Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has given a speech where he has stated that capitalism is coming to an end because it is making itself obsolete.
From the Independent:
The former economics professor told an audience at University College London that the rise of giant technology corporations and artificial intelligence will cause the current economic system to undermine itself.
Mr Varoufakis, who took on EU institutions over Greek debt repayments in 2015, said companies such as Google and Facebook, for the first time ever, are having their capital bought and produced by consumers.
“Firstly the technologies were funded by some government grant; secondly every time you search for something on Google, you contribute to Google’s capital,” he said. “And who gets the returns from capital? Google, not you.
“So now there is no doubt capital is being socially produced, and the returns are being privatised. This with artificial intelligence is going to be the end of capitalism.”
Warning Karl Marx “will have his revenge”, the 56-year-old said for the first time since capitalism started, new technology “is going to destroy a lot more jobs than it creates”.
He added: “Capitalism is going to undermine capitalism, because they are producing all these technologies that will make corporations and the private means of production obsolete.
“And then what happens? I have no idea.”
Describing the present economic situation as “unsustainable” and fearing the rise of “toxic nationalism”, Mr Varoufakis said governments needed to prepare for post-capitalism by introducing redistributive wealth policies.
One of his suggestions, that 10 per cent of all future issue of shares to be put into a “common welfare fund” owned by the people deserves consideration. A universal basic income will have to be paid somehow.
Mr Varoufakis came to prominence during the Greek sovereign debt crisis when he led Greece’s negotiating team seeking a resolution with its international creditors. He was a member of the Greek Syriza party which was elected on a platform of opposing EU sanctioned austerity. Greece was forced into accepting an EU deal in a process that attracted the hashtag #thisisacoup. Varoufakis resigned his position after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to the terms of the EU’s debt repayment plan for Greece.
His comments demand careful consideration. We are in for a rough time if the process that has occurred over the past 30 years where the wealthy receive an increasingly larger share of the world’s wealth at the expense of everyone else continues.