Not only is the “taxpayer money” frame damaging, it doesn’t reflect how public spending actually works. A household or a business may have to stash or borrow money before it can spend any, but we are users of the currency. The U.S. government, which is the issuer of the currency, works differently: Congress votes to spend “new money” on something, then the Treasury and the Federal Reserve credit the relevant bank accounts, and...that’s it. The government has spent new money into existence. Later, Congress may tax “old money” back out of existence, but it isn’t collecting money in order to spend it. It’s “offsetting” earlier spending. It may also offset spending by bumping student loan rates, policing for profit, or various other activities. Although Congress taxes everyday people too heavily, calling public money “taxpayer money” makes as much sense as calling it “student debtor money” or “suspicious driver money.”
Look at a dollar bill, and you will see the signatures of its creators: not taxpayers, but the public officials who let the taxpayers hold it in the first place. Money doesn’t grow on rich people. We should heavily tax the billionaire class so we stop living in an oligarchy, but we don’t need private capital for public spending. The federal government doesn’t confiscate dollars and redistribute them. It uses its legal power to create and destroy them.
Margaret Thatcher’s mantra was backwards: There is no such thing as “taxpayer money,” only public money. Modern money is a creature of the public, and we should use it for public power. We are all the public, and we each deserve a clear, equal say in how our economy and society work, no matter how much we each pay in taxes. It’s time to claim our democratic rights.
Anthropologists tell us that when the structure of a core myth begins to change, everything else about society changes around it, and fresh new possibilities open up that weren't even thinkable before. When myths fall apart, revolutions happen.
I absolutely love the last sentence
[...] Smythe does not celebrate audiences as always rebelling and does not argue for social-democratic reformism that tolerates exploitation and misery. His analysis rather implies the need for the overthrow of capitalism in order to humanize society and the overthrow of the capitalist media system in order to humanize the media.
The time is past due when hackers must come together with workers and farmers--with all of the producers of the world--to liberate productive and inventive resources from the myth of scarcity. The time is past due for new form of association to be created that can steer the world away from its destruction through commodified exploitation. The greatest hacks of our time may turn out to be organizing free collective expression, so that from this time on, abstraction serves the people, rather than the people serving the ruling class.
Third, we need a legal framework for a new regime of accumulation. This takes vision; it's today's equivalent of what a social democratic or socialist economic policy used to be. It means bringing state back in, not only as neutral gatekeepers of economic fair play but as a volonté générale that gives the economy a social purpose and a base in democratic values. There is nothing neutral about the actual economy. It is a complicated, systematized effort to reconcile productivity with the privilege of powerful elites, dominant social groups, and global coalitions. [...] This might mean public investment, public co-ownership and strong incentives for social enterprises.
Some of this might sound slightly awkward to us, since we haven't discussed it for a long time. But we have to have this conversation if we want to implement cooperativism. [...]
this is good
It is not helpful to have politicians across the political spectrum meekly submitting to this technolibertarianism—assuming that bureaucrats, and by extension themselves, are inherently incapable of influencing technical innovation. We must curb the tendency to reify the tech giants—to assume that their largely automated ways of processing disputes or handling customer inquiries are, inevitably, the way things are and must always be. Until we do, we enforce upon ourselves an unnecessary helplessness, and a self-incurred tutelage.
The arbitrariness of many forms of reputation creation is becoming clearer all the time. I will not recapitulate here the problems of discrimination (racial, political, economic, and competitive) that we examined earlier. Unfairness in today’s Internet industries should be obvious by now, and is another important reason to be wary of reification. “The Internet” is a human invention, and can be altered by humans. [...]
Our technologies are just as much a product of social, market, and political forces as they are the outgrowth of scientific advance. They are intimately embedded in social practices that rely on human judgment. [...]
[...] Does anyone believe that a Clinton presidency would have gone after Wall Street and the 1 per cent? That it would have diminished rather than stoked populist rage? In fact, the rage felt by many Trump supporters is quite legitimate, even if much of it is currently mal-directed towards immigration and other scapegoats. The proper response is not moral condemnation but political validation, while redirecting the rage to the systemic predations of finance capital.
[...] Trump's victory marked a defeat for the holy alliance of emancipation with financialization. But his presidency offers no resolution of the present crisis, no promise of a new regime, no secure hegemony. What we face, rather, is an interregnum, an open and unstable situation in which hearts and minds are up for grabs. In this situation, there is not only danger but also opportunity: the chance to build a new 'new left'.
[...] the left was not established so as to have things easy but in order to bring about the impossible. It was created to improve the world and the condition of human beings in the teeth of adversity and apparent hopelessness, to fight for human rights and democracy and to flood the societies of the world with democracy.
This is not, however, a book of prescriptions. No glorious blueprint for the left resides within its pages. Rather it brings together crucial perspectives for understanding capitalism and the world we inhabit. While the assessment of capitalism and its opponents may seem bleak, the conclusion of the book is not. The way forward is to be found by arming ourselves with unsparing analysis of the predicament we find ourselves in, while having the fortitude to once again think ambitiously about broad emancipatory change.