Coming soon in a legislative assembly near you – the return of antitrust


The sounds of hoofs is growing, the noise of the emerging antitrust movement is not exactly deafening, but it is at least audible. I cite in my support of this assertion two phenomena, both from the USA – the growing opposition to AT&T’s merger with Time Warner and an article hailing what the authors call the ‘fifth cycle of antitrust’ in, of all places, the Harvard Business Review.

I have been trying to explain the demise of antitrust, and interest in competition, for a couple of years now, notably in the book I wrote with Joe Zammit-Lucia, The Death of Liberal Democracy?

So it matters that the central pillar of Liberal economics is returning to the stage, long after it appeared to have been consigned to history – and some half century since the idea of diverse business and diverse economies had been forgotten by Liberals too.

My main concern is why the UK appears not to have noticed this, and still seems to be bedazzled by the defunct idea that free markets meant apparently the right by the large and wealthy to have enough privilege to trample over their challengers. So, for me, this is the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for Liberalism – but why are Liberals so slow to hail it?

My other concern is that political rage is being focused on the internet giants, in Parliament yesterday, when MPs had a jolly good shout at Facebook, Twitter and Google, but apparently missed the point: yes, they are lax in their regulation of what they allow to be published. But there are even more fundamental concerns.

What really should concern us is Google and Amazon’s assumed right to control, not just the retail market, but all markets. This is a constraint on liberty as well as business. “We’re moving to a future in which we’re asking businesses to operate… not [in] a market, but a private arena controlled by Amazon,” Stacy Mitchell of the Institute of Local Self-Reliance told the US Congress yesterday.

My question is: why is nobody saying this sort of thing on this side of the Atlantic too?

Help us lay the intellectual foundations for a new radical politics. Sign up to get email notifications about anything new in this blog.

Rate this post!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.


  1. nigel hunter says

    i too have noticed that Amazon and other s gobble up small up and coming rival businesses and either use their ideas or put them out of action. Free Market economics does not exist, true competitions does not exist. The big boys campaign for a free market as long as it is to their advantage and squash the little guy. Competition is fine for them as long as the little guys are swallowed up or kept under control To me Conservatives mean money counts ‘largeness’ counts it gives shareholders good money returns but stifles true competition To me being Liberal means giving all a fair chance to thrive, room for the little guys to develop grow and compete on an equal footing..

  2. nigel hunter says

    I notice that China is developing its own systems ie. Beidu ( hope I have correct spelling ) to combat the US big boys. The EU should develop its own systems to combat the dominance of the these US giants.

Leave a Reply

The Author
Latest Related Work
Follow Us