Note — Mar 01, 2020

Digital Socialism

Morozov quickly revisiting the social innovations of socialism and social democracy, to then show that “we” are in an era where socialism and social democracy is in a defensive mode, simply trying to keep some of what it has accomplished from being destroyed by neoliberalism. There is no capital available for new projects of large scale social innovation, for the creation of digital “legal, political and technological infrastructure [which] would allow us together to create projects equivalent to the welfare state or the many institutions in its proximity.” Proponents of social democracy and socialism must not only regulate but, more importantly, at the very least realize that “the challenge at present is to preserve at least the possibility of reconquering that [digital] infrastructure.”

At present, that [digital] infrastructure, by and large, is in private hands. This applies to data, and it applies to artificial intelligence and to robotics. Without a massive structural intervention of some kind, which we might not like because it smells of corporatism or something else, we will no longer have any control over the situation. […]

For me, this is what neoliberalism is all about. It’s about preventing forms of social coordination based on values that have nothing to do with the market and competition from occupying the kind of spaces that institutions like libraries currently do in society. […]

Unfortunately, our mental framework is so dominated by the everyday sins of these firms – their tax evasion, their interference in the legislative process, their surveillance of activists and critics – that we have a very hard time thinking at the more abstract level and relating our interventions to the basic goals and functions of social democracy. […]

This encounter with digital technology provides a life-saving opportunity, because ultimately it allows us to completely reimagine what the social democratic attitude should be beyond merely defending the achievements of the twentieth century. […]

The second task, in addition to these two or three years of digital but non-neoliberal experimentation, is to embark on an ambitious intellectual journey in which we try to rethink what social democracy in the twenty-first century might mean.