‘Bursting Asunder the Integument’: Democracy, Digitalization, and the State

Kivotidis, Dimitrios. 2023. ‘Bursting Asunder the Integument’: Democracy, Digitalization, and the State. In: Rob Hunter; Rafael Khachaturian and Eva Nanopoulos, eds. Marxism and the Capitalist State: Towards a New Debate. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 53-76. ISBN 9783031361661 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This chapter examines the relationship between digital platforms and the democratic state. On the one hand, it seeks to analyse the symbiotic relationship between digital monopolies and the capitalist state and, on the other, it explores the potential of digital platforms for actual self-governance in a different kind of society. Phenomena such as targeted ads, fake news, the twitter mob and echo chambers, as well as the influencing and fragmentation of public opinion, and their significance for the operation of bourgeois democracy and the reproduction of capitalism will be discussed. Yet, technology and democracy are both conditioned by the social, i.e. capitalist, context of development. The issue of the unrealised potential of the internet for democracy is intertwined with the issue of capitalism, exploitation and inequality. Contrary to techno-pessimist or neo-Luddist conceptions, we argue that the emancipatory potential of the processes of digitalisation and automation can only be actualised in the context of a radical restructuring of the relationship between economy, politics, technology and work. At the same time, contrary to techno-optimist views, we argue that this process cannot be initiated -let alone concluded- within the strict confines of the capitalist state. On the contrary, the potential of digital platforms for actual self-governance can only be realised in the context of development of socialist relations of production and administration. This chapter concludes by tentatively exploring the potential of digital platforms for solving problems that earlier attempts at building socialism were faced with -in particular the contradiction between central planning and collective decision-making.

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Book Section

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democracy, capitalist state, digital platforms, digital capitalism, socialist democracy

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13 March 2023Accepted
31 October 2023Published

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Date Deposited:

14 Dec 2023 14:27

Last Modified:

14 Dec 2023 15:37



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