Tech companies have been criticised for their surveillance practices, privacy breaches and monopolistic ambitions. Instead of inquiring as to how we could ‘fix’ Facebook, this seminar explores alternatives that could replace them. It presents the idea of platform socialism – the organisation of the digital economy through the social ownership of digital assets and democratic control over the infrastructure and systems that govern our digital lives. This framework facilitates holistic thinking about the systemic nature of the problems we face and the need for genuine alternatives.
To develop the principles and institutional sketch of platform socialism, James Muldoon draws inspiration from the writings of two early twentieth century writers: the libertarian socialist, G. D. H. Cole and the Austrian philosopher and economist Otto Neurath. James proposes new forms of participatory and decentralised governance through an ecosystem of alternative ownership models of digital platforms. How would socially-owned and controlled apps operate in transport, food delivery and short-term accommodation? Drawing from historical examples and contemporary prototypes, platform socialism seeks to reclaim a long-term counter-hegemonic project for challenging capitalist control over technology.
Dr James Muldoon is a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Exeter and researcher at the Autonomy think tank. He is the author of Platform Socialism: Reclaiming our Digital Future from Big Tech (Pluto Press, 2022) and Building Power to Change the World: The Political Thought of the German Council Movements (OUP, 2020). His writings can be found at jamesmuldoon.org.