Sunday, December 6, 2020

Fascism with a Corporate Face

While the armies of the American left have been railing against Trumpian fascism, the real face of American fascism is corporate. It does not involve all American corporations, but it especially describes the work of the tech oligarchs, people who did everything in their considerable power to skew the election toward Joe Biden.

These companies did not just win the election, but they emerged victorious from the coronavirus lockdowns. 

Joel Kotkin offers an astute analysis (via Maggie's Farm):

Under the kindly eyes of Uncle Joe, we soon may find ourselves living under an updated version of the fascist “corporate state”— an alliance between political leaders and a handful of ultra-rich, ultra-powerful companies that increasingly dominate the economy and culture. This new American-style corporate state reflects not a conspiracy but the politics of a society with unprecedented concentrations of wealth and power.

These firms, based largely in the tech industry, have benefited massively from the lockdowns and now account for nearly 40 percent of the value of the Standard and Poor index, a level of concentration unprecedented in modern history, As the giants get even more gigantic, up to 30 percent of America’s small businesses face bankruptcy and the ranks of the poor have grown by 8 million.

These companies have happily embraced the leftist social agenda. They are imposing a level of groupthink that we have never seen. It is a strange paradox, but these paragons of free enterprise are now doing their best to maintain their power by stifling free enterprise. And news media who have inveighed the most loudly about any attempt to censor the news have become censors themselves. By all indications, Biden was their candidate.

The original fascist corporate state developed in Italy protected private property but also sought to use the private sector to support the political ends of the state. We are seeing that broad pattern now with the rise, particularly in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, of what is heralded as “stakeholder capitalism,” where private companies, rather than simply seeking out profit, genuflect to the left’s social agenda on issues of race, gender and green virtue.

To be sure, the values American corporations appear to be advancing now are very different than those in Italy nearly a century ago. But the linkage between private and political power, accelerated by Trump’s toxicity, is similar. Biden raised record sums from the corporate elite, notably the tech oligarchs and their Wall Street allies. Among financial firms, communications companies and lawyers, Biden outraised Trump by 5-to-1 or more. Besides providing money, the tech giants actively helped direct Biden’s campaign and volunteered their digital savvy, with Mark Zuckerberg himself financing election day operations in many critical states, something sure to titillate the tinfoil-hat wing of the GOP.

Why were they doing what they were doing? First, to maintain a supply of immigrant workers. Of course, there is a difference between Central American farm workers and Asian tech engineers. One assumes that the tech oligarchs are willing to allow the former into the country as long as they can hire from the latter group.

Kotkin suggests that these workers cost less, but we need also to consider that America’s school system has not been producing a supply of STEM workers who can do the jobs. Admittedly, the Justice Department is now suing Facebook for failing to recruit in the local labor force. But this assumes that the local labor force has candidates who can do the job.

Kotkin suggests:

… they were more immediately motivated by self-interest—starting with their need to maintain a pipeline of immigrant workers to collusively keep their labor costs down and to keep maintain trade and commerce with China.

The concentration of corporate power, especially corporate media power, will ensure that the news is strictly censored. The free market of ideas has been a casualty of the new corporate fascism.

It will continue as such-- though we should point out that the New York Times has gotten rich attacking Donald Trump. Whether the Gray Lady can continue to attract subscribers during a Biden administration remains to be seen.

Not surprisingly the new regime will likely favor controls on information that fit their own interests and inclinations. Despite suggestions to the contrary by the New York Times, history suggests any meaningful effort to rein in the oligarchs is now dead on arrival. There will be little restraint as platforms like Facebook and Google accelerate their attempts to “curate” (read: control) news—or in Amazon’s case, remove books or videos—to minimize or exclude those who violate their world-view.

Fascistic thought control will be administered by leftist tech oligarchs. They do not just suppress any piece of news that would make Biden look bad. They promote leftist dogmas and cancel and deplatform anyone who would challenge them.

They have a tacit understanding that a Biden administration will allow them to continue doing what they are doing.

In America this will be achieved not through government but by allowing a handful of private companies to control information. 

This notion of thought control has been emerging for at least a decade on issues like climate change and more recently the pandemic. It also was all too evident during the recent election as platforms like Facebook and Twitter made assertive editorial judgements to cut off stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop even as they allowed equally absurd anti-Trump conspiracies to travel widely.

Kotkin concludes:

We cannot hope to have a functional (as opposed to a nominal) democracy when property and information are controlled by a small number of companies tightly allied with political power. This is not either a right-wing issue or a left-wing one, but a matter of protecting our republic before it is too late.


One suspects, however, that their days are numbered. It might come from within the free markets, as companies like Parler try to replace or even to counterbalance Facebook. And Rumble is now trying to offer an alternative to YouTube. Then again, Republicans might become trust busters again.


Sam L. said...

The NYT will glorify, GLORIFY, everything Biden does (or that the NYT says he does), as will the WaPoo. As I keep saying, I despise, detest, and totally distrust the media. I know they lie to us.

370H55V said...

For a guy who coined the term "gentry liberals", Joel Kotkin sure takes every opportunity to trash Donald Trump, even though Trump is the only thing standing between corporate fascism and the "lunch bucket" Democrats of whom Kotkin still claims to be one.

I guess Joel is keeping his options open by maintaining his Left bona fides so he can continue to be taken seriously under the new regime.

trigger warning said...

Sometimes I just have to laugh out loud when I read the comments of the so-called "intellectual" class. Not that I disagree with Kotkin's larger point... I don't.

But I do find it extremely amusing that Kotkin concludes the republic is in serious danger from capitalist oligarchs, after having maligned and belittled those on the right who agree with him as "the tin-foil hat wing of the GOP".

What a preening poseur. I guess an insult aimed at Trump (a "poor man's Benito Mussolini") supporters is an obligatory token to get published in the Daily Beast. IMO, that's Dollar Store intellectualism. Poor man.

Anonymous said...

"Dollar Store intellectualism."

+1 , trigger warning.

- shoe

Peter MacFarlane said...

As for your last paragraph, I expect that sooner or later the tech powerhouses will lean on the ISP's and the DNS authorities to censor those competitors you mention, and any others that appear. The excuses, as usual, will be "hate speech", TERFs, and the Paedo hysteria.