Narrated by talk show host, Brian Wilson, “Down With Power” a Libertarian
Manifesto, by L. Neil Smith now downloadable as an audiobook!
Number 968, April 8, 2018

Do not let civilization die in the dark.

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by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

Any reasonable individual has to wonder whether Facebook dictator Mark Zuckerberg is honestly mistaken in his faulty economic analysis of that institution’s place in the market, or he thinks he’s being a particularly clever con-man. His assertion that Facebook users are the product he delivers to his real customers, those who advertise on the system, is just plain wrong, and constructed, by accident or deliberately (like the needlessly complicated anti-Copernican concepts of the Solar System or Keynesian economics), to mystify and confound those who want to know the truth, but lack confidence in their understanding of technology.

At its root, the whole thing has nothing to do with technology. Very simply, what Zuckerberg sells is not you, but information about you. Not even directly: he tells advertisers where they can probably find customers. And how does he know? He gathers information that Facebook users unthinkingly give him, absolutely free, through their everyday use of his system. He asserts that he owns this information, and if they want to opt out, to regain their privacy, they’re expected to pay him to get it back. No wonder Mark Zuckerberg is one of the richest men in America. Unlike every other industrialist I ever studied, he doesn’t have to pay for his raw materials.

That’s like Andrew Carnegie making steel without having to pay for coal or iron ore. It’s like a bakery baking bread (or wedding cakes) without buying flour. Zuckerberg should be paying you for what you tell him about yourself.

Zuckerberg has both crooked thumbs on the scales in another way. People assume that because he’s an American, at the head of an American company, that he possesses at least a modicum of respect for American standards and values, especially regarding freedom of speech. He does not. He sold out morally to the Chinese communists—murderers, torturers, and organ-snatchers—in a California picosecond so he could establish his company in Asia. Now he’s importing that repulsive corruption and imposing it on American users. The excuses he and his minions offer for that kind of authoritarian behavior reminds me of the infantile blabber my principal in high school used to justify censoring my columns in the school newspaper.

That’s where I trained in literary escape and evasion.

Zuckerberg also thinks he knows better than you or me (or Thomas Jefferson, for that matter) how we should live our lives. "This is a Zuckerbird. This is a Zuckerbird watching you!"* He appears to be against everything I’m for—guns, hard money, clearly marked bathrooms, the private automobile—and for everything I’m against—identity politics, vegetarianism, militant feminism, illegal immigration, the whole package that only liberals consider "progressive". In short, he’s exactly the same enemy we fought in Korea and Vietnam. Tell me, has anyone ever seen Zuckerberg and David Hogg in the same room?

One of the many ways that we (whoever that is) put Donald Trump into office is that on the rare occasions pollsters came around (I’m pretty sure they were avoiding us), we lied to them: "Oh, yes, my heart belongs to Jill Stein!" Pollsters and their employers have no automatic right to the truth, to your inner reality. The opposing forces very clearly never had a focused picture of what they were up against, and it cost them, tactically. It helped to drive them crazy. It may be doing that again. The same old polls are saying the same old thing.

Never, ever tell Facebook or YouTube or Twitter or Google the truth about anything when you are asked. I get polled at least a dozen times a day. They think I’m a decorated veteran of the Second Punic War. And a Lesbian.

Maybe even more important, at least once a day, you should Google some absolutely wacky, offbeat, surrealistically random thing: badminton; Hugo Grotius; the Tijuana Two-Step; cricket bats. Much of what the social networks have to sell depends on what you look up every day. They keep extremely close track of it. When you start getting advertising for unicycles, nuclear toothbrushes, or electric boomerangs, you’ll know you’ve been successful.

Zuckerberg can’t sell a product—information about you—if it’s polluted. If it’s tainted. If it’s less valuable. Perhaps someday soon we’ll see him on a street corner somewhere selling pencils from a tin cup.



L. Neil Smith

Publisher and Senior Columnist L. Neil Smith is the author of over thirty books, mostly science fiction novels, L. Neil Smith has been a libertarian activist since 1962. His many books and those of other pro-gun libertarians may be found (and ordered) at L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE “Free Radical Book Store” The preceding essays were originally prepared for and appeared in L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE. Use them to fight the continuing war against tyranny.

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