Today it broke that AT&T is buying Time Warner for over $80 billion. The merger is part of an ongoing trend toward verticalization of assets thru subsumption, so there will in all likelihood be more to come:
“When a big deal like this happens, more deals tend to happen,” analysts with New Street Research told investors Friday. “It is a good time to be an asset ‘in play.’”
A good time to be an asset in play. There are human agencies involved in these negotiations, to be sure—but there is also the automation of something like a capital platform:
The generic universality of platforms makes them formally open to all Users, human and nonhuman alike. If the User’s actions are interoperable with the protocols of the platform, then in principle, it can communicate with the systems and its economies. For this, platforms generate User identities whether they are desired or not. [Bratton 2015/p49]
Considering this, we could say capital consolidates according to its own protocols, according to which Users act alongside (and as) assets in a field of exchange (in play). This field is structured by the platform, which “acts,” in effect, with some autonomy viz. its Users (human and nonhuman assets alike). The unique diminishment of human virtue as an operable force within its platform is a special feature of capital’s logic.
Yet, who, of all people, tries talking explicitly about the power manifest thereby?
“As an example of the power structure I am fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN — a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” Trump said at a speech in Gettysburg, Pa.
Whaaaat is even happening…