Douglas Andrews / May 17, 2021

A Senator Stands Up to Big Tech

With new legislation and a bestselling book, Josh Hawley proposes to bust up our Big Tech overlords before they bust up our republic.

“Our aim is not to do away with corporations. … We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to subserve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.”

But for the words “shall” and “subserve,” which belong to a bygone century, the above quote could’ve been uttered by Senator Josh Hawley. It’s the Missouri Republican, after all, who’s been the most vocal critic of both the awesome influence and the political malfeasance of Big Tech. Those words, though, came from the 1902 State of the Union address of Teddy Roosevelt.

Perhaps it’s time we reconsider them.

In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Hawley laid out a plan through which Republicans can return to TR and the party’s trust-busting roots. “The founders understood that concentrations of power in either government or the economy are dangerous, threatening the rule of the people,” he wrote. “That’s why they curbed monopolies and strictly limited the corporate form. … They wanted the people to govern the nation, not an elite, whether that elite resided in government or business.”

Hawley proposed three measures for pushing back against the plutocracy:

  • Breaking up Big Tech, which he calls “the most powerful corporations in the country and likely in American history.”

  • Limiting the size of the other corporate giants, in part by banning mergers and acquisitions of more than $100 billion, and by paying closer attention to their efforts to corner a given market.

  • Ensuring that our courts are asking the right questions — not just about low prices, but also about robust competition.

The first of these measures, cutting Big Tech down to size, would seem to be the most urgent in Hawley’s mind. Last month, to little fanfare, he introduced the “Bust Up Big Tech Act,” which he believes will restore accountability and competition to these industry titans. “Woke Big Tech companies like Google and Amazon have been coddled by Washington politicians for years,” says Hawley. “This treatment has allowed them to amass colossal amounts of power that they use to censor political opinions they don’t agree with and shut out competitors who offer consumers an alternative to the status quo. It’s past time to bust up Big Tech companies, restore competition, and give the power back to the American consumers.”

Concurrent with his campaign against our modern-day robber barons is a new book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, which was published by Regnery earlier this month after the original publisher, Simon & Schuster, shamefully canceled Hawley’s contract in January. (Despite the worst efforts of the speech suppressors at Simon & Schuster, Hawley’s book is already a bestseller, having finished its first week ranked sixth on the Publisher’s Weekly list and 15th on Amazon’s list.)

“The irony is, the book is about the control Big Tech has over our politics, and over our society,” notes Hawley, “and it was Big Tech that led the effort to get this canceled. … This is a book that corporate leftists don’t want anybody to read, and for good reason. This is all about how big tech and mega corporations are working hand-in-hand with big government to try to run our country, silence our speech, and take over our government.”

Hawley’s book has three parts: the first is a look at the original corporate monopolies of the Gilded Age — the rail, steel, and oil barons; the second is a look at today’s version of these giants — Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter among them; and the third is a look at his antitrust ideas, including the aforementioned legislation, and his ideas for lessening the extraordinary influence of Big Tech in our daily lives.

Rather than being able to speak our minds and govern ourselves, we’re being silenced and crushed into compliance by Big Tech’s corporate leftists. As Hawley writes in his book, “Our republic has never been more hierarchical, more riven by class, more managed by an elite than it is today. That is corporate liberalism’s legacy. But it need not be our future.”

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