Thursday, 16 February 2023 09:38

Breakfast with Chad: Techno-feudalism

After a late night out, I arrived at the breakfast table this morning admittedly a bit disheveled and somewhat behind my normal schedule. Chad, in contrast, was looking as cool and equanimous as ever, perfectly capable, as always, of rationally expounding on a new topic. Remembering one of our recent conversations about hyperreality, I offered this challenge.

“Tell me Chad, you certainly know Yanis Varoufakis, who has described today’s economy as ‘techno-feudalism.’ His concept suggests that democratic government may be simply a facade, an example of hyperreality. Policy is untethered not only from the act of voting but from any other means of expressing or even recognizing the population’s real needs. If this is true, what kind of political reform could enable people living in formal democracies to have an effective voice in decision-making?”

I always appreciate Chad’s imperturbable good humor and his talent for taking my every question seriously. This contrasts with some people I know who would dismiss my question by protesting that the term techno-feudalism has no meaning or by impertinently asking, “Who cares what Varoufakis thinks?” Chad went straight to the core of the former Greek finance minister’s insight, and provided this thorough response.

“That is all well and good,” I responded. “It seems to me to represent what any sane person disposing of your level of knowledge would say. But all of these things have been proposed and none of them has had any serious effect or even been employed other than superficially. How would you explain the nature of the resistance to implementing such an action plan?”

With a complicit frown, Chad shifted from the attitude of the buoyant optimist to that of the confirmed pessimist… or should I simply say, realist?

Such a depressing litany of reasons could turn any pessimist into a fatalist, or even a confirmed cynic. Noting my discomfort, Chad added this… if only to convince me that optimism is possible:

This was encouraging, but I felt Chad’s reassurance was too glib. I wanted to push the conversation further, but, glancing at my watch, I realized that I would have to cut this short. I risked arriving late for an important appointment. I suggested to Chad we continue the conversation tomorrow. Chad agreed and promised to mull it over in the meantime.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

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