21A011 Cancellations by Jim Davies, 3/23/2021


2020 saw an outbreak of the "cancel culture"; a rash of actions that seemed to throttle free speech. The major media excluded contributions by Libertarians and Conservatives, the new media (Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google...) took deliberate action to downplay or exclude them. YouTube discontinued or heavily censored clips that dared question the orthodox line about Covid. It all seems highly ominous, similar to 1930s Germany.

Before rushing to condemn this, or (worse) screeching for laws to prevent it, it's worth considering who is doing what, by what right, and with what result.

The ideal of free speech recognizes that every human owns his own voice and can by right therefore use it; likewise fingers, keyboards etc. It does not compel anyone to listen or read, and certainly doesn't compel any publisher to publish everything submitted to him; for the right to speak freely derives directly from the self-ownership axiom and so does the right to control property acquired by voluntary exchange. So if Twitter wants to deny access to its facilities by former President Trump, it has the perfect right so to do.

Every business has the natural right to choose its customers. In the one I owned I chose everyone who applied, except government entities; I discriminated against them. My product was valuable, and I wished to give those no help - even at the cost of revenues foregone. There is a baker in Indiana who does not wish to serve homosexuals; yet by law he was forced to do so unless he could claim a religious basis for his bias. Outrageous; foolish or not, he has the natural right to include and exclude whomever he wishes.

On a small scale (like the baker's) that discrimination quickly brings its own costs; the excluded customer need not go far to find a competitor willing to serve him. So the excluder loses market share while gaining self-respect; that's his trade off. But when the excluder is very large, and especially if he acts in concert with competitors in a cartel with similar views, trouble erupts; and that's what we face now in the "cancel culture." The excluder loses little or nothing, for there is no competitor to accept the business he rejects and thereby grow so as to pose an eventual threat. Indeed, he may gain in terms of approbation by those who like his bigotry; they may bring him extra business.

No question, the concerted action by new and old-style media to suppress all non-socialist viewpoints is a menace; but the right response to it is to let the market work, not to try to control their choices. Google deliberately down-grades good material in its search algorithms; very well, let's await competitors who promise the contrary - and they are already emerging, eg DuckDuckGo (never mind the name.) Facebook suddenly (and ironically) cancels members who favor natural, bare faces - already Gab is operating and eager to take up the slack.

Building large numbers of customers takes time, so the market will not fix this problem overnight. But it will fix it, and it will not use force.

Meantime, reflect: the prevailing hysteria about a fictional plague will dry up in due course, and perhaps Big Tech will wise up a bit and stop some of its nasty discrimination, but in any case we who seek freedom from the curse of government do not need them. We don't depend on winning a media war, and if we have enjoyed access to someone else's facility, to promote freedom, that's been a nice bonus but is not at all something without which we're lost. The essential method of TOLFA growth is to first learn liberty, then invite one friend at a time to learn it too, in that interactive, self-directed online school. And, of course, to leave any government job we hold.

What views the media - old style, new style, styles yet to come - choose to favor is irrelevant. That's all we need do, and if we do it we shall prevail; with all the inevitability of an avalanche.

That way - and only in that way - will government itself be canceled.



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