Evgeny Morozov writes: The outside world might regard Silicon Valley as a bastion of ruthless capitalism but tech entrepreneurs fashion themselves as believers in solidarity, autonomy and collaboration.
These venture humanitarians believe that they – and not the wily politicians or the vain NGOs – are the true champions of the weak and the poor, making the maligned markets deliver material benefits to those on the fringes of society. Some of the valley’s in-house intellectuals even cheer the onset of “digital socialism,” which – to quote digital thinker and environmentalist Kevin Kelly’s 2009 cover story in Wired – “can be viewed as a third way that renders irrelevant the old debates.”
Leaving aside the battles over the true meaning of “sharing” in buzzwords like “the sharing economy”, one can discern an intriguing argument in all this self-congratulatory rhetoric. The magnanimous Silicon Valley really wants to be the perfect antidote to the greedy Wall Street: if the latter yields an ever greater increase in income inequality, the former helps to bridge the gap in consumption inequality. [Continue reading…]