Science fiction author, activist and journalist Cory Doctorow returns to the Plutopia podcast. We discuss his latest book, Chokepoint Capitalism, and his definition of a chokepoint. We also explore the impact of mergers and consolidation on American society, the need for increasing enforcement by the FTC and SEC, antitrust law, and much more.
Cory Doctorow: It’s a chokepoint, that’s the kinds of structures that Rebecca and I identify in this book. That ou have these structural problems where two firms control all the mobile, and those firms have convergent policies that act to the detriment of both audiences and – importantly here – creative workers. And takes money out of their pockets, changes the distributional outcome. Even if you can claim, “Oh, look at how big the app marketplace is, look how many billions of dollars apps are generating,” unless you also look at where those billions of dollars go, you don’t know anything important about how it’s affecting the material conditions of creative workers. So what we didn’t want to do with this book is write one of those chapter 11 books, where there’s ten chapters about how screwed up things are, and then in the eleventh chapter we say, “Hey, everybody, go vote harder, we’ll get this!” Instead, we take the position that anything that can’t go on forever will eventually stop, and that when it stops there will be a crisis. We’ve had lots of crises in arts policy and in copyright policy over the last couple of decades. There are far more to come. And that when those crises arrive, as my arch-enemy Milton Friedman used to say, “Ideas that are lying around can move from the fringe to the center very quickly.”
Cory’s previous Plutopian encounters: