Biden: a lackey for Big Tech?
Since Clinton’s second term, the US has done nothing serious to combat the hyperconcentration of companies’ and monopolies’ power. Let’s think back to the anti-trust battle brought by the US Department of Justice against Microsoft at the end of the 1990s. In fact, thereafter the George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations all operated according to the classic neoliberal doctrine that favoured this consolidation of powers in excess. First and foremost, groups like Goldman Sachs, News Corp, Citibank, Tyson Foods, Walmart, Koch Industries, Monsanto, Boeing and Pfizer commandeered the essence of the American economy for their own benefit, notoriously, contributing to the omnipotence of China who gradually bought out their technology and factories. This then allowed for the definitive stranglehold of Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and others over the lives of Americans and also the global population from 2008 to 2010, managing to greatly outperform their competitors by exerting total domination over platforms that “old world” giants were to exploit in order to do business.
So, let’s not beat around the bush, Barack Obama missed the opportunity that offered itself up to him after the 2008 financial crash to break up monopolies and implement structural reforms to protect against the ferocity of these cannibals. In doing so, this cabal literally seized control of the right to live and die with regards to economic life – and to life itself – since it gradually took hold of all means of communication used in daily life. As explained in my previous articles from a historical perspective, this problem of extreme concentration of powers and wealth has in truth underpinned – even conditioned – US politics for more than 10 years, and in an acute way. It’s thanks to his discourse against agricultural monopolies that Obama was able to win the Iowa caucus in 2008, propelling him onto centre stage. Likewise, it’s his failure to keep his word and of course his bailing out of the country’s biggest banks with taxpayer money that whipped up public anger. It is therefore this collusion between the executive and private powers that was the breeding ground for the emergence of the Tea Party in 2010 and of Occupy Wall Street in 2011. And it is this same popular outrage that paved the way for the Sanders phenomenon to gain in stature in 2016 and the election of Trump in November that same year.
It goes without saying that this public resentment was greatly exploited politically by the two US parties, with Trump owing his increased vote count in this recent election to his denouncing the Democrats, presenting them as servants of Wall Street and the tech giants. The Democratic Party also took the opportunity to ride this wave, with the majority of its candidates in the primaries crowding out Elizabeth Warren who very effectively stigmatised, by using detailed arguments, the fundamental threat to the Americans and their democracy posed by this extreme concentration of economic powers that distort and even negate all competition.
It is therefore regrettable that, in light of his new team responsible for drafting the anti-monopoly policy, America’s new president has surrounded himself with the same people that failed to deal with this vital matter under Obama, and that he has caved in and is listening to the predictable voices of those who believe that this stranglehold is nothing more than a benign problem for the US. Many Republicans are already attacking Biden and his new administration, slamming him for only perpetuating Obama’s pro-Google and pro-banks policy and labelling him a “hologram” of Big Tech. There is therefore good reason to fear that the big tech companies have found a new ally in the White House.
This article is the latest in my “American series”, following on from:
USA: What the hell’s the presidency for?