Digital Socialism

Evgeny Morozov in The New Left Review:

More than a decade after the onset of the financial crisis, capitalist ideologues are eager for good publicity. Once-alluring promises of meritocracy and social mobility ring increasingly hollow. They pine for a slicker, PowerPoint-friendly legitimation narrative—hard to concoct against a background of rising inequality, pervasive tax evasion and troubling omens about the true state of the post-crash global economy, were central bankers to withdraw their overextended support. What real-world developments could underpin such a narrative? What theme could make the idea of capitalism more morally acceptable to the latest batch of Ivy League graduates, who may risk getting drawn to notions like eco-socialism? Despite the growing ‘tech-lash’ against the faangs, capitalist thinkers still look to Silicon Valley and its culture with a glimmer of hope. For all its problems, the Valley remains a powerful laboratory of new—perhaps, better—market solutions. No other sector occupies such a prominent role on the horizon of the Western capitalist imaginary or offers such a promising field for regenerative mythologies.

A new strand of thinking has begun to address how the global economy might be re-engineered around the latest digital innovations to introduce a modicum of fairness. The ‘New Deal on Data’—the term surfaced in a 2009 paper presented at Davos—is the tech world’s neoliberal equivalent of the Green New Deal, but requires no government spending. It envisages formalizing property rights around intangibles, so that individuals can ‘own’ the data they produce. One advantage for its proponents is that this market-friendly ‘new deal’ could help to forestall alternative attempts at imagining users as anything other than passive consumers of digital technology; they could enjoy their new status as hustling data entrepreneurs, but should aspire to little else.

More here.