Commentary on Political Economy

Friday 27 October 2023

Capitalism corrupts. Unrestrained capitalism ("the free market") corrupts absolutely. We have screamed for years that Tik Tok must be banned in the West because (a) it is a powerful propagandistic tool of the Chinese Communist Party, (b) it is algorithmically designed to intoxicate the minds of Western youths and beyond, and (c) it provides essential intelligence data to the Chinese Dictatorship about how to demolish our republics and our way of life. As the piece below recounts, Indonesia (who would have thought it?) shows the way! The reason is that Indonesians have a (Muslim) religion, and therefore they wish to preserve their culture and society over and above the individual greed and selfishness that capitalism promotes, entrenches and exacerbates in its societies to the point where it poisons and ultimately destroys them. Nowhere is this process of capitalist social putrefaction decay and decadence more evident than in the West which is committing political and cultural suicide. For an engaged intellectual like me, this is very hard to stomach, indeed. Upon surveying the devastation that the West is inflicting upon itself - most evidently in Europe -, I can only ape Caesar's laconic contemptuous judgement on the enemy Republican legions he had vanquished and killed in battle: "Hoc voluerunt!" - they willed it thus.


Indone­sia app ban forces Tik­Tok to be cre­at­ive

Chinese-owned group is bat­tling to remain in its biggest mar­ket­place

Tik­Tok is devot­ing more resources to explore ways of sav­ing its eco­m­merce busi­ness in Indone­sia — such as build­ing a new app or part­ner­ships with local com­pan­ies — as the Chinese-owned group battles to remain in its biggest mar­ket­place.

Beijing-based Byte­Dance, owner of the viral Tik­Tok video app, has put together product and tech­no­logy teams in Singa­pore to dis­cuss ideas after Jakarta imposed a ban. One sug­ges­tion has been to cre­ate an online com­merce plat­form that would be sep­ar­ate to its video app in a bid to sat­isfy reg­u­lat­ors in the south-east Asian eco­nomy, accord­ing to three people with know­ledge of the mat­ter.

Another source at Tik­Tok said the situ­ation was “fluid” and, although the com­pany was not act­ively work­ing on a sep­ar­ate app, all options were being con­sidered. Indone­sia last month banned trans­ac­tions on social media plat­forms to ensure “fair and just” com­pet­i­tion as well as to pro­tect user data. The move took effect imme­di­ately and was widely seen as unof­fi­cially tar­get­ing Tik­Tok, which deb­uted Tik­Tok Shop in the coun­try in 2021.

The com­pany warned at the time of the Septem­ber 27 announce­ment that pro­hib­i­tion would hit the live­li­hoods of the 6mn sellers and nearly 7mn influ­en­cers who use Tik­Tok Shop in Indone­sia. Before the ban was put in place, the Chinese com­pany had hoped to gen­er­ate about $6bn in gross mer­chand­ise value in Indone­sia, nearly triple the fig­ure from 2022, mul­tiple people said.

Jakarta’s block added to the polit­ical back­lash facing the Byte­Dance-owned video app from abroad. The Chinese group has suffered curbs on being used on gov­ern­ment devices across Europe and North Amer­ica.

Indone­sia was the first and until now the biggest mar­ket for Tik­Tok Shop and, given its huge suc­cess, was widely con­sidered a poten­tial blue­print for its ambi­tions in other mar­kets, includ­ing the UK and US.

But Byte­Dance has struggled in the west to emu­late the strong take-up of its livestream shop­ping model where con­sumers are able to pur­chase products within the Tik­Tok Shop app via links in videos or live broad­casts.

Senior man­age­ment, who have been spend­ing time in Jakarta since the ban was imposed, have also held dis­cus­sions with retail com­pan­ies about part­ner­ships, includ­ing with local tech­no­logy cham­pion GoTo. This would be another option they believe could allow them to con­tinue eco­m­merce trans­ac­tions. However, many attempts to meet more senior Indone­sia min­is­ters to dis­cuss the issue have been unsuc­cess­ful, one of the people close to Tik­Tok said.

While senior man­age­ment are put­ting people and resources into build­ing a second app, there are reser­va­tions over pre­ced­ents being set in other mar­kets.

“If we sep­ar­ate Shop from the main Tik­Tok app in Indone­sia, we may then be put into a pos­i­tion where we are forced to also do that in the US. That would be dis­astrous,” said one region­ally focused exec­ut­ive for Tik­Tok Shop

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