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Algorithms and the End of PoliticsHow Technology Shapes 21st-Century American Life$
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Scott Timcke

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781529215311

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529215311.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 07 December 2021

Introduction: The Great Simplification

Introduction: The Great Simplification

(p.1) Introduction: The Great Simplification
Algorithms and the End of Politics

Scott Timcke

Policy Press

This chapter introduces the concern of the book with unfreedom and class rule in contemporary American capitalism as seen in the digital realm. Class struggle is the first and last force shaping developments in communication. Computers are built using commodity chains and a labour process, both organized by the supremacy of a private property rights regime. Subsequently, as data and code are central to almost every facet of contemporary life, capitalist ideology with its conceptions of suitable social relations are reflected in the uses and programming. It is thus appropriate to worry about when, as opposed to whether, automated decision-making algorithms and their ilk will be used by corporations to optimize for profit at the expense of people. Capitalism is not about 'markets' or even private property per se. Rather it is a political order that consolidates decision-making power over the use, circulation and consumption of resources in a wealthy minority in ways that are opaque. As communication is a component of class formation it is also inflected by the structural antagonisms and contradictions inherent in capitalist societies. The chapter focuses on the results of systems, relationships and structure as they move in history along with the concepts and methods required to achieve that aim.

Keywords:   contemporary American capitalism, unfreedom, class rule, class struggle, private property rights, capitalist ideology, communication developments, capitalism

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