The idea that our democratic republic is being transformed into an oligarchy that features an unholy alliance of Big Tech, the Deep State, and Politicians isn't news. However, I'd like to draw the attention of readers to a fine article on the subject--followed by a link to a pending court case in the US District Court of Massachusetts. Here's the article:
We are witnessing a transformation from democratic into oligarchic rule, technologically enhanced and hidden under a democratic guise.
As you will see, this is a theme that we touched on most recently in Cultural Sovietism. In that post we looked at Alexis de Tocqueville's notion of "soft tyranny" in America. The authors of the linked article, too, look to de Tocqueville to understand what's going on in 21st century America. When de Tocqueville was writing his great Democracy in America, in the early middle part of the 19th century, "media" was the newspapers. Things are a bit different now, but the principles that de Tocqueville evoked remain highly relevant. Here's an excerpt--but go to the original which is quite a bit longer:
Now, the court case, which offers at least some hope. I picked this up via TGP. The hope is offered in the order of Judge Mark L. Wolf--a Reagan appointee! The order is dated 5/13/21 and it sets a hearing for 5/20/21. What the judge is doing in this order--which you can read here, it's just three pages long of very clear writing--is inviting interested persons to weigh in as amici curiae regarding what he terms
"the substantial constitutional questions concerning whether Twitter's conduct should be deemed to be state action."
I hope that got your attention. That's a big, big deal. The judge notes that the plaintiff is not a lawyer and is proceeding pro se. Therefore, because of the substantial constitutional questions, he wants qualified amici to weigh in on these questions.
The plaintiff is a colorful character you may have heard of, who alleges election fraud in Massachusetts. This is him:
V. A. Shiva Ayyadurai (born Vellayappa Ayyadurai Shiva, December 2, 1963) is an Indian-American engineer, politician, entrepreneur, and promoter of conspiracy theories, pseudoscience and unfounded medical claims. Ayyadurai makes the widely disputed claim to have invented email.
Ayyadurai also attracted attention for two reports: the first questioning the working conditions of India's largest scientific agency; the second questioning the safety of genetically modified soybeans. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ayyadurai became known for a social media disinformation campaign about the coronavirus; spreading conspiracy theories about the cause of coronavirus; promoting unfounded COVID-19 treatments; and campaigning to fire Anthony Fauci for allegedly being a so-called "deep state" actor.
He garnered 3.39% of the vote as an independent candidate in the 2018 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, and ran as a Republican in the 2020 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, but lost to Kevin O'Connor in the primary.
Ayyadurai's case focuses on his unsuccessful run for the US Senate. In the wake of his election loss, Ayyadurai--via Twitter--made allegations of election fraud. Then this. The tweets were deleted by Twitter at the direction of employees of the Massachusetts Secretary of State and Ayyadurai's Twitter account was suspended.
Now, here I quote TGP:
CDA 230 is the provision of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that gives internet and social media companies legal immunity from lawsuits due to the content they publish.
This provision in law gives companies like Facebook and Twitter a way to dismiss lawsuits, but it also gives them the ability to act with impunity so that their actions cannot be legally challenged. These companies have, according to their detractors, abused this immunity by suppressing dissident, and specifically conservative, views, viewpoints and journalism.
Because Dr. Ayyadurai did not argue about Twitter’s “Terms of Service” everything will instead hinge on the degree of interaction between Twitter and the state government of Massachusetts.
And according to Dr. Ayyadurai, those links have already been proven in testimony, since Twitter has built a special portal offered to certain governmental entities so that government officials can flag and delete content they dislike for any reason, as part of what they call “Twitter Partner Status.”
Ayyadurai's motion seeks to make Twitter a party to the law suit--despite the provisions of CDA 230--on the grounds that Twitter was acting essentially as an agent of the state.
It seems to me that this case has at least the potential to disrupt coordination of the unholy oligarchical alliance described above. I like to think that de Tocqueville is smiling right now.