The more awesome our technological progress, the more our politicians take refuge in the familiar ideological categories of the 19th century. Last week, Apple became the world’s first trillion-dollar corporation. It, like Amazon and Google hard on its heels, offers products and services that have transformed our lives. These companies’ financial and market powers are staggering. They are the new technopolists. But how are the great things they do to be curated and enhanced and how are the menaces to be contained?
What unites far left and far right is that neither ideology begins to provide answers. Even one of Shakespeare’s giddiest fools could see what a Jacob Rees-Mogg cannot: that such power requires countervailing force of equal scale that cannot be supplied by a nation state alone. It is the EU that can fine Google £3.8bn for abusing its position; the UK alone is defenceless. Meanwhile, the hard left is preoccupied with expensively nationalising assets that don’t need nationalising.