All Commentary
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump’s Video Is Evidence that Liberty Is Winning

Technology is a force for liberation of the world. We are winning.

Now this is very interesting. The president-elect in a transition might normally address the American people through network television. This is how it has normally been done. Donald Trump took another path. His transition team snagged a free YouTube channel, set up a camera, and pushed out a 2-and-a-half minute video on his transition priorities (which didn’t include health care, by the way). It’s had a million views in less than 24 hours.

Equipotency is the greatest gift of the market to humanity, the result of thousands of years of social evolution, arriving ever more to a perfect state of universal human ennoblement.Think of the significance of this. The incoming president is using exactly the same technology that you and I have in our pocket.

What a transformation! FDR ruled the American mind through his special access to radio (his “fireside chats”). This continued through the rise of network television. The monopoly was only recently smashed. Forget the satellite hookups, press contacts, prime-time scheduling, and the rest of the apparatus that privileged the powerful in the past.

Trump’s wealth and incoming power grants him no special technological advantages over the rest of us. He simply grabbed the best tool around for communication, and it is the same tool we all use.

Now, there is a certain irony to this because Trump has a tin ear for the social benefits of “the cyber,” as he kept calling digital tech during the debates. His protectionist and mercantilist ideology sustains a romantic attachment to big industry, construction, and all things brick-and-mortar. During the campaign, he thought nothing of threatening Amazon with antitrust action, for example.

And yet, in a strange way, his political campaign has made extraordinary use of new technology, not because he believes in it ideologically, but simply because it is useful. He once mused that he loved Twitter so much, because it gives him his own personal version of the New York Times. Exactly! He should reflect on how the technology he used to his own personal advantage in the campaign has a similarly high value for society at large.

What does this say about the prospects for human freedom? Very good things. It is an indication of growing equipotency, which is to say, the equal distribution of the power to control resources across the entire population. This is the greatest gift of the market to humanity, the result of thousands of years of social evolution, arriving ever more to a perfect state of universal human ennoblement.

Technology > Politics

Politics is entertaining, intriguing, and sometimes terrifying. People tend to look at political trends to assess the prospects for liberty, but it’s not always a great indicator of where we actually stand. For example, there is good reason to be alarmed about the rise of nationalism in the US and Europe, but when you look at the deeper reality you see that global trade and the international division of labor have never been more integral to our lives.

There are even deeper revolutionary trends afoot that belie the centralizing trends you see in politics. It’s politics vs. technology. And remember that technology will inevitably win this struggle. That’s because knowledge and know-how becomes the common property of humanity and persists over time, whereas politics is comparatively transitory.

Regimes come and go. They can slow or speed the pace of technological development. But once the technology is here, it stays regardless of political trends.

A regime can try to abolish technological progress or make it impossible to escape amidst a thicket of control – you see this in Cuba – but it can’t succeed over the long term. Eventually society pushes past political trends to deploy the existing knowledge base of human experience. And it improves, outwitting the capacity for regulators to control it.

So let’s look at other forms of equipotency that exists on the leading edge today. My friend Justin Ptak started the list, others in his network filled it out a bit, and I’ve added some of my own.

Youtube vs. network television

Yelp vs. so-called experts

OpenBazaar vs. regulated markets

Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba vs. traditional distribution

Blockchain vs. traditional property titles and accounting

Crypto-currency vs. fiat money

3D printing vs. centralized manufacturing

AirBnb v.s entrenched hotels

Uber/Lyft vs. the taxi monopoly

Homeschooling/Unschooling etc. vs. public schools

Consumers/users/creators vs. paid pundits

Kickstarter/fundraiser vs. Hollywood and non-profits

Online global pharmacies vs. the FDA

Cell411, Private Threat Management vs. police

Labor contracting vs. firm-based employment

TaskRabbit vs. licensed contractors

Food trucks vs. zoned restaurants

VOIP vs. landlines

Online lending vs. banks

Upwork global contracting vs. protectionism and migration control

Private mixed-use communities vs. zoned subdivisions

Dispensaries vs. drug cartels

Arbitration/tribunals vs. the monopoly on justice

Dispute resolution experts vs. a judge and jury

LinkedIn vs. old boys network

Internet radio vs. government-controlled airways

P2P filesharing vs. Intellectual property

Solar/Wind/electric etc. vs. national grid

The app economy vs. the controlled physical world

The Lesson: technology is a force for liberation of the world. We are winning.