The tech oligarchs have not produced a coherent political manifesto laying out their vision for the future. Yet it's clear that the IT elite share some ideas that add up to a common agenda.
In the developing technocratic worldview there's little place for upward mobility, except within the charmed circle at the top. The middle and working classes are expected to become marginal. While the oligarchs might speak of a commitment to building what Mark Zuckerberg calls “meaningful community,” they rarely mention upward mobility. Having interviewed 147 digital company founders, Gregory Ferenstein notes that they generally don't expect their workers or consumers to achieve more independence by starting their own companies or even owning houses. Most, Ferenstein adds, believe that “an increasingly greater share of economic wealth will be generated by a smaller slice of very talented or original people. Everyone else will come to subsist on some combination of part-time entrepreneurial ‘gig work’ and government aid.”
Ferenstein says that many tech titans favour a radically expanded welfare state… in part to allay fears of insurrection by a vulnerable and struggling workforce. Yet unlike the “Penthouse Bolsheviks” of the 1930s, they have no intention of allowing their own fortunes to be squeezed. Instead the middle class would likely foot much of the bill for guaranteed wages, health care, free college, and housing assistance along with subsidies for gig workers who do not receive benefits from their employers.
This redistribution of resources would meet the material needs of the working class and the declining middle class, but it would not promote upward mobility or threaten the dominance of the oligarchs. This represents a sea change from the old industrial economy. Rather than acquiring property and gaining a modicum of self-sufficiency, workers can now expect a serf-like future of rented apartments and frozen prospects.
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