Nothing says “basic bitch libertarianism” like the statement, “private companies should be able to do whatever they want”.
I delved deeply into libertarian political philosophy while I was in college, instead of going to my classes or working on my homework (in retrospect, a far better use of my time, but it’s unfortunate the education system got paid for me to educate myself). I’ve become more of a conservative as I got older, although I maintain that conservatism is about personal and social life, whereas libertarianism is the political system that most effectively allows all of you who hate families and good old fashioned traditions to leave me the fuck alone.
(In short, conservatism is the why, libertarianism is the how).
In the process, I have become quite annoyed with people who, in some way or another, take “libertarianism 101” then strut around acting like they’re experts in political philosophy. The admittedly small amount of direct exposure I’ve had to libertarian “clubs” quickly convinced me that most of their members have no idea what they’re talking about. They have the same fleeting understanding of economics rife with the fallacies of conventional wisdom and typically defend the libertarian principles of limited government with a half-baked “you don’t have a right to boss me around” appeal to emotion (why can’t I boss you around? Because it pisses you off? Not an argument). Most of them still think government is a perpetual victim of incompetence in their otherwise genuine goal of protecting and advancing society. None of them have even remotely satisfactory answers to even the most basic objections to libertarianism like, “who will pay for things like defense and infrastructure if everyone, even those who didn’t pay, benefit from their existence?” or “how would a libertarian society stop a big corporation from polluting a river upstream from a small town?” They tend to think liberty is a moral goal and grossly oversimplify the nuances of legal theory. Too many of them actually believe the Non-Aggression Principle is straightforward to even comprehend in a lot of situations. They’re not well-read enough to answer any of this.
Libertarianism is not the social order that allows you to walk down a crowded sidewalk at high noon naked, smoking weed and blasting porn on your iPhone. And no, libertarianism does not grant corporations the right to do whatever they want.
Does it surprise you that Murray Rothbard, the Godfather of modern libertarianism, called private corporations the main instrument behind the rise of statism in the 20th century? That “big business” is by far the biggest enemy of capitalism? If it shocks you that a libertarian would declare big corporations the worst element of modern society, then, well… you don’t know libertarianism.
Of course we hear Leftists making this argument all the time on behalf of Google, Facebook and Twitter. To those well-read libertarians, this is hardly surprising. Leftists are statists, and statists are corporate shills. The “climate change” “green movement” is one of the biggest corporate scams in history that let corporations get away with selling shitty ineffective and short-lived “green” products for twice as much money, and all these trust-fund “hippies” pour out of Whole Foods with carts full of this garbage and a giant bill most people couldn’t even afford on a daily basis. They demand higher minimum wage so Wal-Mart can drive every small Mom and Pop operation that can barely afford to hire anyone to begin with out of business. The just love illegal immigrants, the exploited helpless quasi-slave labor force for whatever corporations haven’t fully moved their factories over to China yet.
The Left is ultimately right when they say the State exists to protect and enlarge the stolen wealth of a tiny elite. For some reason they think the solution to that is to give the State more power and money.
There are plenty of things a corporation is not allowed to do, according to libertarians. Limited liability on tort is a big example. Using eminent domain to take land is another. Subverting our whole social order to bring us to our knees under globalism is definitely another. The idea of “corporations can do whatever they want” comes from Leftist Statists because it’s the ignorant caricature of liberty that lives in their heads. It’s not unlike when atheists try to use what they think Christianity says to tell Christians what to do, which is usually some variant of “lay down and die, Jesus said so”.
Stop taking advice from your enemies.
I can’t do whatever I want with my private property. I can’t use my privately owned gun to shoot someone I don’t like. I can’t park my privately owned car in someone else’s garage. Leftists only dip into their childish imagination of what libertarianism means when it helps big business advance their insane Cultural Marxist postmodern social agenda, or protects their ability to kill their unborn children. Even if their use of the “limited government” dictum was well-formed, excuse me but you guys already burned that bridge. Leftists are permanently and universally forbidden from ever using “individual rights” or “government overreach” to justify anything they believe in.
We already know that, but what’s worse is these think-tank dweebs who think they’re genuine liberty buffs swallowing these Leftist talking points hook, line and sinker, and getting in the way of the rest of us who are trying to save this country from a totalitarian nightmare. Even the booksmart libertarians are usually retarded when it comes to common sense. If they could push a button that would permanently end all totalitarian government, but doing so meant taxes would increase for five days, they’d run away from the button screaming, “muh principles!” Yeah, principles are great, as foundational guides for your long-term action, not a stupid excuse to disregard every possible move you can make here and now that might help you actually achieve those principles one day. The very idea of war-gaming for liberty is completely lost on them (either that, or they’re such pussies they want to stay as far away from the real action as they possibly can in a quiet library).
A major thing that corporations (and anyone else, for that matter) can’t do, according to libertarians, is commit fraud. One example of fraud would be: create terms of service that say you’re a free and open medium of communication and only illegal speech (calls for violence, organizing crimes, etc.) will be removed, then after everyone agrees and starts using your platform, repeatedly changing the terms of service to include vague terms, then (in violation of basic legal principles) reserving sole discretion, as the author of the conditions, to interpret those vague terms.
So should a “private company” be allowed to choose what type of speech will be allowed on its platform? Should it be okay for a company to say, “we offer a platform for speech, but only left-wing speech, all right-wing speech will be removed”, or vice versa? Of course. It is absolutely a right for people to offer such a service, and for others to accept that offer.
What’s not legal is to offer a service as speech of all types (except that commonly understood to already be illegal), then after luring everyone onto your platform, pull a bait-and-switch and say, “actually we don’t allow hate speech, and we define hate speech to be anything too conservative”.
From a libertarian perspective, that’s the first obvious point to raise about the social media banning. People are saying, “conservatives shouldn’t expect these companies to cater to them, they should form their own thing”. So why didn’t they? Did conservatives push their way onto a platform that openly said, “we don’t cater to you guys” then throw a fit when they got discovered and kicked off (like what that lesbian couple did to the wedding cake baker)? No! They got onto a platform that said, “welcome aboard, come on in!”. The companies then waited years for content producers to get deeply invested in their platforms by building up a “channel” or “page” with years of content, followers, links to and from other content producers, and so on, put the links to these channels and pages on their business cards as their main point of contact for years, and even paid the companies substantial amounts of money to advertise their channels or pages on these platforms.
Then, after becoming deeply invested, those companies said, “surprise!” and poof. All gone. The whole channel and page, disappeared. Hope you backed up all your stuff. Time for new business cards.
To argue that isn’t blatant fraud is fucking ridiculous. And it doesn’t hinge on paying those companies advertising money. Even those content producers who didn’t, they chose to invest time and put all their content on those pages with a certain expectation that was clearly and openly advertised in a certain way. Those companies made money off their own advertising from the traffic generated by these content producers. It’s fine for the producers to not see any money if that was the agreement, but if the exchange was ad money for the hosting provider in exchange for exposure and whatever else for the producer, then the provider backs out and says, “screw you”, then the producer has a clear tort claim over the hosting provider.
These social media companies scammed all of us. If they had told me ten years ago, “we’re for progressives, Marxists, socialists, etc. only”, I never would have joined, neither would a whole lot of other people, and we all would have established something else and invested in that for the last decade. We didn’t, and instead invested in Facebook, Youtube and Twitter only because they told us they were something they’re not. If they wanted to create a new product that’s for SJWs only, they could have started new sites with new terms of service. But they didn’t. They hijacked the existing ones, exploiting their popularity that was as high as it was only because it was an open, “free for all” platform that welcomed everyone. Those sites would never have gained a fraction of their popularity if they had been “SJW only” from the start, and there would already be a more inclusive alternative kicking their ass in the marketplace.
Rest assured, there will be an alternative soon. They’re popping up all over the place, and customers are just working out which one is best and worth investing it. That’s not the issue. Those who are saying, “just make your own platform”, yeah that’s called capitalism. You don’t need to instruct entrepreneurs to seek profits. But the original point is: the existing social media companies fucked us, no different than if a car dealership sold us a car with a cartoon drawing of an engine under the hood.
The next issue, also obvious to libertarians, is that these companies are being pressured to do this censoring by the government. And I don’t mean that in some vague handwave-y “unconscious bias-y” sense. I mean there were multiple congressional hearings where politicians were specifically demanding answers from Facebook and Twitter on why they haven’t banned Alex Jones and others. With that, the whole “these are private companies, not the government” argument falls right apart.
I give this a simple name: Censorship Laundering.
The government wants to ban political speech, which is in clear and plain violation of the 1st Amendment, but to avoid the de jure restrictions on doing so, they just drag in a private company that acts as a near-global medium for communication and demand they do it. You might say, “well they didn’t force those companies to do it”, but that’s just silly pedantry. The government doesn’t call you into its chambers and yell at you because it wants to play tiddlywinks. The government has the power to “trust bust” the shit out of any of these companies. Grilling them like that is clearly an act of, “gee, nice private company ya got there, be a real shame if someone came and slapped a bunch of regulations on it, now wouldn’t it?” Don’t give me some, “it was just a nice suggestion” bullshit.
How ridiculous (and scary) would it be if there were congressional hearings where phone companies were demanded to explain why they didn’t cut off Tucker Carlson’s phone service because of all his hate speech?
But it gets worse. Definitely Google and almost definitely Facebook are companies set up by the government in the first place. So the government creates these companies and pushes them to become the monopoly that everyone joins, thereby giving them control of basically the entire digital public square, so you can then launder all your censorship acts through them and hide behind, “oh that wasn’t us, that was Google, and they’re a private company so it’s okay for them to do it”.
It’s gotten so explicit we have a Congressman saying on national television “I would love to regulate speech, but the Bill of Rights says I can’t, so I urge private companies to do it for me“.
The government laundering its constitutional overreach through private corporations it either set up, helped set up, or at least helped out through the nefarious revolving door of lobbying.
If we are going to take the 1st Amendment seriously, that doesn’t just mean keeping our eyes peeled for “Bill to Ban All Conservatives” from passing through Congress to Trump’s desk. It means auditing the activities of politicians and their dealings with all other parties, especially when any amount of money is involved (flowing in either direction). If we give these Silicon Valley companies the most credit (which leaked Google videos and other such evidence strongly suggests we shouldn’t), that means they were pressured to censor by the government, which is nothing short of a constitutional crisis.
Another issue that others have brought up is that these social media companies enjoy specific legal privileges, specifically immunity from legal responsibility over anything published on their platforms, due only to the fact the do not engage in any selecting editing of what gets published. As soon as they do, they cease being a medium, and become an actual publisher, and thereby become subject to potential tort arising from anything that is published on their platforms. This is certainly a good thing to point out, but I think it is far less of an issue than those I mentioned above. The fraud and the censorship laundering are much more critical.
As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t think the answer to all of this is to form a government committee to decide what is and is not grounds for censorship on social media (that would be the inevitable outcome of “government action” to address it). Turning social media companies into “utilities” like phone companies is only even remotely necessary because people think it’s necessary to do that to “allow” the law to protect free speech. If we’re going to confide in government to do something about it, the solution is simple: fine the ever-living shit out of all the fraudsters like Zuckerberg and Dorsey until the companies go bankrupt and return the money to the content producers who were defrauded by being banned for legal political speech. No changes to laws or overreach is necessary. Fraud is already illegal. Out of the resulting vacuum, replacements will spring up, and the memory of how badly the old companies were punished for that kind of colossal fraud will be freshly baked into the minds of whoever takes their place.
The problem is the State and Big Business are two organs of the same meta-organism of hegemonic domination, so expecting the government to do something about this is like expecting the grizzly bear who got in your house to bite its own foot off.
More important than what happens to those companies, is the lesson we all need to learn: if you’re going to put all your eggs into one basket, you better be damn sure it’s a good basket. If we all had been developing our own microplatforms for the last decade instead of jumping onto what are essentially the next generation “television studios”, we’d be in a much better place now. So now is the time. Content producers: make your own platform. Sure, use these big ones while you can, but use them to direct people to your own site, invest in your own infrastructure to host your content, get your own links out there, and become independent. Most of the New Right has been demonetized for a while so they haven’t even been making money from these big platforms. It’s easier to make money from your own. You can sell your own ad spots, set up a donation button, sell products (see Alex Jones and his cottage industry of liberty as the canonical example), and so on, and no middle man will be taking a cut. It will cost money to do your own hosting, but you can scale that with your audience size.
I favor this over even moving to new social media platforms. In fact, I think a key idea we need to develop is an open-source social media platform that works by connecting a bunch of microplatforms together. Instead of one site where everyone uploads their content then it gets put into a “feed”, each producer should manage his own content, then users can run an open-source program that pulls together links from all these producers’ self-run microplatforms. That way, we get the exposure and sharing we want, but our own pages or channels or whatever are truly ours. Together with open-source web applications, producers can set up their own channels on their own, accessed as a web page and linked to by other web pages. This is not unlike how WordPress works, but it needs to be more decentralized.
There’s much more to say about that. But back to the main topic: libertarians are really proving how not only useless but actively detrimental to the cause for liberty they are with their NPC “but they’re private companies” shtick. We are witnessing just how right Murray Rothbard was: our greatest enemy is big corporations. There’s nothing libertarian about not punishing fraud. If the federal government is in the best position to blow the fraudulent operations up into a million flecks of dust, then tell me where to send the check.