The Conservative-Marxist Origins of Antitrust

by | Oct 1, 1999

Part 1 of 6 in a Series of articles on Capitalism, Free-competition, Antitrust, and Microsoft The following article is an adaptation of a lecture Mr. Salsman gave at Harvard University, in May of 1999. The print version has been edited lightly in order to retain it’s spontaneous quality. Mr. Salsman has not reviewed the edited […]

Part 1 of 6 in a Series of articles on Capitalism, Free-competition, Antitrust, and Microsoft

The following article is an adaptation of a lecture Mr. Salsman gave at Harvard University, in May of 1999. The print version has been edited lightly in order to retain it’s spontaneous quality. Mr. Salsman has not reviewed the edited version.

Good evening.

Picture for a moment the following setting. You’re in the Deep South. Seated at a bar. Surrounded by friends. Having fun. You’re college educated–you’re intelligent, worldly, enlightened. But you ARE in the Deep South. And it’s 1952. The word on everyone’s lips is not “Y2K”–but KKK. Suddenly there’s a commotion. People are rushing out of the bar. You learn someone’s being lynched. He didn’t do anything wrong; he was just born with black skin. He is hated. He is despised. He is being lynched. For no other reason. What will you do?

Now, come back to Cambridge. It’s the late 1990s. You’re college educated. You’re even more enlightened. The whole world is open to you. You own a personal computer, purchased at a fraction of the cost of a 1952 IBM mainframe and with substantially more power and ease of use. With a few simple key strokes you can write papers, send e-mails, access the Internet, do budgets, start your own business. You can “be all that you can be.” You’re content. Suddenly, there’s a commotion. It seems nasty. You see it among professors and some of your friends, in the news and on the Web. People are rushing around, angry, agitated and vengeful. You sense that someone’s being lynched–but you’re not sure, because that’s not how it’s described. Like the black man, the local victim didn’t do anything wrong; on the contrary, he seems to have done everything just right. And not because he was born to, but because he learned to. Still, he is hated. He is despised. He is being lynched. For no other reason. What will you do?

America’s biggest, most profitable, most successful, most widely-recognized company–a firm whose products are more widely and more productively used, in every line of business, than any other; a firm whose chairman left Harvard early out of boredom and became a multi-billionaire in his 30s; a firm which has spawned thousands of millionaires among its programmers and salesmen; a firm whose stock has soared hundreds of percentage points and fattened the pensions of countless investors–this is the firm that’s been the target of a long, vicious and calculated assault–from academia, from the media, from 19 state Attorneys General, and from antitrust prosecutors in Washington. The assault has been in progress since 1990; it sped up in 1990; it was intensified in a Federal trial beginning last fall.

The title of my talk tonight refers to a “high-tech lynching.” Why do I call it a lynching? After all, aren’t the proceedings taking place in America’s “hallowed halls” of justice?

In October the firm will face a final verdict and if found guilty it’ll face sentencing. Already its enemies have pronounced it guilty before the verdict, just as they did in 1990; just as was done in the Deep South. Fortune magazine, hardly a left-wing rag, says the firm’s CEO is “the information economy’s equivalent of a

Dr. Salsman is president of InterMarket Forecasting, Inc., an assistant professor of political economy at Duke University and a senior fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. Previously he was an economist at Wainwright Economics, Inc. and a banker at the Bank of New York and Citibank. Dr. Salsman has authored three books: Breaking the Banks: Central Banking Problems and Free Banking Solutions (AIER, 1990), Gold and Liberty (AIER, 1995), and The Political Economy of Public Debt: Three Centuries of Theory and Evidence (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017). In 2021 his fourth book – Where Have all the Capitalist Gone? – will be published by the American Institute for Economic Research. He is also author of a dozen chapters and scores of articles. His work has appeared in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, Reason Papers, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes, the Economist, the Financial Post, the Intellectual Activist, and The Objective Standard. Dr. Salsman earned his B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College (1981), his M.A. in economics from New York University (1988), and his Ph.D. in political economy from Duke University (2012). His personal website is richardsalsman.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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