Congress’s big tech report shows why antitrust history is so important

While the report itself falls in line with the other great anti-monopoly documents in the history of the U.S. Congress, it also situates the big tech companies in their historical context, likening them to “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.” That’s a valuable approach, because the United States can allay the situation the report describes only if policymakers situate it in its proper historical context. The big tech companies may be relatively new, but their monopolistic practices aren’t unique. And neither are the remedies — or what would happen if Washington implemented them.

A century ago, another cabal of powerful businesses controlled much of the American economy. It was the dawn of the formal American anti-monopoly movement. The Sherman Act, our first antitrust law passed some decades before in 1890, had been successfully used to break up the most notorious

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