“The capacity that digital companies have for abstracted, exponential growth has allowed them to amass political and economic power unheard of even in the time of the Gilded Age robber barons. Numerous studies have concluded that economic elites now enjoy substantially more impact on government policy, while “citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”
I believe the term is … hallelujah!
The crux? The perspective, drive & method of reasoning comes from the author being a “humanist”. The entire delve & hue of rationale is bolstered by this quality & indeed clarity. One of the most “inhuman” subjects & crisis, a true error of the species – technocentrism/tech fascism/data dystopia/techtorial totalitarianism – is elucidated by the natural currents of “form think” & human consciousness, free from the limitations, reductions & adulterations of market or technological disorder & falsity.
The sheer enlightened simplicity of the authors approach actually means that complex & guarded obstacles, threats & conundrums – that are ravaging the social landscape & human condition – are effortlessly dispatched & unwound, pierced by a profound & irresistible bullshit eliminator & cleanse of coherence.
The guy just cuts through the shit – with no regard to the restrictive structures & glass-ceilings that are weaved around the public narrative & “selling” of the emergency by the very culprits & interests that are driving this devaluation & disempowerment.
“Studies have shown that that the more power a person has, the less “motor resonance” or mirroring they do of others. Of course, people seeking power may be predisposed to this behaviour. But further research has suggested that after people have gained power, they tend to behave like patients with damage to the brain’s orbital frontal lobes. That is, the experience of wealth and power is akin to removing the part of the brain “critical to empathy and socially acceptable behaviour”
It is ridiculously refreshing & ridiculously effective. It is also a joy to read, as the language, expression & mode of writing is not hindered by academic constriction or “professional” standards or deference.
This dynamism & purity of both method & intention gives Rushkoff the freedom to cut through & penetrate to core truths. The dense scrub of falsity & fiction that is presdigitated by the industry & it’s benefactors doesn’t stand a chance here.
There is a real strength in not letting the machine or it’s minions dictate the terms of combat/perception/logic.
The human/sentient being angle/discipline/guiding principle is an accomplished & powerful foundation for dealing with the technological oblivion & confinement that is prescribed & imposed by an utterly out-of-control tech sector – where capture is defined as convenience & every ill afflicted & accrued is just the collateral of irreversible progress, an insignificant side feature & uncomfortable afterthought.
But Rushkoff goes even further with his research & deconstruction.
In what he refers to as “The Mindset” he exposes the ideology & group think that infests so much of the tech sector/Silicon Valley & the billionaires that inhabit this deluded rupture of damaged existential tissue & the total divorce from natural moorings that that entails.
This is where the book comes into a class of it’s own.
Excellent scribe on this increasingly troubling wound on the species such as Franklin Foer’s World Without Mind, James Bridle’s New Dark Age or Shushana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism – to name a few – do not access the areas of failed thinking & thoroughly erroneous “governance” of these technological platforms, their effects & the myriad of dangerous collateral outcomes that they inflict & conjure.
“ We can’t blame capitalism for all of technologies ills, nor can we blame big tech for the devastating excesses and blind spots of business. But neither business nor digital technology could of wrought the havoc of this moment on their own. Rather, the two have formed a mutually reinforcing feedback loop that encourages entrepreneurs to envision a future ruled by private sector technologies that work to make our problems invisible, even if they fail to solve them.”
Partly because of his position & the nature of his acumen in the field & subject, Rushkoff has found himself sought & summoned by billionaire members of the technogarch class to advise them of survival strategies from the very perils they are manufacturing.
just like the crack dealer that does not smoke his own “product” – it is widely acknowledged that many tech mandarins shun their own inventions or forbid their children from using them.
one of the major problems/obscenities with tech is that it is not consensual. The cathexis to integrate or “force” it into every facet of life under the deceptive pretext & couched lie of convenience & expedience (it is often the exact opposite) is becoming compulsory.
Far, far, far from rendering greater security or protection, tech regularly leads to expanded vulnerability, hassle & restriction.
It is not liberating.
When it goes wrong, which it does with alarming recurrence, there is effectively no one to blame & the error is attributed to the machines, rather than the fuckers that forced it upon us.
This is before we even get into the data scraping, monetising of essential activities to undisclosed third-party recipients/shadow customers, unwitting surveillance & mind mapping.
Shit is dystopic.
Count me the fuck out … & that’s a demand, not a request.
This is also why you need to resist & refuse – with fervour – any & all attempts to ram these “obligations” & entrapment-dressed-as-advantage onto your daily lives.
It is not consensual. There must always be an alternative that does not require the technological medium for the individual to select from.
Otherwise, just as you have a sexual assault, you also have a technological assault, technological intrusion & personal trespass.
Human rights must always, ALWAYS, come before any machine/tehcnological requirement or action & the sentient sovereign must – & can – always choose whether they are willing to cooperate with the request.
“The rhetoric of Silicon Valley – whether in the pitch decks of young developers, the talks of TED speakers, or the Joe Rogan interviews with tech billionaires – always bears the same hallmarks as these business plans. Progress. The future. Optimism. Transformation. Winning. But usually these are just euphemisms for conquest, colonization, domination, and extraction. They describe ends-justify-means campaigns to change the landscape and achieve a monopoly.”
Whatever the case, & far further than the points I have traced in this review, Douglas Rushkoff has written one of the most important books to contribute to the expanding nightmare of technogarchy & the monstrous, freakish, dangerous & fundamentally disrupting side-effects & symptoms that this unnatural & intrusive malady is inflicting upon our brains, lives, societies & species.
Both urgent & brilliant.
Douglas Ruskoff, 2022, Scribe, 192 pages