Edward Ficklin

The FAANGs piercing our throats

published4 months ago
2 min read

Hello, darlings? How are you faring is this moment of social media implosion? I for one am further affirmed in my resolve to keep this little Dispatch humming along as best I can. I hope it proves a reliable bit of respite for you, as well.

With these corporate shenanigans as background, I’ve just finished reading the recently published Chokepoint Capitalism by Corey Doctorow and Rebecca Giblin. This is an excellent book for anyone interested in anything to do with cultural production. Given the love of art and comix that has brought us all together, the insights and inspirations of this admittedly super wonky book are likely to resonate with you, darlings. Given how social media is fueled by exploiting our creativity, this seems an apt moment to bring it to your attention.

Here’s a little snippet of the flap copy that says it better than I ever could:

By analyzing creative industries, Giblin and Doctorow reveal how powerful corporations construct “anti-competitive flywheels” designed to lock in users and suppliers, make their markets hostile to new entrants and then force workers and suppliers to accept unfairly low prices. Then, they break down how to batter through those chokepoints, with tools ranging from transparency rights and collective action to ownership, radical interoperability, contract terminations, job guarantees, and minimum wages for creative work.

With consumers and producers being totally locked in we arrive at the chokepoint of the title. And the chokepoints are so insidiously complicated and have been slowly encircling us for so many decades that it really does take a whole book to convey the extent of what’s going on. This one little dispatch isn’t going to paint the whole picture for you. That will take not only reading the entire book, but also some further reading around the intricacies of copyright and antitrust law in your particular area of interest or concern. It’s worth the effort.

As you read, and find yourselves utterly bewildered, remember darlings, it’s not you! These laws are deliberately complexified to a point that even Kafka couldn’t imagine. And they’re being made more complex all the time to shield corporate interests from scrutiny and deny the citizenry their constitutional and human rights. It’s going to require old school organizing like progressive candidates, ballot initiatives, electoral reform, precedent setting lawsuits, and unions, unions, unions, to start undoing the damage.

As we head into the holiday season, don’t berate yourselves (or let anyone else do it to) for “consumerism.” The chokepoints don’t leave consumers any choices, either! It’s a web of systemic problems which won’t be solved by individual choices alone. So, go out there and use your money to bring joy to people’s lives! But when the wrapping paper’s been recycled and the gifts cards redeemed, give a thought to this book, its message, its prescriptions. In the new year, I hope you'll join me in my search for ways, however small, I can join the movement to get the FAANGs* of the world out of our throats.

*(Facebook Apple Amazon Netflix Google)

Until next time, flame on! 🔥

This has been the Queer Quantum Dispatch, brought to you by artist Edward Ficklin. If you enjoyed it, smash the forward button and share the love. 💖 If you got this from a friend (and what a friend!) subscribe for more!