Antitrust as antiracism: Antitrust as a partial cure for systemic racism (and other systemic “isms”)

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We usually think of antitrust law as addressing violations of free market norms, not equality norms. The two, however, may be related. Systemic racism (and other systemic “isms”) are about power and its abuse. So is antitrust law. Moreover, antitrust may be able to fill gaps left by antidiscrimination law. In particular, antitrust law can address: (1) entire markets, not just individual firms or discrete actions; (2) power imbalances from differences in capital, not just disparities in compensation; (3) financial allocations between owners and workers, not just between workers; (4) legal violations that shrink total worker pay, and do not just distort its allocation. Antitrust law also relies on centrist free market principles. Those may be less controversial than tackling issues of race directly. To be sure, in part for that reason, antitrust laws are limited. They can at best remedy a small portion of the potential wrongs caused by systemic racism. But antitrust may nevertheless contribute valuably to systemic racial equality. It also may provide a model for how antidiscrimination law might be reframed to make it more effective in that regard.