The Germans are worried about high-tech corporate cowboys

12 Oct
Anna Sauerbrey, an editor of the daily, Der Tagesspiegel, in today’s NY Times:
How can Germany be both afraid of and in love with technology, and the companies that make it? The key is to look beyond those things, to the corporate model they represent.
The true origin of the conflict lies in the economic culture innate to those former Silicon Valley start-ups — now giants — that are taking the European markets by storm. To create and grow an enterprise like Amazon or Uber takes a certain libertarian cowboy mind-set that ignores obstacles and rules.
Silicon Valley fears neither fines nor political reprimand. It invests millions in lobbying in Brussels and Berlin, but since it finds the democratic political process too slow, it keeps following its own rules in the meantime. Uber simply declared that it would keep operating in Germany, no matter what the courts ruled. Amazon is pushing German publishers to offer their books on its platform at a lower price — ignoring that, in Germany, publishers are legally required to offer their books at the same price everywhere.
It is this anarchical spirit that makes Germans so neurotic. On one hand, we’d love to be more like that: more daring, more aggressive. On the other hand, the force of anarchy makes Germans (and many other Europeans) shudder, and rightfully so. It’s a challenge to our deeply ingrained faith in the state.
Very interesting. She’s right to be skeptical about these high-tech corporate swashbucklers. And it’s clear that the nation state is increasingly in trouble (see this post on virtual feudalism). If national governments can’t regulate these behemoths, who can?
It’s time to convene the Jivometric Advisory Committee of the New World Order.
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