Recently I watched a couple of excellent documentaries on Netflix: Genius on Hold, and Downloaded. The first was the story of Walter Shaw, showing how the old AT&T (Ma Bell) ground this brilliant entrepreneur into virtual dust. The second was the story of Napster and one of its founders, Shawn Fanning (& others who started the company). The Napster tale isn't primarily about music "piracy"; instead, it's mostly about vertical vs. horizontal organization of society. Both films are fascinating.
That brings me to the title of this piece. Oligarchs, no matter where they are or whether they're in private or public Institutions, in my opinion fear this above all else: that any society will gradually switch from vertical organization (or mode of operation) to horizontal organization. With vertical organization/operation, corruption is more likely, unwarranted power is more easily obtained, and unfair control of the population or any subgroup is easier to impose.
I'm an old dog, but I really admire these young pups who are challenging the rule of Oligarchies... in communications, in the music industry, in the news media, in public institutions, and in business in general. The Old Regime, with its head in the sand, is being run over by a bullet train. Mostly it only knows how to be reactionary; so, for example, after they finally figured out how popular was Napster, the Music Industry Oligarchs sued about 18,000 of their customers or potential customers. To their credit, they at last capitulated by deciding that perhaps I-Tunes would be good for the industry. They still, however, are opposing systems that allow budding entertainers to produce and market their music directly... cutting out the Oligarchs.
We're in a Revolutionary Era. Entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs have figured out that vertical integration of Institutions is a scam... and unnecessary. The myth that we need a "Ruling Class" in business or even government is dying. The Old Guard is kicking and screaming... and striking back. But the bullet train just keeps coming. Establishment tactics are being exposed. For example, take NAFTA. Oligarchs in Gov't and Big Business sold that scam to We the People on the basis that it would increase trade and create jobs here in this country. It wasn't long before we determined that pretty much the opposite was true. Basically, here's how NAFTA works---
Mega companies move their factories (along with the associated jobs) to Mexico, hire Mexican workers at very low wages and benefits, ship their goods back here, and sell them. That's the "trade" generated by the scam known as NAFTA.
In the case of the News Media, I think most people have realized that when it comes to the term "mainstream media", the name "Corporate Media" is entirely accurate. The mainstream outlets all are owned by mega, vertically integrated, transnational corporations. To believe they have no oligarchical bias is, I think, being extremely naive. A plethora of alternative, mostly independent, journalistic outlets have sprung up. Those media often provide information that is never seen or heard in the mainstream "press". Again, the Old Guard is kicking and screaming... and attacking... with Propaganda on an unprecedented scale. Once in awhile, however, the Corporate Media realize how futile it is to stand in front of a bullet train in order to try and stop it, so they actually join forces with people like Glenn Greenwald or Julian Assange. The tide is turning. Oligarchs are beginning to try to become relevant to human affairs.
Most Oligarchies around the world, at least in the developed world, most of the time do not resort to brutal force and violence to control their human subjects. They know that in all likelihood the People would not stand for it. So instead, they rely on Propaganda, distraction, and circuses. [As I've said over & over, it's NOT a "conspiracy"; for the most part, it's in plain sight.] Keeping people apathetic and compliant is a priority. What worries the "Ruling Class" now is that everyday folks are NONVIOLENTLY challenging the status quo in every field of endeavor... often successfully.
All of the above is the main reason that the Internet is being attacked by Oligarchs. The Web is the primary tool by which vertical organization of society eventually will be toppled... or at least, that type of organization will become less and less relevant. The attacks often are not obvious; sometimes they appear as a wolf in sheep's clothing. Politicians, in particular, must be carefully watched if the internet is to remain free and unfettered. Just my opinion.