17 March 2021

Jathan Sadowski: “It’s no accident that the biggest winners of the coronavirus crisis are the same tech and finance executives who have been aggressively consuming the world for more than a decade. This massive redistribution of wealth, from labor to capital, should be seen as a direct outcome of digital platforms reaching new levels of dominance as their owners strive to amass profit and consolidate power. … The ascendancy of platforms has been accelerating at breakneck speed over the last decade. … In an economy shrinking for the many and growing for the few, the cutthroat drive to be a monopoly no matter what — a defining feature of platforms — has proved to be good business. … The core business model of platform capitalism is best understood as an expansion of rentierism — owning property for the purpose of maintaining control over it and extracting rent from those who live and work on it. I call today’s techno-economic system — which drives investment in innovation, development of infrastructure, and accumulation of capital — the Internet of Landlords. … [W]hat this business model really means is that they enjoy all the rights of owning an asset while you pay for the limited privilege of access. In other words, we are now forced to deal with an explosion of landlords in our daily life — constantly paying rent, both in terms of money and data, for all of the different tools and services we use.”