Capitalism is broken. Long live ChatGPTalism.

Last February, OpenAI founder Sam Altman claimed that he could “imagine ways” that ChatGPT could “break capitalism”. Wow, that would be awesome. Time for us to enjoy our universal basic incomes while our robot slaves do all the tedious work for us!

Sadly, as of now, ChatGPT and other so-called “AI” tools have only helped the capitalists—like bosses who use “replacing you with AI” as a threat against workers who complain about their growing workload and low pay. In fact, I’d go as far as say that AI technology is what will keep capitalism alive (and throw the rest of us under the bus in the process).

Our bosses have been too nice. Capitalism has been too nice. It’s time to take away the goodies and make the world feudal again!

Here’s how and why this is happening.

  1. Capitalism relies on exploiting inequality to maximize profits and efficiency through cheap labor.

  2. However, capitalism also allows some people to climb the social ladder and improve their living standards. (This is, no matter how you feel about capitalism, a very real benefit but also ultimately self-defeating.)

  3. As the middle class grows, so does the rise of white-collared bullshit jobs. Many of these jobs are unnecessary or unfulfilling, but provide employment and income.

  4. There is more than enough wealth for everyone, but to maintain the illusion of meritocracy and justify the extreme wealth, career “progress” is necessary for accessing a better standard of living.

  5. You can’t just design stuff and be able to afford a house in the city, you need to progress into a managerial role.

  6. This undermines the efficiency of capitalism, which depends on cheap and abundant labor. To be more cost-efficient, factories must move from the US to China and then to South & Southeast Asia. Capitalism’s big unintentional benefit becomes self-defeating.

  7. To restore the balance, capitalism needs to eliminate white-collared jobs, undo the wealth sharing and create more inequality.

  8. The latest developments in “AI” are a tool for achieving this goal. They are designed to reduce dependence on white-collar workers, and it does to some degree of success, but...

  9. Many white-collar management class have secured their positions and status by creating an illusion of value and importance. They are good at defending their interests and privileges. Meanwhile...

  10. Artists, creators, and other cultural workers are seen as beneficiaries of the wealth and innovation generated by the technological elite, making them easy targets for resentment and blame.

  11. You can see this resentment in much of our cultural discourse. People who believe that they deserve to be elites because they have a strong opinion on text editors are gleeful that they can “liberate” art from the hands of those with a strong opinion on artistic tools.

  12. Moreover, their “ungrateful” role as critics and challengers of power and technology makes them enemies of the technological elite, who see themselves as the true creators of wealth, and convenient scapegoats for the self-important management class who are deeply insecure about their positions of privilege.

And so, here we are. Is there a way out? Perhaps Sam Altman’s “imagined ways” are feasible. Perhaps capitalism’s addiction to cheap labor exists because society is too unequal for capitalists not to exploit vulnerable human beings. Perhaps human labor should never be cheaper than robots. Perhaps we have enough resources to provide a social safety net for all. Perhaps a higher income for all means that everyone gets a better job while technology finally makes good on its promise of eliminating menial jobs and increasing productivity.

All this is theoretical, but if we never try, we’ll never know. It’s time for voters to vote for governments who are smart enough to think about hard problems like what’s next for capitalism and tackle them face-on, instead of taking the easy route of pandering to the managerial class.

Capitalism is broken, and everyone is scrambling fix it. Will the bosses fix it first, and make themselves Gods of this world, forever out-of-reach for the rest of us? Or will we fix it by shattering the illusion of meritocracy and scarcity, so that we can start working towards a more equal world for all?

The world is changing. How it’ll change is up to us.