I'm over in the UK with quite an interest in US politics, and intrigued at Republican statements about tech and social media being biased against them.

My curiosity is piqued because on the other hand, every time there's any discussion about regulating industries, the response of the same people seems to be almost always that free markets should be left to self regulate and not imposed on - essentially "it's usually wrong to interfere and let the pain fall where it will - the market will address it if it gets too out of hand", or something like that.

Granted that's not an absolute - there are strong laws against many things - but why is it seen as okay that markets should self regulate, and then be upset when they don't self regulate as the speaker would wish?

Surely the free market response enshrined in the Republican/Conservative perspective is squarely based on the principle that ideas compete, social medias compete, and the solution is to be better and more successful than those one objects to, not bemoan their successful stakes achieved by innovation and effort in a lawful and competitive manner in the open market?

And if some ideas/products get less airtime, popular usage/support, or are less effective at penetrating, or the "other side" picked them up quicker and ran with them better, then that's their lookout (essentially "no social support for the losers, and no tax funds to prop them up either").

From here it feels like it may be a bit inconsistent - ("Everyone should follow these rules unless I and mine don't like them, in which case they should be different").

I'd be interested to hear especially Conservative perspectives on it.

(Please forgive any ignorance about the subtleties of the various Conservative positions, if any!)

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    Related: answers to Why does partisanship trump concerns about hypocrisy with voters? Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 16:33
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    Are the statements coming from the same Republicans? Republican political positions (or Democratic ones) are not religious dogma to which every member of the party has to unthinkingly conform. So there can be free market Republicans and protectionist Republicans, united by their positions on other issues.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 18:57
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    The difference is almost plainly with the level of government involvement. For example, if someone is saying something hateful (say a white supremacist), it would be normal for someone on the right to berate that person for their views, while at the same time advocating for the government to stay out of it. Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 19:28
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    It'd be helpful if you could provide some examples of major Republican/conservative politicians making comments along these lines.
    – Nat
    Commented Apr 27, 2019 at 6:28
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    The question asks about "Republicans who favour a free market", not "Republicans who don't" :)
    – Stilez
    Commented Apr 27, 2019 at 17:16

9 Answers 9


I think the misunderstanding comes from how conservatives complain about bias in media and tech. Conservatives often don't call for government action, they just want to shed light on the injustices. For example:

“Some of us tell the truth about our government, they call us treasonous and say we’re speaking out of line and they’d like to punish us, and I think that’s part of what’s happening with social media,” [Ron] Paul told RT, adding that he hopes anti-government or anti-war voices can eliminate their “dependency” on the current social media platforms.

“I’m just hoping that technology can stay ahead of it all and that we can have real alternatives to the dependency on Twitter and other companies that have been working hand in glove with the government,” Paul added.

Ron Paul doesn't call for the government to solve the problem. He says the companies are acting like a corrupt government and calls for people to use alternatives. Republicans want to bring corporate bias and misbehavior to light so people will be outraged and avoid the offending businesses. Then the companies will have to choose between fixing their problem or losing money. That's the free-market solution to companies behaving badly.

The other free-market friendly intervention would be to prosecute fraud. One example comes from the Libertarian Party of Texas platform "The force of government must be used only in response to an attack, fraud, or other initiation of force against an individual, group or government by another individual, group or government." If Google says they're a neutral platform, but actually have algorithms designed to make sure no one can find conservative content, that's fraud. Most free-enterprise folks still think there's a strong role for government in forcing the perpetrator of fraud to pay damages or serve prison time.

In cases where Republicans call for government regulation of speech to protect them from the big bad liberal media, this might be a function of not all conservatives sharing the same free-market/libertarian ideas about what the government should and shouldn't do. Many conservatives in the "religious right" would love to see free speech regulated better. One example comes from them wanting to protect their children from pornography. They'd be happy to restrict public access to certain speech and content, despite it reducing freedom, because they think too much of certain kinds of freedom is destructive to a moral society. This idea of conservatism as preserving cultural norms can be radically different from the libertarian, maximum-freedom philosophy.

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    That first point, about drawing attention to motivate societal/market behaviour changes, is the kind of thing I'm looking for as "missing links" - thank you for that gem. Although I'm sure that's only part of it. Ditto the 2nd one on libertarian responses. Really useful to see those views. I'm aware that Republican support can cover a range from non interventionalism to religiously motivated intervene-for-morality; I'm more thinking of those who favour a "free market, lots of effort, no state crutches, and hey, bad luck to those who don't make it" mindset.
    – Stilez
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 17:35
  • @Stilez I think it's easy to conflate "free market" and "unrestricted market" when libertarians don't see them as the same thing. Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 22:50
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    "Republicans want to bring the misbehavior to light so people will be outraged" - are these the same people who complain about "outrage culture"? Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 23:42
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    @immibis The conservative critique of "outrage culture" is very specific. The absence of outrage culture isn't some we-must-never-be-upset-for-any-reason nonsense; it's simply not channeling massive tribal outrage into every perceived infraction regardless of intent or magnitude. This isn't to say the right isn't constantly hypocritical; it is. I just wanted to point out there's more than a strawman there.
    – lazarusL
    Commented Apr 27, 2019 at 2:50
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    @immibis - "outrage culture" and actual outrage at injustices are almost diametral opposites.
    – Davor
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 9:42

It probably depends on what circle of 'conservatives' you're talking to, but the most legitimate complaint I see get thrown around, is that big tech companies should be forced to abide by one of the two legal frameworks that they currently only take the best parts from.

Either they are a platform, in which case they shouldn't be censoring anything not explicitly illegal.


They are publishers, and liable for every single bit of libel/slander that pops up in their content. Which would almost certainly lead to requiring curation by an editor of all content before it's visible, or lead to an immediate end to those tech companies via lawsuits.

It isn't that they dislike how the game of 'free markets' play out, it's that from their perspective, one side is cheating, and openly at that.


So I'm on the libertarian side with some leftist and some rightist reservations, so I am not a conservative, but I think there are a few points to be made. I think I should note that I don't buy the second point completely, but I have heard the argument be made, so I might not be the best at arguing it.

First, expressing dislike about how the market ends up going isn't inherently anti-free market. Many people who are conservative/libertarian will criticize companies for what they do, but not call for regulation. Not liking something because it doesn't fit your needs is not anti-free market. For example, I would be sad if Dunkin Donuts went out of business, and complain a lot, but as long as I didn't try to enact laws that subsidized them/taxed Honey Dew, I wouldn't violate my principles of being a free marketer. We can see Sen Mike Lee do that in a Senate Sub-committee here, where he accuses them of bias, and clearly doesn't like them, but doesn't want to regulate them as a utility.

Second, we have competing freedoms, that of speech and trade. Libertarians and conservatives value both free markets and free speech. Here they come into conflict. An extreme example of freedoms conflicting would be slavery, which we roundly reject as one's personal liberty trumps free trade. We do like free markets, but this comes from respecting individual liberty, including the individual liberty to trade. So you should be free to trade, just not in a manner that restricts other's freedom*.

So the question is if social media censorship is limiting people's rights. In America, we have one of the strongest free speech rights that exists. It allows one to say hateful, factually wrong things* without liable in most cases. Before social media, people who had ideas others would like to censor (the Wobblies come to mind) would stand on soapboxes in the public square, and no one could (legally and constitutionally) stop them.

But now people protest and raise awareness through Twitter and Facebook and other social media, which have supplanted and expanded the public forum. But Twitter and Facebook, despite being American Companies who have American customers, censor speech without regard to the first amendment. Yes, legally speaking, they are not a government so the first amendment doesn't apply to them, but the way they are engaging in trade limits people's freedom of speech.

*: With some small limits, but much smaller than you would expect. For example, hate speech doesn't legally exist in America and is protected by the first amendment. Also, much of what would be libel/slander in the UK is fine in the US, though there still some limits.

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    3) Again this comes back to the question in the OP itself - if some feel that there is one sided censorship, then the free market position is that the "winners" have won because they gain listeners, and members of society have freely and without coercion chosen, and competitors must either do better, or cede. So they might not like it, but in principle they should feel their principles were upheld. Wanting free market choice and then being upset if the free market outcome is that you wanted more people to believe as you do....?
    – Stilez
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 17:47
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    @Stilez 1) There are definitely comments of dislike but don't regulate, notably Reason.com has a couple whenever it happens. 2) I agree. But if you stood on a street corner, and someone tackled you to stop you from speaking, your speech would be limited. Social media companies are doing this. Social media companies are arguing that they made the street corner, and thus they can push you off of it, while some conservatives argue that social media companies effectively bought all the street corners, and now use that ownership to restrict freedom of speech. Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 17:55
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    @Stilez Your point 3 is not how right-wing people view these issues. On the contrary, it seems that many right wing speakers are quite successful. Rush Limbaugh certainly has a long history of it. Ben Shapiro comes to mind as someone successful whom college campuses were trying to keep from speaking. Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, didn't seem to be having any particular trouble attracting an audience. The basis of deplatforming these last two, though, was not simply failing to attract listeners. Rather, the organizations in question wished to actively stifle their speech.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 15:17
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    @jomc26 - if people cared about it, they would have boycotted, moved, or other platforms gained at the cost of deplatforming ones. Remember, the Q isn't about "is this right or wrong", its about "how can a person who is a conservative, and supports free market ideals, be legitimately angry when a free market body acts freely in this way". The market will correct it, if the market as a whole cares enough to do so, like any other conduct that a competitive market has a view on. There are, after all, many other outlets, and much scope for market action.
    – Stilez
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 17:57
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    @jpmc26 It's hardly stifling their speech to exercise your first amendment right to freedom of association. It's just telling them to do it somewhere else. If you somehow haven't seen it yet, checkout the famous XKCD comic on this issue. Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 19:48

There seems to be a mistaken assumption here that Republicans are one strand of ideology. They're hardly that. They are ranging from Trump's populist protectionism to the now nearly forgotten (inside the party) libertarian thinking.

Critics of Trump point out that he has also engaged in a domestic expansion of the state's role in the economy, or at least that he does that declartively, while at the same time some of his supporters (if not Trump himself) hammer on the idea that Trump would really support a free market, but that external forces (=China etc.) constrain him.

the Trump administration’s willingness to interfere with the free market is in many ways a natural consequence of the president’s economic nationalism. When the nation’s supposed interests are paramount, the state becomes the tool, and the market an obstacle to be overcome.

Traditional small-government conservatives, who have dominated the Republican Party in recent years, seek to make markets the arbiters and leave individuals and companies freedom to operate, with the government merely enforcing the rules of the road. Trump’s approach turns Republican orthodoxy on its head.

“A small-government conservative would, say, set up a process that avoids the government picking winners and losers. He [Trump] wants to pick the winners and losers. He wants to be the guy who says ‘I delivered those jobs’ or ‘I saved those jobs,’” said Phil Levy, a former George W. Bush economic advisor and now a senior fellow on the economy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “It’s antithetical to the whole mindset of small-government conservatives.”

“There actually is little U.S. precedent for this approach,” said Adam Posen, the president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “The current Trump combination of very arbitrary state intervention, with a lot of company and sector-specific discretion by the president regarding tariffs and which countries to hit, is out there on its own.”


How has Trump’s statist approach to the economy managed to prevail with Republicans in charge of Congress for the first two years of his administration? On the one hand, Trump offered Republicans victories on many bread-and-butter issues they craved, including tax cuts and regulatory cutbacks across the board, in addition to a pair of conservative Supreme Court justices. Those Republican wins overshadowed the lurch away from market economics.

At the same time, Trump and others in the administration have often suggested that they are actually free traders and would prefer less of a state role in the economy. Trump himself sometimes talks of slashing tariffs to zero if other countries do, and surrogates continue to peddle the notion that Trump ultimately seeks free trade.

Those rhetorical bones tossed toward orthodox Republican economic views, Levy said, managed to keep opposition from within the party at bay for most of the past two years.

“People actually believed it, and that papered over the differences,” he said.

Posen sees Republicans, even after the era of Trump, returning to their roots—and no, not free trade or a hands-off approach to the economy.

“From the early 19th century until Reagan, the Republican Party was more protectionist than not,” he said. The current electoral shift toward more rural voters skeptical of globalization and free trade will likely reinforce that tendency for the state to displace the market.

“I think it is likely to last in the Republican Party for a while,” Posen said.

And Trump's apparent attempt to pressure the Fed to follow his will has some Nixonian reverberations:

And it's important that the Fed be independent both in practice and perception. We know what happens when it isn't. In the 1970s, President Nixon pressured Fed boss Arthur Burns to run an expansionary monetary policy in the run-up to the 1972 election. Nixon did this both through face-to-face conversations and hardball tactics such as leaks suggesting he was considering expanding the size of Fed or otherwise giving himself more control over monetary policy. And while we don't know for sure why Burns decided to run a loose monetary policy in an already inflationary environment, his actions "helped to trigger an extremely costly inflationary boom–bust cycle," concludes economist Burton Abrams in How Richard Nixon Pressured Arthur Burns: Evidence from the Nixon Tapes.

The US Libertarian Party claims it was formed in no small part due to Nixon's economic policies, in particular his announcement of wage and price controls.

To finally draw a parallel with Conservatism under PM May, one (sympathetic, albeit left-leaning) US commentator said May embraces

A working class conservatism [that] also means rejecting the libertarian temptation [...]

In the body of her speech, PM May sketches the public policies that flow from her vision of working-class conservatism: increased investment in affordable housing and infrastructure; a “new industrial strategy” that invests in industries of “strategic value to our economy”; good public schools for everyone; and social reform to reduce poverty among ethnic minorities and increase opportunities for everyone to attend college—including “white working class boys [who] are less likely to go to university than any other group in society.”

It also means making markets work for working people. Citing Edmund Burke, the Prime Minister reminded her fellow Conservatives that preserving something important means being prepared to reform it. That is why “where markets are dysfunctional, we must be prepared to intervene”—for example, where companies use opaque pricing structures to confuse consumers, where rural areas don’t have access to broadband, or where private capital does not give ordinary people a fair chance to buy homes. [...]

“Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public,” she declared. “They find your patriotism distasteful, your concerns about immigration parochial, your views about crime illiberal, your attachment to your job security inconvenient [...]”

The explanation, Mrs. May asserted, is class: “If you’re well off and comfortable, Britain is a different country and these concerns are not your concerns. It’s easy to dismiss them—easy to say that all you want from government is for it to get out of the way.” If the Conservatives are to be the party of ordinary working people, they must take populist concerns onboard without surrendering to the populist agenda—or to its least defensible sentiments.

“The central tenet of my belief,” she concluded, “is that there is more to life than individualism and self-interest. We form families, communities, towns, cities, counties and nations. We have a responsibility to one another. And I firmly believe that government has a responsibility too.”

No doubt the Prime Minister’s speech has the late Margaret Thatcher revolving briskly in her grave.

Of course one commentator's "working class conservatism" is another's populism, although there is perhaps a distinction of degree based on the level of discourse involved. Academic critics sometimes call this American brand of (working class) conservatism "Fox Populism", with reference to the Fox News channel.

Commentators sympathetic to Trump talk of

Trump’s Working Class, Conservative, Populist Realignment. [... and also claiming that] The Democratic Party is redefining itself, in part by relinquishing the working class contingent that was once the party’s bedrock constituency. [...]

Brownstein coined the term “coalition of the ascendant” to describe the voting blocs he saw as coalescing into the country’s dominant political force, including racial minorities, immigrants, millennials, and highly educated whites. And one more, which he identified in November 2012 in describing Barack Obama’s winning reelection coalition: “just enough blue-collar Midwestern whites to put the president over the top.” In other words, barely enough of those people voted for Obama to give him the battleground states of the Great Lakes region and hence to keep intact what Brownstein calls the “Blue Wall” of Democratic Electoral College hegemony.

But Hillary Clinton didn’t get “just enough” of those white voters. [...]

The Brownstein coalition stands for globalism, open borders, identity politics, free trade, cultural individualism, foreign policy interventionism, and gun control. Brownstein posits that this coalition’s growing force is driven by demographics—the decreasing “whiteness” of the U.S. population due to differential birthrates and the ongoing wave of immigration from non-Western nations. By 2012 this thesis was widely shared, including by Republicans such as Karl Rove and the authors of a solemn post-election analysis by the Republican National Committee. A Wall Street Journal headline over a Rove piece warned, “More White Votes Alone Won’t Save the GOP.” The RNC report declared, “The nation’s demographic changes add to the urgency of recognizing how precarious our position has become.”

For Republican mandarins this translated into an imperative to become pale versions of the Democratic modality, embracing globalism, adopting a soft attitude on immigration, doubling down on free trade, acquiescing in elements of identity politics, maintaining a stern foreign policy, accepting the industrial devastation wreaked by U.S. globalist policies—and reaching out beseechingly to all the elements of the Democrats’ coalition of the ascendant. This translated into a view that, as Zito and Todd described it, “the only possible winning future Republican coalition must, by dint of math, become less white, less old, less rural, and more educated.”

And then along came Trump, the candidate of infrastructure spending, immigration curtailment, protection of entitlements, a ruthless assault on the Islamic State, selective curbs on free trade, Second Amendment gun rights, and foreign policy restraint. He not only laid waste to the Republicans’ “me too” drive to chip away at the coalition of the ascendant, but he did so with a raw contempt mixed with a scabrous mode of expression that was offensive to many but struck others as demonstrating a resolve to shake up a political establishment that had become ossified and oppressive.

In the process he demonstrated that Brownstein’s ascendant coalition concept was at least premature and possibly flawed.

And in the UK, depending how one defines "working class", either the Conservatives or Labour can claim the crown of representing them.

In summary "Republicans [...] favour free markets" is a rather amorphous description. The winning Republicans (or UK Conservatives) don't insist on it as much as the (mostly losing right now) libertarians in the same parties do.

And if you take the view that markets can be dysfunctional, it's no biggie to then assert that this or that issue (that bothers you) is a result of non-free forces.

Psychologically speaking, assignment of blame to impersonal forces is more associated with (mental) depression, while assignment of blame to someone else is more associated with anger. Which of these two states is more likely to energize voters is a bit of a no-brainer.


Republicans are not anarcho-capitalist. They want free markets for most things, but not a certain set of things.

  • Economic freedom is not the only concern, for republicans as well as democrats. For example they don't want a free market on drugs, because that is perceived to harm society more than the restriction to economic (or personal) freedom caused by banning it.
  • If economic freedom in one small area harms economic freedom in a much bigger area, they don't want that either. Many republicans might oppose Amazon having a near monopoly on e-commerce, because while Amazon's freedom to outcompete other merchants is important, this situation undermines the freedom of many more other companies. Besides, a conservative would probably argue that if the government stopped subsidizing Amazon with various special deals like low rates from USPS, it would stop being a monopoly on its own.

You don't really say which republicans or issues you mean, but since you mention social media, we can observe that dominant position occupied by companies such as Facebook violates both of the above:

  • Suppressing conservative speech harms freedom of speech. Even though a private company is not obligated to honor the first amendment, the fact is that millions of people are unable to enjoy their freedoms in practice.
  • Suppressing conservative speech also undermines the support for republicanism. According to republicans, a healthy platform for republican ideas is key to societal good: If republicans didn't think republicanism was good for society (or at least could be made to appear to be), they wouldn't be republicans.
  • These companies have a huge influence on politics not just because they control the discourse itself, but also because they have a lot of money. It is arguably not good for society if important decisions are made according to the wishes of giant companies rather than the people.
  • By being able to control public discourse to such an extent, social media companies can prevent the rise of a rival social media company with a more conservative bias, even if demand for it existed. Moreover, many other companies across different industries partake in the same bias, so for instance a conservative version of Facebook would have to not only defeat Facebook's enormous market dominance, but also deal with banks refusing to do business with it and so on. This stymies free competition. Remember that free competition isn't favored because people believe in the law of the jungle where anything goes, but because competing companies can produce the best solutions through that competition process. If a monopoly manipulates the market and regulators into stagnation, and no real improved solutions are being produced, only a small minority of hardcore ancaps would consider this desirable.

You ask about free competition, but in reality this issue has little to do with it. It's about preventing a one-party state, by ensuring that more than one party realistically has a platform where they can discuss their ideas freely, and present them to the public without censure. This isn't a republican issue, freedom of speech is bipartisan. Even honest liberals should support their political opponents having a platform because it helps their own side from stagnating and becoming corrupt. This why for over two centuries, there have been many times when a party became powerful in the US, but it never resulted in banning the other parties.


"Everyone should follow these rules unless I and mine don't like them, in which case they should be different"

You have just described every single political action in history, as well as the behavior of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others towards their own policies.


Simple. They only favor it sometimes, it's not a guiding principle. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a Republican who argues the free-market as the solution to everything.

So when is the free-market a good solution or not? Suspiciously, it seems to align with the GOP's agenda.

Some members may not fully agree with the GOP's agenda, but the following are all things the GOP pushes for.

  • Healthcare: Free-market!
  • Marijuana: Regulate it! (ban)
  • Guns: Free-market!
  • Cryptocurrency: Regulate it!
  • Internet Service Providers: Free-market!
  • So-called 'Leftist' Tech Companies*: Regulate it!

* (Yes, the very same tech companies that donate big money to Republican politicians.)

Those last two are pretty telling. Under what logic could ISP's not be considered common carries (net neutrality), but Facebook can?

So how can they express anger when the free-market doesn't give them as many Twitter followers as they think they deserve? Pretty easily it seems, since that's not their primary agenda.

Does that mean that an argument based solely on "free-market principals" are probably made disingenuously? As you've probably realized by asking this question, absolutely! It's just not their primary agenda.

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    @JaredSmith I fully disagree. FB is not a monopoly in any way. Yourself can try to create a social media service and if your idea is good you can end stealing FB users as it did with previous platforms (granted that's pretty unlikely at this moment). Note also FB don't provide an essential service and you have plenty of choices in how to use your online time. In the other hand, many ISP have an actual geographic monopoly
    – jean
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 16:18
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    I've downvoted because the answer implicitly assumes that "Republicans" all think the same way, so the explanation for any discrepancy is disingenuous lying. The underlying point, "it's not their primary agenda" can be true, but that is because the Republican party is effectively a large coalition of smaller interest groups that each put different priorities on different issues.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 17:21
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    @CrackpotCrocodile I didn't say that the party was owned by lobbyists. Lobbyists don't have anything to do with it; it's a feature of the two party system that both parties are large standing coalitions of interest groups that would otherwise not be in the same boat.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 19:41
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    @JaredSmith "Facebook is a natural monopoly because of network lock-in, but ISPs compete." This is untrue. As a customer of an ISP and a user of Facebook, I find it extraordinarily easier to use a different social media site than to patronize a different high speed internet company. Where I live, as in many places, there is only one high speed internet company because competitors don't want to lay down duplicate fiber just to secure half of the market share or less. Facebook has had numerous competitors like Reddit, Twitter, Myspace, Meetme, Google+, Linkedin, Snapchat, Gab, etc.
    – John
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 23:07
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    @JaredSmith If social media was truly a natural monopoly, Facebook would have never overtaken Myspace.
    – John
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 23:08

I think some confusion on this point arises from exactly which conservatives one talks to:

  • For a certain subset, Free Markets is a buzzword, an intellectual stop sign. It's been hijacked to denote tribal affiliation, every bit as meaningless as "socialism".
  • For another subset Free Markets are only free if they are competitive, and many major tech companies are natural monopolies because of network effects. Monopolies should be ideally broken up, but regulation is sometimes the only alternative.
  • Another subset does not understand the issues involved (they don't really have any historical analog and plenty of people have an ambiguous-at-best relationship with technology), and so in the absence of that understanding default to having things not be regulated.

I've almost certainly missed a few categories. I've talked to conservatives in all three of those categories. All three of them have their merits:

  • Although I despise that sort of them-vs-us attitude, the first group is essentially correct that almost the entirety of the staff at big tech and media companies are not members of their in-group.
  • The second group is absolutely correct, but that would be detrimental to the interests of big tech companies, so...
  • The third group is doing the best it can in a complex world. No one's going to understand all of the issues about every policy issue (especially heavily-politicized issues).

But you can see some natural points of disagreement in the above: so depending on who you ask/read, you'll get a different answer.

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    "a buzzword, an intellectual stop sign" -- yes. Leftists generally hold unaccountable state power in the same kind of superstitious regard as conservatives do free markets, and are very often dissatisfied with the results. Reality turns out to be complicated, but to be fair it's not like you could have expected anybody to see that coming. Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 14:43
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    @EdPlunkett yuup. Dogma is appealing, that's why so many people are dogmatic :) Outrage always sells. There genuinely are folks on both sides who get it though, they just generally aren't the type who shout as loudly. Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 14:59

How do you think a free market operates? Consumers make choices in a market. They make choices based on the cost and quality of the goods or services. That's what the free market is all about. The idea of a free market is most certainly not that anyone can sell whatever they want and everybody is somehow morally obligated to buy it regardless of quality. If a consumer says, "I don't eat at Restaurant X because their food tastes awful", that's not anti-free market. That's the essence of what a free market is all about.

How do consumers evaluate the quality of products offered for sale? They might rely on personal experience. "I tried this product and it sucked." Or they may rely on the experience of others. They may get recommendations from friends, or they may consult professional critics or amateurs who publish their opinions, like restaurant or movie reviews, travel guides, Consumer Reports, etc. There is nothing anti-free market about telling your friends your opinion of a certain product.

And that's exactly what conservatives are doing in this example. They are telling people that they believe that a certain product being offered in the marketplace is of poor quality. In this case, that a key measure of the quality of news reporting is objectivity and honesty, and that they believe that certain news outlets are doing poorly in this area. Saying, "This news outlet is bad because they are biased and they spread lies" is similar in concept to saying, "This hotel is bad because the rooms are dirty and full of bugs". To repeat, there is nothing anti-free market about sharing your evaluation of a product. That is how the free market works.

If someone calls himself a conservative, and then calls for government censorship of news media to prevent bias against conservatives, that would be hypocritical. But evaluating products offered in the free market and telling others your opinion is not anti-free market at all. That's how the free market works.

The difference between a free market and socialism is that in a free market consumers make these decisions themselves, based on whatever criteria of "quality" they consider relevant, while under socialism, the government decides what producers are allowed to sell and what consumers are allowed to buy.

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    That's not what socialism is at all...
    – Batman
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 20:56
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    But the reported comments are not really "product evaluations and statements of belief/opinions", are they? They also aren't statements that company X is biased so people should move to a different platform, protest for change, or boycott it (many different platforms exist, often uncensored. I'm using one of them, and others routinely arise). They are statements by conservatives/Republicans that the companies should be regulated or forced to change by government, and despite free market forces. Which prompts this question.
    – Stilez
    Commented Apr 27, 2019 at 5:11
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    @Stilez You don't quote any of these "reported comments" by conservatives calling for regulation of the media, so it's difficult to reply to details that are not given. Are they explicitly calling for regulation or censorship? Or is that someone else's interpretation of what the conservative said? In any case, assuming someone really found a few such statements, they would be well out of the mainstream of conservative opinion. Yes, if a conservative said, "we need government censorship of the media to prevent bias against conservatives", that would be hypocritical.
    – Jay
    Commented Apr 27, 2019 at 17:45
  • 4
    @AlexanderO'Mara Hmm. I think a pretty standard component of socialism is government regulation of the economy. One of the most common arguments for socialism is that consumers need the government to protect them from being exploited by corrupt or incompetent business, and that honest businesses need the government to protect them from unfair competition. That is, we need the government to say who is allowed to produce what. If you don't think that's a major element of socialism, please explain your concept of socialism.
    – Jay
    Commented Apr 27, 2019 at 17:48
  • 5
    Government ownership or regulation of the means of production isn't just a major element of socialism, it's the literal definition of it.
    – reirab
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 6:33

This is the opposite of contradiction: if you want self-regulation rather than government-regulation, you want the court of public opinion to supplant the court of law. That doesn't work without actually voicing opinion in public.

Being against regulation does not mean embracing chaos.


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