I wrapped up reading Rebecca Giblin and Cory Doctorow’s Chokepoint Capitalism today. It’s as accessible as a book that tackles the tremendous harm done by our current monopolies and monopsonies could be. With only a passing familiarity with economics, a reader can understand the threats and solutions presented here. The authors take us capably through the current landscape of monopolistic domination of nearly every sphere and, more importantly, outline some potential solutions.
I’ve been following Doctorow’s writing on these topics for a while, so I was familiar with his take on chokepoints, but the presentation in this book kept me engaged, particularly through the second half of the book, where discussions of adversarial interoperability and collective action came to life.
The text is engaging enough, but the audiobook read by the venerable Stefan Rudnicki was a delight.
In Chokepoint Capitalism, scholar Rebecca Giblin and writer and activist Cory Doctorow argue we’re in a new era of “chokepoint capitalism,” with exploitative businesses creating insurmountable barriers to competition that enable them to capture value that should rightfully go to others. All workers are weakened by this, but the problem is especially well-illustrated by the plight of creative workers. From Amazon’s use of digital rights management and bundling to radically change the economics of book publishing, to Google and Facebook’s siphoning away of ad revenues from news media, and the Big Three record labels’ use of inordinately long contracts to up their own margins at the cost of artists, chokepoints are everywhere.Chokepoint Capitalism
In the book’s second half, Giblin and Doctorow then explain how to batter through those chokepoints, with tools ranging from transparency rights to collective action and ownership, radical interoperability, contract terminations, job guarantees, and minimum wages for creative work.