“How Do Democracies Fall Apart (And Could it Happen Here)?” Session 2

63:45
which this with this Chetty study has
63:47
established which I won’t belabor
63:49
likewise lack of mobility as such is
63:53
strongly related to lack of social
63:55
mobility if you’re between 18 and 34 in
63:56
the United States you are you are most
63:59
likely living with your parents it’s
64:02
more likely than any other arrangement
64:04
which means that literally you have not
64:06
moved right lack of geographical
64:08
mobility like worsening health like
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shortening lifespans like lack of social
64:14
mobility works against a sense of time
64:17
which allows you to think that time is
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moving forward right and so the time
64:22
escapes start to change now how does
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this work in politics in politics it can
64:29
be it can be you can be channeled moved
64:31
incorporated exploited however you
64:34
prefer by politicians who talk in terms
64:37
of a different time scape so for example
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make America great again is a time scape
64:42
which doesn’t refer to a better future
64:44
it’s a time scape which loops back to an
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unnamed and mythical past right so now
64:49
there are studies now about what make
64:51
America great again means for Americans
64:53
for example Taylor at all in the Journal
64:55
of applied research and memory cognition
64:57
finds not surprisingly that Americans
65:00
define the moment when America was great
65:02
in the past as the moment when they were
65:03
young right
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which is funny but I think it’s also
65:14
politically very significant because it
65:16
refers us to a certain political style
65:18
which I’m going to call the politics of
65:19
eternity or the government as being
65:21
rather than than doing because one of
65:24
the things about youth is that
65:26
government can’t give it back to you
65:28
right I mean whether wherever we are on
65:31
the span of like how much government
65:33
should do not do can we will generally
65:35
agree that government cannot in fact
65:37
make you young again right so this is
65:40
funny but it’s also revealing because
65:43
the pot what I’m gonna call the politics
65:45
of eternity the politics of cycling back
65:47
to the past rather than imagining of
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future is precisely about defining
65:52
political problems in fictional terms
65:54
and therefore in irresolvable terms so
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if what you want out of politics is to
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be young again you might keep voting for
66:02
that promise but government is not going
66:05
to give it for you and can’t I will now
give you a more serious example one of
the things which distinguishes white
trump voters from white Clinton voters
is that a significant majority of white
Trump voters in a very small minority of
white Clinton voters it’s an interesting
difference a significant majority of
white Trump voters believe that White’s
face greater racial discrimination in
the United States than blacks do now
that is interesting but it’s also
interesting politically because that’s a
fictional problem if you are white and
you believe that your problem is that
you face Greater racism then black
people do again that is not a problem
that government can solve right it’s an
in it’s an because it’s a fictional
problem now I’m trying this is not meant
to be funny it’s meant to define a
different political style a Timescape in
which government doesn’t promise you a
better future but instead regularly in a
cyclical way mentions the things which
irritate you which are important to you
which cannot be solved the politics of
doing rather than being if that seems
imaginary consider the first year of the
Trump administration there is no
legislation which is going to make any
of these kinds of voters it’s not going
to speak to what we would regard as
their interests or even to an ideology
right
um the two major initiatives are take
health insurance away from people which
is precisely interesting because it’s
people who needed the health insurance
most who were the swing group which
brought him into office right that’s the
first one and the second one is tax
regression right
the second major policy initiative his
tax regression precisely taking income
away from poor people and giving it to
richer people that’s it in the landscape
of the first year those are the only two
things neither of those things can be
thought of as creating a future right
those things if anything only makes only
make matters only make matters as one
might see it worse so where does this
where does this lead us to the first
thing is I’m gonna referring to to where
reception Dvorsky ended up it may not be
that the thing we have to worry about is
whether mr. Trump will fail I mean I
don’t think he’s actually after success
in the normal liberal sense of the word
I think he’s after failure I don’t think
they intend to make policy which makes
life better for their constituents I
think they’re moving very consciously
towards a different kind of policy um I
think it’s a mistake
therefore to refer to this as populism
because in American tradition anyway
populism means you’re against the elites
but you still imagine the government is
going to do something for you I think
we’re in a different territory I think
we’re in something which is more
accurately characterized as Sadopopulism
where you you are against the
elites right but you don’t expect
government to do anything for you in
fact you kind of want government not to
do anything because that reinforces your
beliefs about the way the world works so
where does this lead us this is my final
word where does this lead us on the
question of of comparison right so what
I worry with when when people say well
it’s it doesn’t line up well to the
interwar cases there are difference
between US and Nazi Germany what I were
69:06
with is about that is the implicit
69:08
conclusion that therefore everything’s
69:10
a-okay right everything’s not a okay
69:12
just because it’s not February 1933 and
69:15
thoughts of Germany I think the way to
69:17
understand the comparisons is more as a
69:20
source of normative
69:22
action right I’m not gonna make that
69:24
case now because it’s the case I made in
69:25
the book on tyranny it’s not that where
69:27
we are now is going to inevitably lead
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to czechoslovakia 1948 or you know
69:32
germany in 1933 it’s that those regime
69:35
changes or the witnesses to those regime
69:37
changes give us useful and timely advice
69:39
about how to head off regime changes in
69:42
in rule of law states I think the
69:44
comparisons are most useful in that way
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most useful is a general guideline that
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globalization’s can crash
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most of our comparisons are about the
69:53
first globalization crash we’re now in
69:54
the middle we’re now in the middle of
69:56
number two what I think is that we can
69:59
move away from democracy we can learn
70:02
away we can learn from other people
70:04
while we’re doing didn’t try to resist
70:06
it even though where we’re going is
70:08
going to be somewhat different I mean as
70:09
for me where I think we’re going or
70:11
where we seem to be going is is
70:12
something like you know oligarchy with
70:14
just enough fascism to get by as a kind
70:17
of lubricant and and the and the way
70:21
this would look would be not so much the
70:23
creation of something new but just the
70:25
dissolution of what we have right and
70:27
not I completely agree with the point
70:30
not mobilization but demobilization are
70:33
only very occasional mobilization like
70:36
very occasional marches very occasional
70:38
violence but mostly the mobilization at
70:40
atomization and what’s worrying about
70:42
that is that then you know implicitly
70:45
the people who in some of these
70:46
presentations were counted on to come
70:47
save us right the economic elites
70:49
whoever they are that the economic
70:52
elites can be on the same side that you
70:54
you can be an economic elite and you can
70:56
think in you know environment Germany
70:58
you can be the economic or in Italy you
70:59
can be the economic elites and you can
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think rightly or wrong you can think
71:02
wrongly we can outwit these guys maybe
71:05
in America you’re the economic elites
71:07
and you think correctly you can outwit
71:10
these guys but the outcome still isn’t
71:12
democracy right if you continue to have
71:15
the kinds of drift that we’re having
71:16
with the outcome still to democracy it
71:18
might not be anything that has another
71:19
dramatic name but it’s not necessarily
71:21
democracy so the the point that I’m
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trying to make is that we’re at this
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historical moment in the sense that not
71:28
just that great things are at stake and
71:30
that in that in the actions and
71:31
Institute
71:32
that we take now make a lot of
71:33
difference but also historical in the
71:34
sunset the way people are thinking about
71:36
time is changing I mean if that tips if
71:41
that if we tip from one way of thinking
71:42
about time to another if I’m right that
71:44
there is such a tipping point then we’re
71:46
closer to dramatic change than other
71:48
kinds of indicators might suggest okay
71:51
thanks thank you for those amazing
72:02
presentations I think that probably we
72:05
could re title this whole conference how
72:07
scared should we be and this panel in
72:11
particular you know sort of how
72:12
terrified should we be and I think the
72:14
reason we’re seeing a lot of answers to
72:17
that question that kind of vary across
72:18
the spectrum from you know completely
72:20
terrified to only mildly concerned is
72:23
that we really don’t know I mean who
72:25
knows you know that’s sort of the point
72:27
no one knows how history is going to
72:29
unfold we’ve certainly been surprised by
72:31
it in the last year and not just in the
72:34
last year so the answer to the question
72:37
is not is not no and I like to tell my
72:39
students you know I asked them a
72:40
question I say that’s a real question
72:42
not a professor question you know we we
72:45
really don’t know and so if you’re like
72:47
me at all you you go back and forth in
72:49
your own mind over even over the course
72:51
of the day I wake up in the morning and
72:52
I think oh you know it’s gonna be okay
72:54
and then by you know 3:00 in the
72:56
afternoon I want to crawl under a pillow
72:57
and just you know be one of these actors
73:00
who’s stayed away from Rome for the
73:02
whole whistling period so so we have we
73:07
do have kind of a range of responses and
73:10
one of the inspirations for bright-line
73:12
watch is that you know you look for
73:14
signs of what is going to happen and the
73:16
last thing you want to do is see the
73:18
sign in the rear view mirror we don’t
73:20
want to be treating in retrospect at the
73:23
signs we don’t want to say well it
73:24
really was the moment when Judge Garland
73:27
didn’t get a chance to be confirmed or
73:29
it was the moment when you know fill in
73:31
the blank when things really became
73:33
irreversible and and democracy died or
73:36
became severely eroded in the United
73:39
States in a way that would be very very
73:40
difficult to recuperate over any
73:43
meaningful time period so
73:46
I have some some questions I remember
73:49
that you folks are writing down
73:51
questions and filtering them to headman
73:53
who’s standing over to the side we have
73:55
a few questions I like a two-door I’m
73:57
going to take some moderator prerogative
74:01
enact ask a few questions but I’m
74:03
mindful of not taking too much time
74:05
because I know that there will be more
74:06
questions from the audience and that
74:07
these were highly provocative and
74:09
interesting presentations so just just a
74:12
few questions for Nancy you and there
74:19
the concept of distancing which which I
74:23
took to mean and I’ve taken from your
74:24
early earlier work to mean that even if
74:27
my ally even if the person who I’m a
74:30
elite political actor and someone who
74:33
I’m in alliance with violates a critical
74:36
norm or constitutional feature I will
74:42
join the effort to punish that actor but
74:46
I’m thinking about another kind of not
74:48
distancing but let’s call it
74:49
constitutional action and I’ve I’m
74:52
thinking about this in part because
74:54
seeing our tutor this morning thinking
74:56
about his fascinating retrospective
74:58
considerations of what happened in Chile
75:00
there were moments in the sort of
75:02
slow-moving debacle of Chilean politics
75:06
where it went from being a long-standing
75:07
democracy to being a coup and a military
75:11
dictatorship that lasted for 17 years
75:13
and was extremely repressive and harsh
75:16
there there’s the sense of you know
75:19
moments when say the Christian Democrats
75:21
might have said it’s good for us if this
75:24
happens but it’s really it’s a it’s a
75:26
danger for Chilean democracy so that’s a
75:29
slightly different concept I think
75:30
that’s putting the long-term health and
75:34
viability of the constitutional order
75:36
ahead of immediate partisan advantage
75:40
and I wonder whether in the cases you
75:43
examined and more to the point in
75:47
American politics today you see room for
75:49
those kinds of moments of constitutional
75:51
action on it your presentation makes me
75:56
think that Trump is Fidesz and piece
75:58
right that we’re sort of we you walk
76:02
through the actions that those
76:05
governments amazingly parallel kind of
76:07
template’s as you described them and it
76:10
makes me think that we’re sort of only
76:11
halfway there so the courts are
76:14
politicized well you know Melania is not
76:17
making judicial appointments yes or I
76:19
guess it the real equivalent would be
76:21
mrs. pence so the media in the United
76:26
States is harassed but there aren’t
76:28
really formal constraints that have been
76:30
imposed for the most part yet
76:33
and the question then is again this this
76:36
issue of what are the signposts and when
76:38
do you see them in in Hungary and Poland
76:42
2010-2015 was it predictable were there
76:45
you know forward-looking intellectuals
76:48
journalists concerned citizens who saw
76:50
these things coming or or were they
76:53
really surprises questions for sort of
76:58
this is sort of Susan and Tim but well
77:02
Susan mostly I it’s it’s you both raised
77:07
in your presentations the very important
77:09
point that what we are observing is
77:11
taking is unfolding in an international
77:13
context and what we do influence is what
77:16
other democracies do and likewise what
77:19
they do influence is what we do and I
77:21
guess I’m looking for any hope in that
77:26
so instances in which we might learn or
77:29
be or be forewarned or take actions
77:34
drawing on international contemporary
77:36
international events that that might
77:39
help with the situation here there were
77:41
I recall with the French election there
77:43
was some speculation that it didn’t help
77:45
lepen to have a Trump out there that
77:48
perhaps that gave that gave some french
77:50
voters pause Daniel you it was
77:55
interested in the so the the sort of
77:59
problems of lines being crossed of norms
78:02
being violated and the examples you gave
78:05
were pretty much on the Republican side
78:07
and I so our colleague Jacob hacker has
78:12
written a lot about asymmetric
78:13
polarization I wonder if you think this
78:16
is an asymmetric problem or if they’re
78:18
symmetric more along the lines of what
78:20
team or Quran was talking about this
78:22
morning if there’s a kind of symmetrical
78:24
equilibrium that we’ve that was sort of
78:26
a bad equilibrium that we’ve entered
78:28
into Tim I am it’s mind-blowing to think
78:35
about the you know the sort of social
78:38
construction of our sense of time and
78:41
and and how that influences politics on
78:44
the other hand I’m very struck by you
78:46
know the make America great again
78:48
narrative so that means he you know the
78:52
the the the slogan is collectively sort
78:54
of doing what you say we do as
78:56
individuals thinking that there’s a you
78:58
know there’s an adolescence or a teenage
78:59
period of early 20s sort of in in our in
79:02
our national so I’m equivalent to that
79:04
in our national history that is a moment
79:06
we want to get back to and that strikes
79:09
me as setting up setting the government
79:13
up for the setting Trump up for you know
79:16
greatly disappointing his constituents
79:18
for some of the reasons act reasons you
79:20
gave and although I take what you say
79:23
that perhaps you know the the the goal
79:26
is not success on the Ute and the usual
79:29
metrics that politicians use such as
79:32
high popularity when the next election
79:34
comes around in re-election so those are
79:38
some questions maybe we could just get
79:39
to them while while people in the
79:41
audience are filtering out any other
79:43
written questions that you want to have
79:44
a so yeah I I’m delighted that you asked
79:49
this question about distancing in the US
79:52
and whether there could possibly be a
79:55
different kind of distancing here
79:57
because I I was struggling with that way
79:59
myself as I was writing this the kind of
80:02
distancing that we saw in interwar
80:04
Europe where political elites were
80:07
facing fascist parties were engaging in
80:09
violence gave them a less ambiguous
80:12
signal than we’re getting
80:14
here you know if mobs are killing people
80:17
you know that wrong has been done if
80:20
you’re talking about violations of
80:23
constitutional principles or norms that
80:26
fight is is much much more ambiguous and
80:30
so distancing under those circumstances
80:32
is much harder and so frankly I’m still
80:37
grappling with the idea that how that
80:40
concept can be transferred to this kind
80:44
of system but there’s no doubt that
80:47
battles over the constitutional norms in
80:50
the courts would be a place to start
80:53
that would be an arena for distancing
80:55
but it’s going to be much harder here
80:57
except that I am assuming that money
81:02
still has a huge amount of importance
81:07
universe politics and that if you if if
81:11
the most dynamic sectors of our economy
81:13
can get behind some sort of distancing
81:16
and realize that they don’t need the
81:18
nationalism especially or the xenophobia
81:21
that’s embodied in the particular kind
81:23
of challenge we have which doesn’t
81:25
involve actual killing yeah
81:27
then I think that that it is still
81:30
possible but that the battles may take
81:33
place in the court and that’s part of a
81:38
historical continuity but not completely
81:42
so it was was what happened in Poland
81:45
and Hungary predictable um it was I mean
81:47
this is you know – this is basically the
81:48
death of a democratic there’s a
81:51
chronicle the Democratic Death Foretold
81:53
um and it was predictable because you
81:55
know the leaders were very clear on this
81:56
right they wanted not just to remake
81:57
policies but to remake the institutions
81:59
of polish and Hungarian democracy to
82:01
better serve national interests right
82:03
this was very much you know making
82:04
Poland and Hungary great again secondly
82:06
there was precedent right the
82:08
institution’s had not been impervious to
82:10
this before there’s been put the
82:11
polarization of the judiciary in the
82:12
past there was a previous attacks on the
82:15
media this was just a much more
82:16
concerted effort um and third I think
82:18
will response important was that these
82:19
are parliamentary systems and in times
82:22
past these fairly fragile governing
82:24
coalition’s I will kept these parties
82:25
from fully exercising their Prague
82:27
and now in the absence of either in
82:29
opposition or coalition partners they
82:31
were able to do exactly what he said
82:33
they would so serious question for me
82:41
was what basically what’s the hope from
82:43
thinking about this isn’t international
82:45
events both u.s. you deserve in other
82:49
countries in that other countries are
82:50
affecting the US and that was a very
82:52
difficult question I have lots of things
82:54
that I might say I mean one thing to
82:56
just note is part something that I don’t
82:58
think isn’t a viewpoint that’s it’s
82:59
going to be presented much at the
83:00
conference which is sort of Mia culpa
83:03
from some of the IR scholars with who
83:05
are really promoting open economy
83:08
politics Pro globalization stuff which
83:11
is just that you know the the embedded
83:13
liberal liberal liberal compromise that
83:15
we knew about and we have known about
83:16
for a very long time was not
83:18
successfully implemented in the US and
83:20
that that both economically and
83:22
culturally maybe maybe a fault and is
83:25
maybe something that policies
83:26
prescriptions could deal with right
83:28
their policy that others have have
83:31
potentially thought about I guess the
83:33
other thing that is not really hopeful
83:35
but I think something that I skipped
83:37
over in my remarks because I was 10
83:39
which has just said when I very much
83:42
interested in how countries react to
83:45
international pressure to look and act a
83:47
certain way right and so some autocratic
83:49
posturing that I think we are seeing now
83:51
might be for short term sort of applause
83:55
and political gain rather than like it
83:57
might some of it might sound worse than
83:59
it actually is which is not really that
84:01
hopeful but I do think that there are
84:04
incentives that that some leaders that
84:06
we see throughout the world to act you
84:10
know more more totalitarian more fascist
84:13
more you know they sort of take these
84:15
these dances that are that are quite
84:16
extreme because they know they will get
84:18
attention for taking those those dance
84:21
which is not entirely good news but I
84:23
think can be interpreted as something
84:25
that is maybe slightly less nefarious
84:28
and the extremely clever long-term long
84:31
game autocrats that it’s referencing who
84:32
are able to abide by the rules of the
84:35
game up right up until the moment in
84:37
which they they break with them right so
84:39
I think that that is a long term in the
84:41
long term I’m more worried about that
84:42
sort of strategy rather than the sort of
84:45
splashy head like grab bean you know
84:47
attacks in the media and that’s not sort
84:50
of thing which are consequential but I
84:51
think not quite as nefarious as some of
84:53
the other strategies that one could
84:54
imagine and that are harder to observe
84:56
unhappy yeah so two thoughts one
85:00
directly on your question on the
85:01
asymmetric polarization no I I mean I
85:03
think that the record shows that it
85:04
began on the right you know and you know
85:07
people often date this the Gingrich
85:09
revolution and kind of change tactics in
85:11
Congress and Orrin Mann and Ornstein and
85:13
the work on the US Congress have kind of
85:16
shown this but it you know it’s not it’s
85:18
not only Republicans who are vulnerable
85:20
to this I mean Harry Reid’s use of the
85:21
filibuster in the early 2000s against
85:24
Bush I mean this is clearly another
85:25
instance of this and that I guess that’s
85:27
what’s dangerous is that is that it mate
85:29
you know it doesn’t at some level you
85:30
know begins on one side but then when it
85:32
escalates and it becomes a kind of
85:34
spiral that’s exactly exactly the
85:36
dangerous scenario even the dilemma of
85:38
course is you know we should stay
85:40
high-minded and continue act with four
85:42
born before Barents in the face of
85:43
somebody who’s not I mean it’s like
85:45
going into a box you mean with one one
85:47
hand tied behind your back does that
85:48
really make sense and I guess my thought
85:50
on that is that as long as there are
85:52
Democratic channels still available
85:53
that’s the way to go I mean you know
85:55
this is the right answer but that’s
85:57
that’s that’s kind of how I think about
85:59
it I just wanted to say something also
86:00
on the distancing and learning because I
86:02
think there is actually something that
86:03
can be learned about other cases of dis
86:05
distancing and just you know just
86:06
recently in the last two years I mean
86:08
what’s striking about the Austrian
86:10
elections last year of presidential
86:11
elections and the French presidential
86:12
elections in both cases in the Austrian
86:15
case the Catholics didn’t make it to the
86:17
second round and they and a lot of
86:19
Catholic politicians endorsed the Green
86:21
Party candidate for president in France
86:23
fiown and endorsed that you know the
86:26
right
86:26
– right candidate endorsed McCrone
86:28
rather than lepen and so both cases
86:30
there’s instances of distancing kind of
86:33
on the right – against the far right and
86:37
so we can learn from that and I think
86:38
one of the interesting things is why in
86:40
these countries this has happened the
86:41
waters in the US this hasn’t happened
86:43
and I think part of the reason is in a
86:45
in a multi-party system in Austria and a
86:48
two tiers you know with a runoff system
86:50
and in France there’s a history of this
86:51
and in both instances people were in
86:53
Austria they refer back to Kurt Waldheim
86:55
and say well you know we have learned
86:56
from this in France there’s the
86:58
experience of father lepen and dealing
87:00
with father lepen and so I think you
87:02
know if the idea is that you know the
87:03
u.s. we just didn’t have we haven’t had
87:04
experience with this and there’s
87:06
possibility for learning and this is
87:08
kind of where you know human action
87:09
actually can make a difference so people
87:10
could learn from we can learn from our
87:12
mistakes and my guess is next time
87:14
around you know hopefully people learned
87:17
something right so there’s something I
87:18
learned from other cases as well okay so
87:24
there were the the question about any
87:27
hopeful things internationally and then
87:29
the idea of making America great again
87:31
it cannot lead to disappointment so
87:33
internationally I’m just gonna take a
87:35
step back and make the point that I
87:36
think the winning the Cold War both the
87:40
idea and the fact has turned out to be
87:42
very poison chalice for us so the idea
87:45
that therefore there were no
87:46
alternatives
87:47
I think stultified our political debate
87:49
precisely about alternatives and made
87:51
inequality much worse in this country in
87:54
the last quarter century and the reality
87:56
of the end of the Cold War was also bad
87:57
for us because one of the reasons we had
87:59
civil rights in the welfare state was to
88:01
compete with not so much with the
88:03
Soviets but to respond to their
88:04
propaganda and without that challenge we
88:06
drifted in another direction so that’s
88:09
just I mean that’s just by way of making
88:11
oneself conscious so that one can learn
88:13
things well could we have learned I mean
88:15
the book that I’m that I’m finishing now
88:17
is about this it’s about the last five
88:19
or six years not starting from us but
88:21
starting from Russia with the idea that
88:23
most of the things which happened here
88:25
which seem surprising to us are just
88:27
more sophisticated versions of things
88:28
which happened in other countries which
88:30
we didn’t recognize at the time so I
88:33
mean here I’m 5050 there are a lot of
88:35
things we could have learned for
88:36
Russia and Ukraine between 2011 and 2015
88:39
but we didn’t learn any of them um
88:42
and the consequence was that in 2016 in
88:44
my world at least it was the Russians
88:46
and Ukrainians who were jumping up and
88:48
down saying you know Trump is possible
88:50
this is how it works in other people’s
88:51
worlds it would be the African Americans
88:53
but there are plenty of segments of the
88:55
pocket or the renegade Midwesterners
88:57
right there were various demographics
88:58
who said Trump was gonna win but the
89:00
Russians and Ukrainians said he was
89:01
gonna win and they had a reason
89:02
no um people there are people there are
89:05
positive exceptions like Peter
89:06
pomerantsev in his book nothing is true
89:08
but everything is possible which is you
89:10
know on its surface a book about the
89:12
media in Russia ends that book which
89:15
concludes in 2014 ends that book by
89:17
forecasting that that combination of
89:20
media unreality and political
89:22
authoritarianism is going to come to the
89:24
UK and to United States and then there’s
89:27
brexit and then there’s and then there’s
89:28
Trump so and then there are people like
89:30
pet rock Rocco in Hungary you know who
89:32
runs political capital who does who do
89:34
Studies on directed unreality right
89:37
foreign projections of unreality in the
89:39
Czech Republic and Slovakia and those
89:41
things are useful for us to read because
89:43
the things that were happening gotten
89:46
further in the Czech Republic and
89:47
Slovakia and Hungary then here
89:50
nevertheless started to turn up here in
89:52
2050 so yeah I mean analytically we can
89:54
definitely learn from others and of
89:55
course civil resistance is something
89:57
that we can learn from other people
89:58
right we can swallow our pride and
89:59
realize that there’s been a lot of
90:01
successful civil resistance movements in
90:03
other countries and that the social
90:05
science on civil resistance is actually
90:06
very mature the second point on whether
some of these some of these voters will
be disappointed because they imagine a
better world in the past and they’re not
going to get it I don’t think so and
I’ll tell you why I think I mean there
there will be Republican voters will be
disappointed with Trump but that’s a
different set of Republican voters there
are two sets of Republican voters there
are the ones who own house doesn’t have
money in the stock market and are the
ones who don’t own houses that don’t
have money in the stock market the ones
who own houses are gonna be disappointed
when the stock market crashes and that’s
not gonna have anything to do with these
narratives that I’m talking about
and I don’t treat them as the critical
bloc of voters because they went for
Romney – right they did they didn’t
change anything but these folks the nine
million people who voted for Obama and
then
for Trump or the people whose health is
getting worse but voted for Trump the
people in Michigan Wisconsin West
Virginia Ohio Pennsylvania who swung the
election
these folks I don’t think can be
disappointed in that way that that’s my
point you know it’s you want to be young
again but you know at some level you’re
not going to be young again you’d like
the person who tells you look great but
you know at some level it’s not true
right and that’s how that no look for
you it’s true you’re like 15 but but I
mean the general right you know it’s not
true and that’s how this kind of
politics works it’s not by the delivery
of goods it’s by the regular delivery of
affirmation as against someone else
we’re where white Republicans become in
political science terms the slope the
identitarian subalterns who are
expecting to own the state but what they
only expect from the state is that they
own it
that’s it they’re not expecting that
it’s going to do anything for them the
other thing I want to say about making
America great again that links back to
the other point is that the make America
great again does have a specific
historical referent not for us for us
it’s about being young again that for
mr. Trump it’s about the 1930s or the
1920s it is a it’s a revision of the
1930s as being a time where we didn’t
have a welfare state and where we didn’t
go to war against Nazi Germany right
that’s what America first means America
first is Deutschland uber alles in
English America first means we have more
in common with Nazis than divides us and
there is you know the fact they did they
commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day by
saying other people suffer besides the
Jews which is like commemorating the
fourth of July by talking about French
independence I mean it’s true that there
are like other possible references in
history but like the holiday is for one
of them and there are a number of other
examples of this how they’re trying to
undo a certain American myth and what it
comes down to is that we used to think
the 1930s were a bad time to be learned
from and now we’re being instructed not
just in America this is international in
Russia Poland Hungary and also
implicitly by the fullness and island
France said by the brexit movement in
Britain we are we were being instructed
the 1930s were a good time to which to
which we should loop back
I have some questions so this is a
question for Susan Hyde and Anna G B
while the EU is powerless not able and
93:01
willing to move effectively against
93:03
democratic erosion how successful have
93:06
other regional organizations around the
93:07
world been to fight forms of democratic
93:09
erosion eg Mercosur a you just one
93:19
question at a time uh yeah I think so I
93:21
think we will see how far behind we get
93:24
on that yeah yeah I mean the so there
93:26
there’s some empirical work on this that
93:28
other people have done and and you know
93:29
it’s very hard to separate from the
93:31
international environment entirely right
93:33
so I don’t know who I should but
93:36
basically I I think that the the
93:40
European Union and other regional
93:43
organizations most of which in the world
93:45
have a stated preference to support
93:47
democracy have some ability to do
93:50
something right now right I mean there’s
93:51
no reason why the US needs to be the
93:53
only country that is willing to stand in
93:56
defense of democracy and and
93:57
increasingly I think others are stepping
93:59
into that role what can they do you know
94:03
not much but a little they can they can
94:07
sort of make clear that this is a value
94:10
that the groups of countries definitely
94:12
support I don’t know that they can do
94:15
anything for the u.s. specifically the
94:17
case that were most concerned with today
94:19
but in smaller countries they certainly
94:20
have made it clear that Jews are
94:25
unacceptable for example this is already
94:27
one of the biggest moments we’ve seen in
94:28
recent memory on this front is that most
94:32
countries that have coos many of them
94:35
have been pro-democracy coos right that
94:37
they’re not against democratically
94:39
elected leaders they’re against
94:40
basically authoritarian leaders we’ve
94:42
seen a few of these but even those have
94:45
been on pretty strict timelines for
94:46
democratic elections following those so
94:48
you know we’ll see I’m not super
94:51
optimistic that they’re the saviors of
94:53
us democracies certainly and I would say
94:56
that knew the EU shizuka-san was
94:57
familiar with isn’t captain some ways
94:59
responsible for the rights of the
95:00
populace right because and they run up
95:02
to you accession in 2004 there’s
95:03
basically this elite consensus among all
95:05
mainstream parties that the EU was this
95:07
fantastic good that premarket was
95:09
wonderful and free trade and everything
95:10
else have went together as a wonderful
95:12
package and the only parties that
95:14
criticizes consensus or the populist who
95:16
at the time we’re getting you know five
95:18
percent of the vote and it’s after the
95:19
accession when it becomes apparent that
95:21
neo maybe this there was some room more
95:23
for criticism
95:24
it’s the populace who make hay out of
95:25
every single
95:27
some deleterious effect of free trade of
95:29
the EU and so on and they’re the ones
95:31
who then come to power on the basis of
95:33
this elite consensus and now anytime
95:34
that the EU speaks against these parties
95:36
they point to it as this is further
95:38
severe negation of our national self
95:39
interests that the EU is prompting so we
95:41
now have to you know go to our loins and
95:43
defend against the EU okay this is a
95:47
question for the panel in general and
95:50
Nancy bur mayo in particular you say
95:53
that the tendency what can you say about
95:55
the tendency of citizens to vote along
95:58
personal political issues ie those
95:59
heavily influenced by cultural
96:01
predilection predilections such as gun
96:04
control or abortion rather than in the
96:07
interest of democratic norms
96:13
not much so what one thing I think that
96:20
we don’t fully appreciate that is that
96:22
at least going back to the 1930s
96:23
earliest opinion surveys thirty percent
96:26
of Americans are authoritarian I mean I
96:28
think you know if you look at who you
96:29
know father Coughlin had thirty percent
96:31
of the vote George Wallace had thirty
96:35
percent of the vote you know support in
96:37
opinion polls McCarthy had up to forty
96:40
percent support you know this is there’s
96:42
a kind of strand in the electorate that
96:44
I mean you know I this is a bit
96:46
provocative I you know I don’t have
96:47
details you know add an attitude data
96:50
but these they supported authoritarians
96:52
and so the issue is not what you know is
96:54
the American electorate becoming more
96:56
authoritarian the issue is how do you
96:57
prevent that portion of the electorate
97:00
and those tendencies from putting
97:01
somebody in leadership positions and so
97:04
until 2016 we had a presidential
97:07
selection system that kept that served
97:09
as a gatekeeping system and kept these
97:11
kinds of dynamics out of the top
97:13
leadership positions in the u.s. say a
97:18
few words about that but I think the
97:20
question is actually really important
97:22
whoever asked it all right because it’s
97:26
forcing us yeah I think you’re asking us
97:31
to to think about these small these
97:35
issues that seemed small in our abstract
97:40
discussion of democracy but actually
97:42
loom very large in the minds of
97:43
individual voters and gun control is a
97:45
wonderful example of that so political
97:48
elites to really have to do more
97:52
research on what makes certain issues
97:55
salient and what makes certain issues
97:58
Trump all of the other much more
98:00
important issues like health care at the
98:03
polls and motivate you know a trump vote
98:06
and but I just I think social science
98:10
can be an answer to that
98:11
first of all identifying those voters
98:13
and then targeting those voters and in
98:16
an alliance with moderate politicians
98:18
changing their minds and changing the
98:21
salience of issues in people’s heads I
98:23
think it can be done with the media
98:25
if we’re just not doing it so do you
98:29
disagree because I think you know gun
98:30
control or abortion our democratic
98:32
values right these are things that
98:33
political parties have traditionally
98:35
espoused I mean the Republican Party has
98:36
espoused it and there’s nothing you know
98:38
there’s nothing inherently wrong with
98:39
being pro-life or promotion or non
98:43
democratic about those stances right I
98:45
think you know what I’m more concerned
98:47
with is the the statistic that the
98:48
Daniell brought up which is that it’s
98:50
not just the United States if you look
98:51
at you know Poland or hungry or France
98:53
in the last elections there’s a steady
98:54
35 to 40 percent of the electorate that
98:56
is willing time and time again to plump
98:58
for authoritarian populist right-wing
99:01
nativist etc to parties and so the
99:03
question is how do you contain that yeah
99:05
I don’t think it’s I don’t think it’s a
99:06
question of persuading I think it’s a
99:07
question of containing well I certainly
99:10
don’t want to say that all of those
99:11
positions of the abortion position is
99:13
anti-democratic I’m just thinking about
99:15
the salience of
99:17
issues as someone approaches the polls
99:20
so they can say this candidate like
99:23
Trump for instance this candidate is
99:29
clearly anti-democratic and repulsive on
99:32
many issues but I really give priority
99:35
to anti-abortion and he appeals to be an
99:38
anti-abortion candidate so I’m going to
99:39
vote for him that’s the that’s the sort
99:41
of calculation that I think demands more
99:43
research and more thought on the part of
99:45
politicians but there’s certainly not
99:46
especially an issue like abortion that’s
99:49
not an anti-democratic issue I think so
99:53
this is a question for Daniel’s if lat
99:56
but Tim Snyder might also reflect on it
99:59
how and why were those norms of mutual
100:02
tolerance and forbearance built in the
100:05
1880s through the 1900s what lessons
100:08
does that period have for for for us
100:11
today
100:14
ya know it’s it’s a it’s a tragic story
100:17
in fact and then and we dig into this in
100:21
our book and this is kind of more a
100:23
discovery after admit as somebody who
100:24
didn’t spend my life studying American
100:26
politics I think the norms of mutual
100:28
toleration and forbearance were built on
100:31
racial exclusion you know it’s the end
100:35
of Reconstruction 1890 the failure of a
100:39
voting rights bill the lodge act that
100:43
allowed Southern Democrats and northern
100:46
Republicans to get along so you know
100:51
what do we do about that I mean at some
100:52
level these so-mei I hesitate even to
100:55
call these Democratic columns these are
100:56
norms of stability
100:57
forbearance a mutual toleration so the
101:00
real dilemma I think we fit in at some
101:02
level one can think that you know the
101:03
post 1965 rule there’s one in which
101:05
racial inclusion of making our political
101:08
system finally democratic really after
101:10
only 1965 I would argue has generated a
101:14
backlash which now threatens those norms
101:16
and so the dilemma that Democrats face
101:18
you know with it with a small D is how
101:21
do you reconcile these things can’t can
101:23
a political system be built that is both
101:25
democratic inclusive as well as one that
101:28
sustains these norms because
101:30
historically they have not there’s a
101:32
tension that there’s really a tension
101:37
there’s a just following from Daniels
101:40
point we did the United States undertook
101:42
two experiments more or less
101:44
simultaneously and they were I don’t
101:46
think there were two experiments that go
101:47
well together the first was the
101:49
experiment which I think probably none
101:52
of us would call into question of
101:54
actually trying to make the country
101:55
democratic by allowing its citizens to
101:57
vote right 1965 is clearly an important
102:00
step towards American democracy which
102:02
again I would emphasize American
102:04
democracy is and remains an aspiration
102:06
but 1965 is an important step towards it
102:09
but not long after that about 15 years
102:12
after that we began the experiment of
102:15
inequality which we are still in the
102:17
midst of professorship gorski’s charge
102:20
of the gap which is from the economic
102:24
policy something it’s a
102:25
that this shows that the gap growing
102:27
from 1980 between productivity and wages
102:30
right and the experiment that we’ve
102:32
conducted on ourselves since 1989 about
102:35
what what it means when you say there
102:36
are no alternatives
102:37
those two experiments have been
102:38
happening simultaneously and so on the
102:40
American Left when I talk to people on
102:42
the American Left which I do know all
102:44
the time
102:44
there’s this constant disagreement about
102:46
whether it’s a race or whether it’s
102:48
inequality and I just I don’t see why we
102:50
have to choose between those two things
102:52
it’s both and the way they work together
102:55
is that if white people feel privileged
102:58
then they react to inequality laughs and
103:01
in a way which is louder and which might
103:02
be more disruptive of the system than
103:04
others but the inequality to the way to
103:06
which they react is nevertheless real
103:09
right so that the racism may be harder
103:11
to get a handle on and the inequality
103:13
may be more tractable by policy
103:15
instruments so we have lots of questions
103:20
unfortunately thing we’re gonna have to
103:21
do it just a couple of more so this is a
103:25
question for Susan Hyde you emphasized
103:29
the demand side of the information
103:31
problem but what about the supply side
103:33
how worried should we be about state
103:36
media like Tennant sorry I don’t think I
103:40
read that right media tendencies like
103:41
Fox and how do you compare to other
103:44
cases like Venezuela or Italy yes state
103:48
media tendencies media like tendencies I
103:51
guess yeah I mean there’s there’s an
103:53
abundant you know there’s an abundance
103:56
of information right now right it’s not
103:58
that people can’t access accurate
104:00
information it’s it their self-selecting
104:01
into inaccurate information and I think
104:04
one can talk about the supply side of
104:06
this issue as as a contributor to how we
104:10
got here but I’m not sure that it
104:13
matters in terms of where we go from
104:16
here if that makes sense so once you get
104:20
into a space in which people are just
104:22
unwilling to look at the same sources of
104:24
information and many people may be
104:25
unwilling to consider objective
104:27
information or know how to judge whether
104:29
any
104:30
piece of information is objective I feel
104:34
like the demand side is just something
104:35
we understand a lot less well than then
104:38
we understand the supply side so because
104:40
of the individual access to to the
104:42
Internet to lots of sources of
104:44
information and because of the lack of
104:46
trust in all institutions I think also
104:49
expert institutions right those
104:50
individuals that might be perceived as
104:52
providing expertise on any given topic
104:55
and I think that confidence in their
104:57
their opinions has also been undermined
104:59
already we don’t trust expertise we
105:02
don’t trust objectivity we don’t trust
105:05
science we don’t you know all of these
105:06
things are undermined that to me I mean
105:08
I feel like just the demand side is is
105:11
broken enough that fixing the supply
105:13
side at the moment is not going to
105:15
change that problem so I’m sort of
105:17
evading the question of it okay last
105:21
question and this is directed to Nancy
105:23
burr Mayo but others on the panel may
105:25
want to address it as well focus is on
105:28
importance of distancing by elites and
105:30
optimism is based on the idea that US
105:32
democracy does not present an immediate
105:34
threat via redistribution to elite
105:36
interests yet earlier presentations levy
105:39
she wore ski suggests that the lack of
105:41
progressive redistribution is
105:42
undermining confidence and democratic
105:44
institutions
105:45
is there an irreconcilable difference
105:48
here over weathered redistribution
105:50
counts as a threat or an asset to
105:52
American democracy I think there’s an
105:55
important distinction between
105:57
redistribution and actual property
106:00
seizure and revolution and we are
106:03
clearly in remedying the inequality that
106:08
we talked about in an earlier panel
106:11
would not require revolution if which
106:14
require redistribution of the old social
106:18
democratic component and I think that
106:21
folks in Silicon Valley are probably not
106:23
even worried about that I think they
106:27
could handle it and I think that I
106:28
haven’t seen survey research but maybe
106:31
some of you have done it I’d like very
106:32
much to look at the values of the young
106:35
entrepreneurs in the tech industry and
106:37
to see whether they would in fact halt
106:40
much more redistribution than we have
106:43
I’d love to see that data I sense that
106:45
there’s probably more room there than we
106:48
might anticipate and certainly more room
106:50
than there was in fascist Italy yeah
106:54
comments on that last yes there you go
107:12
no but it’s it’s just fall short of
107:15
revolution and it falls short of backing
107:18
anti-democratic action on the part of
107:20
truck so but it’s basically buying
107:23
social goodness sure well I want to
107:28
thank our panelists very much for a
107:30
fascinating session
107:31
[Applause]
107:38
[Music]

Rana Foroohar, “Don’t Be Evil”

00:05
very excited to introduce Rana Rana Zay
00:08
is the global business columnist and
00:11
natural times and CNN’s global economic
00:13
analysts previously she’s been the
00:15
assistant managing editor in charge of
00:16
Business and Economics at time as well
00:18
as the magazine’s economic columnist and
00:20
spent 13 years at Newsweek as an
00:22
economic foreign affairs editor and
00:24
correspondent and in her new book don’t
00:26
be evil which i think is a great title
00:29
Rhonda Chronicles how far big tech has
00:31
fallen from its original vision of free
00:33
information and digital democracy
00:35
drawing on nearly 30 years of experience
00:36
reporting on the technologies sector
00:39
Ronna traces the evolution of companies
00:40
such as Google Facebook Apple Amazon
00:46
into behemoths that monetize people’s
00:49
data spread misinformation and hate
00:51
speech and threaten citizens privacy she
00:53
also shows how we can fight back by
00:55
creating a framework that both fosters
00:57
innovation and protects us from threats
00:59
posed by digital technology her book is
01:02
already garnering widespread praise with
01:04
the Guardian calling it a masterly
01:05
critique of the internet pioneers who
01:07
now dominate our world so without
01:08
further ado please help me in welcoming
01:10
Rana for a heart to politics and prose
01:16
thank you I am so honored to be here
01:19
it’s really a pleasure this is one of my
01:22
favorite bookstores probably my favorite
01:24
bookstore in Washington and so it’s just
01:27
a huge pleasure I thought I would start
01:30
by just talking a little bit about how I
01:32
got the idea to write this book it’s
01:33
actually my second book my first book
01:35
makers and takers was a look at the
01:38
financial sector and how it no longer
01:40
serves business so I like to kind of
01:42
take on these big industry-wide maybe
01:45
take down so we’ve the word but kind of
01:49
look at an ecosystem and economic
01:50
ecosystem see how it’s working or not
01:52
working I got the idea for this book
01:56
probably two months into my new job at
02:00
the Financial Times
02:01
I was hired in 2017 to be the chief
02:05
business commentary writer so my my job
02:08
was to sort of look at the top world’s
02:11
business stories economic stories and
02:13
try to make sense of them in commentary
02:14
and when I do that I tend to try and
02:17
follow the money in order to narrow the
02:18
funnel of where to put my focus and I
02:20
had come across a really really
02:22
interesting statistic that 80%
02:25
of the world’s wealth corporate wealth
02:27
was living in 10% of companies and these
02:30
were the companies that had the most
02:31
data personal data and intellectual
02:34
property and so the biggest of those
02:36
were the big tech platforms that my my
02:38
book kind of tries to make icons of
02:41
we’re using all the candy colors here
02:43
the fangs Facebook Amazon Apple Netflix
02:47
Google so that was a pretty stunning
02:50
statistic and it was interesting because
02:51
I was thinking about how wealth since
02:54
2008 had transferred from the financial
02:56
sector into the big tech sector and that
02:59
had happened really quietly without a
03:02
whole lot of commentary in the press now
03:05
at the same time I was starting to kind
03:06
of dig into this story something else
03:08
happened a much more personal episode I
03:11
came home one day and I there was a
03:14
credit card bill waiting for me and I
03:16
opened it up and I started looking
03:17
through and there were all these tiny
03:19
charges in the amount of dollar
03:21
ninety-nine three dollars five dollars
03:22
whatever and I noticed that they were
03:25
all from the app store and I thought oh
03:28
my gosh I must have been hacked and then
03:30
I thought who else has my password my
03:33
ten-year-old son Alex I see nods from
03:38
parents and others so I go downstairs
03:42
and I find Alex on the couch with his
03:44
phone which is his usual after-school
03:46
position and I say you know what what’s
03:50
up do you know anything about this and
03:51
he sort of stunned and oh yes oh that
03:55
yeah and turns out alex has gotten very
03:58
fond of a game called FIFA Mobile which
04:01
is an online soccer game and it’s one of
04:03
these games that’s dude that you can
04:04
download it for free but once you get
04:07
into the game and start playing you have
04:10
to buy stuff
04:11
in-app purchases it’s called our loot
04:13
boxes is another another name so if you
04:16
want to move up the rankings and do well
04:18
in the game
04:19
you have to buy virtual Ronaldo or some
04:22
new shoes for your player and nine
04:24
hundred dollars and one month later Alex
04:27
was at the top of the rankings but I was
04:32
horrified I was actually horrified and
04:34
fascinated in fact I mean as
04:36
mother I was horrified his phone was
04:39
immediately confiscated passwords were
04:41
changed limitations were put into place
04:44
by the way he now officially is allowed
04:47
only one hour a day on his phone he’s 13
04:51
years old the average for that age is 7
04:54
hours a day national average now he
04:57
sneaks in an extra I think he probably
04:58
gets about 90 minutes because I can’t
05:00
police him all the time on the way to
05:01
the on the way to school but it’s I mean
05:04
to me that is a stunning fact that the
05:06
average American 13 year old spent 7
05:09
hours day on their phone anyway so I was
05:12
horrified as a parent but I was
05:13
fascinated as a business writer because
05:15
I thought this is the most amazing
05:17
business model I have ever seen and I
05:20
have to learn everything about it and
05:22
right about that time someone had come
05:26
to see Mia a man named Tristan Harris
05:28
who’s one of the characters in my book
05:29
and Tristan is a really interesting guy
05:32
he was formerly the chief ethics officer
05:35
at Google and he was trying to bring
05:39
goodness and not evil to the company and
05:42
make sure that all the all the products
05:45
and services were functioning sort of a
05:47
human interest and then he realized he
05:48
was not having any luck doing that
05:49
within the company so he decided to go
05:52
outside and start something called the
05:54
Center for Humane technology and Tristan
05:57
had become really really worried about
05:59
the core business model that is it’s
06:02
particularly relevant for Google and
06:05
Facebook but is also a big part of
06:07
Amazon’s model and and it’s really the
06:08
model that another author Shoshanna
06:10
Zubov who recently wrote a wonderful
06:12
book on this topic would call
06:14
surveillance capitalism and so it’s the
06:16
idea of companies coming in and tracking
06:20
everything you are doing online and
06:22
increasingly offline you know if you
06:24
have your if you have an Android phone
06:25
it might know where you are in the
06:27
grocery store if you’re in a car with
06:29
smart technology your your location
06:32
coordinates can be tracked so all of
06:35
this is serving to build a picture of
06:37
you that is then used to be sold to
06:41
advertisers and then you can be targeted
06:44
with what’s called hyper targeted
06:46
advertising which is essentially why for
06:49
example
06:50
if I go online to look for a hotel in
06:53
California I might get a certain price
06:55
but someone else might get a different
06:57
price so this is a really important
06:59
thing we are looking at different
07:01
internets right there are subtle
07:04
differences but they’re there and this
07:06
data profile that is being built up is
07:08
splitting us as individual consumers but
07:12
I would argue that it’s also splitting
07:14
us as citizens and I’ll when I get to
07:16
the readings I’ll kind of flush that out
07:18
a bit more but Tristan
07:20
kind of turned me on to this business
07:23
model and he also helped me connect the
07:25
dots between this business model and
07:27
what had happened to my son because it
07:29
turns out that the technologies these
07:31
sorts of nudges that take you down a
07:34
game or that bring you to certain places
07:36
on Amazon or that give you a certain
07:39
kind of search result or purchasing
07:41
option on Google are part of an entire
07:45
field called capped ology which is kind
07:49
of an Orwellian word and these these
07:52
technologies actually come largely out
07:54
of something called the Stanford
07:55
persuasive technology lab so there is an
07:58
entire industry that is designed to
08:01
track your behavior and pull in things
08:03
like behavioral psychology casino gaming
08:06
techniques and then layer those on to
08:09
apps that will push you towards making
08:13
purchasing decisions or perhaps even
08:15
other kinds of decisions political
08:16
decisions that might be good for certain
08:19
actors and it’s interesting because when
08:22
I started to think about all this one of
08:24
the things I really wanted to do in this
08:26
book was to cry try and create a single
08:28
narrative arc to take folks through this
08:31
20 year evolution of this industry from
08:34
the mid-1990s which is really when the
08:36
consumer internet was born till now and
08:39
at the time I was writing and and still
08:41
probably today you could argue that
08:43
Facebook was the company that was
08:45
getting the most negative attention for
08:48
a lot of the economic and political
08:49
ramifications of its business model but
08:51
if you go back to the very beginning
08:53
Google is the most interesting way to
08:56
track this because Google really
08:59
invented the targeted advertising
09:01
business model they really invented
09:03
surveillance capitalism and one of the
09:05
things that is fascinating and and
09:06
sometimes I’m asked what’s the most
09:08
surprising thing that you found when
09:10
writing this book and really the most
09:11
surprising thing is it was all hiding in
09:14
plain sight so if you go back to the
09:17
original paper the Larry Page and Sergey
09:19
Brin who were the founders of Google did
09:21
in 1998 while at Stanford as graduate
09:25
students they actually lay out they lay
09:28
out what a giant search engine would
09:30
look like how it would function but then
09:31
how you might pay for it and if you go
09:34
down to page 33 there is a section in
09:36
the appendix called advertising and its
09:38
discontents and it essentially says that
09:42
if you monetize a search engine in this
this way with hyper targeted advertising
the interests of the users and the
interests of the advertisers be they
companies or who knows what public
entities are eventually going to come
into conflict and so they actually
recommend that there be some kind of
academic search engine an open search
engine in the public interest so this to
10:05
me first of all is fascinating that it
10:07
was just there all along and fascinating
10:11
that very few people have read that
10:13
entire paper even though even those that
10:16
write about it which in some ways kind
10:18
of goes to the point that in the last 20
10:20
years we all do a lot less reading not
10:22
folks here but but in general we do less
10:25
reading there was actually a fascinating
10:26
study that came out recently from common
10:28
sense media which is Jim’s dyers group
10:30
in California that tracks children’s
10:33
behaviors online teenagers only
10:36
one-third of them read for pleasure more
10:39
than once a month
10:41
long-form articles doesn’t matter if
10:43
you’re reading on an e-book or device
10:44
but long-form articles books only once a
10:47
month for pleasure so all our entire
10:50
world has been changed economically
10:52
these companies have huge monopoly power
10:54
politically we’re all kind of living
10:56
with the ramifications of this new world
10:58
of social media disinformation fake news
11:01
and cognitively our brains are changing
11:05
our behaviors are changing so connecting
11:07
all of those things was really what I
11:10
was trying to get at in this book and so
11:13
I’m gonna read two or three maybe short
11:16
excerpt
11:17
and then we can leave a lot of time for
11:19
questions so that people can kind of
11:20
dive into as much of this as they want
11:23
and I’ll start perhaps with my very
11:28
first meeting with the Googlers Larry
11:33
Page and Sergey Brin who I met not in
11:36
Silicon Valley but in Davos the Swiss
11:39
gathering spot of the global power elite
11:42
where they had taken over a small Chalet
11:44
to meet with a select group of media the
11:47
year was 2007 the company had just
11:50
purchased YouTube a few months back and
11:52
it seemed eager to convince skeptical
11:54
journalists that this acquisition wasn’t
11:56
yet another death blow to copyright paid
11:58
content creation and the viability of
12:00
the news publications for which we
12:02
worked
12:02
unlike the buttoned-up consulting types
12:05
or the suited executives from the old
12:07
guard multinational corporations that
12:09
roamed the promenades of davos their
12:11
tasseled loafers slipping on the icy
12:13
paths the Googlers with a cool bunch
12:15
they wore fashionable sneakers and their
12:17
chalet was sleek white and stark with
12:19
giant cubes masquerading as chairs in a
12:21
space that looked as though it had been
12:23
repurposed that morning by designers
12:25
flown in from the valley in fact it may
12:27
have been and if so Google would not
12:29
have been alone in such access I
12:30
remember attending a party once in Davos
12:32
hosted by Napster founder and former
12:34
Facebook president Sean Parker that
12:37
featured giant taxidermy bears and a
12:39
musical performance by John Legend back
12:42
in the Google Chalet Brin and page
12:44
projected a youthful earnestness as they
12:46
explained the company’s involvement in
12:48
or authoritarian China and insisted
12:50
they’d never be like Microsoft which was
12:52
considered the corporate bully and
12:53
monopolist at the time what about the
12:55
future of news we wanted to know after
12:57
admitting that page read only free news
12:59
online whereas Brin often bought the
13:01
sunday New York Times in print it’s nice
13:03
he said cheerfully
13:04
the duo affirmed exactly what we
13:07
journalists wanted to hear Google they
13:09
assured us would never threaten our
13:10
livelihoods
13:11
yes advertisers were indeed migrating
13:14
and mass from our publications to the
13:15
web where they could target consumers
13:17
with a level of precision that the print
13:19
world could barely imagine but not to
13:21
worry Google would generously retool our
13:22
business models so we too could thrive
13:24
in the new digital world I was much
13:27
younger than and not the admittedly
13:29
cynical business journalist that I have
13:30
since
13:31
and yet I listened skeptically
13:32
skeptically to that happy future of news
13:35
like lecture whether Google actually
13:37
intended to develop some brilliant new
13:40
revenue model or not what alarmed me was
13:42
that none of us were asking a far more
13:44
important question sitting towards the
13:46
back of the room somewhat conscious of
13:48
my relatively junior status I hesitated
13:50
waiting until the final moments of the
13:52
meeting before raising my hand excuse me
13:55
I said we’re talking about all this like
13:57
journalism is the only thing that
13:58
matters but isn’t this really about
13:59
democracy if newspapers and magazines
14:02
are all driven out of business by Google
14:04
or companies like it I asked how are
14:06
people gonna find out what’s going on
14:07
Larry Page looked at me with an odd
14:10
expression as if he were surprised that
14:11
someone should be asking such a naive
14:13
question oh yes we’ve got a lot of
14:16
people thinking about that
14:17
not to worry his tone seemed to say
14:19
Google had the engineers working on that
14:22
little democracy problem next question I
14:26
read that because I’m kind of amazed
14:30
there is still a real lack of
14:34
understanding I think in the valley
14:36
about some of the real negative
14:39
externalities of what have been let’s
14:41
face it amazing technologies I mean we
14:43
you know where would we be without
14:44
search in our smartphones we all
14:46
carrying around the power of a mainframe
14:47
in our pockets but as a journalist I
14:51
think there’s really been a an inability
14:54
of these companies to kind of own up to
14:56
you know some of the bad stuff that they
14:59
have wrought and I think that that still
15:00
considers oh sorry still continues to be
15:03
to be the case one of the other points
15:06
that I try and make in the book is that
15:09
the problems I’m talking about have
15:12
actually moved outside of just the big
15:14
four flat platform firms that that we’re
15:16
moving into a world in which
15:17
surveillance capitalism is going to be
15:19
part of the healthcare system and the
15:21
financial system and really every kind
15:24
of business is now using this as its
15:26
model so for example if you buy coffee
15:29
at Starbucks Starbucks knows a lot about
15:30
you Johnson & Johnson knows a lot about
15:33
you there there are firms watching you
15:35
all the time and so we’re really at a
15:37
pivot point I think where we have to ask
15:40
as a society what are the deeper
15:43
implications of this and our
15:44
okay with them and so I would like to
15:47
read another excerpt where I look at how
15:50
this model is is moving into the
15:52
insurance sector and what that means so
15:58
far data has been obtained via computers
16:01
and mobile devices but now with the rise
16:03
of personal digital assistants like
16:05
Amazon’s Alexa Google’s home mini and
16:07
Apple Siri now at 30 and now in a third
16:10
of American homes with triple digit
16:12
sales growth a year the human voice is
16:14
the new gold while reports of Alexa
16:16
Alexa and Siri listening in on
16:18
conversations and phone calls are
16:19
disputed there’s no question that they
16:21
can hear every word you say and from
16:23
there it’s a short step to them using
16:24
that knowledge to direct your purchasing
16:26
decisions it isn’t much of a longer step
16:28
to see the political implications
16:30
already some researchers worry that
16:32
digital assistants will become even more
16:33
powerful tools than social media for
16:36
election manipulation certainly none of
16:38
us will be unaffected consider consider
16:41
that homeowner oops sorry
16:43
I’m reading from a reading from the
16:44
wrong part I think apologies somehow
16:54
picked the wrong section here anyway I’m
16:57
going to talk you through this example
16:58
because it’s it’s something that is
17:01
already out there I had a conversation a
17:03
couple of years ago with an executive
17:04
from Zurich Financial which is a big
17:07
financial company they do insurance many
17:10
parts of the world they will now if
17:12
you’d like them to put sensors in your
17:14
home or in your car and if you have for
17:18
example as I do you live in a 1901
17:20
townhouse let’s say you’re upgrading
17:22
your pipes you get a check you get a you
17:24
know a positive mark and you may see
17:26
your insurance premium go down but let’s
17:30
say your kid is smoking a joint in their
17:32
bedroom and the sensor picks up on that
17:34
you then get a black mark here and your
17:36
premium may go up same again in your car
17:39
if you’re speeding your insurance
17:42
company will know and so on and so forth
17:43
now you can either like this or not
17:46
depending on where you sit in the
17:48
socio-economic spectrum but what’s very
17:50
very interesting is that entire business
17:53
model a pooled risk business model
17:55
that’s what insurance is it’s now been
17:57
completely dissed
17:58
so you can be targeted and split so this
18:02
is no longer about society pulling risk
18:04
a saree pooling risk this is about
18:06
individuals having to own the risk so if
18:09
you take that to its natural conclusion
18:12
you can imagine an elite up here that
18:17
has access to special pricing and all
18:19
kinds of great products but you can also
18:21
imagine an uninsurable group of people
18:25
at the bottom and then who is going to
18:28
pick up that risk now the public sector
18:30
may be maybe they’ll be a junk bond
18:33
market for insurance either way you have
18:36
a split in society that didn’t exist
18:39
before and that was always the business
18:42
model here you know you go back and read
18:44
some of the early work of someone like
18:46
Hal Varian for example who was the chief
18:48
economist at Google splitting pricing
18:51
down to the individual was always the
18:53
point of platform technology firms like
18:56
Google or Facebook or Amazon splitting
18:58
individuals out so they could be
18:59
targeted in different ways but that not
19:01
only splits pricing it splits Society
19:05
and so that’s kind of really the the
19:07
core issue I want to get out here
19:10
I think I’ll maybe read just just one
19:13
more excerpt and then we can do we have
19:15
we have time yeah and then we’ll open it
19:17
up for questions after that my first
19:22
book just to mention again was about the
19:25
financial industry and one of the things
19:26
that strikes me is that big tech
19:28
companies have in some way become the
19:30
new too big to fail entities not only
19:33
are they holding more wealth and power
19:35
than the largest banks but in some ways
19:36
they function like banks they have a
19:39
tremendous amount of money they use it
19:41
to buy up corporate debt if that debt
19:44
were to go bad that could actually be
19:46
the beginnings of another financial
19:47
crisis and so that’s kind of a part of
19:49
this story that really hasn’t gotten out
19:51
there so let me let me read just two or
19:54
three more pages for you on that topic
19:57
the late great management guru Peter
20:00
Drucker once said in every major
20:01
economic downturn in US history the
20:03
villains have been the heroes during the
20:05
preceding boom I can’t help but wonder
20:08
if that might be the case over the next
20:10
few years as the you know
20:11
it states and possibly the world heads
20:13
towards its next big slowdown downturns
20:16
historically come about once every
20:18
decade and it’s been more than that
20:19
since the 2008 financial crisis back
20:22
then banks were the too-big-to-fail
20:24
institutions responsible for our falling
20:26
stock portfolios home prices and
20:28
salaries technology companies by
20:30
contrast have led the market upswing
20:32
over the past decade but this time
20:34
around it’s the big tech firms that
20:36
could play the spoiler role you wouldn’t
20:39
think that it could be so when you look
20:40
at the biggest and richest tech firms
20:42
today take Apple for example warren
20:44
buffett says he wished he owned even
20:45
more Apple stock Goldman Sachs is
20:47
launching a new credit card with the
20:48
tech Titan which became the world’s
20:50
first trillion-dollar market cap company
20:52
in 2018 but hidden within these bullish
20:55
headlines are a number of disturbing
20:57
economic trends of which Apple is
20:59
already exemplar study this one company
21:02
and you begin to understand how big tech
21:04
companies the new too-big-to-fail
21:05
institutions could indeed sow the seeds
21:08
of the next financial crisis the first
21:11
thing to consider is the financial
21:12
engineering done by such firms like most
21:15
of the largest and most profitable
21:17
multinational companies Apple has loads
21:19
of cash about 300 billion as well as
21:22
plenty of debt close to 122 billion
21:24
that’s because like nearly every other
21:27
large rich company it has parked most of
21:30
its spare cash in offshore bond
21:32
portfolios over the last ten years at
21:34
the same time since the 2008 crisis is
21:37
that it is issued cheap debt at rates to
21:41
do sorry it is issued cheap rate sorry
21:44
cheap debt at low rates in order to do
21:48
record amounts of share buybacks and
21:50
dividends Apple’s responsible about a
21:53
quarter of the 407 billion in buybacks
21:55
and out since the Trump tax bill was
21:57
passed in December of 2017 but buybacks
22:00
have bolstered mainly the top 10% of the
22:03
US population that owns 84% of all stock
22:06
the fact that share buybacks have become
22:08
the biggest single use of corporate cash
22:10
for over a decade now has buoyed markets
22:13
but it’s also increased the wealth
22:15
divide which many common economists
22:17
believe is that not only the single
22:19
biggest factor in slower than historic
22:21
trend growth but is also driving
22:22
political populism which threatens the
22:25
good system itself that phenomenon has
22:28
been put on steroids by the rise of yet
22:30
another trend epitomized by Apple
22:33
intangibles such as intellectual
22:35
property and brands now make up a much
22:37
larger share of wealth in the global
22:39
economy the digital economy has a
22:41
tendency to create super stars since
22:43
software and internet services are so
22:45
scalable and they enjoy network effects
22:50
let’s see do but as these as software
22:56
and internet services become a bigger
22:58
part of the economy they reduce
23:00
investment across the economy as a whole
23:02
and that’s not only because banks are
23:03
reluctant to lend to businesses whose
23:06
intangible assets may simply disappear
23:08
if they go belly-up but because of the
23:10
winner-take-all effect that a handful of
23:12
companies including Apple Amazon and
23:14
Google enjoy so to sum this up in plain
23:17
English as this handful of companies has
23:20
gotten bigger and more powerful
23:21
investment in the overall decline
23:23
economy has declined the number of jobs
23:26
that they’re creating relative to their
23:28
market size is much lower than that in
23:30
the past so you have the superstar
23:32
economy that has become kind of a
23:33
winner-take-all game I think that we’re
23:37
going to probably see some kind of a
23:39
market correction in the next couple of
23:41
years it’s going to be very interesting
23:43
at that point to see whether tech leads
23:45
the markets down and whether you might
23:47
then see a kind of an Occupy Silicon
23:49
Valley sentiment as you did in 2008 with
23:53
Occupy Wall Street I think that that’s
23:54
really quite possible we can delve more
23:57
into that if you’d like but I think I
23:59
want to stop here and be respectful of
24:01
question time and there are parts that
24:04
you guys want to hear more about or
24:06
particular areas that I could read more
24:08
from you can let me know go ahead
24:15
because sure we don’t get to speak very
24:18
often you and I one is you’ve doubtless
24:23
read about Bloomberg’s decision recently
24:26
to forbade its reporters from covering
24:28
Michael Bloomberg yeah yet The
24:31
Washington Post has no problem
24:34
investigating Vsauce do you see is that
24:38
a problem for you have you thought about
24:40
that is that a and so have any
24:43
consistency that should bother at
24:45
financial journalists and the second
24:46
question is how important for any
24:51
solution to the problems you you raise
24:53
would an tights for the revival of
24:56
antitrust be s we see on the continent
24:59
where it’s more aggressive and among
25:01
some of the the Democratic candidates
25:04
for the president well so let me take
25:06
the antitrust question first that’s
25:08
actually important part of the book
25:10
there’s an entire chapter on antitrust
25:12
and I think we probably are gonna see
25:15
some shifts as folks may know since the
25:19
1980s onward antitrust in America has
25:23
basically been predicated on price so as
25:25
long as consumer prices were falling it
25:28
was perceived that companies could be as
25:30
big as they wanted that it wasn’t a
25:31
problem but one of the things I look at
25:34
in the book is this this shift to a
25:36
world in which transactions are being
25:39
done not in dollars but in data so
25:42
that’s a that’s a barter transaction
25:43
really and one of the things that’s so
25:45
interesting and this is actually a way
25:47
in another way in which Silicon Valley
25:49
is similar to Wall Street the
25:50
transaction is really opaque so you
25:53
don’t know essentially how much you’re
25:55
paying for the supposedly free service
25:58
that you’re receiving that is a very
26:02
difficult market to create fairness
26:04
within and it probably makes the Chicago
26:07
School notion of consumer prices going
26:10
down no problem I think probably
26:13
irrelevant and so there’s two ways in
26:15
which that’s being dealt with you have
26:17
the rise of this new Brandeis school of
26:19
thinking in which you know maybe this is
26:22
really about power maybe maybe we should
26:25
think about the big tech firms
26:26
we do the nineteenth-century railroads
26:28
we’re alright you know you had at one
26:30
point railroad Titans that would come in
26:33
and build tracks and then own the cars
26:35
and then own the things that were in the
26:37
cars and eventually that became a
26:39
zero-sum game and it’s you know it’s as
26:42
folks probably know we’re in a period in
26:44
which there’s as much concentration of
26:46
wealth and power as there was in the
26:47
Gilded Age so I could imagine very
26:50
easily a scenario in which you could
26:51
justify Amazon say being the platform
26:55
for e-commerce but not being able to
26:57
compete in the specific areas of fashion
27:01
or you know whatever else they’re
27:03
selling against other customers and in
27:05
fact that’s already the case in the
27:06
financial sector that big companies that
27:09
trade let’s say aluminum you know as
27:12
Goldman Sachs did this is what it ran
27:14
into a suit a few few years ago that it
27:16
was both owning all the aluminum and
27:18
trading it and that’s that’s
27:20
anti-competitive and so that became an
27:22
issue for the Fed so I think we probably
27:24
are going to see that kind of ruling as
27:26
for the post and journalism you know
27:29
it’s funny I have some friends that are
27:30
they’re quite influential to post and
27:34
they say that Bezos is pretty hands-off
27:37
I mean I can’t I can’t vouch for that
27:38
one thing I will say is that Amazon did
27:41
put this book on the top 20 nonfiction
27:43
what Stern’s a month so you know I don’t
27:46
know if that’s a ploy to make me think
27:48
that they’re they’re being really fair
27:49
but from probably Jeff Bezos I don’t
27:52
know I he probably not thinking that
27:53
much about this book or me but anyway
27:56
next question go ahead so it seems like
27:59
some of the major decisions that these
28:01
big tech companies are making are in
28:04
regard to fake news and how they’re
28:06
moderating fake news or the lack of it
28:08
so have you seen maybe an approach by
28:11
any current social media platform or any
28:13
proposed plans in place that you think
28:15
would be best for moderating fake news
28:17
that’s such a good question so just to
28:20
kind of pull back the the two points of
28:22
view on that are hey look you know the
28:26
platform tech companies are essentially
28:27
giant media and advertising firms right
28:30
I mean if you look at the business model
28:31
of a Google or a Facebook it’s
28:34
essentially just like the Financial
28:35
Times or CNN it’s just much more
28:37
effective and it can be targeted to the
28:39
individual
28:40
that means that these firms have taken
28:42
you know 85 90 percent of the app new
28:45
digital advertising pie in the last few
28:47
years now given that they function as
28:49
media companies should they not be
28:51
liable for disinformation in the way
28:55
that a media company would be so if I
28:57
print something incorrect at the FT
28:59
that’s you know the the paper and also
29:02
my hide on the line there I think that
29:05
we should actually think about rolling
29:08
back some of those loopholes that these
29:09
firms enjoy since the mid-1990s onwards
29:12
I think that they are going to have to
29:14
take some responsibility now the
29:16
question is do we want Mark Zuckerberg
29:18
being the minister of truth and that’s
29:20
that’s that’s a really tough question
29:23
what I would prefer is for the
29:26
government to actually you know for
29:28
democratically elected governments to
29:29
come up with rules about what is and
29:32
isn’t appropriate and to not have
29:34
individual companies making those
29:36
choices I think we’re in a period right
29:38
now where you know you’ve got Twitter
29:40
you’ve got Google to a certain extent
29:41
coming out saying okay we recognize we
29:43
need to do things differently that’s
29:44
putting pressure on Facebook but at the
29:46
end of the day we’re gonna have to have
29:47
I think an entirely new framework not
29:51
just in this area but also in taxation
29:53
in you know an antitrust which we’ve
29:56
already talked about this is the shift
29:58
that we’re going through is I think the
30:00
new Industrial Revolution it’s a 70 year
30:03
transition and it’s going to require a
30:04
lot of different frameworks relative to
30:07
what we already have so the answer is no
30:10
I don’t see any particular company that
30:12
has come up with the right framework yet
30:14
any other questions
30:16
oh yeah I’d like to go back to antitrust
30:18
for a minute the Washington Post put up
30:20
an article just this afternoon about how
30:23
Apple is changing its business model and
30:25
it’s different as you know it’s
30:27
differentiated itself in the market by
30:29
saying they care about privacy well now
30:32
they are moving from a a device company
30:38
to a services company according to the
30:40
article and they are used and they are
30:43
using privacy as a lever to provide
30:46
services that their that other smaller
30:51
companies like tile which is the example
30:54
the article has used to create a market
30:59
for itself right and so it says in the
31:03
article that the feds are considering
31:04
looking at antitrust measures against
31:06
Apple but I think it raises a bigger
31:09
question that you pointed to which is
31:13
that the models of antitrust don’t work
31:16
anymore so in terms of privacy lots of
31:22
people have talked about monetizing
31:24
privacy getting paid yeah data but how
31:27
do you think from an economic point of
31:30
view we as a society need to look at the
31:33
role of privacy and the role of
31:35
antitrust together to somehow change the
31:38
way we think about these companies
31:41
because in addition we’ve got
31:43
consolidation in the marketplace so yeah
31:45
no longer fair competition you can’t
31:48
become another Amazon right easily
31:51
because there are so many big so mate
31:53
because the players are big and there
31:55
are so few of them in each part of the
31:58
economy yeah a right so there’s a lot in
32:00
what you’ve just said for starters I
32:03
think you’re hitting on something really
32:04
important which I get at in my solutions
32:06
chapter that this is such a huge shift
32:09
and it’s touching so many different
32:11
areas and we’ve talked about privacy
32:13
we’ve talked about antitrust we haven’t
32:15
even gotten into national security you
32:17
know civil liberties I mean there there
32:19
are so many different areas and when you
32:21
one of the things I noticed when I sat
32:23
down to write the solution sections you
32:25
know when you do a think book you always
32:26
have to have the solutions section and
32:28
you know the publisher wants like that
32:29
Silver Bullet thing and you look at this
32:32
and you notice that when you pull a
32:33
lever here it effects something in this
32:35
other areas so I think that’s one reason
32:38
why we should have a national committee
32:41
to actually look at what are all the
32:43
questions it’s when I speak to folks
32:45
particularly in DC policymakers there’s
32:47
you know the antitrust camp here the
32:49
privacy camp here the security folks
32:50
there that conversation needs to be
32:52
happening in a 360 way and it is
32:54
happening much more so that way in
32:57
Europe I will say I just came off of two
32:59
weeks of book touring in Europe and the
33:02
conversation there I think is much more
33:04
developed and they seem to be to go to
33:06
your point about the ecosystem and how
33:08
share it one of the things that seems to
33:11
be folks seem to be headed towards is a
33:13
public digital Commons a kind of a
33:16
database let’s say alright if you decide
33:19
as you know the cat seems to be out of
33:21
the bag that we’re gonna allow
33:22
surveillance capitalism I mean there
33:24
there are certain folks like Shoshanna
33:26
would love to see the dial turned back
33:28
I’m not sure if that’s possible let’s
33:30
have a public database in which not just
33:33
one corporation or a handful of
33:35
corporations but multiple sized players
33:37
as well as the public sector as well as
33:40
individual citizens who’s you know after
33:43
all it’s our data being harvested
33:45
everybody gets access and then you can
33:47
figure out how you want to share the pie
33:49
and one interesting example recently is
33:51
the Google sidewalk project in Toronto
33:54
it sounds like you’re up on these issues
33:56
so you’re probably aware but Google had
33:59
taken over sort of twelve acres on the
34:01
Toronto Waterfront and put sensors
34:04
everywhere and the idea was to create a
34:06
smart city in which you’d be able to
34:08
manage traffic patterns and energy usage
34:10
and things like that but until recently
34:12
Google was going to own all that data
34:14
and have access to and finally the
34:16
Toronto government got a clue and said
34:18
well actually you know what let’s put
34:19
this in a public database so other
34:22
smaller or midsize local firms can come
34:25
in and be part of that economic
34:26
ecosystem but also as a public sector we
34:30
can decide well maybe we want to share
34:32
data for energy issues or for health
34:36
issues but maybe we don’t want to share
34:37
it for certain other kinds of things and
34:40
perhaps there would be some way in which
34:42
individuals could take back some of that
34:44
value so California is thinking about a
34:47
digital dividend payment from the big
34:49
tech companies there’s also been talk of
34:51
a digital sovereign wealth fund if you
34:53
think about kind of data as the new oil
34:56
whatever the value is judged to be it
34:59
would be putting the sovereign wealth
35:01
fund in the same way that Alaska or
35:02
Wyoming give back payments or use that
35:05
for the the public sector that could be
35:08
done with data too so I think something
35:10
like that is probably going to be the
35:12
best solution I’ll tell you I have many
35:14
examples in the book of ways in which
35:16
the bigger players have been able to
35:18
squash small and mid-sized firms and
35:20
that
35:21
a major issue and a lot of venture
35:23
capitalists that I speak to are actually
35:26
becoming concerned about that because
35:27
they say that there’s sort of black
35:29
zones of innovation where if Amazon is
35:33
there or Google is there you really
35:34
can’t start a business there’s just been
35:36
too much that’s been been written
35:38
ring-fenced question over here
35:40
yes while your book may be the the best
35:43
one on the subject they’ve certainly
35:44
been other books before talking about
35:46
individuals privacy and their their data
35:49
and everything about them why is it that
35:52
you think people are so unconcerned
35:56
about handing over all of their data to
35:58
these companies when they are perhaps
36:00
very concerned about handing it over to
36:02
the government why why do they feel
36:04
these guys are the good guys and the
36:06
government is necessarily the bad guys
36:08
yeah it’s such an interesting question
36:11
and that really varies from country to
36:13
country I find that that’s sort of an
36:15
interesting cultural dynamic that can
36:17
shift depending on what market you’re in
36:19
I have really been puzzled as to why
36:23
people are so first of all why everybody
36:25
just clicks the box and says no problem
36:27
I think part of that is is the opacity
36:29
of the market I mean if you kind of go
36:31
back to Adam Smith basic economics you
36:35
need three things to make a market
36:36
function property properly that would be
36:38
equal access to data transparency in the
36:41
transaction and a shared moral framework
36:44
and you could argue that none of those
36:46
things are in place so when we’re making
36:48
these transactions I think as that’s
36:51
that very fact becomes better explained
36:56
and people begin to kind of understand
36:58
that narrative like the insurance
36:59
example I just gave that all right
37:02
you’re getting something but you’re
37:03
giving up a lot I’m beginning to see
37:07
pushback already and I suspect in recent
37:10
weeks as some of the big players have
37:11
moved into healthcare you know into into
37:14
the commercial banking business I just
37:17
think that we are going to begin to see
37:18
more people being reluctant to give up
37:23
that much value for what they’re getting
37:25
you’re also interestingly seeing when
37:28
there are other options people will go
37:31
elsewhere so Jimmy Wales who started
37:33
Wikipedia just I think
37:34
the weeks ago came up with a new social
37:36
networking site he’s already got 300,000
37:38
users there and it’s an odd
37:41
they don’t do targeted advertising it’s
37:42
run on the wiki model where you can
37:44
donate if you want I think once the
37:47
antitrust piece is in place and you
37:49
actually have space for new competitors
37:52
to come in and to offer up different
37:54
kinds of services that perhaps are more
37:56
respectful of privacy that you you know
37:58
you could see a shift there but I’m
38:00
curious actually can I pull the audience
38:02
for a minute because I want to ask how
38:04
many people think that in the next five
38:07
years individuals are going to become
38:09
more worried about giving up information
38:12
that’s going to change their behavior
38:13
online so like two-thirds but not yeah
38:19
that’s interesting okay oh go ahead
38:23
sorry we’re sheep we’re cheap oh my god
38:26
that was a different book curious if you
38:30
see the administration’s
38:32
suggestion that it the California can’t
38:35
set its own rules for gas mileage and so
38:41
on and emissions as having a parallel in
38:44
this area you know I hadn’t thought
38:48
about that question before I always
38:50
think about California as really being
38:53
very leading what is eventually going to
38:55
become the national standard and I think
38:58
in data I feel like that is gonna happen
39:01
you know even the Europeans in fact are
39:04
saying that the California model is
39:06
probably the better model for data data
39:08
protection and privacy and sharing of
39:11
value so the Europeans have GDP are you
39:13
know which was kind of the first step in
39:15
the privacy direction but it doesn’t
39:17
take into account that economic
39:18
ecosystem so perversely you have the big
39:21
companies maybe being able to do better
39:23
with the GDP our model and smaller ones
39:26
getting cut out of the loop because they
39:27
don’t have the legal muscle to kind of
39:29
deal with all the rules so I do think
39:31
the California model is going to become
39:32
a de facto standard we also haven’t
39:34
talked about China which is of course
39:36
going its own way and I have it I have a
39:38
chapter in the book where I look at that
39:40
I look at the current trade war tech war
39:43
kind of through the lens of surveillance
39:44
capitalism and
39:46
that’s gonna be very interesting I think
39:48
one of the big probably the biggest mid
39:52
to long-term economic question for me is
39:54
are we going to see a transatlantic
39:56
alliance around digital trade and coming
39:59
up with some standards because China is
40:01
going its own direction it’s going to
40:02
develop its own ecosystem it has its own
40:04
big players the u.s. is in another
40:07
category but where is Europe gonna be is
40:09
it going to be a tri polar world is it
40:11
going to be a bipolar world in terms of
40:13
how all this works that that’s a major
40:15
ik you cannot make an actually foreign
40:16
policy question I think hey thanks for
40:21
coming and thinking um I’m wondering we
40:25
have like a Department of Agriculture we
40:27
have a Department of Energy will there
40:29
be a Department of Technology ever in
40:30
the US and which other countries already
40:33
have that kind of thing going yeah
40:35
England is talking about that actually I
40:37
think kind of an FDA of Technology is
40:40
probably a very good idea you know I see
40:44
going back to the example about my son
40:46
there there
40:46
the research is nascent and causality is
40:49
is difficult to prove but there there’s
40:51
you know a new body of research since
40:54
2011 2012 when smartphones really became
40:57
ubiquitous showing that levels of
40:59
anxiety and depression and younger
41:01
people arising you know they’re there
41:04
they’re issues of self harm sometimes
41:07
when people you know use these
41:08
technologies addictively so I think that
41:11
that’s that’s a big issue to me it’s
41:12
very similar to cigarettes you know
41:14
those were regulated there was a
41:16
different narrative and then behaviors
41:17
changed and I think I think that that’s
41:20
one area to consider policy wise there
41:25
may be time for one or two more
41:26
questions
41:27
okay sorry over here and then over here
41:29
hi
41:30
I’m kind of curious what you think about
41:33
the fact that most of these
41:36
conversations around technology or even
41:38
democracy tends to focus on institutions
41:41
and systems and structures which is
41:44
great because they are so powerful and
41:47
ubiquitous my background is in teaching
41:51
critical thinking and in conflict
41:54
management and I what I worry
41:58
that so little attention is being paid
42:01
to the intelligence and maturity of the
42:05
citizenry I’m from India after 70 years
42:10
of democracy we’ve lost it I think it’s
42:15
simplistic to blame the right-wing
42:18
leaders and the government I believe we
42:22
as a people have not developed the
42:24
maturity to be effective intelligent
42:30
citizens we don’t have the values we are
42:34
still feudal we are still extremely
42:37
hierarchical we don’t have the
42:40
democratic values in India and we didn’t
42:43
cultivated over 70 years I see a
42:46
parallel to being susceptible to the
42:52
seductions of Technology whether it be
42:56
free news or the click baiting or
43:00
anything that the big companies seduce
43:04
us with that even as we need as you said
43:08
they an FDA kind of for technology we
43:13
seem to be observing ourselves of the
43:17
responsibility of being you know of
43:20
waking up and no se pians I hear I hear
43:24
what you’re saying and it’s interesting
43:25
two things come to mind first of all as
43:28
I say I just got back from Europe the
43:29
debate is much more nuanced there and
43:33
and further along and I think that’s in
43:36
part because there was not quite as much
43:39
pendulum shift in the last 40 or 50
43:41
years from the public sector to the
43:43
private sector as there was here I think
43:46
I’m not quite sure if I agree entirely
43:49
with your point about institutions I
43:50
think in some ways part of the problem
43:53
one of the reasons why we have
43:54
concentration levels that are same as
43:57
they were in the 19th century is that
44:00
you know we have a generation of
44:03
business leaders that grew up in the 80s
44:04
thinking that the government was only
44:06
good for cutting taxes and there’s hyper
44:09
individualism that’s that’s
44:12
the entire economic model and in some
44:14
ways I think that you know Facebook is
44:16
maybe the apex of the neoliberal
44:19
economic model if you think about the
44:22
problems of globalization were that cap
44:25
but you know it was supposed to be
44:27
globalization was supposed to be about
44:28
capital goods and people crossing
44:30
borders well it turned out the capital
44:31
could cross a lot faster than either
44:33
goods or people if you take that into
44:36
the world of data that’s even more true
44:38
and so I think that you have a group of
44:41
companies now that have really
44:44
turbocharged a lot of the problems that
44:46
have given us the politics that we have
44:49
now and and a company like Facebook I
44:51
mean I think it every time Zuckerberg is
44:52
on the hill it’s like there’s this
44:54
attitude that they are supranational you
44:56
know and kind of flying 35,000 feet
44:59
above national concerns and I think that
45:02
that’s part of a larger shift and
45:04
probably going to be a big part of the
45:05
2020 debate right are we gonna now have
45:08
a pendulum shift back away from private
45:12
power to some public power some
45:14
different sharing of that which is a
45:16
values question which I think gets at
45:18
some of what you’re talking about
45:20
long-winded answer anyway I think we
45:22
have time for maybe one more question
45:23
yeah – quick question okay one is some
45:27
of the tech companies especially the
45:29
platform companies have you know why
45:32
should we not consider looking at them
45:35
as utility companies yeah I mean we’ve
45:39
had phone companies and as far as I know
45:41
they don’t data mine our conversations
45:43
and maybe mistaken a bit right I mean
45:46
right that’s they could easily right
45:49
right yes it’s different different
45:50
business model yeah yeah so so that was
45:52
one the other thing is you mentioned
45:54
that eventually we need tech policy
45:56
around this and the issue at least my
45:59
issue is that the people who make these
46:01
decisions the the policy makers they
46:05
just most to them don’t have the
46:07
technical background right to properly
46:10
assess the different choices and make
46:12
those decisions I mean I think one of
46:15
them Zuckerberg or someone testified the
46:17
questioning was just awful I mean they
46:20
just ignore our tech support was
46:22
terrible
46:23
yeah exactly so I know anyway whatever
46:27
thoughts you have no that’s a great and
46:29
that’s like maybe a great place to sort
46:31
of wrap up I think the utility model is
46:34
completely viable and it’s interesting
46:36
one of the bits of pushback that you’ll
46:38
sometimes get from folks in the valley
46:40
about that is well if we’re if we’re
46:42
split in this way or if the the capacity
46:46
to innovate is sort of you know
46:47
compressed as the profit margins would
46:49
be compressed in a utility model that’ll
46:52
be bad for innovation not really I mean
46:54
there’s the statistics show for starters
46:56
that companies innovate more when
46:58
they’re smaller they tend to innovate
47:00
more when they’re private and breakups
47:03
in the past you can argue have actually
47:05
created more innovation so a lot of
47:07
academics would say that even the the
47:10
the the antitrust just the threat of
47:13
antitrust action against Microsoft was
47:15
one of the reasons that Google was
47:16
allowed to to blossom as it did you can
47:19
go back to the breakup of the bells and
47:22
say maybe that created space for the
47:25
cellphone industry to to move ahead so I
47:28
think there’s a lot of examples that a
47:31
more decentralized model is actually a
47:34
good thing and I think that that is
47:36
actually going to be a really important
47:37
thing because right now there’s this I
47:40
think very perverse debate in the u.s.
47:42
that is bringing together parts of the
47:45
far right and parts the far left that
47:47
all right we need these companies to
47:48
stay big because they’re the national
47:50
champions and the the becoming war with
47:52
China that is a complete bunk that is
47:56
not shown out first of all I mean these
47:58
companies would love to be in China if
47:59
they could get into China you know I
48:02
think decentralized is the advantage in
48:06
all respects in the US economically so
48:09
yeah I’m have no problems with a utility
48:12
model anyway I think my time is up but
48:15
I’d be happy to sign books and answer
48:17
any other questions here at the table
48:18
and thanks so much for your attention
48:19
[Applause]
48:34
you

Making Sense of the New American Right

Keeping track of the Jacksonians, Reformicons, Paleos, and Post-liberals.

I like to start my classes on conservative intellectual history by distinguishing between three groups. There is the Republican party, with its millions of adherents and spectrum of opinion from very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, and yes, liberal. There is the conservative movement, the constellation of single-issue nonprofits that sprung up in the 1970s

  • gun rights,
  • pro-life,
  • taxpayer,
  • right to work

— and continue to influence elected officials. Finally, there is the conservative intellectual movement: writers, scholars, and wonks whose journalistic and political work deals mainly with ideas and, if we’re lucky, their translation into public policy.

The Italian Economy’s Moment of Truth

Unlike many other European countries, Italy still has not restored economic growth to its pre-crisis level – a fundamental failing that lies at the heart of many of its political problems. Now that a new anti-establishment government is taking power, it remains to be seen if the economy will be remade, or broken further.

..  Italy has become the first major EU member state to be governed by a populist coalition.
.. M5S and the League both openly question the benefits of eurozone membership, though neither party made leaving the euro a specific commitment of their governing program in the election campaign, a failure that Italian President Sergio Mattarella seized upon in vetoing key cabinet pick.
.. They also disdain globalization more generally
.. The League, in particular, is obsessed with cracking down on immigration.
.. promised to tackle corruption and topple what they see as a self-serving political establishment, while introducing radical policies to reduce unemployment and redistribute incomes.
.. There are rumors that the parties want to write down Italy’s sovereign debt
.. In such a scenario, Italian banks currently holding considerable amounts of government debt would suffer substantial balance-sheet damage. The risk of deposit flight could not be excluded.
.. Italy’s nominal (non-inflation-adjusted) growth is too weak to produce substantial deleveraging, even at today’s low interest rates.
.. Italy’s real per capita GDP remains well below its 2007 pre-crisis peak
.. a worldwide retreat from globalization and growing demands for national governments to reassert control over the flow of goods and services, capital, people, and information/data.
.. For years, global market forces and powerful new technologies have plainly outstripped governments’ capacity to adapt to economic change.
.. Italy could soon find that its leading export is talented young people.
.. the Italian government needs to root out corruption and self-dealing, and demonstrate a much stronger commitment to the public interest.
.. Italy needs to develop the entrepreneurial ecosystems that underpin dynamism and innovation. As matters stand, the financial sector is too closed, and it provides too little funding and support for new ventures.
.. collaboration between government, business, and labor has played a key role in the countries that have adapted better to globalization and technology-induced structural change.