A Digital Tech Deal: Digital Socialism, Decolonization, and Reparations for a Sustainable Global Economy

Global Information Society Watch (https://www.giswatch.org/node/6225)

8 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2020 Last revised: 22 Apr 2021

See all articles by Michael Kwet

Michael Kwet

Yale University - Information Society Project

Date Written: August 10, 2020


As we progress into the 21st century, the human race is driving planet Earth towards ecosystem collapse. Scientists fear that because humans are overheating the environment and over-consuming its material resources, we are generating a sixth extinction event that is extinguishing billions of animals. Without a rapid change in the way the we conduct global civilization, we will destroy much of life on Earth, including, potentially, our own species.

In order to fix the situation, the human race must redistribute wealth and income from the rich to the poor and rapidly shift to an economic model based on equality and ecological sustainability. Unfortunately, transnational technology corporations, centred in Silicon Valley, are perpetuating consumerism and exacerbating inequality across the world.

This essay argues that colonialism is the business model of digital capitalism, and the problem of "Big Tech" cannot be fixed within a capitalist system. In order to produce an environmentally sustainable digital economy, we need digital socialism.

I suggest we develop and expand “People’s Tech for People’s Power” – a commons-based digital economy based on free and open source software and internet decentralization, supported by socialist legal solutions, critical education, grassroots movements, and bottom-up democracy. Under People's Tech, the digital ecosystem will be socialized, with the means of computation placed into the hands of the people, who will administer production, distribution, and development for a just and sustainable economy. Intellectual property (in the form of copyrights and patents) will be converted to commons-based ownership, available to everyone on equal terms. This model of development redistributes wealth and knowledge as a form of reparations for colonialism and slavery, and intersects with the movement for social and environmental justice.

Keywords: Digital Colonialism, Data Colonialism, Digital Tech New Deal, Digital Socialism, Green Technology, Environmental Sustainability, Global South, Big Tech, US Empire

Suggested Citation

Kwet, Michael, A Digital Tech Deal: Digital Socialism, Decolonization, and Reparations for a Sustainable Global Economy (August 10, 2020). Global Information Society Watch (https://www.giswatch.org/node/6225), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3670986 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3670986

Michael Kwet (Contact Author)

Yale University - Information Society Project ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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