Is Digital Technology Burying the Middle Class?
By privatizing facets of general knowledge via intellectual property laws, digital technology is transforming society's hierarchy. Now salaried employees are protesting against capitalism.
What's the Latest Development?
Many of those protesting against the current wealth inequality in America are members of the middle class, fighting for their position of economic privilege, globally speaking. So how did capitalism's biggest headliner become its irritant? Technology, aided by developments in law protecting intellectual property, has allowed the privatization of large swaths of general knowledge, says Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek. This is precisely how Microsoft made Bill Gates so rich, he says.
What's the Big Idea?
Rather than moralizing away inequality by creating a more equitable social hierarchy, where more citizens are sufficiently compensated to keep quiet about the exploitation of natural and human resources around the globe, Zizek says we should take the renewal of global protests—from the Middle East to Occupy Wall Street to Spain and Greece—as a sign that capitalism, as a social phenomena, is spinning out of control. The new big earners are managers and CEOs of knowledge-based industries.
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