Capitalism Is Dead – Long Live Capital

by Miriam Ronzoni on March 25, 2024

In his latest book, Technofeudalism, the maverick academic-turned unlikely Minister of Finance-turned enfant terrible of European politics Yanis Varoufakis argues that capitalism has ended. It has not, however, been destroyed by the workers of the world – it has been killed by capital itself. The idea, in a nutshell, is the following. As a response to the combined effect of the privatisation of the internet on the one hand, and the nearly no-strings-attached way with which states have injected eye-wateringly large sums of money into banks and large businesses after the 2008 financial crisis on the other, rent has supplanted profit as the main driver of the global economy. As Varoufakis put it, “Insane sums of money that were supposed to re-float our economies in the wake of the financial crisis and the pandemic have ended up supercharging big tech’s hold over every aspect of the economy.” Against the backdrop of a privatised digital world, post-2008 and then post-2020 public investments into the economy have not stimulated growth, because they have not triggered increased investments. Instead, they have enabled “cloudalists” to become digital rentiers, capable of exercising passive control over workers; over users who de facto work for them for free (by sharing and generating precious data); and crucially, over old-school capitalists. [click to continue…]