If you want to build a home, you go to a carpenter. If the carpenter refuses, you go to another carpenter. If all refuse to provide service, you can try to build the home yourself. And if a hardware store refuses to sell you wood, nails and glue, you go to another hardware store. But if all refuse, well, you’re homeless.
Data centers, servers and programs for building applications are the internet’s wood, nails and glue. They are the supplies needed to partake in democracy, be involved in community, engage in commerce and support a family. In short, they’re the necessary supplies for existence in the 21st century. Alas, they’re controlled by several powerful corporations bent on denying service to—in essence, exiling—half of the country.
For more than a decade, big tech has been fashioning addictive echo chambers to sort us into easily marketable cohorts, corroding our relationships with friends and families in the process. Rather than enlighten users and facilitate mutual understanding, it weakened our ability to reason by appealing to tribal instincts with sophisticated and difficult-to-resist techniques. Our social media feeds only let us see what suits us, what comports with our preconceived notions, what makes our brains feel good. And we never stop gorging.
Addict and divide—that was big tech’s first move. Then it began, in both overt and devilishly subtle ways, to shut down open and honest dialogue—one of the hallmarks of American democracy, and of all genuinely free countries. Now big tech has revealed its ultimate plan: to remove from public discussion every single person who challenges its authority, holds alternative beliefs or thinks even a bit differently. Under the auspices of simply opting to not do business with certain users, they are starving individuals, companies and organizations of the fundamental means required to make a living.
In the last six months alone, big tech has censored newspapers, deplatformed Parler and stopped the president of the United States from communicating with the American people and the world. These moves nakedly reveal its unchecked power and how far it’s willing to go to purge opposition. To many who wish to build a proverbial home, the tyrants of Silicon Valley are declaring that they will close off every point of access to that aspiration.
This is all antithetical to freedom and human flourishing. It’s a broadside against the ideals and principles enshrined in our nation’s founding documents. Indeed, it’s a ruthless campaign to eradicate the immutable rights delineated in the Declaration of Independence and safeguarded by the Constitution. And big tech is now not only excising our ideas from society, it’s eliminating our very ability to formulate and express them.
To understand big tech’s behavior, recognize that its allegiance is not to America. It is instead devoted to radical ideologies that have been given an air of authority by prominent universities and media outlets. These ideologies repudiate individual liberty, tradition and transcendent truths and, as a result, have only caused suffering and destruction throughout history and around the world.
The multinational corporations that make up big tech do not at all resemble the great American companies of the past. Yes, those companies sought profit like any other private enterprise with a bottom line. But they were supportive of the American middle class and of advancing our national sovereignty. And along the way, they were unabashedly dedicated to—and successful in—defeating the twin tyrannies of fascism and communism.
Some will claim we’re exaggerating the situation by pointing out big tech’s monopolistic behavior. Those who possess only a cursory grasp of the past deny connections between yesteryear and the present because they’re looking for precisely the same actors. As Mark Twain advised, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does often rhyme.” Twain was implying that we won’t find exact mirror images—because they don’t exist. So we need to think more critically about the arc of history, to read between the lines to locate key trends and patterns.
Section 230 reform—or any other legislative proposal—is insufficient. Big government can’t fix big tech. The two phalanxes have become far too intertwined and too dependent upon each other’s power. All Americans committed to our sacred rights, namely freedom of expression, demand an internet that’s truly free and open. That’s why my colleagues and I started Right Forge. We’re creating an entirely self-reliant, self-contained vertical infrastructure. By controlling all the “means of production,” from the physical data centers to the hardware to the code, we are replatforming America and rededicating the internet—the greatest forum for debate and information exchange in human history—to the founding principles of our exceptional nation.
What institution in America is prepared to stand up to big tech? A lot of time has passed, and we’ve already witnessed countless transgressions. Who has a viable plan ready to go? We must candidly, with eyes wide open, consider the damage already wrought and, using the lessons of history, know exactly what it is that we must do right now. We no longer have a choice. We must create a second internet to begin restoring our great republic and our way of life. American survival depends upon it.
Martín Avila is CEO at Right Forge, a full-service technology infrastructure company.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.