Propaganda, Censorship, and Surveillance are attributes of the same underlying aspect: Monopoly and Centralised Control.
All three problems have the same effective solution: Break up the monopolies.Propaganda
is a function of amplification, attention, audience capture, selective promotion, discovery, distraction, stealing the air supply or acquiring of any competion, and coöption of the platform. Propaganda is an inherent property of monopoly control.Censorship and Gatekeeping
are functions of excludability, audience gating, selective exclusion, obfuscation, distraction, stealing the air supply or acquiring of any competion, and, again, coöption of the platform. Censorship is an inherent property of monopoly control.Surveillance
whether of the state, capitalist, or non-state actor varieties, is a function of population and provider capture, coercion or gatekeeping of vendors and pipelines, and, again, coöption of the platform. Surveillance is an inherent property of monopoly control.
Speakers and Audiences --- a public --- divided across independent networks, with access to different editorial selection, from different distribution networks, with access to different input message streams, are far less subject to propaganda, censorship, or surveillance. Epistemic diversity resists control
It's importance to realise that the key is not nominal
control but actual control
, which may be nonobvious or unapparent to many participants. A system with appearances of decentralisation may well be centralised under the surface. Retail brand labels vs. brand ownership, or Luxottica's stranglehold over the eyeglasses market, for example, give a false sense of "consumer choice" in a case of actual tight corporate control.
Why is this?
What's the fundamental connection between monopoly and control? Control is about maximising desired outcome to applied effort.
In monopoly, there is a central focus of influence: the monopolist. Even a very partial controlling share can still be effective.
In a first-past-the-post majority scenario such as elections or corporate share ownership, the bloc which swings the majority has control, even if
it itself is numerically a minority. In markets, networks, organisations, etc., a single place to permit or deny input or output increases control
by decreasing effort and increasing effect. Price and costs often afford control, a faact monopoly apologists attempt to turn into a strength. By offering lower-price goods or services, or facing lower internal provisiioning and operating costs, monopolists can undercut competitors, even without taking active anticompetitive measures such as price-dumping, rebating, blackballing, blacklisting, exclusive dealing, tying, bundling, non-competes, and the like.All monopolies are network structures with dominant nodes.
These may be entry, exit, or transit nodes.
Increasing the number of entry, exit, and distribution points decreases the efficacy of propaganda (input control), censorship (output control), or surveillance (network control), as well as of targeted manipulation such as adtech and computational propaganda (data retention and algorithm control).
Careful readers may note the close correspondence with the ancient trivium
of the classic liberal education: grammar (input), rhetoric (output), and logic (processing based on inputs and stored memory). The ancients had limited network control, widespread surveillance to them was exceedingly expensive, though small-town gossips and palace spies offer analogues.
* Cory Doctorow (Blogging at https://pluralistic.net
-- On Mastodon at https://mamot.fr/@pluralistic
--- a great profile to follow)
* Matt Stoller (https://mattstoller.substack.com/?no_cover=true
* Lina Khan (https://www.yalelawjournal.org/note/amazons-antitrust-paradox
* Zephyr Teachout (https://bookshop.org/books/break-em-up-recovering-our-freedom-from-big-ag-big-tech-and-big-money/9781250200891
... and others breaking through some seriously Borked chickenshit thinking on this topic.
Expanded from an earlier HN comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24735860