my website and leave a comment? It’s at the below site. I’d appreciate your comments, both Giovanni and his regular commentators…

We must take away money creation from (((them))). Now I know people will see this and say,”oh no, it’s not always them”. I ask, could you run a business and lose money for 20 years!!!!

They can because they and their friends own the creation of money. The bankers during the bail out got $16 trillion and some say perusing public records $29 trillion. With that much money they can afford to throw money at long term money losing business designed to monopolize commerce and public opinion. If (((they))) lose public opinion. If they lose control of what is considered truth then we might actually find out something so horrible as “facts”. They will be ruined.

All the big internet companies have been losing money for many, many years. Why the hell should they be able to run at a loss all these years while censoring unpleasant truths? Why should they monopolize media while drowning in loses?

The ending of net neutrality has absolutely nothing to do with some people hogging the bandwidth. You can see this by simply seeing how many ISP’s offer limited downloads bits per month. If the problem was bandwidth then they could offer a cheap plan with a limited amount of bandwidth. They want to censor sites. As soon as they get net neutrality any site that offends (((their))) sensibilities will be hard to get, slowed down, censored all together or ignored.

There are several problems blaming Jews. For one, you don’t discriminate between secular Jews and orthodox. Secular Jews hardly know who or what they are and some even in Israel have little identification with Judaism. Yes, they are paranoid about Cossacks and Nazis but so what? The Russians and Hungarians are kicking out NGOs. Why don’t we do that? Imagine no SPLC, ACLU, and the avanlanche of Soros-funded anti-European groups, and countless others gone.

Another problem is women. Mary Wollstonecraft – the mother of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein no less – is considered to be the first feminist, writing an essay on the Rights of Women, A Vindication, in 1793. She lived a somewhat bohemian life with the proto-communist Godwin. I could argue that human rights came long before the Jews, who merely exploit a weakness self-inflicted by European men.

And finally, even if Jews were dominant and controlled my destiny I would’nt admit it. I would be exposing myself as a weakling. It seems unmanly. We made our own mess and it’s up to us to clean it up.

“…For one, you don’t discriminate between secular Jews and orthodox…”

Canard. There’s no difference. Both use deficits in Whites society to render it dysfunctional by ceaseless criticism.

“…Another problem is women…”

Women don’t own the FED. Irrelevant.

“…even if Jews were dominant and controlled my destiny I would’nt admit it. I would be exposing myself as a weakling. It seems unmanly…”

Standard Womanly “shaming” tactic used to stifle criticism. Overworked and overused.

“…Jews, who merely exploit a weakness self-inflicted by European men…”

We don’t need to change. They need to be removed from our society. I don’t want to be Jewish. I don’t want to be less empathetic. I don’t want to be a rootless schemer constantly trying to rip people off and dominate them. I don’t see this as a good or fruitful life.

Hey, lighten up. There are virtually no Jews in Scandinavia and they’re even more screwed up. In fact, they are actively anti-Israel and pro-Palestine. Norwegians are so anti-Israeli they have been denied entry into the country. Getting rid of Jews isn’t going to solve the status-signaling, fake-victim culture.

Corporations are a fairly new invention, the tradition gping back to the Phoenicians was either partnerships or families. It worked pretty well in Venice and Florence, and it wasn’t their business sense that got Carthrage salted.

Until the railroads, and the proto-steel industry, there was no business that was so Capitial intensive that you absolutely had to go joint-stock with limited liability. East India Company started out a partnership, and Lloyd’s ran much the same way for centuries.

However, English law, back to the second Magna Carta, was extremely pro-creditor, and the chosen way to get non-Royal capital to finance the industrial revolution was to offer limited liability, which by all accounts was extremely difficult to get through Westminster.

Up until the 1910s or so, multi-state corporations were next to impossible to pull off in the states, the “trusts” were legal fictions to hold the conglomerates together. Problem is, once those restraints were off, you had a complete organization complete with legal standing.

Would it have been better to keep them in families or state-chartered? The 1910s Krupp, so powerful it bribed the German High Command, and sold technology to the British, was a family owned corporation, a status that only changed because the German State demanded that they follow rules to prevent family direct control.

Any organization that can maintain an organizational life past one available human being, be it the Medcis, the Machine makers of England, the Dutch Colonial Company, the railroads, Standard Oil, Krupp, GE, EADS, Armold Hammer, Goldman Sachs, they can slip past the effective control of their sovereign(s).

Very good comment. Me, I think corporations cannot survive the zeitgeist, the god or quality that rules. Like all businesses they must make a profit to survive so they conform to the zeitgeist. In our era it’s human rights, equality, freedom and so forth. Corporations are not inherently good or bad they simply reflect the dominant culture.

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