The real power, the one that counts: that of the new monarchs
The share values of Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook – that are also the 5 largest capitalisations in the US – have climbed by 40% this year, while all other so-called “traditional” shares listed on the S&P 500 index are unchanged over this same period. For more than 70 years such a concentration of power and influence hadn’t arisen, with, among just them alone, these 5 companies making up 20% of the whole US stock market that as we know is enormous! It’s simple really: Apple shares have doubled in value in 22 weeks, with the company now holding 2 trillion dollars’ worth of wealth. It is therefore a phenomenal, astronomical transfer of wealth that is occurring under our very eyes, of course to the detriment of the traditional economy. But not only that.
In fact, it would be culpable negligence to consider the power of these companies and their founders only through the prism of financial fortune. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is of course now a member of the hyper-exclusive club of the 100 billion wealthy, and is ranked as the third wealthiest man in the USA. However, a character like Mark Zuckerberg symbolises at the same time a threat and a source of potential harm that far exceeds what his fortune – as massive as it is – has to offer to him. The real power doesn’t come to him so much from his hundreds of billions than from the formidable driver at his disposal that allows him to remodel society, redefine our interactions with our peers, impose his version of private life, help to spread hate, and carry out experiments on our mental health. So you see: since Facebook alone, as well as a few other gigantic companies, can accomplish tasks that would normally be performed by hundreds of companies, their bosses are therefore not almighty due to their riches, but because their company reigns as supreme leader over the art of wide-scale manipulation, on a global scale even, thanks to the hyper-concentration of their power.
Also, and contrary to some of the other most powerful men and women on the planet, Mark Zuckerberg has no counter-power that could keep his activities in check. And this is despite the fact that who we traditionally call the most powerful man in the world – the president of the United States of America – is accountable to different institutions and organisations, even if he has been elected via universal suffrage. Zuckerberg, who holds 60% of Facebook’s voting rights, can’t be put under pressure by any Board of Directors, as he could just get rid of them as he wished in the event of a rebellion. He could, with complete impunity, transform Facebook into an immense propaganda machine for or against whichever government, policy, or religion. Why wouldn’t he, seeing as his company has more users than the whole population of China?
These monarchs therefore, that can be counted on the fingers of one hand, pretty much hold the balance of life and death over their members and users…even though they are not subject to any sort of democratic checks. Is it healthy, reasonable or logical to vote to elect a president or a parliament when the likes of Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos (Amazon), and Tim Cook (Apple) are never held accountable, all the while determining what we get to see and what we have to believe? Without going to the extremity of being able to elect these leaders with infinite power over our material, intellectual and love lives, shouldn’t our democracies establish a system that would force them to fulfil their responsibilities in total transparency, because the magnitude of the power and reach of each of these characters taken in isolation is at least equivalent to that of the president of the USA? Their companies are in fact on the verge of posing a major risk to the national security of our nations.