Acton Institute Powerblog

Technology Imperialists at the Forefront

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This Wired News article examines the European outrage at Google’s announced plans to digitize the holdings of all the world’s libraries.

“There is a growing awareness in continental Europe of the technology gap, even with some of the very good technologies they have had, of companies like Google, like Microsoft, like Apple … which are presented as almost technology imperialists at the forefront,” said Jonathan Fenby, a former Observer editor and author of France on the Brink. “There is this defensive reaction: ‘We have to defend what we’ve got. We mustn’t let the Americans and the British get into this.'”

The article goes on to share the lament the failed efforts of European national governments to invigorate the continental tech industry. For example,

“France poured billons of dollars in state aid into subsidizing Bull’s operations for years, but the longtime state-owned computer and software group never managed to capture a credible share of the server and workstation markets against the likes of IBM, HP or other U.S. firms. France’s Minitel teletext information system was once a mainstay in French households — and was considered the country’s consumer technology crown jewel — but the internet has largely rendered it obsolete.”

The backlash against Google is just the latest example of anti-Americanism creeping into the global economic and business world. Davids Medienkritik is a blog devoted to covering anti-American sentiment in Germany.

Perhaps this really is a clash of worldviews: the EU big-government, top-down based economic model versus the competitive and entrepreneurial model of the US. That the former is losing to the latter shouldn’t really be a surprise. As Lord Acton once said, “History is a great innovator and breaker of idols.”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

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  • This Wired News article examines the European outrage at Google’s announced plans to digitize the holdings of all the world’s…