The Curse of Bigness Antitrust in the New Gilded Age
From the man who coined the term “net neutrality,” author of The Master Switch and The Attention Merchants, comes a warning about the dangers of excessive corporate and industrial concentration for our economic and political future.
We live in an age of extreme corporate concentration, in which global industries are controlled by just a few giants firms—big banks, big pharma, and big tech, just to name a few. But concern over what Louis Brandeis called the “curse of bigness” can no longer remain the province of specialist lawyers and economists, for it has spilled over into policy and politics, even threatening democracy itself. History suggests that tolerance of inequality and failing to control excessive corporate power may prompt the rise of populism, nationalism, extremist politicians, and fascist regimes. In short, as Wu warns, we are in grave danger of repeating the signature errors of the twentieth century.
In The Curse of Bigness, Columbia professor Tim Wu tells of how figures like Brandeis and Theodore Roosevelt first confronted the democratic threats posed by the great trusts of the Gilded Age—but the lessons of the Progressive Era were forgotten in the last 40 years. He calls for recovering the lost tenets of the trustbusting age as part of a broader revival of American progressive ideas as we confront the fallout of persistent and extreme economic inequality.
"In this short but persuasive book, Wu (The Attention Merchants), a Columbia law professor, connects the current political climate to a decline in antitrust enforcement. ...The book’s brevity is an asset—Wu skillfully avoids economic and legal rabbit holes, keeping the book laser-focused on his thesis: that antitrust enforcement must be restored 'as a check on power as necessary in a functioning democracy before it’s too late.' Persuasive and brilliantly written, the book is especially timely given the rise of trillion-dollar tech companies."—Publishers Weekly
About the author
Tim Wu is a policy advocate, a professor at Columbia Law School, and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. He worked on competition policy in the Obama White House and the Federal Trade Commission, served as senior enforcement counsel at the New York Office of the Attorney General, and worked at the Supreme Court for Justice Stephen Breyer. He is the author of The Master Switch (2010) and The Attention Merchants (2016).
Best known for coining the phrase “net neutrality” and his book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, Tim Wu has a new book coming out in November called The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age. In it, he argues compellingly for a return to aggressive antitrust enforcement in the style of… more
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