The Rules Of The Game Must Change

If our collective efforts fuel the wealth of tech giants, shouldn't we all be entitled to a slice of the digital pie?

In “The Rules of the Game Must Change,” Yanis Varoufakis delves into the profound implications of the ongoing technological revolution on society and the economy. This compelling video addresses the critical juncture at which we find ourselves, where advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence are reshaping the landscape of employment, leading to a significant net loss of jobs for the first time in capitalist history. Varoufakis highlights the paradox where the very creators of wealth, the workers, are increasingly marginalized, and the concentration of income in the hands of machine owners threatens the very fabric of market demand.

Varoufakis argues for a radical restructuring of wealth distribution through the concept of a universal basic dividend, a form of universal basic income that is funded not by taxation but from the returns of capital itself. This approach challenges the prevailing narrative of wealth being privately produced and then appropriated by the state, revealing the inherently collective nature of wealth creation. He uses the example of an iPhone, unpacking its components to demonstrate how much of its technology was funded by public investment, and how users of services like search engines contribute to the capital of corporations without receiving a fair share of the value they help create.

The video presents basic income not as a charity but as a rightful share of collectively produced wealth, aiming to dismantle the stigma around “something for nothing” and emphasizing the importance of recognizing all members of society as deserving, regardless of their perceived productivity. Varoufakis envisions a future where basic income serves as a solid foundation for all, enabling individuals to pursue their potential without the fear of economic insecurity.

“The Rules of the Game Must Change” is a clarion call for a democratic reevaluation of our economic structures and a move towards a society where technology and automation serve to enhance human dignity and freedom, rather than exacerbate inequality. It is a persuasive argument for reimagining capitalism in a way that aligns with the collective nature of wealth production and the ethical imperative to share the fruits of progress more equitably.

The technological revolution that is taking place is threatening us with a unique phenomenon. 

When robots and artificial-intelligence empowered machines pass the touring test, that is we reach a stage where we pick up the phone, you call a restaurant, and you cannot distinguish whether this is a machine speaking to you or a human being. Suddenly, you can imagine the impact this is going to have on employment throughout capitalism. For the first time in the history of capitalism, technology is destroying a lot more jobs than it is creating, so you are going to have a massive reduction in aggregate demand. Income will become even more concentrated in the hands of those who own the machines. But even they will suffer in the long term because the demand would not be there for the product of their machines.

We need to take the returns to capital, the returns to automation, and spread them throughout society. We need a universal basic income but not one funded by taxation. Because if you tax workers so that other workers don’t work and have a right to sit on their couch and watch television whereas others are working for them, it is going to turn one segment of the working class against another.  So this is the fundamental distinction. Fund a universal basic dividend not from taxation, but from the returns of capital.

We must overturn the current narrative on life under capitalism. The current narrative is that we have private production of wealth which is then appropriated by the state for social purposes. In reality, our wealth production is collective. It is social and it is only then privately appropriated. 

Take an iPhone. Unpick it. Open it. What do you find in it? You find a variety of technologies. Most of the technologies in there were provided by public funding. Every time you search on a search engine, you contribute to the capital of google. Their customers are producing value which is being sold to advertisers for exchange value to be returned directly to these corporations. 

So basic income is a very simple way of ensuring that those who produce the value get a larger share of it. If you start thinking of it that way, then it is very easy to start thinking of basic income as a dividend – a dividend that goes to the collective that was responsible for producing the wealth. 

The struggle we are going to have to carry hearts and minds will be an ethical one from those whose own sense of dignity responds against the idea of “something for nothing.”

We have to attack the narrative head-on. Basic income is about giving money to the undeserving. It is about giving money to the rich. It is about giving money to the surfers, the beach bums, the ones that we dislike. We must not be sidetracked simply by talking about good people getting money that they deserve. We should talk about undeserving people that get money courtesy of the fact that they are members of a society that is collectively producing wealth. 

We will have to choose democratically and politically between a world in which the concentration of ownership over the newfound means of production is going to lead to a stagnating capitalism with intense inequality and a huge quantity of income for a decreasing, shrinking percentage of the population that lives behind barriers and electrified fences in privately policed communities and the rest in a cesspool of volatility, uncertainty, and social misery.

I have very deep belief in the capacity of human minds to work things out for themselves if they don’t have to live in terror. Social democracy put forth the idea of a social safety net. Nets are good for catching people who are falling, but when you are caught in them it is sometimes very difficult to get out of them, sometimes very easy to be trapped. Think of basic income as a foundation, not a net. A floor on which to stand solidly and to be able to reach for the sky. 

“I hope we can all come to see the end of capitalism within our lifetime.”

“So accurate … and so succinct … I commend you. There isn’t any question of right or wrong here IMHO … only how do we bring it about? “The maximum of freedom for each” … How do we actualize a meaningful social dividend – with all the social, political and economic change implied by it – whilst maintaining “maximum regard for the life and freedom of every other”?”

“In the US, our Wall Street controlled, corporate duopoly of a “democratic” political system is not going to change, and it is not going to save us. The system is working perfectly well for those it serves – the rich. So, we’re going to have to save ourselves, through non-violent direct action.”

“This is one cool man with a soothing voice, and a badass in a leather jacket on a motorbike.”

For more on Yanis’s movement:

DiEM25 – Democracy in Europe Movement 2025

We bring your story to life

Find out how video storytelling can help your audience resonate with your sustainable idea, research, campaign or product.

Related stories

Is our pursuit of economic growth blinding us to ecological disaster? Discover how conventional economics could be leading us astray with David Suzuki.
Why has it been so difficult for the United States to overcome issues of sexism, racism, and white supremacy?

Get our latest video releases
in your mailbox bi-weekly

We never send solicitations or junk mail and we never give your address to anyone else.

The following is a step by step guide to translating our videos.

How to translate sustainable human videos

Here is some instruction so you can easily translate the videos.

Required Tools:

- A Computer.
- Internet Connection.
- A basic text editor program like Notepad or Wordpad.

What Is a .SRT File?

A .SRT file extension is a SubRip Subtitle file. These types of files hold video subtitle information like the start and end timecodes of the text and the sequential number of subtitles.

Steps To Translate A Video

Step 1 : Locate the appropriate .SRT file.
In the embedded spreadsheet below, find the title of the video you wish to translate. Check to be sure that your language has not been translated yet.


Step 2: Download the SRT file.
Double-click on the .SRT file for the video you wish to translate. Click on the Download button.
Step 3: Translate the file.
Open the file using any basic text editor program such as Notepad or Wordpad or equivalent. Do not open in Microsoft Word as it will corrupt the formatting. After opening the file, you want to REPLACE the English text with your language, line by line, keeping all numerical and time formatting. When you finish, rename the file with the name of the language you translated.
Step 4: Upload your new .SRT file using form below.
When you submit your translation file and provide your email, we will inform you once we have uploaded it to the video. Please allow for 24-48 hours for us to do this as it is a manual process.

How has this video story impacted you?