Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has claimed capitalism is coming to an end because it is making itself obsolete.
The former economics professor told an audience at University College London that the rise of giant technology corporations and artificial intelligence will cause the current economic system to undermine itself.
Mr Varoufakis, who took on EU institutions over Greek debt repayments in 2015, said companies such as Google and Facebook, for the first time ever, are having their capital bought and produced by consumers.
“Firstly the technologies were funded by some government grant; secondly every time you search for something on Google, you contribute to Google’s capital,” he said. “And who gets the returns from capital? Google, not you.
“So now there is no doubt capital is being socially produced, and the returns are being privatised. This with artificial intelligence is going to be the end of capitalism.”
Warning Karl Marx “will have his revenge”, the 56-year-old said for the first time since capitalism started, new technology “is going to destroy a lot more jobs than it creates”.
“And then what happens? I have no idea.”
Describing the present economic situation as “unsustainable” and fearing the rise of “toxic nationalism”, Mr Varoufakis said governments needed to prepare for post-capitalism by introducing redistributive wealth policies.
He suggested one effective policy would be for 10 per cent of all future issue of shares to be put into a “common welfare fund” owned by the people. Out of this a “universal basic dividend” could be paid to every citizen.
Mr Varoufakis came to prominence during the Greek sovereign debt crisis when he led Greece’s negotiating team seeking a resolution with its international creditors.
Describing the event as a “complete failure” on his part, he resigned as finance minister in 2015 after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to the terms of the EU’s debt repayment plan.