False consciousness in the freelancer age

Every time I walk into a WeWork I can't help thinking about Marx. What do a modern, hipster, co-working space and Das Kapital have in common? After all, WeWork is a symbol of today's entrepreneurial renaissance: scruffy startups and hustling freelancers breaking the yoke of salaried labour to realise their dream. All true. But there is more under the surface. Behind the cosy vintage-looking furniture, the coloured coffee-table books and the free beer, I see an army of hard-working people struggling to make ends meet while happily handing over a large chunk of their income to a multi-billion dollar real estate company in exchange for what is basically a Dilbert-style cubicle. Don't get me wrong here: everybody is just doing their job, no scam, no forcing of anybody to take up the deal. It reminds me, tough, of the discussion around positive externalities and consumer surplus which we are receiving from our ads-driven internet giant. True, we get a lot of stuff for free, but at what real cost? Let's call a spade a spade, free beer and cosy furniture have a price. A certain German philosopher would have a name for that: false consciousness.