Sanjukta Paul in Dissent:
Last spring, prominent Big Tech critic Lina Khan became the new chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—an appointment widely seen as a coup for progressive reform. In her confirmation hearing, she characterized the agency’s overarching goal in terms of “fair competition.” This choice of emphasis is significant for understanding the antitrust reform project of which Khan is a leader. At its core, the project is a policy paradigm aimed at creating fair markets—markets characterized by socially beneficial competition, fair prices, and decent wages.
While both proponents and detractors of this reform project sometimes conflate competition policy with the goal of maximizing economic competition for its own sake, in reality, competition law has always assessed economic rivalry and coordination in relation to broader social ends. For a long time, that assessment has been obscured—not to mention insufficiently tethered to the original goals of federal antitrust law. The reform project aims to reorient the use of antitrust in expressly egalitarian and democratic directions.