Conservatism as commodity, bought and sold in the marketplace.
Every once in a while, a post or series of posts comes along that captures why conservatism never amounted to much. This post in the ironically named American Conservative is a good example of the genre. The topic is how to deal with the privatization of authoritarian power, primarily in Silicon Valley. The argument put forward is that using the state to tame these rogue companies is morally wrong, so we have to find some new way to contend with these out-of-control tech firms.
The first thing you should notice is the style is exactly what we get whenever the topic of immigration in on the table. The obvious answer is dismissed. In the case of immigration, that means shutting down the border and cracking down on employers who use helot labor. The open borders crowd always says that is impossible or harmful in some way. Instead, they offer a collection of overly complex solutions that have no chance of succeeding but will keep the punditry busy.
In the case of Big Tech, we have laws on the books to put an end to this reign of terror, but enforcing those is socialism, according to the usual suspects. We cannot have that, even if it would work. Instead, let us have a twenty-year series of international commissions to study technical standards and pass a bunch of laws that no one reads, but have cool names like “Data Portability Act”. In other words, the people who cannot build a wall along the border are going to fix the internet.
Interestingly, the rodents from Conservative Inc. always use the same trick the Left is so fond of using, which is the false dichotomy. “We can shut ourselves off from the world or embrace globalism” is how they frame trade. “We can become a hermit nation or remain a nation of immigrants” is how they frame immigration. Now it is “We can choose central planning or preserve an open internet” with Big Tech. It is the same partisan game the Left plays, just tailored for a middle-class white audience.
The fact is, enforcing Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act as intended puts a halt to the most egregious violations of our rights. Twitter can choose to be a publisher or an open platform. If it is the former, they can censure their platform however they like, but they are accountable for the content. If they choose to be an open platform like Gab, then they get the protection of Section 230. There is no need to reinvent the internet to solve the biggest problem with Big Tech.
Similarly, the obvious collusion that goes on with these big firms could be crushed with the use of existing law. There are plenty of examples of the tech companies colluding with one another to ban people from their platforms. If we can give a cop 20-years on civil rights violations for shooting a fleeing suspect, we can give the harpies of Silicon Valley a few years for violating the civil rights of Alex Jones. One lawsuit is all that would be required to end that practice and restore some sanity.
Of course, the author of the AC piece is clearly trying to strike the libertarian position, which is a blend of hiding under the bed and shilling for global capital. This is what is wrong with the libertarian-conservative commentariat. They are not interested in advocating conservative interests. Instead, they are focused on making sure their corporate donors are free of government interference. If that means the rights of conservatives are trampled, well “whoopsie!”
As with any swindle, if you can’t figure out who the mark is, it’s you. Z’s title brought to mind an old Mad cover:
“The Big Con” is as on-point a description of modern “conservatism,” the NeverTrumpTard punditry, and the Vichy GOPe as you’ll ever find.