While it is no secret that Big Tech is blatantly censoring and discriminating against conservative political activity online, many balk at calls for government intervention.
We must not forget that these philosophies were formed with the goal of protecting the freedoms of the individual.
On the right side of the aisle, many often cite valid libertarian concerns, such as the importance of safeguard the “free market” against government intervention. But in order to combat Big Tech’s oppressive behavior, the values that led us to these philosophies in the first instance must be protected, too.
Western civilization embarked upon a course of protecting the freedoms of the individual. Most of human history has seen incursions along these lines from government. But what about when corporations which are bigger than many governments are assailing individual liberty? About what about when they are monopolies?
If the ultimate goal is freedom, then we should be willing to adjust our thinking when we’re losing.
TAKING A NAP.
Libertarianism is based largely around the Non Aggression Principle (NAP), the notion that aggression against individuals or their property is inherently wrong. This principle resonates because of the fundamental truth that the absence of aggression results in human prosperity. The goal is objective goodness, active respect for humanity, and the progression of society.
Stock Market (Creative Commons)
There is an armchair libertarianism that is fundamentally flawed, and has abandoned the NAP altogether, where total value is placed on the ability of the market to function free of government interference.
Unfettered capitalism is held up as an example of the absence of economic aggression, and it is true in most cases that limiting government influence over private transactions achieves success.
Laissez-faire capitalism has created more human prosperity than any other system. Limiting government generally leads to economic prosperity because individuals are allowed to flourish economically.
But many liberty lovers today have fallen into a trap.
Some of us have become so attached to minimizing government power we have mistaken it for a value in and of itself.
Some have allowed themselves to get so wrapped up in the fact that this rule of thumb is so often true, that they have forgotten why it is true.
The practical tenets of libertarianism find moral validity in their stance against aggression from the offenders, not because of who those aggressors are.
In America we’re lucky to be able to say our government is a creation of (and a function of) its people. Advocates for limited government in this country are constantly reminding one another the only valid function of government is to protect the natural rights of the people.
It is agreed upon in such circles that these rights include the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom from violence or physical harm, and the right to property.
…when the assailant of those rights becomes huge, multinational corporations, do we have such a hard time allowing government to perform its supposed proper function?
Why then, when the assailant of those rights becomes huge, multinational corporations, do we have such a hard time allowing government to perform its supposed proper function?
Proponents of liberty have been conditioned to believe government is the sole proprietor of oppression. For some time this was true. But the playing field looks incredibly different today.
In the past few years a new reality has emerged where a handful of corporations have virtually complete control over public conversation. This includes elections, the disbursement of information, news, and everything in between. Protected by the rights of “private companies” these entities control who gets to say what, and who sees it.
Protected also by mercurial and ever-changing “Terms of Service” agreements, companies scam Americans out of private information in exchange for the promise of free expression and open communication. When those companies decide to pull the plug on individuals for such reasons as “dangerous” speech, the individual’s information is already in use, has already been sold, and is no longer private. They have no need to live up to their end of the bargain. They already have what they need from you.
The “free market” economic solution appears to be for those who don’t like this reality to not use the products. Leave social media, build a new Twitter, and further asinine and unrealistic commentary.
But alternative services are blocked by the distributors of smartphones. Apple blocks single channels on Telegram that include conversations the tech giant doesn’t approve of. Recently, Project Veritas revealed Pinterest is actively censoring pro-life content. Twitter responded by suspending Project Veritas’ account, and YouTube removed the video containing the investigative report. This all happened within hours.
Our fight is one against a web of huge corporations with common goals, including control of the national political conversation.
…it is easy to forget the principles behind libertarianism are not based in a blind hatred of government action. That’s not a principle.
In order to build your own Twitter, you must build your own iPhone and your own App Store. Oh, you also need your own Verizon. And probably your own Mastercard too.
All in order to freely communicate.
In an effort to remain “consistent”, it is easy to forget the principles behind libertarianism are not based in a blind hatred of government action. That’s not a principle.
They are based in values such as individual liberty.
Freedom is a value. Peace is a value.
Keeping government small is not a value. It is a way of protecting the above.
While freedom and liberty are valid and important principles to hold dear, for one’s entire ideology to be based around nothing more than freedom from government intervention is flawed. In order to be intellectually honest, we must focus on freedom from all aggression, no matter the source.
Government has historically been the largest culprit. This is no longer the case.
When our enemies change, we must adjust our tactics.
Celine Ryan is an American journalist who reports on politics, culture, and the state of higher education.