On Thursday, the FCC will hold one of the most important votes in its history, to determine whether the internet should be classified as a Utility under Title II, which would allow the FCC to enforce the net neutrality rules which had governed the internet already for most of its history and that had, in the last few years, been violated by a small cabal of some of the most hated corporations in America (Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T chief among them).
Now, I almost shied away from writing this column. Not because of anything to do with the subject matter as such, but because it was made clear to me when I took this job was that I had to dial down on the levels of profanity that I use, in comparison to my Tabletop RPG blog, where I swear not so much like a drunken sailor as like a sailor on a meth spree. The Invincible Overlord made it very clear that, while I should try to keep all my usual belligerence, my pottymouth needs to be dialed down. But to write about this issue, I think it will be very hard for me not to swear.
Why? Because it ******* pisses me off! The anti-capitalist douchebags who just happen to be on the right side of this fight for all the wrong reasons piss me off, but not nearly as much as just how many self-described capitalists are on the wrong side of this fight for understandable but wrong reasons; and neither of those piss me off even an iota as much as the scumbag tactics of the people trying to kill net neutrality, mainly through manipulating the gang of technological illiterates known as the general public, who they’ve convinced that, rather than being how the internet worked since almost day-one, “net neutrality” is some kind of terrible new Evil Socialist Plot that OBAMA Invented to Socialize the Internet, or something.
It’s just so f****** childish:
“Obama has invented this net neutrality thing and its going to take away our freedoms!”
“Um, actually, you do get that net neutrality is how the internet always worked, right?”
“Yeah but the FCC is doing this totally new thing called net neutrality and its going to make it impossible to do business on the internet”
“No, I just said, net neutrality is not something new, why are you repeating that it’s new when I just explained how it’s not??”
“There’s this thing that Obama just invented called net neutrality, and its going to FORCE all the companies that try to work on the internet to BECOME SOCIALIST and then the INTERNETS WILL CLOSE!”
“You stupid m***********, net neutrality is how the internet is supposed to work RIGHT NOW and how it has ALWAYS WORKED!! Why do you keep f****** lying?”
“They have a Super-Secret Plan to TAX THE INTARWEB and then we’ll pay more money!”
“Dude, you’re already paying through the nose for third-world-quality internet access because the ISP companies have violated net neutrality!”
“OBAMA NET NEUTRALITY FCC COMMUNIST PLOT!!”
And then, after Ranty McMoron there claims I’m a commie-socialist for wanting the internet to keep working exactly like it always did when it revolutionized our world and made a ton of people millionaires, some f******* liberal douchebag shows up and says to me, “Oh, you’re a free market capitalist? That means you’re trying to destroy net neutrality!”
That there are people who don’t know net neutrality and its history is one thing; they’re being duped like a gang of suckers, by a group of companies that are poster-boys for how not to do capitalism. But it’s the people who know better and are still on the side of Verizon or AT&T I can’t get. I mean, who the flying **** waves raises the battle-standard of m************ Comcast?! Or Verizon? Some of the s******* companies in America with some of the worst abuses of customers who seem to almost revel, to wallow in being complete f*******s to their optionless consumers! (And please, if you’re about to tell me that in this day and age, having internet is still a ‘choice’ rather than a prerequisite of functioning in society as anything other than a bridge-dwelling hermit or a waste-of-oxygen hippie dropout, go **** yourself.)
Let me make a couple of things clear here: first, Comcast (or Verizon, or AT&T) are NOT “Heroes Of Capitalism” or something like that. There is NO particular reason why any fan of free-market capitalism should like these festering a******* . They are the reason people (however irrationally) don’t like capitalism. They give capitalism a bad name. And all they are fighting for is the right to be bloodsuckers taking advantage of a natural monopoly. That is in NO WAY the spirit of Adam Smith; it isn’t considered in any way a virtue of conventional Capitalist Theory. It’s a bug, not a feature.
I don’t want you to think this is some kind of anti-capitalist or even anti-corporate screed. Far from it; and later you’ll see that I have high praise for a number of super-successful extremely-capitalist corporations that are doing things right. Corporations aren’t “the bad guys”, they’re just kind of like people: some of them are nicer, some of them are a********, but mainly they’re in it for themselves. And according to capitalism, they’re supposed to be. Their job is to make profits. But part of how real capitalism works is that you also make sure that there is an opportunity for a truly free market to exist: that means no subsidies, no coercion in pursuit of profit allowed, and no monopolies (state-created, contrived through trusts, or natural). No guns, literal or metaphorical, to people’s heads, in other words.
Second, if you’re a free-market Capitalist, you should be in favor of net neutrality. This guy’s excellent and very long essay on the subject explains why, from the point of view of a fellow free-market capitalist with a strong distrust of big government, we need (for the sake of the Internet) to hold our noses and create regulation to enforce net neutrality. He gets to the nitty-gritty of Capitalist Theory much much better than I could, but what he leaves just a little unclear is just to what extent the s***-l******* ***** horse-******* gang of mafiosi (though I think there I’m doing a disservice to the Cosa Nostra) in the ISP-cabal are RESPONSIBLE for painting us all into that corner. It’s THEIR FAULT, that gang of c*****, because they chose to flagrantly violate the set of understandings that made the internet so successful, both as a tool for civilization, for knowledge and culture, for entertainment, and also as a marketplace that has made insane amounts of money for capitalist entrepreneurs. They (Comcast/Verison/AT&*************T) have created an environment where that openness and freedom of expression, that beautiful anarchy, will be swallowed up so that they can hold the flow of information literally hostage for more money.
Now let me be clear here, ‘holding my nose’ is very much the case for me here, in terms of my support for federal regulation. It is the nature of the free market that people want to try to achieve a monopoly, and sometimes even that inherent conditions tend toward monopolies being created, but ironically monopolies are themselves damaging to the free market. So there has to be a mechanism in place to deal with monopolies, especially naturally-occurring monopolies, so that the free market can work the way it should. Regulation is always dangerous, and should always be minimal, but is sometimes a necessary lesser-evil to insure the correct functioning of capitalism as an economic system. If you believe in and support capitalism as a functioning economic system, rather than being devoted to it as some kind of insane religion, you will support the occasional use of necessary regulation to avoid monopoly, trusts, or g****** f******* hostage-taking of this sort.
I am as skeptical of Big Government as just about anyone. But we have two possible scenarios here, and only two:
a) The FCC invokes title II. If they do so to maintain net neutrality in precisely the same way that it has applied for the entire history of the internet, I don’t see any way that this could possibly be viewed as a bad thing. The internet has certainly not been bad for business so far. It’s how the internet has always worked, and succeeded in making a lot of people a LOT of money all this time.
b) We lose net neutrality: under that scenario, there is no question that monopolies and corporate abuses will occur, because we’re already seeing them (the Verizon/Netflix-shakedown b******* being just the tip of the iceberg).
Monopolies are NOT good or heroic capitalism. They’re a problem to be addressed. No real capitalist (as opposed to a Capitalist-Cultist) actually believes otherwise.
Now, there are a lot of people who don’t trust the federal government, and I’m chief among them! That’s a healthy thing to feel, and always wise. But many people are getting all worried about what the federal government might do, without offering any solution to the major problem we have right now.
Look, if the federal government of the U.S. said ‘we just want to restore and keep net neutrality as it always worked’, and then turned around and sneaked in some secret Intarwebs Tax in there, or started demanding that YouTube have a minimum 33% feminist content or that you have to watch Multicultural Folk Dancing before downloading House of Cards from Netflix, or tried to sneak in obligatory pop-up ads for Obamacare, or whatever improbable boogeyman people are so afraid of, I would be the first guy on the front lines to fight those m************. Promise. I’m just asking you to be on the side of stopping the guys who are currently engaging in wrongdoing right now; instead of handing that gang of monstrous gaping a******* the internet and a gun to hold to all our heads, just to ‘stop’ a boogeyman that hasn’t actually done anything yet.
Verizon and those other f********? They’re f****** everything up RIGHT NOW. This isn’t a ‘theoretical’. They have already f***** with Netflix, they’re already screwing their customers to the point of infamy (where practically all of you reading this today from the Land of the Free have slower, less-reliable, more expensive internet fees than I do, living in a 3rd-world country, while your ISPs fight against classifying as “broadband” something that is half the speed of the connection I pay less than thirty bucks a month for ), and they want to create a world where the customers who already pay them off will only be able to have quick access to those companies that also pay them off; while any other site that doesn’t have the funds or the spinelessness to pay up will load slower than an early-90s nudie jpeg. Part of what has MADE the internet the perfect marketplace is that any pair of college students with a startup can open a website and have the exact same chance of catching fire in the public attention as something set up by a Fortune-500 company. Likewise, the intellectual value of the internet is based on the idea that any a****** with a blog can have the same accessibility in the marketplace of ideas as the major media (which allowed, among other things, for conservative and libertarian websites to get out a number of major stories that the mainstream media totally ignored or tried to suppress). When only the big companies that can bribe Comcast enough get to have fast download speeds, all of that potentially goes away. The even playing field is lost.
The Verizon-flag-wavers might not think it’s a problem to let huge natural monopolies disrupt the free market, but Adam Smith and every credible, sane capitalist ever did. None of these blind-cheerleaders of corporate malfeasance seem to have any other solution, they just keep claiming that we have to let these f****** mobsters keep behaving badly, or else the government might behave badly too.
But I absolutely understand the reticence of even certain educated and thinking people to see government intervention as the answer here. It’s because while it’s not true that government is always the problem and never the answer, it is absolutely true that government is often the problem and almost never the answer and more often than not f**** up anything it does. I’ll concede that point.
But the thing is, there’s no other answer here. You’ll note that no one on the other side of this debate is explaining how to do net neutrality without the FCC, not in any credible way that hasn’t already failed or proved itself impossible to do. They either think net neutrality is some brand new librul-satanic-evil concocted by Obama to steal our precious bodily fluids, or they think that corporate monopolies are awesome because they’re f****** idiots rather than actual capitalists, or they are so determined in their fear of any kind of government action that they would rather watch the entire internet burn, and lose everything that made it great, rather than use the one solution that could work.
And again, I will turn on a f****** dime the instant that someone shows me something that actually proves that the FCC plans to make everyone download movies off the Obamacare website or that every click will now go to support Common Core Sharia Pole-Dancing Classes Taught By Practicing Satanists or whatever f****** conspiracy theory they have in their heads just now. But right now, this instant, there’s no proof of any of that. Whereas right now, this instant, the Verizon/Comcast/AT&T a******* are presently cackling while they all but sodomize puppies and make a mockery of capitalism. One side is engaging in real and present bad behavior, the other is accused of utterly theoretical potential bad behavior.
If you see one guy who looks like a potential mugger to you, and another who is mugging someone right now (and there’s really no better analogy to describe exactly what the ISP companies in America do to you than ‘mugging’), who do you try to stop first?
Now, there’s something else you need to understand about this issue, which puts the nail on the coffin of the idea that if you support net neutrality you’re somehow being anti-capitalist. The anti-net-neutrality team have made a very good job (much better than the pro-neutrality team) of spinning this to look like it’s a fight between Heroic Capitalist Superheroes vs. Dirty Godless Hippie Communists. It isn’t.
Yes, it’s true that most of the anti-capitalist leftie d******s you see on social media websites are on the side of net neutrality, mostly because they can’t hear the word ‘regulate’ without getting wood. But they are, as usual, largely irrelevant in all this. This isn’t a fight of Dirty Hippies v. Heroic Capitalists, it’s not even a fight of Federal Government Bureaucrats vs. Heroic Capitalists; except in that the bureaucrats are needed to impose proper behavior on the f**** who are unquestionably the BAD GUYS here. But they’re not the a side in the fight so much as a tool of the Good Guys.
The real fight here is between Old-Tech-Model Corporate-Mobsters vs. New-Tech-Model Capitalist Heroes. It is a fight between corporations that have a vested interest in the internet being as controlled as possible (the ISPs, who in spite of being in the business of the internet, and wanting to be its toll-takers and gate-keepers, are using what is essentially an outdated business model) vs. companies that have a vested interest in the internet being as free and accessible as possible (i.e. the real Good Guys). It’s not Verizon/Comcast vs. Obama, it’s Verizon/Comcast vs. Google, Netflix, YouTube, Tumblr, etc. etc.
Just forget about the bleating and whining of the left-wing anti-capitalists for a moment and imagine they’re not significant to this fight (because they’re not). What’s really going on here is another salvo of a conflict that’s happening entirely within capitalism between those corporations who make their profit using pre-internet models of business and the new-tech companies that have adopted models based on the radical new ways that the internet has changed business. On the one side you have the f****** ISPs, who make all their money by restricting how much access and information people get. On the other, you have Google, Netflix, etc. who make all their money based on making information and access as open as possible. This isn’t filthy hippies vs. noble capitalists, it’s Horse-and-Buggy Salesmen vs. the Automobile Industry. It’s the old outdated model desperately trying to hold onto a way of making money that they don’t want to admit is doomed, and willing to grind technological and intellectual progress to a halt in order to do so. It’s pretty much the same phenomenon we saw a while back with the whole SOPA debate: two sides, both totally capitalist, having a fight as to whether to encourage or to restrict the future.
One of these sides makes more money the harder they make it for me to do stuff on the internet. The other side makes more money the more stuff they let me see or do on the internet. I know which side I’m going to back in that race. I don’t get why anyone who actually loves the internet wouldn’t be backing that same side too.
It should be obvious to ongoing readers of my columns that I don’t trust big government any more than most of you reading this (probably less so than quite a few of you, for that matter). But trust-busting and enforcing an even playing field in the free market is, in traditional capitalist theory, one of the few legitimate roles of government. For once, they’re actually trying to do something they’re supposed to do!
I really don’t believe there’s some kind of ‘secret shadow cabinet’ out to take away our internet-freedoms; and believe me that if there were, not only I but most of the many extremely-capitalist corporations that support net neutrality (because net neutrality is the right call for free-market capitalism) would be on the front-lines to fight them. But what is an incontrovertible fact right now is that Comcast, Verizon, and the rest of the ISP mafia are, without a shadow of a doubt, being the puppy-raping-level bad guys here. They are worthless s***-s****** c***-l****** m*****-f******, and even if net neutrality put them out of business (it won’t, it’ll just put them out of the racketeering mafia business) I would gleefully p*** on their graves. F*** them.
And that’s all I have to say about that. Hope the bosses didn’t feel they had to block too much out!
Kasimir Urbanski doesn’t write on a specific subject; he’s EveryJoe’s resident maniac-at-large. A recovering Humanities academic and world-traveler, he now lives in South America and is a researcher of fringe religion, eastern philosophy, and esoteric consciousness-expansion. In his spare time he writes tabletop RPGs, and blogs about them at therpgpundit.blogspot.com.
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For a completely different viewpoint on net neutrality, read Brian Garst’s column: Government Imposed Net Neutrality Would Choke the Net.