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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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Conclusion: The Fatal Abstractions of Capitalist Rule

Conclusion: The Fatal Abstractions of Capitalist Rule

(p.151) Conclusion: The Fatal Abstractions of Capitalist Rule
Algorithms and the End of Politics

Scott Timcke

Policy Press

This chapter concludes that digital society requires significant restructuring if it is to facilitate greater democratization. But unless it is achieved via a path where workers' democracy is entrenched, then whatever social provisions and degree of democracy happens to be attained through concessions, it will always be susceptible to erosion as capitalists reassert themselves at a later date. In many different registers, widespread digital communication is revolutionary. Within four decades the Internet expanded from niche military, government and scientific institutions to being integral to all parts of social life. In providing access to many goods and facilitating the creation of others, it has become a public good in and of itself. This fact has often been construed as a key episode within a triumphant narrative found in the cheerleading technology press as well as large circulation newspapers about the potency for greater communication to yield opportunities for commerce and emancipation. In one way or another, digital utopians have argued that the Internet is, or can be, a great leveller. But the promise of egalitarian liberation is far from materializing. Instead, power has radically concentrated with the ruling class, those that own the means of production. This development should be foremost in any analysis of contemporary social life. Accordingly, the key question should be how does the development, acquisition and deployment of technology reshape the balance of power between governors and the governed.

Keywords:   digital society, democratization, technology, digital communication, ruling class, balance of power, egalitarian liberation

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