Technology, Monopoly, and Antitrust in Historical Perspective

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Technological advance centralizes control over production, placing the consumer at the mercy of the producer. Historically, consumers fought for democracy, not antitrust, because the state is the ultimate monopolist. It uses technology to monopolize the supply of physical security and bringing competition to that market means civil war. The state could safely be tamed only by converting it from a for-profit enterprise (monarchy) to a consumer cooperative (democracy). Having achieved this, consumers insisted that the state supply security on nondiscriminatory terms to all other producers. Private monopolies then proliferated, inspiring terror that gave rise to antitrust laws. These were initially ineffective because smiting monopolies acquired through technological advance ends that advance. Technological advance itself solved the problem, however, by improving products and overthrowing each generation of private monopolies. Antitrust embraced its current role of punishing only monopolies that suppress technologically superior competitors. This approach makes antitrust into a sort of economy-wide product designer, approving superior products through non-action and condemning inferior ones. This approach will be applied to today’s tech monopolists.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Law and Technology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


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