News-Tech firms have a key role in preserving open and democratic society. Most often technology is perceived to be an enabler for democracy.
Do Democracy and capitalism work on similar philosophical foundations?
Although both democracy and capitalism uphold liberty as a core value, they also sometimes show inconsistencies. While capitalism leads to an asymmetric distribution of private property ownership, democracy has equal civil and political rights at its core.
Governments have tried to align capitalism with democratic ideals through efforts such as progressive taxation and welfare provisions, etc. But still as the recent World Inequality Lab report shows capitalism has only increased inequality.
How new technologies have failed to deliver their promise of an equal world
1)Digital technology – Technology, especially the internet was perceived as a leveler that would serve all sections of society equally. The technology-enabled digital divide has only helped consolidate the hold of the privileged over resources.
Example- Unequal access to resources and digital technology prevented many school going students to attend classes during pandemic.
2)Intellectual property– It was supposed to foster innovation and usher humankind into an era that would benefit from sharing of knowledge under the protection offered by IPR. Yet it has failed to deliver the results and has led to polarization of power and wealth. It has on one side helped some to have supernormal profits while other are completely deprived of it.
Example– COVID has revealed how big pharma companies have in the times of a global crisis gave preference to their profits over a faster global recovery and saving thousands of lives.
If technology has to be used for the progress of democratic values and equality there is need for multilateral efforts to address the inequities. Although Individual nations have tried to make some but these are insufficient and can’t be a permanent solution.
Source– This post is based on the article “Technology can either save or doom capitalism” published in livemint on 13th Dec 2021.