S08E02: Yanis Varo­ufakis on “Tech­nofeu­dal­ism”

This episode explores the con­cept of tech­nofeu­dal­ism and the role of dig­i­tal plat­forms in gov­ern­ing the lives of indi­vid­u­als. How has the cloud cre­at­ed a feed­back loop that removes agency from those who pro­duce data? And what are the effects of tech­nofeu­dal­ism on demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics? Lis­ten to con­sid­er what demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­eties must do to shift con­trol of the algo­rithms toward the inter­ests of the many.

Guest fea­tured in this episode:

Yanis Varo­ufakis is a well-known Greek econ­o­mist, politi­cian, and pub­lic intel­lec­tu­al at large. He is cur­rent­ly Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al of the Democ­ra­cy in Europe Move­ment 2025, a left-wing pan-Euro­pean par­ty he co-found­ed in 2016, and is also found­ing Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al of the Greek polit­i­cal par­ty Euro­pean Real­is­tic Dis­obe­di­ence Front. Hav­ing served as George Papandreou’s eco­nom­ic advi­sor some two decades ago, Varo­ufakis lat­er became a staunch crit­ic of Pasok, the Greek social­ist par­ty. He joined the rad­i­cal left­ist Syriza alliance, becom­ing finance min­is­ter in Alex­is Tsipras’s gov­ern­ment in 2015. His uphill bat­tles with the Troi­ka in this capac­i­ty may be the most pub­li­cized peri­od of his career. His own mem­oirs about this doomed fight titled “Adults in the Room” offer unpar­al­leled insight into the polit­i­cal mis­man­age­ment of the so-called Euro­zone crisis. 

Besides his polit­i­cal accom­plish­ments, he has also had an illus­tri­ous aca­d­e­m­ic career as an econ­o­mist. He has held pro­fes­sor­ships the uni­ver­si­ties of Essex, East Anglia, Cam­bridge, Syd­ney, Texas at Austin, and Athens in Greece, where he estab­lished and direct­ed The Uni­ver­si­ty of Athens Doc­tor­al Pro­gram in Eco­nom­ics. Besides a num­ber of books on game the­o­ry, he has pub­lished sev­er­al influ­en­tial books about the 2008 glob­al finan­cial cri­sis, the Euro­zone cri­sis, and con­tem­po­rary cap­i­tal­ism, such as “The Glob­al Mino­taur: Amer­i­ca, the True Ori­gins of the Finan­cial Cri­sis and the Future of the World Econ­o­my” (2011), “And the Weak Suf­fer What They Must” (2016), “Talk­ing to My Daugh­ter about the Econ­o­my”[iv] (2017), and “Anoth­er Now: Dis­patch­es from an Alter­na­tive Present” (2020). In his lat­est book, provoca­tive­ly titled “Tech­nofeu­dal­ism: What Killed Cap­i­tal­ism”, Varo­ufakis address­es the rise of large web-based oli­gop­o­lies that have of late trans­formed almost every aspect of our lives. The rise of “cloud cap­i­tal”, as he terms it, has fun­da­men­tal­ly altered the log­ic of con­tem­po­rary cap­i­tal­ism, to the extent that prof­it may have been dis­placed by rent as the core log­ic of wealth accumulation.


Shalini Randeria

Shalini Randeria is Rector and President of the Central European University (Vienna/Budapest). Before, she was Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute Geneva, and Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna from 2014 to 2021. She has published widely on the anthropology of globalisation, law, the state and social movements. Her empirical research on India also addresses issues of post-coloniality and multiple modernities.