Tuesday saw the release of Sen. Josh Hawley's (R-MO) "The Tyranny of Big Tech," published by Regnery Publishing, after Simon & Schuster canceled the book in January. Nevertheless, this invaluable work has prevailed and is the top selling book in many categories on Amazon, and 19th overall as of afternoon. The senator spoke to Townhall, going over many of the book's takeaways.
The book, at 200 pages, is a quick and easy read, mostly because it is so informative. What pleasantly surprised me most of all is that this is a history book. Sen. Hawley confirmed that that was intention, as he explained in the book and in our conversation how concerns with Big Tech goes back to the robber barons of the 19th and 20th century. "We have to go back to our founding," Hawley emphasized.
There's also the role President Teddy Roosevelt played, in trying to act as a trust buster, while President Woodrow Wilson really boosted robber barons and their cause of "bigness."
While discussing the 26th president more in depth, the senator said candidly that the trust buster wasn't perfect. As Hawley saw it, Teddy Roosevelt compromised too much, though "we can learn a lot [from him], both good and bad." This includes a need to "learn from trustbusting," from "his defense of liberty." Roosevelt "understood the Founders' version of liberty and control over government of society."
When it comes to the historical aspect of the book--the first and best of of three parts--Hawley emphasizes that Roosevelt did not do enough, as he did not go all the way, and we must pick up and continue the fight. "We should recover" what Roosevelt did, "and trust busting is part of that."
If you need an example of how an originalist view of the Constitution applies to the world we live in today which is dominated by Big Tech, the senator addresses that in one of the first pages of the book:
...The framers of our Constitution feared aristocracy—"faction," James Madison called it, rule by the enterprising few. But that is in fact what we have in America today. The titans of woke capital, and of Big Tech above all, lead the most powerful corporations in history. They have amassed that power with the active aid of government, and now together Big Tech and Big Government seek to extend their influence over every area of American life.
The senator confirmed that my initial takeaway of President Wilson's portrayal in the book was "accurate," in that we can look to him as a political figure who saw the Constitution in need of evolving. Wilson was a "critic of the Founders and their constitutional framing." He was an evolutionist who believed in "controlled thinking." It wasn't merely the Constitution which needed to evolve, but the American people. That's why he was "pretty comfortable with big corporations," which citizens needed to get on board with. Hawley pointed out that not only was there this concept of big business and big government to push, but that the "constitutionalist and Framers' version of the separation of powers was outmoded and needed to be replaced."
I think these historians are largely correct, and I cite some of the extensive secondary literature in the book. My lefty critics, however, don’t engage with any of this historical debate or even seem aware of it. They claim that calling Wilson a corporatist is a factual “error”— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 5, 2021
Wilson changed his rhetoric for a period in 1912, to try to contrast himself with Theodore Roosevelt. I talk about this in the book. But the conversion was mostly rhetorical, and fleeting. Wilson never became a Brandeisian— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 5, 2021
This new pro-corporate consensus. I take Theodore Roosevelt to task in the book for getting too comfortable w/ monopoly power himself. The corporate liberal consensus has informed our politics for decades. And no, FDR didn’t fundamentally alter the balance, as I mention in book— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 5, 2021
As to Section 230, the @WIRED write up in particular takes me to task for allegedly getting the “good faith” provision wrong. But the reviewer doesn’t appear to have read or understood the relevant cases, which walk through the courts’ expansion of Section 230c1— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 5, 2021
Another key part of the book focuses on modern day troubles with Big Tech.
Readers will appreciate the relevance of chapters of "The Censors," the "New World Order," and "Rigging Washington." Not only does the senator reference concerns leading up to social media platforms role in the 2020 election, when articles from the New York Post to do with Hunter Biden were censored in the days before the election, but he reveals the invaluable inside knowledge provided from a Facebook whistleblower, going under the name of "Mike Gilgan." This person, who reached out to Sen. Hawley's office and was vetted by his staff, provided specific details of censorship, which led to some floundering from CEO Mark Zuckerburg when he testified before Congress and was subject to Sen. Hawley's questioning.
One such criticism Sen. Hawley gets is that the book is being sold over Amazon and promoted over social media. In our discussion, the senator was quite forthcoming about his response "Well, this is what happens when you have monopolies!," he emphasized. Hawley shared that Amazon makes up about 80 percent of book sales. This is "the reality of monopoly control."
The senator was candid in answering that there is "not really" a compromise with Big Tech because "they hold all the cards," such as in commerce, speech, information, and the news.
That being said, Hawley shared "I am optimistic because I think the American people will not stand for having their lives and run by government run by woke monopolies." He noted that his constituents in Missouri are particularly "fed up and beyond" with Big Tech "forcing the agenda" on the people. Where the optimism lies is that "ultimately, people are going to demand these companies be held to account and for monopolies be broken up." That being said, it will "take a lot of work to get there since there is so much enormous power and influence" from Big Tech. "If the American people are adamant abut it, it will happen," Hawley mentioned, further adding to how this sense of hope for and confidence in the American people.
When it comes to the main takeaway from the book, it's been the thesis the entire time. "Monopoly and liberty are not compatible," Hawley explained. We have to "break up their power to safeguard liberty and liberty of the people to put the people back in control. Big Tech says to 'trust us and we'll be good actors.' We've heard that before. Big Tech needs to play by the same rules as everyone else. We don't want concentrated power anywhere," he pointed out.