“Make them eat chips”: the digital divide and Big Tech’s new Reserve Army of Consumption.

“It has seemed to me for a while that much of what passes for academic writing on ICTs is really high-class, generic advertising for “Big Tech”; its main purpose being to sustain stock-market enthusiasm, discipline the skeptics and generally keep the show on the road[1]. What I hadn’t appreciated till reading Wilhelm is how the technoptimist orthodoxy, plus “digital divide” logic, are helping Big Tech to do something quite unprecedented in the history of capitalism: turn the public sector into what might be called (adapting Marx’s phrase[2]) a “reserve army of consumption”: a large, captive market that can be relied upon to buy up surplus production at a nice, steady rate, at nice, steady, high volumes and prices.”



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