A quick portrait of techno-feudalism


“After 2008, everything changed.”

A quick portrait of techno-feudalism /img/techno-feudalism.jpg

A few weeks ago, Yannis Varoufakis (re-)argued that techno feudalism is replacing capitalism, and some parts of his argument are particularly interesting.

This is not an endorsement of Varoufakis in general. I just happen to think that a few paragraphs of that long post of his do describe well what others call “Big Tech” and its role in society and “labor relations”, in the widest possible sense. So I copied them below, because they are readable and stand on their own, and I believe everybody should read and ponder them (again: regardless of what one thinks of Varoufakis in general).

“After 2008, everything changed”

Today, the global economy is powered by the constant generation of central bank money, not by private profit. Meanwhile, value extraction has increasingly shifted away from markets and onto digital platforms, like Facebook and Amazon, which no longer operate like oligopolistic firms, but rather like private fiefdoms or estates.

Digital platforms have replaced markets as the locus of private wealth extraction.

For the first time in history, almost everyone produces for free the capital stock of large corporations. That is what it means to upload stuff on Facebook or move around while linked to Google Maps.

It is not, of course, that traditional capitalist sectors have disappeared.

Today, capitalist relations remain intact, but techno-feudalist relations have begun to overtake them.

Varoufakis also writes: “No interest rate will ever be consistent with full employment without precipitating sequential corporate bankruptcies.”

I do not know if that assertion is correct, or if it is 100% b####hit. But if it is correct, it seems to me one of the most concise prophecies about the unavoidability of Universal Basic Income that I have found so far.

Image source: Google image search for “techno-feudalism”.

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