As I wrote earlier today, National Review columnist David French is involved in a major clash with nationalist populist opinion leaders like Raheem Kassam and Will Chamberlain (both of Human Events). In my article, I focused on their disagreements over style… there are also serious issues on which they differ with each other, however. One of those issues is hot in the news: should the government be involved in the battle against YouTube’s obvious liberal bias?
The subject was trending because YouTube recently launched a major purge of YouTubers it deemed “offensive.” First and most prominent among them? Comedian Steven Crowder of Louder with Crowder fame.
Here at Human Events, though, we’re not afraid to wield government power. And the Civil Rights era contains some lessons on how to deal with aristocratic bullying campaigns…
In 2019, our blue-checked aristocrats are trying to wield their power to keep the new “untouchables” off of social media platforms…
If we make platform access a civil right, Carlos Maza and his fellow aristocrats can whine and bleat all they want about how a conservative has been mean to them. None of it will matter. Companies won’t indulge them, because indulging them would be against the law. This is more than a way to protect conservative speech; it’s a way to free social media platforms from aristocratic influence.
Establishment conservatives — led, of course, by David French — disagree:
This is Idiocracy Inc. thinking government regulation of free speech will be awesome for conservatives. https://t.co/dgWPJ7RlSq
— David French (@DavidAFrench) June 7, 2019
As I wrote on Twitter, one of the main issues I have with establishment conservatives is that they don’t understand the danger posed to freedom by large companies. It’s their massive blind spot. The government? Yes, they see it. But somehow they just don’t see that companies can be as bad as any government.
This is almost always the case when those companies have real or virtual monopolies — or are part of an oligarchy. This is the case with Facebook, Google (YouTube), and Twitter. These large companies are in many ways as dangerous to individual liberty as government.
It truly is beyond me why establishment conservatives don’t see this. As conservatives, we are supposed to look at history so we can learn from it. History is perfectly clear on humanity’s experience of all-powerful companies: it ain’t good.
Patterico — a conservative blogger (whom I like and respect, and have interacted with on different occasions — disagrees. In response to me, he writes:
Am I allowed to ban commenters at my blog for espousing Nazi ideology? Or should the government order me to allow them to comment? https://t.co/T4VHGqWNlz
— Patterico (@Patterico) June 8, 2019
Of course, that comparison is way off. Unlike Facebook and Google, Patterico doesn’t have a (virtual) monopoly. His blog is just one of many, with a readership and power position that’s far from overbearing. The reason I compare Facebook and Google to governments is a) their position in the market, which is pretty much unassailable, b) their enormous power to influence people, and c) their power to destroy or make people’s livelihoods. The only difference is that Google and Facebook can’t lock anyone up yet… although one could very argue that banning and deplatforming users is the Internet equivalent of putting them in jail.
It’s time for conservatives to end this blind spot and to face the truth: multinationals can pose a serious danger to individual liberty. This is why the government has the right to intervene in most markets in order to prevent or break up monopolies. Facebook and YouTube have created such a position for themselves, and they are now using it to silence those who dare disagree with their radical leftwing politics. If government doesn’t step in, they’ll get away with it — and the most vocal and influential opinion makers on the right will lose their platform as a result. I can hardly imagine a worse scenario for democracy itself.