Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


Over 2.000 years ago, the famous Roman poet Juvenal asked this famous question:

“Who will guard the guards themselves?”

It hasn’t been answered til this day.

Can we make Juvenal’s guards redundant? Is there a viable alternative?

With nation states failing, can we come up with communities to counterbalance the increasing power of transnational corporations and ensure justice and freedom for everyone?

Do we have the courage and determination to do so?

Yesterday’s empires were built with weapons, wars and sometimes marriages. Today’s empires are built with data, algorithms and sometimes mergers.

As a case in point, look at Google and it’s mission of organizing – and presumably controlling – the world’s information and making it universally accessible – presumably through Google as well – and useful. In other words, Google is proposing to decide what’s useful and what should be accessible with the help of their diversity killing algorithms and financed through advertising revenues.

By the way, the world’s information includes our “personal” data as well.

That does not sound impartial to me.

The Catholic Church claimed the same privilege for itself centuries ago, albeit without algorithms and advertising.

How long, before we have a new Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a modern list of thoughts banned, i.e. not ranked, by Google?

How can we be sure that this index doesn’t exist already?

What is Google, if not “command and control”, albeit in a rather subtle way?

Too big to control?

Googliath? Could be, but aren’t we all David?

Remember Standard Oil?

Standard Oil was the largest oil refiner in the world. Not only that, but the company produced, transported and marketed the stuff as well. In 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Standard Oil was an illegal company and dissolved it. So, it has been done before.

Nation states are obviously not the only ones with hegemonic aspirations.

What is a monopoly, if not an hegemony?

Monopolies impose their prices and kill diversity, the dictate the terms and ultimately dominate and exploit.

Why invade a country, if you can control and profit from its citizens in a – not always – subtle matter?

Why kill a potential future customer?

Wouldn’t that be terribly inefficient?

“All failed companies are the same.
they failed to escape competition.”
(Peter Thiel, entrepreneur and venture capitalist)

Once alternatives disappear, we – the citizens and customers – lose.

We have to find effective ways to control transnational corporations, also known as corporate states, as well as nation states. If we don’t, they will control us.

Corporate states are reality and there are precedents.

Remember the British East India Company?

The Google example also demonstrates, why privatizing everything is no solution. Rampant capitalism has lead to unsustainable levels of debt and consumerism. It has left too many people behind and created an unsustainable concentration of power and wealth.

When did the IPO, the Initial Public offering, turn into Indiscriminate Profit Obedience?

Is there still a difference between making a profit and taking advantage of someone?

We don’t live in a system, in which banks are systemically important. Banks and transnational companies are the system. And calling the last financial crisis a systemic failure is misleading. In reality, it was enabled by the loss of values, morality and decency. The crisis is still here and the values, morality and decency haven’t come back either.

“Monsters are real and ghosts are real too.
They live inside us and sometimes they win.”
(Stephen King, author)

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