Evgeny Morozov : The state has lost control : tech firms now run western politics | The Guardian
Aargh ! La dystopie arrive à une vitesse jamais connue.
It seems that democratic capitalism – this odd institutional creature that has tried to marry a capitalist economic system (the implicit rule by the few) to a democratic political one (the explicit rule by the many) – has run into yet another legitimation crisis.
Today, global elites face two options for dealing with its latest manifestation. One is to accept the anti-establishment populism of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. Even though the two disagree on many social and political issues, both oppose the neoliberal consensus on globalisation, challenging the mainstream views on the virtues of free trade (as codified in treaties like Nafta or TTIP) and the need for America to play a robust role abroad (both would prefer a more isolationist stance).
The other option, and a much more palatable one to the Davos crowd, is to hope for a miracle that would help convince the public that the structural crisis we are in is not structural and that something else – big data, automation, the “fourth industrial revolution” – will step in to save us or, at least, delay the ultimate rupture, a process that Streeck, brilliantly, has characterised as “buying time”.
The grim reality of contemporary politics is not that it’s impossible to imagine how capitalism will end – as the Marxist critic Fredric Jameson once famously put it – but that it’s becoming equally impossible to imagine how it could possibly continue, at least, not in its ideal form, tied, however weakly, to the democratic “polis”. The only solution that seems plausible is by having our political leaders transfer even more responsibility for problem-solving, from matters of welfare to matters of warfare, to Silicon Valley.
Many of them have already taken on the de facto responsibilities of the state; any close analysis of what’s happening with “smart cities” – whereby technology firms become key gateways to essential services of our cities – easily confirms that.
The worst is that today’s legitimation crisis could be our last. Any discussion of legitimacy presupposes not just the ability to sense injustice but also to imagine and implement a political alternative. Imagination would never be in short supply but the ability to implement things on a large scale is increasingly limited to technology giants. Once this transfer of power is complete, there won’t be a need to buy time any more – the democratic alternative will simply no longer be a feasible option.