OR: The Remora and the Shark.
Jeff Berwick at The Dollar Vigilante noted a trend: anarchist and libertarian YouTube videos flagged and banned. For those familiar with the following names, you may be aware that they produce almost exclusively original content. There should be no legitimate reason to cancel or flag the accounts of any of these individuals.
Josie The Outlaw, Adam Kokesh, Mark Dice, and Stefan Molyneux have all recently had YouTube accounts and Facebook pages closed. This could be coincidence. It could be individuals who dislike the content and play dirty. Or — and I can’t jump to conclusions here — it could be the work of law enforcement.
In March The Wall Street Journal reported that approximately 200 people and organizations, including a British police unit, had been given by Google the ability to “flag” up to 20 YouTube videos at once to be reviewed for violating the site’s guidelines. Since then, we’ve seen the wave of freedom-minded websites being taken down, if not by government agencies themselves, then by tattle-tale liberals of the keyboard variety.
Google for sure allows the UK government to censor videos that it doesn’t like. Google was forced to offer more details about the program. Any user can ask for a video to be reviewed, but participants in the super flagger program can ask for as many as 20 (!) videos to be reviewed at once. And most of these videos ultimately get taken down for good. In that respect, us libertarians have been lucky! The UK Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit, for instance, sought reviews of videos it considered extremist. It justified this by evoking The Terrorism Act.
Over 90% of the videos identified by super flaggers are either completely removed for violating guidelines, or restricted as not appropriate for younger users. This percentage is far higher than regular users who occasionally flag dubious content.
YouTube, which has been owned by Google since 2006, is a private enterprise. It can do as it pleases. And, yet, it isn’t a free market enterprise. The corporate-state relationship forces private cooperation. The corporation depends on the state. The state depends on the corporation.
This is the state-corporation relationship:
Like the shark and the Remora, or suckerfish, the corporation latches on to the state. It moves with the state, ensuring its solvency, assisting it with its mission. The Remora has no niche without the state. Just as the corporation requires the state to survive, the Remora requires the shark to survive. The state, in turn, protects the corporation. It provides free passage. It shields the corporation from market predators — legitimate free market competition — that would displace it or harm corporate sector dominance. The corporation reciprocates by ensuring the health of the state: financial backing, technological tools, and logistical support.
And while the shark’s prey is fish meat, the state’s prey is your labor. Your production. Taxation. Forced work. Incarceration. Slavery lite.
The end result is that the state is allowed to use tools of the corporation — in the case of Google/YouTube, “super flagging” and other forms of censorship via police. The corporation is shielded from consumer backlash, because state privilege has granted it a de facto monopoly. If you want to be seen, you must use YouTube. This perpetuates the power monopoly of the state and perpetuates corporate monopolies within their respective industries.
Now, the question remains: do you hunt the shark or the Remora? (This is obviously a metaphor. Don’t hunt the literal Remoa nor the literal shark. This will have no impact on the state-corporate relationship.) Many choose to take the Remora approach, by focusing on capitalism or corporatism as the fundamental evil. This is common in traditional anarchist thought. In the schools of individualist anarchism, market anarchism, and the newer forms of anarcho-capitalism and anti-state libertarianism, the focus is redirected to the state. While corporatism is still rejected, the state is seen as the primary threat.
I tend toward the latter: by destroying the shark (the state) the Remora (the corporation) has no foundation. It dies. It ceases to exist. But I accept both. Fight who you will fight. Only you can decide for yourself.
The rest of the fish become vegan, living free of the tyranny of sharks everywhere. Well, not really. I kid. The shark/Remora metaphor only goes so far. Anarchism does not promise utopia. Libertarianism does not promise utopia. The big fish may still eat the little fish. But if we can rid ourselves of a predatory juggernaut and its enablers then we can eventually arrive at the beautiful ocean, the truly free market of voluntary exchange.