The Great Reset Continues — Facebook’s New Imperial Order 

The Facebook Empire

Here’s a recent headline to ponder from the Beltway-buzzy Axios: “The sovereign state of Facebook vs. the world.” 

The sovereign state of Facebook?  

Did we miss something there?  Did we miss that moment when Facebook became a country and joined the United Nations? 

Axios was exaggerating, of course; Facebook is not a sovereign state (although it does plan to issue its own currency). 

So yes, Facebook is huge and powerful, bidding to be a key partner in what’s become known as The Great Reset, the international reordering of world power, in favor of the powerful. As the article details:

Facebook’s 3 billion monthly active users, its mountain of money and its control over the flow of information all put the company on an equal footing with governments around the world — and, increasingly, it’s getting into fights with them.

Axios continues, “Facebook’s power alarms governments fearful that the tech giant could tilt the political scales inside their borders.”  

Speaking of tilting political scales, every conservative recalls that back in January, Facebook banned Donald Trump, even as it continued to allow repressive foreign countries, such as the People’s Republic of China, as well as left-wing extremists, to flourish on its site. Heck, it’s been reported that Facebook has actually hired citizens of the PRC to help with its censoring.   

Meanwhile, Facebook’s March 3 announcement that it would resume accepting American political advertisements was treated as huge news. Why? Because it was huge news. Facebook is the single most important media company in America today, and so of course politicians are happy to pay to be seen on its platform. 

Yet still, does Facebook really deserve to be considered as a country? One who might secretly agree with that level of exaltedness for Facebook is its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. He’s always thought big—bigger, even, than countries.   

Indeed, back in 2018, Virgil took note of the many similarities between Zuckerberg and Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor. More precisely, Virgil noted the many ways—starting with Zuck’s overtly Augustan haircut—that Zuckerberg has manifestly sought to model himself after that ancient empire-builder.  (We can add that Zuckerberg is hardly the only Big Tech type with grandiose ambitions; just on March 15 we learned that Tesla founder Elon Musk has changed his title at the company to “Techno King.”)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) speaking at a conference on May 1, 2018, in San Jose, California (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images). Julius Caesar statue (right), Rome, Italy (Flickr).

Indeed, Zuckerberg and Facebook have been fashioning themselves into some sort of world state.  Just last month, The New Yorker magazine published a 7,500-word article, headlined, “Inside the Making of Facebook’s Supreme Court.” As the piece detailed, Facebook has spent more than $100 million to create its own planetary governing body, formally known as the Oversight Board, aimed at adjudicating questions of content and censorship. The board, studded with dozens of liberal worthies from around the world, is currently studying the Trump censorship case.  

The New Yorker article was mostly sympathetic to Facebook’s international institution-building effort, and yet it quoted Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, giving this warning: “The fifth most valuable corporation in the U.S., worth over seven hundred billion dollars, a near monopoly in its market niche, has restricted a political figure’s speech to his thirty million followers … it’s a remarkable power for any entity, public or private, to have.”

So can Facebook succeed in its version of a New World Order? Or even of a New Imperial Order? Given its phenomenal success over the last two decades, it’s risky to dismiss its chances, and yet history is full of phenoms that ultimately fell short. 

Empires Rise, But They Also Fall—and They Can Also Be Regulated

Without a doubt, Facebook is riding high. Its stock price has increased by more than a third in the last year, such that Zuckerberg himself is worth almost $100 billion. And yet still, empires fall. The once-grand imperial project turns to dust, as the poet Shelley described in his famous poem, Ozymandias.  

And the same holds true for American business empires. Zuckerberg is not the first corporate-empire builder.  In 1936, for instance, Forbes magazine told its readers, “Do not think of the Pennsylvania Railroad as a business enterprise. Think of it as a nation.” At the time, “Pennsy” had several hundred thousand employees, operating not only railroads, but also shipping lines and even hotels. Yet in 1970, it filed for bankruptcy. 

Share of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, issued February 29, 1912. (Wikimedia Commons)

Or we might consider another once-huge company, International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT).  In 1973, a book entitled The Sovereign State of ITT became a best-seller, and yet within a few decades, it had sold off its telecommunications assets and now has mostly faded away. 

Interestingly, in the 1980s, the nation of Japan was so economically powerful—and so dominated by its industrial-export sector—that it was known as Japan, Inc. Japan is still a rich country, and yet it has now been eclipsed, mostly by China. 

Once again, no empire, no greatness, is permanent. Today, in fact, as we are now seeing, Facebook itself isn’t so all-powerful.  

The flashpoint—that moment of imperial overreach for the company—came in February when Facebook attempted to steamroll the nation of Australia. And yet the Aussies weren’t flattened, they fought back.  

Specifically, the Australians did something so simple that Americans, too, could do it: They passed a law ordering Facebook to pay Australian media companies for using their content. That law, the News Media Bargaining Code, requires Big Tech companies to write checks to media companies. 

In other words, Australians asserted their sovereignty, and Facebook, for all its pretensions of world-girdling power, was forced to fold its cards. As American tech activist Jason Kint tweeted, “Mark Zuckerberg finally lost something.  Badly.”

Indeed, headlines around the world called it “a turning point” in relations between Facebook, on the one hand, and nations and their media, on the other hand.  The Sydney Morning Herald suggested a “domino effect,” explaining, “The Australian legislation could serve as a global benchmark for how to force tech titans to the negotiating table and pay the traditional media for their news content.”

Some critics insist that Facebook got off cheap, and yet undeniably, Facebook will now be paying some $1 billion to the Australian news industry over the next three years—and while there are devils in those details, $1 billion is nevertheless a lot of money. 

Moreover, as The Verge explained, Facebook’s commitment “matches the one Google made in October of last year, when the search giant announced it would start paying publishers to create specialized versions of stories and other forms of news content for its Google News Showcase platform.”

The lesson to be learned: Australia did nothing that the U.S. couldn’t do. Indeed, there are signs that Uncle Sam, after decades of getting rolled by Big Tech, is now finally punching back. In fact, the punchback is bipartisan, which makes it all the stronger. 

In this photo illustration ABC News reports on Facebook’s news ban on Australian and International content on February 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Facebook has banned publishers and users in Australia from posting it sharing news content as the Australian government prepares to pass laws that will require social media companies to pay news publishers for sharing using content on their platforms. (Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chairman of the House subcommittee on antitrust, tweeted on February 17, “Facebook is not compatible with democracy.” Cicilline, by the way, is the author of a scathing report released last year on Facebook and Big Tech. So the Democrats, now in charge of Congress, finally seem determined to break from their Obama-era tech-cronyism. 

Meanwhile, speaking for the other side of the aisle, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said to CPAC on February 26, “The Republican Party, once upon a time we were the party of trustbusters. We invented the concept. It’s time to reclaim that legacy.”

Hawley was referring, of course, to anti-trust action, as championed more than a century ago by President Theodore Roosevelt. Interestingly, back in 2008, Hawley wrote an admiring book about TR. 

Indeed, the first few decades of the 20th century saw the giant industries of that era—oil, railroads, banking, finance—brought to heel, and America as a result was made healthier and stronger. After all, this country is best off when Main Street is robust, not just Wall Street. 

Here in the 21st century, we’ve gotten a late start on regulating the giant industries of our time, and yet we can still bring Big Tech to heel.  If Australians can do it, so can Americans.  

In the meantime, Zuckerberg, alongside other Tech Lords, appeared (remotely) on Capitol Hill on March 25, answering questions from ever more skeptical and quizzical lawmakers.  And while Zuckerberg never shines in such appearances, he never seems to be hurt, either; sample MSM headline: “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ducks questions on internal warnings about polarization, divisiveness.”

Still, over the long run, it’s likely that Facebook will face more regulation. As Rep. Jan Schakowski (D-IL), the chair of the House subcommittee that held the hearing, said afterward, “We’re going to regulate. We’re going to legislate.”

And yet the globe-girdling social network has so much embedded power and momentum that it will likely do just fine in the future; for instance, if Facebook can work with the Democrats to put the focus on heavy content-moderation, it can create a barrier against smaller rivals, which won’t be able to afford such content-moderation.

In fact, speaking of Democrats, the Biden administration’s new trade chief, Katherine Tai, announced just on March 26 that the U.S. government would be imposing tariffs on countries that added taxes to big U.S. digital firms, including Facebook. So we can see, as often as not, Uncle Sam is still siding with Zuckerberg and his fellow Tech Lords.

And so while Facebook may never achieve the full plenitude of Zuckerberg’s imperial ambitions, it will likely find a secure place within the new world order known as The Great Reset.

Indeed, speaking of this Reset,  on March 23, the U.S. Federal Reserve established a Financial Stability Climate Committee to “assess and address climate-related risks to financial stability.”  This new body will work closely with the larger, international Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System, which Virgil wrote about in January. Together, these groups will help green your future, like it or not.

Of course, most Americans have never heard of The Great Reset, or any of these green financial bodies, which no electorate has ever voted for.  And that’s exactly what the Resetters are counting on.  

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Virgil: When Wokeness Damages Democrats

We got a peek into the future of woke diversity on March 23, when Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced that she was so mad at the Biden administration for supposedly neglecting Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) that she wouldn’t vote to confirm any more of Biden’s non-minority appointees. “I will vote for racial minorities and I will vote for LGBTQ, but anybody else I’m not voting for,” she said. “Until then, I am a ‘no’ vote on the floor on all non-diversity nominees.” 

Explaining her stance, Duckworth recalled that she had been on a conference call with White House staffers and had complained about this alleged lack of diversity. The response that came back was not at all satisfactory to Duckworth: “The first words out of the staff mouth was ‘We’re very proud of Vice President Harris,’ which is incredibly insulting.”  

One might wonder why it’s insulting to bring up the heritage of Harris, who is a woman and half-Indian and half-Black, and thus plenty diverse; she was after all the first person Biden chose last summer for his administration. And yet Duckworth said that to her the Biden staffer’s words were a “trigger.”  

We might step back and observe: Who knew that Illinois, typically thought of as a middle-of-the-road state, had in fact elected one of the woken? (Or could it be that Duckworth is mad that she was not selected as Biden’s running mate, perhaps in part because she was making radically woke comments?) 

Interestingly, Duckworth’s boycott of Biden nominees was immediately endorsed by a second AAPI lawmaker, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HA), who has long complained about supposed underrepresentation of AAPIs. 

For its part, the Biden administration was in no mood to get into a fight with two Democratic senators, and so White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a softly worded statement: 

The President has made it clear that his Administration will reflect the diversity of the country. That has always been, and remains our goal.  The White House will add a senior level Asian American Pacific Islander liaison, who will ensure the community’s voice is further represented and heard.

Reporting on this story, the Washington Post observed, “The White House did not immediately respond to questions about who might fill the role or whether it was a new position.” And the newspaper added dryly, “The White House has for several years had a liaison to the AAPI community.” In other words, we don’t really know whether or not Sens. Duckworth and Hirono actually received any concessions.  

Yet for her part, Hirono said that she and Duckworth did get concessions As she tweeted: “Based on the private conversation we had, I will continue voting to confirm the historic and highly qualified nominees President Biden has appointed to serve in his administration.”

So the two senators are now mollified and will continue to say “yea” on all of Biden’s picks, just as they always have. 

Still, the tiff raised eyebrows, as it played to the stereotype of Democrats as being obsessed with identity politics, thereby inverting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous phrase; that is, they are now more interested in the color of one’s skin than in the content of one’s character. 

Reaction to this diversity drama was swift. On The View, Meghan McCain commented:

I think this is a very, very slippery slope. I was surprised to hear Tammy Duckworth saying it like this. She got a lot of blowback from a lot of people, not just on the right. I think this is actually just the natural progression of identity politics. . . . Is identity politics more important than the qualifications for the job?

And on Fox, Tucker Carlson ripped Duckworth’s thinking as “morally repugnant” and even “illegal.”   

Even a Democratic-minded tweeter added this word of warning: 

I genuinely like Tammy Duckworth. The woman is a legit hero but the game she’s playing is ridiculous and feeds into every perception that the GOP wants to create of dems. It is silly season.

Indeed, the feeling that Duckworth and Hirono have taken Democrats in a dangerous direction extends even to the not-very Republican precincts of Washington, D.C. For instance, Politico’s “Playbook,” a morning guide for the Beltway perplexed, observed on the 24th:

The Democratic infighting over diversity is manna for the GOP. Administration officials want to keep the focus on hitting their vaccine goals and throwing money into the pockets of millions of Americans. Republicans want to put them on the defensive over culture issues. 

So we can see: The hard-nosed political play-callers at “Playbook” think the Democrats have blundered, handing Republicans a potent wedge issue. Then “Playbook” added this further note of warning to Democrats: 

The ordeal surfaced something that’s been bubbling for years. The Democratic Party holds up diversity as a key value and embraces intersectionality—but realizing that vision is much more complicated as more Americans (rightly) demand a seat at the table.

Okay, so Diverse Americans are demanding (another) seat at the table. And yet who—who, exactly—gets a seat at the table? And how is that seating arrangement to be determined? Moreover, how is what’s on the table going to be apportioned?  

We might start by trying to figure out who exactly should be included in the Biden/Democratic vision of the AAPI “community.” That’s not so easy to determine because Asia consists of no fewer than 48 countries, and it’s a safe bet that there are Americans who can trace their lineage to each and every one of those four-dozen states.  

Moreover, separate and distinct from Asia, 15 more island-countries dot the Pacific Ocean. So who should represent all these Americans at the Biden diversity table? Which individual? Or which group? 

Moreover, does it really make sense to say that Americans who hail from places as disparate as India, Vanuatu, China, and Japan—and 59 other countries across Asia and Oceania—form a “community”? 

As an aside that speaks to the futility of lumping diverse people into a presumed unitary community, one is reminded for the 1891 Sherlock Holmes story, “The Red-Headed League,” about a putative confederation of redheads. Yet the whole point of the story is that there is no such thing as the Red-Headed League; it’s just a convenient ruse—and that only makes sense, as redheads don’t necessarily have anything about which to be in league.

Still, the Democratic Party is locked into its diversity vision, and as the 2020 election results show, Democrats can indeed win while pledging full-woke diversity.  

However, it remains to be seen whether the Democrats can govern while actually enacting diversity policies of the type that Duckworth and Hirono have championed.  

That’s the key distinction: Mere talking about being woke is one thing, actually doing it is another. Why? Because the sort of skin- and gender-testing that woke Democrats favor is profoundly unbecoming in the eyes of most Americans, and so an emphasis on distributing power according to strict ethnic and sexual categories is likely to boomerang at the ballot box.  

For instance, the city of Oakland, CA, led by Mayor Libby Schaaf, a Democrat, just announced that it would pay a $500-a-month benefit to city residents—but not to white city residents, no matter how impoverished. One must question, to be sure, whether such a race-based policy is even legal, and yet there’s no question that it’s bad political optics for the nation as a whole. 

So Republicans might ask: Do other Democrats agree with Schaaf? And wouldn’t the GOP do well, in contrast, to keep emphasizing the basic principles of color-blindness and equal protection under the law? 

It’s no wonder that some shrewd observers see long-term danger for the Democrats. One such is economic populist Matt Stoller, a former staffer for Sen. Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist from Vermont; last year, Stoller tweeted: “The Democratic Party makes a lot more sense if you imagine its agenda as that of a corporate HR compliance department.”

As everyone knows these days, many corporate human resource departments are citadels of wokenism, delighting in tracking skin-color and gender categories. Stoller is saying, in effect, that the Democratic Party would rather worry about racial and gender justice—as it defines those words—than worry about basic issues of economic, regional, and sectoral power.    

And then there’s Glenn Greenwald, another man of the left, who tweeted earlier this year, reinforcing Stoller’s argument: 

The Dems are a neoliberal party which serves Wall St & corporate power. They are overwhelmingly led by extremely rich people who serve these power centers. Touting diversity is how they try to hide that, and bad-faith bigotry accusations are how they punish those who report it.

We might pause over some of Greenwald’s words: “Touting diversity is how they try to hide”—hide, that is, their devotion to woke plutocratic masters. To put it another way, an extreme emphasis on woke diversity changes the subject from other concerns about the social contract, including jobs, wages, and working conditions. 

So what should Republicans do in response? One strong answer comes from Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who on March 25 introduced legislation that would prohibit the U.S. military from teaching “critical race theory,” which is, of course, a subset of wokery.

Cotton’s bill is unlikely to become law any time soon. Even if a few moderate Democrats could somehow be persuaded to go along with it, thereby enabling it to pass in Congress, Biden would presumably use his veto.   

And yet still, in raising this issue, Cotton has performed a genuine service. That is, the public will find out which side lawmakers are on. Are they with the race-and-gender-measuring wokesters? Or are they with the American ideal of color-blind equal opportunity?  

By all means, let’s see that question debated in 2022—and in 2024. 

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