The quest to rid society of bureaucracy, shrink government and burn red tape has certainly made capitalism ‘more human’, but not in the family-friendly way envisaged by free-market gurus. Increasing informality has led to a capitalism fuelled by limitless exploitation and increasingly seedy methods of management, from semi-feudal workplace hazing rituals and predatory middle-managers with an axe to grind to arbitrary zero-hours contracts, Uber and, perhaps worst of all, the compulsory gym session with your boss.
Fleming dubs this ‘Sugar Daddy Capitalism’ after the controversial dating-app wealthy businessmen use to meet young girls, most of whom are struggling with university fees. What seems like a creepy outlier is actually a prescient metaphor for our whole economy: an anonymous and impersonal cash system that is also intent on getting under your skin, extra close and capable of ruining everything if you say ... ‘no’.
Keywords: capitalism; neoliberalism; modernity; work; informal working; gig economy; sharing economy; deformalization; political economy; political science; Uber; platform capitalism; economics; political economy; new economy, Social Theory, Political & Economic Philosophy, Social Theory, Political & Economic Philosophy