Sunday, March 2, 2014

Can the Internet Democratize Capitalism?

Posted on February 22, 2014 by Yves Smith

Yves here. Trust me, you must read this post. In its entirety. Varoufakis discusses the operation of “liberal democracy” as opposed to “classical democracy,”. and argues that voter apathy is a feature, not a bug. But the real meat is in his discussion of how the economic rights of laborers has changed over time and how that has had profound implications for democracy.

By Yanis Varoufakis, professor of economics at the University of Athens. Cross posted from his blog

Technological fixes to time-honoured problems are all the rage these days. Bitcoin is meant to fix money, social media are seen as an antidote to Rupert Murdoch and assorted tyrants, networked robots are to help countries like Japan deal with demographic declines etc. Perhaps the largest claim is that the Internet has helped (or is about to help) democratise capitalism. Ten years ago that claim struck me as both fascinating and dubious. So, I sat down and wrote an article about it (circa 2004). Its gist: The Internet is a wonderful leveller. But democracy requires a great deal more than mere ‘levelling’. Primarily, it requires political institutions that enable the economically weak to have a decisive say on policy against the interests of the rich and powerful. Ten years later, I am re-visiting this question, under the shadow of a global crisis that made it even harder to convert an e’Demos into genuine e’Democracy. What follows is an updated version of the original paper.

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