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Reblogged:Keep Google Free, That We May Remain Free

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I finally got around to reading perhaps the worst Townhall article I have ever encountered, Kurt Schlichter's "Conservatives Must Regulate Google and All of Silicon Valley Into Submission." There are so many things wrong with this piece, I'd ordinarily not know where to begin -- except that Schlichter almost immediately solves that problem with his second word, fascist. He uses the term derogatorily throughout his piece, which is the height of irony since the entire proposal is fascist in nature.

For anyone who might be interested, let's spare a thought for a definition of the term, and some of its implications:

The dictionary definition of fascism is: "a governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.), emphasizing an aggressive nationalism ..." [The American College Dictionary, New York: Random House, 1957.]

Under fascism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it -- at least until the next purge. In either case, the government officials hold the economic, political and legal power of life or death over the citizens.
So, to Schlichter and his ilk, the solution to the problem of a large corporation one can choose to boycott having control of information you cede to it, is for the government to take the same control over that corporation (and, by implication, everyone) by force. Schlicter's obvious failure to understand the nature of principles, evidenced later in the piece, is matched only by his obliviousness to an obvious consequence of implementing the principles of fascism. Even the left-wing Electronic Frontier Foundation can see this, so I'll quote them:
"All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country," the San Francisco-based online advocacy group said in a blog post Thursday. "But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with."
Or, to put it in terms even Kurt "[Y]ou're going to hate the new rules." Schlichter ought to be able to "get": What happens when we impose all these top-down controls on Google, and then the Democrats end up running things again? Hint: Doing away with elections is not the right answer.

And that gets me to the most disturbing aspect of the whole piece, and which is something I have noticed among many conservatives over the years: Schlichter seems unable to grasp the power of persuasion outside of very concrete, conceptually-limited proposals. He reminds me of a few of my relatives from Mississippi who, learning I was going to college out of state, said things like, "Don't let them turn you into a liberal," as if the contents of my own mind weren't up to me, or there were no solid arguments for the better positions I shared with them. His whole piece reeks of this kind of intellectually passive despair even more than it does of obliviousness to the danger of his proposal.

Any proposal to have the government do anything beyond its proper scope is based on the (often unstated) premise that other people will not voluntarily do or submit to whatever it is the "little dictator" has in mind. Why not warn people of the obvious risks of trusting such a company, and advise them of alternatives? Why not emphasize that, at least Google is only a private company, and that, fortunately, in America, we are (still) free to go elsewhere, or use or start our own alternatives? Why not urge people to complain in numbers to Google? Does Schlichter not know or not care why government regulation of Google -- or any other company -- is bad on its own? Or that, being against the principles behind proper government, it reinforces all kinds of other dangerous precedents? Is Schlichter so oblivious to the value of freedom that he can't offer others good reasons to fight for it? Is his conception of freedom so unmoored from reality that, on top of despairing of getting others to see its value, he ends up rejecting it himself? On this evidence, I have to conclude, yes.

Sometimes, the only thing worse than open enmity towards freedom is a desperate measure to protect its fruits.

-- CAV

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