Wow, suddenly the blogs are full of anti-corporate libertarianism. Following up the post I blogged about yesterday, Cato published Matt Yglesias of The Atlanatic on how libertarian organizations (including Cato) have often reflexively backed corporations in initiatives with dubious free-market credentials. And now here’s a great broadside by Eric Raymond against both sides of the "net neutrality" debate.
He starts by reiterating a point made in the Roderick Long piece: much of the coroporate monopoly control cited by opponents of the free market is regulatory in origin:
Raymond goes on to chide the net-neutrality backers for utterly missing the point:
Go active whenever there’s a political debate about “unlicensed spectrum”. More of it is good. Oppose any efforts to make UWB (or any other technology that doesn’t cause destructive interference) require a license anywhere on the spectrum. If you are capable, contribute to the development of mesh networking, especially wireless mesh networking.
Raymond, in painting the net neutrality activists as "useful idiots" who have allowed the telcos to frame the parameters of the debate, is making a deeper point that deserves attention. It’s an idea that goes back at least to Korzybski and General Semantics: if you can define the agreed-upon structure of a subject, the map by which all participants orient themselves when taking their positions, you can control the debate completely. Frame a debate in terms of scarcity, and everyone involved will spend all their time arguing about how to divvy up the pie. Control the vocabulary, and you constrain the continuum of possible outcomes. Not that I think there’s a nefarious puppet master, scheming to impose his will by controlling the terms of the debate. But everyone who could derive benefit from regulations guranteeing them a share (either of the pie itself or of the money and power adhering to the administration of the pie) has a vested interest in promulgating the scarcity worldview.
Korzybski said it best, when he coined the phrase "the map is not the territory". Always question the maps, even when you like the cartographer.