A response to Michael Anton.
Born of Necessity
Corporate America inspired the Right's new economy; they just don't know it.
“Right Wing Builds its Own Echo Chamber,” an Axios headline declared, highlighting the infrastructure, platforms, publishers, apps, and crypto currencies on the rise on the right.
This lazy analysis, echoed unironically throughout corporate media, misses the real story. We aren’t seeing the isolated efforts of conservative billionaires and activists digging digital bomb shelters; we’re watching a new and vibrant economy rise entirely in response to the decision by corporate America to target, harass, and deny services, business, and representation to tens of millions of Americans.
When the Tea Party came to Washington, activists and donors alike worked to build their own social media platforms and other products, garnering limited interest and no success stories, aside from a few alternative media outlets that lasted, like The Daily Caller and The Blaze.
Why didn’t the other efforts succeed? The base was energized, enthusiastic, and determined to be heard by the American elites they knew were ignoring them. Money wasn’t a problem; the Kochs and other mega donors were so eager to capture the grassroots groundswell that they threw cash at any smooth-talker with a Hayek quote or a bus tour.
But the mass market for conservative alternatives didn’t exist yet. While executives from Google to Facebook certainly leaned hard to the left—and reveled in the priceless validation that elite users such as President Obama gave them—conservatives and dissidents of all stripes still retained largely unfettered access to social media platforms, internet server infrastructure, email vendors, credit card companies, banking and financial services, and the rest of the American economy.
That’s changed, and not simply due to a sudden burst of entrepreneurial spirit. The burgeoning alternative economy owes its genesis nearly entirely to the companies that sought to box out or smother alternative opinions.
While the right has long been less popular than it believed in corporate boardrooms, the shift to open contempt largely began with the presidency of Donald Trump. In the nation’s capital it started with fewer happy hours, galas, and soirees, quickly shifting to drawbacks on lobbying and donations to the GOP. But the pain wasn’t exclusive to D.C.
Super Bowl commercials went from fun to unwatchable; ESPN quit covering sports and dove headfirst into racial and political acrimony; Disney began spewing propaganda; “Blue’s Clues” returned to the air to spread trans dogma. By the time Jeep used Bruce Springsteen to insult Republicans, it was far from bold or daring, just boring. “You hate us; we get it.”
The Capitol riot, however, provided the impetus to go much, much further. Email services like MailChimp, customer relationship management services like SalesForce, credit processors like Stripe, even major carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile—all threatened to (or did) end contracts with prominent Republicans and conservatives.
Then Google, Apple, and Amazon ganged up to shut down competition under spurious charges. The campaign wasn’t limited to the president, either: When GoDaddy deplatformed Christian activists fighting abortion in Texas, they were cheered on as heroes in the corporate press. So who’s next?
You could start a conservative tool company tomorrow and sell red, white, and blue hammers on Fox News, and you might turn a small profit. If Big Hardware banned conservatives from buying hammers the day after tomorrow, however, you’d be looking at a different marketplace.
This is exactly the situation Parler found themselves in. While they gained ground through 2019, after President Trump was banned from Twitter they became the most-downloaded app in the world overnight.
Men who censor presidents don’t like workarounds, though, so they then banned the upstart app from their stores and, most importantly, their servers, tearing the mask off the Big Tech apologists’ favorite line—“If you don’t like it, build your own.”
Those January decisions to censor and to squeeze are the kind that made a difference—the decisions that created the conditions for the new economy—and every one of them was made by a corporate America desperate to control. While before, alternatives were interesting; that day they became necessary. The right, as well as left-wing dissenters, were given no choice but to start building.
They didn’t think we could create the infrastructure needed—that we had the will, the capital, and the know-how to do it. Since that January night, RightForge has deployed servers in over 30 locations across six continents, laying the infrastructure we’ll need to build the alternative applications, the alternative banks, the alternative media outlets, and everything else Americans will need for the free economy.
More and more, people are buying into this economy because they see the danger and the necessity—Big Tech has showed them to us. There will be false turns and grifters, no doubt, and consumers will have to wade their way through what products are legitimate, and which are junkers with a MAGA sticker. The alternative economy, however, will continue to grow. And it isn’t because they’re selling an echo chamber—it’s because they’re selling freedom. If corporate America doesn’t understand that, then they don’t understand a damn thing.