Hating Big Tech Can Unite America

In the 1970s everybody started hating government, which didn’t work out well. In the 2020s everybody has started hating Facebook: huzzah!

Kurt Andersen

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Americans have made a defining specialty of mistrusting excessive and unjust economic and political power. It’s a sentiment that periodically becomes acute and erupts. It erupted and became the war for independence in 1776, erupted and became the war between the states in 1861, erupted around 1900 into overlapping political movements (populism, progressivism, antitrust) that led to the New Deal, reforming and saving U.S. capitalism.

The last spectacular and consequential explosion of this American fear and loathing of concentrated power happened in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Much of that was directed at the government — and it was bipartisan, trans-ideological, a simultaneously left-countercultural and right-wing reactionary habit that grew and spread and found new expressions.

The Vietnam War and military draft and brutal policing and the war on drugs were one set of reasons to start despising government. For some white people, the new laws giving black Americans full citizenship were another. The increase in violent crime in the 60s and 70s (and beyond) represented a failure of government­­ — and also…

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Kurt Andersen

Award-winning, bestselling author (Evil Geniuses, Fantasyland, True Believers, Heyday, Turn of the Century) and creator of media (Studio 360, Inside, SPY).