Socialism at Play

Alas, it turns out that the crucial component of informational capitalism is distribution. Conglomerates like Apple, Sony, and Microsoft quickly adapted to this peaceful seizure of the means of production. They opened their markets to indies and even supported some of them, while consolidating control over the vectors along which content — previously known as culture — spreads in order to get a cut at every transaction. The result is a saturated market in which small producers take all the financial risk and rarely succeed financially, while platform capitalists make handsome profits while producing basically nothing.

In the 21st century digital economy, we must seize not just the means of production but also the means of distribution. This is an important issue even if you don't care about video games. With the rise of social media, our memories, thoughts, and social interactions have been commoditized and housed on platforms run by large capitalist enterprises.

When most people have a powerful computer with a built-in camera in their pocket (which also happens to take phone calls), entire industries that once required a sizable amount of capital just to get started are increasingly automated, democratized, and universalized.1 Distribution, the one area we thought the Internet was sure to democratize? Not so much.

Bloggers, YouTubers, and indie game developers unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

  1. As a sidenote, the Internet proves why collective social investment in research is so critical. If the Internet had been developed by private industry, it would likely have ended up a balkanized mish-mash of competing proprietary standards, and already established firms would have had a firm lock-out on the platform. I'm very concerned that self-driving cars are going to end up in this situation. Rather than automating a segment of the industry that retail giants use to maintain their dominance and thereby democratizing a source of their power, firms like Tesla, Google, and Apple hope to become distribution kingmakers in their stead.

Socialism at Play by Paolo Pedercini