Never Say Capitalism Can’t Save Free Speech

Published May 8, 2022


Matt Hampton.
Economic Education Foundation Article

For years, some opponents of social media censorship have argued that the state should end it. Others have argued that the free market is a better solution than the state, despite the problem posed by corporations distorting public discourse.

Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is a perfect example of how individuals can make a difference in this matter. I wrote earlier that the solution to the problem of the awakening of capitalism – powerful corporations using their power to advance the leftist political agenda – lies with people strong enough to resist it. In a free market, money is power.

Not the fact that Musk will fulfill all his promises. He may compromise with other members of the Twitter leadership who are less free-speech-minded than he is. He also voiced several suspicious exceptions to his “free speech absolutism”. But why didn’t anyone consider this solution before considering the state as the only possible one? To assume that these companies will inevitably become what they are is to ignore the changes taking place in the free market, be it competition or events such as Elon Musk’s acquisition of them.

You might argue that it takes a lot of money to buy Twitter. Isn’t it easier to change something?

But this ignores the fact that those who currently run these companies also had to work their way up to high positions. What principle allows people with a certain ideology to build or take control of social networks, but is too difficult for their opponents? That they receive favors from the state? This does not apply exclusively to political ideology.

You also have to consider that (as I wrote when Musk was on the Twitter board), having elected politicians regulate social media doesn’t take that power away, it just transfers it to the state. While people think this means that “the people” are in control, the public choice economy demonstrates that the state is less accountable and more monolithic than Twitter and Facebook.


Translated by Justine Coline for counterpoints

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