We should be concerned about the power big tech firms have in our lives. But antitrust lawsuits against tech monopolies are just a Band-Aid for the real problem: the need to free the social networks we use from private profit and the drive to sell our data.
James Muldoon is a lecturer in political science at the University of Exeter. He is the editor of Council Democracy: Towards a Democratic Socialist Politics, Trumping the Mainstream: The Conquest of Democratic Politics by the Radical Right, and The German Revolution and Political Theory (forthcoming).
Platforms like Airbnb claim to be building online “communities” — even as their business undermines the real communities in cities. But the history of cooperatives shows that it really is possible to democratize the services we use — so long as it’s connected to a wider redistribution of power in society.
Denounced and then lost to history, the radical Karl Kautsky’s thought still offers a compelling vision of how to democratize all aspects of our lives.