ENDANGERED FREEDOM ALERTS
Number 3 November 2, 1997
THE SILENCE OF THE DAMNED
POTOMAC GUNS TAKE AIM AT MICROSOFT...
AND AT YOU
Most are likely aware of the federal government going after Microsoft for alleged antitrust violations. However, most remain blind to the real meaning of this attack against Microsoft and will dismiss this action against Microsoft as an issue of little, if any, significance to their daily lives, without ever realizing just how horribly wrong they are. In fact, this assault against Microsoft is an attack against the right to life and liberty of every individual in this country: it is an effort to outlaw reasoned, voluntary cooperation among individuals…and this includes you.
What is the meaning of an individual’s right to life and liberty? It is your right to live your life as you see fit, according to your own judgment, without seeking the permission of anyone, so long as you do not violate the same right of another; it is your right to deal with others freely by means of reason, persuasion and voluntary cooperation. Now, precisely what are statists attempting to forcibly forbid Microsoft from doing? Entering into voluntary agreements with computer manufacturers to include Microsoft software on their computers. If the owners of Microsoft do not have the right to enter into such voluntary agreements, do these owners possess the right to life and liberty? No, since the right and the freedom to enter into voluntary agreements with others is essential to the right to life and liberty. If this right can be forcibly denied to the owners of Microsoft, then statists will have, once again, established the precedent that they can deny this right to anyone, including you.
What are the charges leveled against Microsoft by officials of the so-called Justice Department? In essence, these statist politicians are alleging that Microsoft is using its "monopoly" power to "force" its products, specifically its browser, upon computer manufacturers and consumers who purchase computers. These allegations were clearly stated (on CNN online, on October 22, 1997) by one Gary Reback, a statist attorney supporting the move against Microsoft: "…they shouldn’t be allowed to force that product down the throats of computer manufacturers and consumers and eliminate consumer choice." These are the charges. Now, consider the facts—and the truth.
According to Webster’s dictionary, a monopoly is "exclusive control of a commodity or service in a given market…." The fact is that Microsoft does not have a monopoly with any of its products, even though it is reported that roughly 80% of the world’s computers use Microsoft products. In a free society, it is virtually impossible for any company to capture 100% of a given market. However, if a company were able to do so, then so what? Such an incredible accomplishment would have been achieved by persuading 100% of the customers to purchase the product—which means: each customer, following his own judgment, voluntarily decided to purchase the product. Is Microsoft to be punished for being so successful in persuading so many to buy its products? Yes, if Janet Reno has her way: she is prosecuting and persecuting Microsoft for its matchless ability to use reason to convince its customers to buy its products.
In order for Reno and her bunch of statists to succeed in their action against Microsoft, they must gain the support of a majority of the American public by utilizing one of their favorite tactics: the corruption of the meaning of words and the concepts for which they stand. Consider the two, key concepts being utilized by statists in their assault against Microsoft and the insidious manner in which statists have now provided us with new definitions: "force" and "freedom." The entire battle against Microsoft will be won or lost on the issue of these definitions. If statists succeed in getting most to accept these definitions (and, unfortunately, they appear to have already done so), then Microsoft, even if it wins this particular battle, will eventually lose the war for freedom—and so will you.
Statists are claiming, in both their legal and public relations campaign, that Microsoft has somehow achieved its enormous market share through the use of "force." In fact, there has been no force used by Microsoft in achieving its brilliant success in the marketplace. Force is physical action taken by one person against another. Has anyone been physically forced to purchase a Microsoft product? No. And in this dispute between Microsoft and Janet Reno’s statist gang, who is armed and who is openly attempting to use real force to forbid Microsoft from voluntarily entering into agreements with computer manufacturers? Reno and her cadre of statists are the ones who, in fact, are actually attempting to use literal, physical force against Microsoft—all the while accusing Microsoft of using "force" against its customers, even though Microsoft has never used force against anyone—all in the name of protecting customers from being "forced" to buy Microsoft products, even though no one has been forced to purchase any Microsoft product.
Statists will claim that computer manufacturers are being "forced" to include Microsoft’s browser on their computers because there are so many users of Microsoft products that they wouldn’t be able to sell their computers unless they provide Microsoft software as part of the package. Thus, computer manufacturers have no choice but to agree to Microsoft’s demand that they include the Microsoft browser on their computers: if they didn’t they couldn’t sell their computers. Therefore, statists claim, these computer manufacturers are being "forced" because they have no choice but to comply with Microsoft’s wishes, if they want to sell their computers, that they are not "free" to do otherwise.
Consider the perversion of these definitions of "force" and "freedom."
In the case of the term "force," statists are now defining "force" as "having no choice." Not having a choice is part of the concept of force—of physical force—but it is not its definition. When you say you were, for instance, "forced" to drive to Chicago because you were unable to afford the price of an airplane ticket, you are only using the word metaphorically, meaning: you had no affordable alternative, no choice. You were not forced at the point of a gun to drive. In the case of your purchase of a computer, if all computer manufacturers sell computers with Microsoft software, including its browser, already installed on their computers, if you wish to purchase a computer then it is true you have no choice but to purchase one with Microsoft products installed on it. However, you have not been forced to purchase the computer or Microsoft software. Every product or service you purchase imposes upon you a limited range of choices: every product comes in a limited range of size, color, options and so on, just as every service comes with a limited range of features. You have no choice but to buy the products available or not to purchase them. And in not having an unlimited range of choices, you have had no force applied to you and neither has your freedom been diminished.
Just as statists are claiming "force" is "having no choice," they are also maintaining that "freedom" is "having a choice." "Having a choice" is not the definition of freedom; it is part of the concept of freedom but it is not its definition. Now weigh very carefully the manner in which this statist definition of "freedom" will undermine your actual freedom and cause Microsoft to lose some of its actual freedom if you and any defenders of Microsoft accept it. Statists, under this definition of "freedom," are claiming that customers will lose their "freedom" if the agreements between Microsoft and computer manufacturers are allowed to stand, that customers will not have the "freedom" to purchase a computer without Microsoft’s browser installed on it. If "having a choice" is the definition of freedom, then where does the logic of this definition lead us? What about the color of computers? Most are either gray or black. What if you want a blue computer or a green one? Is your "freedom" being limited? Are you being "forced" to only buy either a gray or a black computer? Yes, according to these statists. And what about all that other software, half of which is never used by most, that is loaded onto your new computer? Are you being "forced" to buy this? You certainly do not have the "freedom" to buy a computer without all of that never-to-be-used software. And all of this supposed concern about "freedom," about "having a choice" is coming from the same statists who have forcibly eliminated your actual freedom to buy an automobile without a driver-side air bag and who have mandated (after 1998) you will no longer be free to purchase a new television set without paying for a V-chip—all of which proves these statists have no interest in freedom, in your being free to make your own choices. Their only interest is power: power over you.
Statists, in the name of protecting your "freedom," are seeking to destroy your actual freedom. Freedom is the ability to act without the initiation of force (or its threat) being used against you—and political freedom is the ability to act without the initiation of force (or its threat) being used against you by the state—and this is what these statists are seeking to restrict and eventually destroy. Through the initiation of force by the state, Janet Reno’s statist crew is attempting to restrict Microsoft’s ability to freely enter into agreements with others.
The assault against Microsoft is nothing less than a damnation of success, of achievement, of your right to live your life without the initiation of force (or its threat) being used against you by the state. One of the central points made in my book, FATAL BLINDNESS, is the fact that the decades of declining freedom in America have been substantially the result of the fact that most no longer know the meaning of their right to life and liberty—and neither do most know the definition of force or of freedom. And in their ignorance of the meaning of these concepts, they remain silent when they and their rights are damned by statists, as statists are doing in their war against Microsoft—there is no other way to explain the lack of public outrage over the attack against Microsoft. The silence of those so damned will eventually bring us the demise of freedom in America—unless, of course, they can be made to understand the true meaning of their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
November 2, 1997
Copyright © 1998 Fulton Huxtable
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED