When we add the fact that America’s elected politicians taken together are, on average, close to the oldest ever, we get a political economy highly focused on short-term activities — consumption now — and less focused on making investments that may yield larger future benefits.
[Lina] Kahn was confirmed as FTC chair because of her implacable opposition to “Big Tech.” That’s the real political story. She now oversees two antitrust cases targeting two of the globe’s three biggest online platforms: Amazon and Meta, Facebook’s parent company. (The Department of Justice is going after a third tech giant, Google.)
All three are significant forces in today’s digital world. “Google it” is common parlance for online searches. According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon accounts for 38% of all U.S. online retail sales, enjoys an 82% share of the U.S. e-book market, is “the world’s largest cloud-computing company and … third-largest (U.S.) digital advertiser by revenue.” Facebook is a top social media platform, though TikTok is more popular among the young.
The FTC portrays Amazon as a monopoly by narrowing the relevant market to “online superstores.” That definition conveniently limits Amazon’s competitors to Walmart and Target. But doing so willfully ignores America’s 1 million-plus brick-and-mortar retailers, other large online sellers—eBay, Kroger, Etsy, Best Buy, Wayfair, Zara, Chewy—and thousands of mom-and-pop specialty shops that compete with Amazon in niche markets every day.
If those rivals were included—and how could they not be?—Amazon’s share of total retail sales nationwide would be no more than 6%.
First, it’s obviously true that quality can either be “too high” or “too low.” If every single car produced in an economy were a Ferrari, the average quality of cars would be higher—but most consumers would be unable to afford a car. An economy could always produce higher-quality goods by simply producing fewer goods overall. Similarly, if every car were a deathtrap, consumer preferences would likewise be frustrated. Profit and loss signals help producers locate that golden mean of quality (or safety).
Van de Haar is adamant that an understanding of international affairs derived from classical liberal thought is distinct from realist, liberal internationalist, and, significantly, libertarian conceptions of relations between states. Central to this argument is van de Haar’s contention that a classical liberal IR theory is ultimately derived from classical liberal thought about human nature. To that extent, it is a “bottom-up” IR theory rather than one based on the top-down vistas of enlightened statesmen.
Van de Haar does not pretend that classical liberals agree upon every detail about human nature. He does, however, argue that there is sufficient consensus on this matter to mark classical liberalism off from social liberalism, libertarianism, and conservatism, and therefore their respective implications for international relations. To make his point, van de Haar outlines key differences between the assumptions of classical liberalism and the three other political philosophies through comparisons of thinkers whom van de Haar considers representative of these traditions.