We’re all still processing what just happened on Capitol Hill. Clearly, there is a mounting proto-fascist threat that must be stopped. But liberals are being rash in their response, and this is likely to only enflame things. How can we address these dangers in an intelligent way? More in the weeks to come.
This week, we look squarely at the role of Big Tech. There’s a newly-formed Alphabet Worker’s Union, which could be a game-changer for labour organizing and class consciousness in Silicon Valley. We talk about the future of the big tech monopolies. Both their economic monopolies, and the monopolies they have over our political discourse.
- First, in host Gordon Katic’s opening essay, he feels post-9/11 vibes. Remember: the people who were the toughest on Islamic fundamentalists were the ones who exacerbated the threat. Let’s not make the same mistakes.
- Next (@13:37), Chewy Shaw has worked at Google/Alphabet for over 10 years, and he’s now the vice chair of the newly-formed Alphabet Worker’s Union. Chewy tells us about what’s wrong at Google – their content moderation policies (and how they fail), their attacks on his colleagues, and how they fail to live up to their motto, ‘don’t be evil.’
- Then (@33:24), Alex Press is labour reporter at Jacobin magazine who covered the new union. She tells us about the longer history of labour organizing in Silicon Valley, how tech executives have attempted to stymy it at every turn, and what the Alphabet Workers’ Union might mean for the future.
- Finally, (@47:22) Rob Larson is Professor of Economics at Tacoma Community College, and the in-house economist at Current Affairs. We talk about his most recent book, “Bit Tyrants: The Political Economy of Tech,” which explains why big tech tends towards monopoly, why anti-trust will never be enough, and why we need online socialism.
Press, Alex. “Code Red.” N+1, 18 Apr. 2018
Press, Alex. “Google’s New Union Will Put an Unconventional Organizing Model to the Test.” Jacobin Magazine 4 Jan. 2021.
Koul, Parul, and Chewy Shaw. “Opinion | We Built Google. This Is Not the Company We Want to Work For.” The New York Times, 4 Jan. 2021.
Larson, Rob. Bit Tyrants: The Political Economy of Silicon Valley. Haymarket Books, 2020.
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This episode received support by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us a research grant to look at the concept of “public intellectualism.” Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia is the lead academic advisor.
Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.