When the big tech companies decided to crack down on speech on-line, conservatives started chanting about how these are private companies and therefore they had a right to regulate what is done on their platforms. The reason conservatives said this is they were taking bribes from the big tech companies. If Silicon Valley started human sacrifice, National Review would have posted the “conservative case” for ripping the beating heart out of virgins to please Moloch.
Even without the bribes, conservatives would have sided with the oligarchs because for conservatives, the term “private company” has no real meaning. It is just a way to dodge the issue of state power. The Left advocates the promiscuous use of state power to achieve their moral ends, while the Right opposes any use of state power to achieve any ends, which leaves a big void. We end up with giant corporations pushing people around with the consent of the state.
A mundane example of this is sports. In the West, sport has been a central part of the culture since the Greeks. Sport has always been a theatrical version of war, which allows men and society to blow off steam. Sport also allows diverse people, as in people not bound by kin relations, to build bonds. The town comes together to play the next town in a game. After the game, the people of both towns throw a big party with one town having bragging rights until the next time.
In other words, large scale athletic spectacles have a social function, one that is integral to the smooth operation of society. This is why in modern times, cities will spend hundreds of millions to create venues for pro sports teams. A section of the city will often be designed around the arenas, with shopping, nightlife and swank living arrangements placed around the sports facilities. The sports are viewed as a social good so the city spends money on them.
Professional sports leagues also enjoy special rules granted to them by the government that protect them from competition. In the United States, it means an antitrust exemption from Congress. States will grant special tax exemptions, especially for the payroll taxes of the athletes. Localities will give them free land, utilities and exemptions from the normal property taxes. In America, sports leagues are special monopolies that exist as a creation of government.
Here is where the above mentioned dynamic between Left and Right works against the interest of the people. The Left uses state power to make sure these sports leagues aggressively support the cultural causes. The four big sports leagues are out front on the things like sodomy, cross-dressing, social vengeance and so on. They also make sure to support other state-sponsored ventures like war mongering and the medical fads that are an increasing part of daily life.
While the Left is weaponizing sports against the majority population, the Right carries on like these leagues are bastions of libertarianism, instead of rentier enterprises for the benefit of the oligarchs. Any suggestion that maybe the state do something about the outlandish prices or the grotesque subsidies these operations enjoy is met with howls of “socialism’ from conservatives. You see, those subsidies are just tax avoidance and taxes are bad so reasons.
The result is sports leagues function like tax farmers. Every cable household is sending money to pro sports leagues through their cable bill. Since the sports stuff is bundled into the basic bill, you pay for sports by default. The only way to avoid paying for sports is to not have a television subscription. Even taking that approach, you are subsidizing sports through property taxes, sales taxes and entertainment taxes. Everyone is a tenant on the sportsball farm in America.
A functioning opposition to the Left would take one of two moral positions on the issue of professional sports. One is the equality position. The only way to treat all economic actors equally is to avoid special treatment. The sports leagues should lose their antitrust exemption and lose their tax subsidies. They should also lose the right to muscle cable operators into forcing their product on customers. For example, only 25% of people watch ESPN, but everyone pays for it.
The other moral position on this issue is to engage the Left in how best to regulate these public goods. For example, make the leagues choose between pay-per-view and commercials in the broadcasts. Currently, they are allowed to both price-fix the purchased content and jam it full of ads. A football game is about an hour of game time and two hours of other stuff, mostly ads. This is how thirty-two oligarchs get nine billion per year just from broadcasting their games.
If sports are a public good, then they need to be regulated in the best interest of the people, like a road or a waterway. Economic considerations fall behind the moral and social considerations. On the other hand, if they are just another business with no special meaning to society, then they get treated as such. In America, the first option is only open to the Left and the second option is never considered. Both Left and Right support using sports to advance left-wing ends.
This little example illustrates a core premise of the dissident project. It is the destruction of the old dynamic between Left and Right, where one side argues from morality and the other side hides behind abstract economic concepts. The new dynamic needs to begin with the basic question. Does the issue lie in the public culture or does it belong in the private culture? The former requires public power to regulate on behalf of the public, while the latter needs to be protected from public power.
Note that the issue is culture, not economics. This is the other aspect of that change in the political dynamic. The debate must always start first with the culture. Not only does this focus the mind on what actually matters, but it keeps the specter of who decides hanging over all public debate. What is in the best interest of the culture and who ultimately decides is the core of all politics. A genuine opposition to the Left embraces this reality and makes it the focus of their politics.
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