Building Platform Socialism: Beyond the Taylor Review

by Justin Reynolds

The future of work has moved to the centre of mainstream political debate. New forms of employment in the ‘gig economy’ engineered by digital technology are opening questions about work’s purpose and meaning that extend well beyond the parameters of a debate typically confined to technocratic questions about the relative merits of programmes designed to cut unemployment figures. And the prospect of a wave of technologies capable of automating a vast range of jobs is generating a sense of insecurity intensified by the swirling uncertainties associated with Brexit.

The labour market is trending rapidly towards less stable forms of employment. Self-employment is growing more quickly in the UK than any other EU country, increasing by more than 1.5 million since the turn of the millennium to 4.5 million, and now accounting for more than 15% of the workforce. Some 1.7 million people are in temporary jobs and around 1.1 million work are on zero-hours contracts (about the same number as work in the NHS) a form of work that has grown by more than 70 per cent since 2010.

Radical solutions such as the introduction of a basic income or job guarantee scheme have moved from the confines of the seminar room and speculative texts to everyday political discourse. Though proposals of this scope remain beyond the horizons of possibility Theresa May’s government is prepared to contemplate, the Prime Minister’s concern to position the Conservatives as the ‘party of workers’ following her Tory leadership pledge last summer to create a society ‘that truly works for everyone’, prompted the commissioning of a major report, the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, which was published on 11 July after a 10 month review.

For socialists expectations for the Review were never high. Just a few weeks after announcing the report last October the Prime Minister had already stepped back from her intention to put employee representatives on company boards, telling business leaders ‘categorically’ that they would face no such obligation. The four member Review was led by RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor, the former head of Tony Blair’s Policy Unit. Other members included an employment solicitor from a corporate law firm advising employers on industrial relations, and a former Deliveroo investor. There was no trade union or worker representation.

For Taylor, unsurprisingly given the Review’s provenance, Britain’s flexible labour market - “the British way” - is something to celebrate:

The starting point for our review has been the strength of our labour market and of the key features of our system of employment regulation, what we refer to as the British way. Record levels of employment, low levels of unemployment, high levels of voluntary flexibility, wages now growing fastest amongst the lowest paid; these facts provide a very positive backdrop – one that would be envied in many other advanced economies – for our consideration of how to improve the quality of work.

The Review cites surveys suggesting that self-employed people are happier with their work than employees, that about two-thirds of temporary workers choose those arrangements, and a similar proportion on zero-hours contracts do not want fixed hours.

Nevertheless it does acknowledge that this new “voluntary flexibility” is has not been welcomed by all, noting that only 65% of people think their job is secure, that around six million people are not covered by the standard suite of workplace rights, and that about half of the self-employed are low paid - indeed some 460,000 are falsely classified as self-employed by employers keen to avoid national insurance contributions. The Review recognises that flexibility is a double-edged sword:

One sided flexibility is when employers seek to transfer all risk on to the shoulders of workers in ways which make people more insecure and make their lives harder to manage. It is the people told to be ready for work or travelling to work only to be told none is available. It is the people who have spent years working for a company on a zero hours contract but who, without a guarantee of hours from week to week, can’t get a mortgage or a loan. It is the people who feel that if they ever raise legitimate concerns about their treatment they will simply be denied the hours they desperately need.

The Review is concerned that people have access to “good work”, for the sake of the dignity and opportunities for self-development it affords, and the importance of addressing the British economy’s chronic productivity problem.

Most of Taylor’s recommendations are abstract, little more than a set of aspirations for future consideration. The Review suggests, for example, that a national strategy should be pursued to open good work for all “for which government needs to be held accountable”. The government should “explore ways of supporting and incentivising local authorities, particularly city regions and combined authorities, to develop integrated approaches to improving health and wellbeing at work”. And strategies should be put in place, particularly for low paid sectors, to make sure workers do not get stuck on low rates of pay.

There are some concrete proposals. Tribunal fees for hearings intended to clarify employment status should be scrapped but - crucially - the £1,200 fee would remain for broader issues such as discrimination or failure to pay the minimum wage. As Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has observed, the Review proposes to “eliminate tribunal fees for employment status hearings, but keep fees for workers who want to assert any of the rights associated with their newly declared status.”

On the key question of how to classify people “employed” in the platform economy the Review recommends that a new employment category be created, that of “dependent contractor”, to cover workers under “control” or “supervision” from their contracting company. Dependent contractors would have the right to request a set number of hours when they have been engaged with the same hirer for 12 months, an allocation corresponding to the average number of hours they have been working. These workers will also be entitled to a statement of employment status and to receive statutory holiday and sick pay.

But the Review stops short of granting them a blanket right to the minimum wage. Instead, the ‘platform companies’ that have designed the ‘gig economy’ within which they work need only be able to prove that their contractors can expect an average wage that works out at least 1.2 times the minimum wage. If a worker logs on to the platform during a quiet period when, for example, there are few taxi rides to offer or deliveries to make, it is permissible for the platforms to continue to pay an hourly rate below the minimum wage. During these hours they are obliged only to give workers an estimate of how much they are likely to earn during the session.

This recommendation undercuts the landmark verdict delivered against Uber last October by a London employment tribunal ruling that its drivers are not ‘self-employed’ and should therefore be guaranteed the minimum wage and other basic employment rights applicable to any other employee. It was a ruling that was always likely to signal the start rather than the end of the battle to establish the rights due to platform workers.

Viewed from one perspective these workers look much like any other employee: Uber, for example, interviews its drivers, sets their default routes, fixes their fare structure, provides (limited) training and runs disciplinary procedures. Viewed from another, drivers can log on for work when they choose and - in principle - are not obliged to take the work available when they do log on. And, again in theory, workers can do jobs for different platforms at the same time. It is possible to log on to both the Uber and Deliveroo apps and to carry out work for both, moving from one bit of piece work to the other. In these cases it isn’t obvious which company is responsible for paying the minimum wage.

Taylor’s recommendation seeks to safeguard the ostensible freedom platform workers have to take work as and when it suits their schedule. If a platform was obliged to pay minimum wage rates during quiet periods then in order to retain its profit margins it would be likely to oblige workers to concentrate their work during busier periods, forcing them into a standard shift-work pattern. The Review tries to address the novel and complex issue of how to guarantee the minimum wage on platforms designed to pay on a piece-work basis, weighing up the interests of workers who value flexibility against those workers who value security.

Labour’s response

Responses to this element of the Review have been divided according to the relative weight commentators accord each of these principles. Jonan Boto, a former director of projects for Deliveroo, suggests that the vaunted flexibility platforms offer could be given more substance if workers were offered a genuine choice regarding the nature of the work they sign-up for. “Rather than force them to choose between a take-it-or-leave-it flexible contract and no job,” Boto asks “why can companies not give people the option to choose between full-time, part-time and fully flexible contracts?” The response from unions has been less ambiguous. The IWGB and the TUC insist that unless companies can show that their workers are genuinely self-employed they must be treated as employees, regardless of whether they are offered work through an agency, an online platform or an app.

Labour’s response shares the unions’ concern that the new legal category recommended by Taylor will drive down conditions for an ever greater proportion of workers as the gig economy model expands. Discussing the Review on the BBC’s Today programme Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said she personally boycotts Uber, a service she cannot regard as “morally acceptable”:

We don’t really need a new status … the court victories that we’ve had so far have proved that many of these so-called self-employed people that work for the likes of Uber, for example, are workers and should be given adequate protections.

Labour’s current position, as outlined in the party’s 2017 manifesto, is to offer a classic social democratic formula for defending and creating new opportunities for workers, centred on better employment rights, stronger unions, economic stimulus and investment in education and skills.

The manifesto’s employment programme asserts the principle of equal rights for all workers ‘whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent’. Zero hours contracts would be banned outright, preserving the ideal that every worker should get a guaranteed number of hours each week. Those who work regular hours for more than 12 weeks would have a right to a regular contract, reflecting those hours. Indeed employment rights would not only be defended, but strengthened: tribunal fees would be abolished, the National Minimum Wage would catch up with the Living Wage and paid paternity leave would be extended to four weeks. Unions would be empowered through the rolling out of sectoral collective bargaining and trade unions guaranteed access to workplaces.

The manifesto’s economic strategy is built around a £250 billion National Transformation Fund channelled through a new network of national and regional investment banks charged investing in transport, communications and energy systems. With its focus on big renewable energy projects and mass home insulation, and the supply of ‘patient long-term finance’ the strategy draws on the Green New Deal and Mariana Mazzucato’s concept of The Entrepreneurial State.

And the proposed National Education Service seeks “to move towards cradle-to-grave learning that is free at the point of use”, in the universalist spirit of of the NHS. The abolition of tuition fees is just one part of a strategy that includes the introduction of free, lifelong education in Further Education colleges, the restoration of the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 to 18-year-olds, the doubling of completed apprenticeships, investment in child-care and Sure Start centres.

These manifesto pledges represent an unapologetic return to the cardinal social democratic principle that an active state must act to shape economic frameworks capable of offering people decent work and a fair share of the wealth generated by economic and technological progress. But it makes little mention of the specific issues surrounding the changing nature of employment explored by the Taylor Review. The manifesto does note “real concerns that rapid changes to the world of work are rendering existing employment categories outdated’ and promises ‘a dedicated commission to modernise the law around employment status”.

Basic income: a platform for platform workers?

Those brief references scarcely hint at the intensity of the debate raging across the left about the future of work. Contrary to much prior speculation, the manifesto made no mention of the big idea currently at the heart of that debate: the credibility and desirability of the introduction of a universal basic income (UBI).

It’s an idea with huge intuitive appeal, promising a guaranteed income floor providing a secure base for participation in a turbulent labour market increasingly shaped by the new forms of work created by the platforms. Workers would have much greater freedom to choose what work they do and for whom, and more space to go back to college, retrain or set up their own enterprises. By removing conditionality a UBI also promises to streamline a complex and often cruel welfare system, and would start to compensate for unpaid social labour.

In the past few years the concept has moved from the realm of speculation to that of serious advocacy. Proposals working out the details for the technical implementation of a UBI have been published by several mainstream think-tanks, including Matthew Taylor’s RSA. And the idea has helped generate a new strain of left futurist thought including Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek’s Inventing the Future, Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists and Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism. With Guy Standing’s Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen the UBI has even made it into the Pelican Introductions range.

It is certainly possible that a commitment to some form of basic income might appear in a future Labour manifesto. Corbyn and McDonnell have made positive comments about the concept and in February Shadow Treasury Secretary Jonathan Reynolds was appointed to head a working group (whose members include Guy Standing) charged with assessing how a UBI might fit into the party’s long term economic strategy.

The party’s ambivalence reflects the difficulties as well as the opportunities inherent in the concept of a basic income. Most obviously there would be the immense political challenge of convincing a sceptical public that a UBI could be funded. Though Labour’s strong election performance and public reaction to the Grenfell disaster indicate increasing unrest with the Government’s austerity programme, the conservative image of money as a limited commodity that must be managed in the manner of a household budget continues to resonate, being much easier to visualise than the complex reality that money is an abstract entity that credit-issuing banks produce through a few keystrokes on a computer. Estimates suggest that a UBI set at a level of around £72 a week may cost up to £288 billion, a funding commitment that, though it could be achieved through similar mechanisms to the Government’s ongoing Quantitative Easing scheme, would have to be forced through against ferocious political headwinds. If finance for a programme on this scale could be secured there would be significant opportunity cost in using it to secure a UBI rather than the many other aspirations Labour harbours, such as comprehensive public sector reform, economic stimulus, green energy or universal child-care.

And even after introducing a basic income a Labour government would still want to protect public services and welfare provision for those with special requirements, such as households with children, people with disabilities or those struggling to with housing costs. A Conservative administration inheriting a UBI might well retain it - such a fundamental reform would be just as difficult to overturn as to introduce - but may well take its existence as licence to press ahead with the unrestrained marketisation of public services. It is surely significant that the principle of a UBI has been embraced by economic libertarians such as the Adam Smith Institute and of course much of the Californian tech establishment.

Perhaps the strongest objection to a UBI from a left perspective is philosophical rather than practical: resort to a UBI as a form of social protection can look very much like capitulation to capital, driven by fatalism about the labour movement’s capacity to take on the powerful forces seeking to monopolise the gains from new technology. For Alyssa Battistoni Silicon Valley’s favourable disposition towards UBI indicates it is seen as a price worth paying to clear the space for elites to direct new technologies as they wish, without reference to the wider population:

[Y]ou don’t need to be Robespierre to be suspicious of a proposal that explicitly announces its intent to protect the rich from working-class rage - particularly when one of the major questions of UBI is where the free money will come from.

It can certainly be argued that a UBI meets André Gorz’s definition of a ‘non-reformist reform’, a measure designed to repair a system that in time reveals itself as a Trojan Horse able to break it apart. If a UBI leads to the automation of undesirable work that people are now empowered to refuse, and the wage for desirable work falls to zero because more people now have the luxury to do it without pay, the prospect of a post-capitalist society looms into view. As Battistoni puts it, understood in this sense a UBI may be “the fully automated monorail to luxury communism, where we all own the robots and everyone gets what they need.” This scenario is premised on a maximal version of the UBI, a universal, unconditional payment able to furnish a decent standard of life beyond work.

Whatever the merits of that speculation, it is clear that proposals for a UBI offer no silver bullet for dealing with the forces reshaping today’s labour market. A basic income may facilitate a transition to a post-capitalist society in which the laws of the marketplace have broken down. Or it may lead to a dystopia in which an elite appropriates the gains from new technology to itself, keeping the masses at bay by releasing some of their largesse in the form of a subsistence payment.

One frequently discussed alternative to the UBI suggests reviving the classic New Deal idea of a job guarantee. By acting as an “employer of last resort” the state gives commercially unemployed workers opportunities to continue to make use of their existing skills while retraining or up-skilling (a scheme that might be of particular benefit to older workers with less opportunity to retrain). These workers could boost health and care sectors coming under increasing pressure as the population ages, and participate in a mass programme to modernise infrastructure to meet the challenge of climate change. Another possibility would be to mandate companies enjoying windfall gains from new technology to pay into sovereign wealth funds that would work like Norway’s oil investment fund, facilitating a national savings fund that could be dedicated to the collective good.

Rewiring economic ownership

But as New Socialist has noted Labour has been moving in a still more radical direction, focusing on the fundamental issue of the structures of economic ownership that establish the frameworks ordering our economic lives. Soon after Corbyn won the leadership the first time round John McDonnell signalled interest in exploring those structures with his New Economics series, which invited leading economists to pitch radical ideas for economic transformation.

Corbyn and McDonnell both came of political age during the 1970s when Tony Benn tried and failed to implement a radical agenda for extending economic democracy, and McDonnell played a major role in the explorations of democratic planning undertaken by the Greater London Council in the 1980s. During a speech early last year marking Preston City Council’s work to develop a co-operative ecosystem capable of keeping wealth circulating in local communities, McDonnell argued that Labour’s historic focus on redistribution could only be effective during periods of strong economic growth:

[I]f growth is low, incomes will rise more slowly. It is much harder for the government to redistribute incomes when they are not rising so rapidly. That means the priority for progressives must be not so much the distribution of income, as the distribution of ownership … Labour must be a party that is concerned about ownership of wealth and assets, not only the distribution of income.

McDonnell’s interest in that 'old tradition in the labour movement of decentralised ownership and democratised wealth' surfaced in manifesto commitments to double the size of Britain’s relatively small co-operative sector by introducing a version of Italy’s Marcora Law, a ‘right to own’ making employees the buyer of first refusal when the company they work for is up for sale, and requiring regional investment banks to prioritise funding for co-operatives.

This direction of travel was confirmed by the Alternative Models of Ownership paper written by a group of radical economists and councillors commissioned by McDonnell and Rebecca Lane-Bailey at the turn of the year and published in June. As - again - noted by New Socialist, the report assesses the shortcomings of Britain’s shareholder-driven capitalist model with remarkable frankness for a document delivered to a major political party, arguing that firms driven by a focus on quarterly profits tend to neglect investment in favour of short-term gain, pushing down productivity and wages. Decision making oriented to the long-term requires co-operative structures in which a much wider range of stakeholders can participate. One of the reports most bracing passages asserts:

There is a commonplace implicit assumption in UK society that there is a natural separation between the political and economic realms, with democratic structures and processes only applying to the former. The economic realm, unlike the political realm, is deemed too complex and sensitive to be treated in the same way, and in consequence of the lack of democratic process, economic decisions are often made by, and on behalf of, a narrow elite, with scant consideration of the well-being of the general population.

The paper explores possibilities for opening up decision making processes at all levels of economic activity, from individual companies, through to local economies and state owned enterprises. Co-operative enterprises offer more stable and fairer environments for workers, offering them say over decisions and a stake in ownership. Municipal economies built around strong ‘anchor’ institutions such as local authorities, hospitals and universities, are more effective in keeping wealth and power within local communities. And public enterprises, subject to democratic oversight, can play a vital role in pursuing national strategic objectives such as the development of post-carbon energy infrastructures, the modernisation of transport networks and universal access to advanced communications. The paper’s focus on ownership rather than redistribution seeks to move Labour’s economic strategy in an explicitly socialist direction:

Labour’s objective should be nothing other than the creation of an economy which is fairer, more democratic, and more sustainable; that would overturn the hierarchies of power in our economy, placing those who create the real wealth in charge; that would end decades of under-investment and wasted potential by tearing down the vested interests that hold this country back … The historic name for that society is socialism, and this is Labour’s goal.

Platform co-operativism

The Alternative Models report provides a robust philosophical foundation for moving Labour’s current programme in more radical directions. John Marlow, for example, writing in New Socialist, suggests how the manifesto pledge for a National Investment Bank could ‘support a real process of transformation and democratisation in our economy’ by funding a significant shift towards co-operative forms of ownership.

The report also indicates how co-operative models might play a crucial role in directing the new technologies driving the automation of the economy to work for the collective good:

The goal should be to embrace the technological potential of modernity, accelerating into a more automated, productive future with all its liberating possibilities, while building new institutions around ownership, work, leisure and investment, where technological change is shaped by the common good.

Today, the direction of that technological change is far from democratic, shaped by a tiny group of extraordinarily powerful firms which, following the sci-fi writer Bruce Sterling, Adam Greenfield in Radical Technologies refers to as “the Stacks”, in reference to “the strategy of vertical integration by which each of them seeks to control the network, as well as the platforms, applications, physical devices and content that run on and are connected by it”, seeking to “mediate and monetise everyday life to the maximum possible extent” [1].

The Stacks have effectively pioneered a new form of capitalism, developing platforms that provide a space in which entire markets operate. The platforms act as intermediaries, taking a cut from the transactions that operate within the spaces they police. Frank Pasquale puts it neatly in his review of Nick Srnicek’s Platform Capitalism, a useful study of the phenomenon from a left perspective:

The platform acts as the government of a certain market, and its fees might be viewed as de facto taxes on the participants to whom it provides order, marketing, and other services. Like states aiming for a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, platforms aspire to a commercial monopoly in the ‘space’ they deem their own. Thanks to economies of scope and scale, a supplier of goods and services is much less likely to be undercut by other suppliers once it reaches a certain critical mass.

Srnicek’s book suggests a taxonomy illuminating the progress the platform corporations are making towards colonising broad swathes of the world’s economy: Google and Facebook have built platforms claiming an ever greater proportion of the world’s advertising revenues; platforms constructed by General Electric and Siemens offer cutting-edge technologies to manufacturing firms; Spotify runs a product platform that turns traditional goods into subscription-based services; the lean platforms offered by Uber and Airbnb use apps to link buyers and sellers; and Amazon, which is becoming perhaps the most powerful of all them, is colonising both the retail and cloud services markets. For Greenfield:

This is the apotheosis of what it means to be integrated as a Stack: Amazon owns the data centres, it owns the distribution and order fulfilment infrastructure, it owns the point of presence in your living room, it owns the data generated in the course of every user interaction and every physical delivery, and of course it takes a cut of any revenue generated by the consumption of content. [2]

The common objective for all platform capitalists is the rapid enclosure of a particular market, a crash-and-burn philosophy unashamedly expressed in PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s 2014 Wall Street Journal op-ed “Competition is for Losers”.

Recognising that there is no turning the clock back on platform technology, a nascent platform co-operativism movement has formed to seek to extend the alternative value system represented by the co-operative model to the platform economy. Platform co-operatives promise to circulate returns to the workers and users who run and own the platforms rather than to billionaire venture capitalists. They also offer the prospect of democratic control over the data generated by the platform’s activity, which under the Silicon Valley model is appropriated and mined for further business advantage.

Douglas Rushkoff, in Ours to Hack and to Own, a platform co-operativism manifesto published earlier this year by the movement’s founders Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider, writes:

Platform cooperatives - as a direct affront to the platform monopolies characterising digital industrialism - offer a means of both reclaiming the value we create and forging the solidarity we need to work toward our collective good. Instead of extracting value and delivering it up to distant shareholders, we harvest, circulate, and recycle the value again and again. And those are precisely the habits we must retrieve as we move ahead from an extractive and growth-based economy to one as regenerative and sustainable as we're going to need to survive the great challenges of our time. [3]

One of the best known platform co-ops profiled in the book, Stocksy United, is an image-bank service owned and governed by its employees and contributing photographers, set up by a former iStock executive who found the company’s business imperatives in conflict with the interests of the independent artists it claimed to represent. Others include the Green Taxi Cooperative, a Denver-based taxi platform owned by some 800 taxi and app-based drivers who have each put up a $2,000 investment to become co-owners of what has become the largest taxi company in the state of Colorado. Fairmondo is an Amazon-style marketplace selling fair trade products. Resonate is a music-streaming platform owned by musicians, labels, and fans. And the indycube community manages co-working spaces, shared offices and collaborative workspaces for a collective of freelancers.

As Srnicek notes, the movement faces the fundamental issue that the platform economy is premised on the establishment of monopoly power: once a platform reaches a critical mass it establishes a forbidding competitive advantage. A co-operative like Fairmondo, for example, offering some two million products, faces the formidable challenge of competing with Amazon, which sells more than 480 million to a massive customer base (in the United States alone there are some 80 million Amazon Prime accounts). Srnicek suggests that confronting the platforms will require all of the antitrust powers available to governments and international bodies, and perhaps the straightforward creation of publicly owned platforms:

Antitrust cases can break up monopolies, local regulations can impede or even ban exploitative lean platforms, government agencies can impose new privacy controls, and coordinated action on tax avoidance can draw capital back into public hands … Rather than just regulating corporate platforms, efforts could be made to create public platforms -platforms owned and controlled by the people. (And, importantly, independent of the surveillance state apparatus.) … Perhaps today we must collectivise the platforms. [4]

For Scholz and Schneider co-operative platforms must be nurtured within frameworks as effective as the Silicon Valley “assembly line” that generated the likes of Google, Facebook and Uber. The Valley has developed a sleek system that puts start-ups in touch with sources of virtual capital, engineering talent and marketing and lobbying expertise. The elements for a similarly effective ecosystem for co-operative and public platforms already exist, or could be created: state investment banks, credit unions, social venture funds, strong links with universities, and the participation of the open source software movement. In an interview with openDemocracy Schneider said:

Policymakers who recognise the power of co-operative enterprise for bringing sustainable wealth to their communities have done several things to support it. They ensure that there are good, flexible co-operative incorporation laws. They provide development funds and financing. They provide incentives for companies to operate co-operatively and contract with co-ops that are commensurate with co-ops' commitment to the common good.

Alternative digital models

Labour has already taken some tentative steps towards embracing the platform co-op concept. Corbyn released a Digital Democracy manifesto during his second leadership campaign last summer which promised to “foster the cooperative ownership of digital platforms for distributing labour and selling services”, with investment banks financing “social enterprises whose websites and apps are designed to minimise the costs of connecting producers with consumers in the transport, accommodation, cultural, catering and other important sectors of the British economy.” And McDonnell spoke at a platform co-operativism conference earlier this year, where he expressed an aspiration to foster “a new generation of co-operatively owned Ubers and Airbnbs”. The Alternative Models of Ownership report offers an ideal foundation on which to construct a more robust strategy for democratising platform technology.

Limited as it is, the most valuable sections of the Taylor Review probe the complex issues of flexibility and security to which new technologies give rise. It is right to recognise the tantalising glimpse of freedom that platform work opens to those who want it. It is for the left to develop strategies for ensuring these technologies work for the collective good, providing both flexibility and security. New technologies and the new forms of work they open offers opportunities for liberation, not enslavement. It is essential that socialists understand them, and participate in the processes already underway to work out how they can be employed for the benefit of ‘the many, not the few’.

Photo: Global Access Point


  1. Adam Greenfield, Radical Technologies, Verso, p. 275. ↩︎

  2. Adam Greenfield, Radical Technologies, Verso, p. 279. ↩︎

  3. Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider (Ed.), Ours to Hack and to Own, Or Books. ↩︎

  4. Nick Srnicek, Platform Capitalism, Polity, p. 127. ↩︎


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