Technofeudalism

Yanis Varoufakis

Technofeudalism
Format
Paperback
Publisher
Vintage Publishing
Country
United Kingdom
Published
28 September 2023
Pages
304
ISBN
9781847927286

Technofeudalism

Yanis Varoufakis

No one noticed when capitalism died.

Perhaps we were too distracted by the implosion of global finance, or the rise of populism, or the demise of the planet - or all of those cute cats on Instagram. But gradually, quietly, a yet more exploitative new system has taken hold - techno-feudalism.

Written in the form of a letter to his late father, who first taught him about the power of new technologies to shape human history, Yanis Varoufakis explains how Big Tech has effected an invisible but fundamental transformation in all our lives.

Drawing on stories from Greek Myth and pop culture, from Mad Men to Karl Marx, he explains how the key ingredients of capitalism - profit and markets - have both been replaced. And he exposes the hidden connection between your personal data and the transformative power of 'cloud capital' which means that without our realising it, we are all working every day for the tech giants, for free.

Review

Capitalism is dead. What killed it? Ironically, capital itself. Yanis Varoufakis, economist and former finance minister of Greece, has been notorious for introducing widely controversial – though ultimately, quite accurate – theories that challenge his fellow economists and Marxists. Denouncing capitalism as ‘dead’ is one of these, but as discussed in the book, events of worldwide financial collapse, supply disruptions, and the still unfurling global COVID-19 pandemic, have thrown our society into unchartered technological and economic situations even capitalists couldn’t have anticipated.

Through anecdotes about pop culture and stories involving his progressive parents, Varoufakis documents capitalism’s slow demise, introducing us to its darker replacement: technofeudalism. He argues that globally, we are no longer in the depths of capitalism, but rather, we’re in something more subtle and exploitative that emulates feudalistic societies of the past. Instead of owning capital, we pay rent to access cloud systems, trading platforms, and the internet, and our only mode of exchange in this new economic system is our waged labour. Power is wholly in the hands of those who own information networks and data.

With sharp and cutting insights, Varoufakis breaks down the components of his thesis into easily digestible fragments, each tied to timely real-world cases – from the ecology of TikTok to the billionaire buyout of Twitter. All in all, Technofeudalism is an incredibly insightful and easy read. Varoufakis, known for previous books such as Talking To My Daughter: A History of Capitalism, is skilled at simplifying complex and intimidating ideas. He outlines the depths of our dark socioeconomic reality, but also provides vital insights into how to save our global economy and protect ourselves from the viciousness of technofeudalism.

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