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Billionaires As Policy Failure Factories with Cory Doctorow
Episode 19017th September 2022 • Macro N Cheese • Steve Grumbine
00:00:00 00:56:42

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Cory Doctorow writes when he’s anxious. He has eight books coming out soon. Yep, it’s been a tough couple of years.

The number of upcoming books gives us a sense of the wide range of subjects Doctorow concerns himself with. His upcoming Chokepoint Capitalism, co-authored with Rebecca Giblin, is about monopoly, monopsony, and fairness in the creative arts labor market.


Cory and Steve return to several themes throughout this episode, including the crushing effects of concentrated power. The past 40 years have seen an expansion of copyright laws, but the share of income creators receive from their labor has been in free fall and shows no sign of slowing. We know how Amazon treats its employees, so we shouldn’t be surprised that it abuses writers. Amazon’s audio book platform, Audible, controls about 90% of the market, making it able to steal from artists in multiple ways. (After listening to this podcast, go check out #audiblegate on social media.)


Excessive corporate power and monopoly concentration have captured and neutered regulatory bodies and strong-armed the unions. Cory’s book focuses on the labor of artists and creators, but workers in every industry are fighting to stay afloat. Monopolies also have a choke hold on us as consumers – and as citizens facing social and environmental catastrophe.


Neoliberalism relies upon our isolation – our belief that each of us is facing the world alone and powerless. By effectively starving the machinery of the state, it too is rendered impotent. At the end of the road, there is only capital. Margaret Thatcher said, “there is no alternative.” As a science fiction author, Cory Doctorow has a problem with that. His job is to imagine alternatives.


Cory Doctorow (craphound.com) is a science fiction author, activist and journalist. He is the author of many books, most recently RADICALIZED and WALKAWAY, science fiction for adults; HOW TO DESTROY SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM, nonfiction about monopoly and conspiracy; IN REAL LIFE, a graphic novel; and the picture book POESY THE MONSTER SLAYER. His latest book is ATTACK SURFACE, a standalone adult sequel to LITTLE BROTHER; his next nonfiction book is CHOKEPOINT CAPITALISM, with Rebecca Giblin, about monopoly, monopsony and fairness in the creative arts labor market, (Beacon Press, 2022). In 2020, he was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.


@craphound on Twitter

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