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Do we want democracy or two-day shipping?
Monopoly vs. Democracy
It’s new for most Americans that we’re embarrassed by our democracy. We don’t know where it went wrong, or whether it’ll survive. Matt Stoller explains it this way: we’ve come to do politics the way we do commerce, online and at the mall. Sellers are remote; critical choices are made for us. Our stuff comes from Walmart; our books, groceries, and now everything else from Amazon. Our lines on politics, news, opinion, and gossip come through Facebook. Our lives are designed and run to concentrate power and profit in the hands of a few faraway monopolists. No wonder we’re in a panic! Matt Stoller is here to tell you the fault, dear people, is not in our stars or even our selves but in these overnight monopolies that might just as well own us.
A year out from picking a president, derangement is the label on our dumpster-fire politics. We sorta know who lit the fire, but how did civic life get into the dumpster in the first place? Our conversation this hour is with a maverick young public thinker, Matt Stoller, whose big book is called Goliath, a hundred-year history of monopoly power and democratic populism in a see-saw contest. Very short form: we lost our political edge, our compass, our confidence at the monopoly marketplace. Our helplessness in the voting booth is something we learned in our shopping at the mall and now online. Our community habits of of commerce, conversation, and choice have come apart. And no wonder we’re confused—and angry, in a panic—about our lost sovereignty.
Fellow at the Open Markets Institute.