Along with a considerable deal of surprise, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' sudden 250 million dollar purchase of the Washington Post (a trifle for him at 1% of his estimated fortune of 25 billion) has elicited no small share of conjecture as well. A libertarian who has funded legislation opposing taxation in Washington state, as well as the legalization of same-sex marriage, Bezos' economic conservatism, social liberalism, and demonstrated interest in political issues will very likely influence how he runs the Post. Whether Bezos' motives for acquiring the legendary newspaper stem from a desire to enhance his cultural legacy, aggrandize his hold over public opinion, or whether the acquisition is simply a hobbyhorse of sorts - akin to his Clock of the Long Now, his collection of long lost space rockets, and his other space projects - remains a mystery. Irrespective of Bezos' motives, though - which even he may not be wholly conscious of - the purchase is indicative of a more empirical, observable, configuration of power in the US. To be sure, it is difficult to overlook the fact that, as the oligarchs of the tech industry begin to exert more control over national policy (from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us, to the industry's general interest in tax policy, privacy issues, immigration reform, and intellectual property rights) , the Post - the paper imbibed by Washington politicians along with their morning coffee - is now owned wholly by one of the giants of the technology industry.
Bezos laughing by Wikipedia commons
In light of the fact that they share the same ideology, it is hardly surprising that Cory Booker should be bankrolled by, among others, the technology industry. As disclosed in a recent article in the New York Times, not only has Booker raised millions from fundraisers thrown by such figures as the late Steve Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell Jobs; tech giants Eric Schmidt (Executive Chairman of Google's Board of Directors) and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, among others, have funded and created a start-up company for Cory Booker. Ostensibly a video curating operation, Booker's start-up - called Waywire - appears to be little more than a lavish political gift. As the Times article relates, though Booker has likely invested little of his own money into the enterprise, he owns the biggest ownership share. Estimated at somewhere between 1 and 5 million dollars, Booker's stake in Waywire is worth more than all of his other assets combined. One needn't worry, though, that such gifts will influence Booker's decision making; Booker's mind is already firmly shut. A staunch believer in virtual democracy, Booker seems oblivious to the fact that, by reproducing prevailing distributions of power and wealth, virtual democracy is in many respects inimical to the demands of actual, concrete democracy.
With its libertarian attacks on economic regulation and its laissez-faire attitude concerning social issues, the ideology of the tech industry has no difficulty supporting measures designed to roll back such things as worker protections and taxes while supporting social legislation, like gay marriage, in equal measure. As far as protecting the environment is concerned, those who believe strongly enough in technology feel no need to worry about that, noting that, no matter how bad it gets, technology can fix it. That this techno-fetishism is tantamount to religious belief doesn't seem to be reflected upon by these ostensible lovers of science.
From the regressive egalitarianism involved in condoning gays in the military, to the institution of Obamacare - which firmly places private, for-profit, insurance companies in charge of health care policy and distribution; from the repeal of the Voting Rights Act, to endless surveillance, fracking, and the fascistic privatization of the state itself - all are subsumed within the ideology and values of the hegemons of the tech industry. And should their investment pay off, Cory A. Booker will prevail in his race for a seat in the US Senate. Ensconced in the Capitol of Capital, he will no doubt continue to serve the Californian Ideology of free markets as US Senator from New Jersey. And, like others, he will no doubt receive much of his (dis)information from Bezos' newly acquired Washington Post.