How America became a 1% society
“In every serious doctrine of the destiny of men, there is some trace of the doctrine of the equality of men. But the capitalist really depends on some religion of inequality.”
“In building our narrative, humans forget one big thing about computer algorithms: They don’t work like human brains. What’s complicated to us is simple to them, and vice versa.
In the Reply All episode, Alex Goldman tries to guess which of Facebook’s many data sources led to certain ads, but as he admits, it’s very hard to guess this. Facebook’s own developers often don’t know how their algorithm makes certain choices. Most people barely grasp the implications of this. They don’t understand how this is scarier than if Facebook simply listened to us. They don’t understand that Facebook doesn’t need to listen to us—because it already knows what we want and need, before we do.”
In the earlier stages of the process, capitalism becomes more and more uncoupled from its previous job as an optimizer for human values. Now most humans are totally locked out of the group whose values capitalism optimizes for. They have no value to contribute as workers – and since in the absence of a spectacular social safety net it’s unclear how they would have much money – they have no value as customers either. Capitalism has passed them by. As the segment of humans who can be outcompeted by robots increases, capitalism passes by more and more people until eventually it locks out the human race entirely, once again in the vanishingly unlikely scenario that we are still around.
So we have all this amazing technological and cognitive energy, the brilliance of the human species, wasted on reciting the lines written by poorly evolved cellular receptors and blind economics, like gods being ordered around by a moron.
This is very important reading, not just for parents, but anybody engaging with media in the 21st century.
“If living within a capitalist framework makes us expendable, most of us are then capable of being cloned, of being replaced by more compliant, cheaper, less difficult labor. RZA’s failure to defend Banks in that moment a year ago, as problematic as she can be, suggests that he might be the sort of person who would rather retain his Hollywood valuation (and connections) than challenge it when the moment arises.”
This is an amazing conversation about leadership and organisation design.
Title of article is pretty “click-baity”, but solid read.
Antibiotic resistance is like climate change: it is an overwhelming threat, created over decades by millions of individual decisions and reinforced by the actions of industries.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”
… The first thing we usually do when someone disagrees with us is that we just assume they are ignorant. You know, they don’t have access to the same information we do and when we generously share that information with them, they are going to see the light and come on over to our team.
When that doesn’t work. When it turns out those people have all the same information and they still don’t agree with us we move onto a second assumption. They’re idiots …
public life has always been bound up with the economy and shopping. The two are linked, but they are not synonymous. In 2017, the right to safely assemble in public has never been more vital nor more important. We should be fighting for truly public spaces, and using the ones we have more frequently–not ceding them to a sub-genre of retail designed and managed by companies. Calling a store a “town square” just dilutes the value of actual public spaces.
"The “creative class” were just the rich all along, or at least the college-educated children of the rich."
"The notion that the metaphorical “court of public opinion” should be a truth-seeking body was chucked overboard long ago. Today, a peculiar, pluralistic ideology dominates the “free market(place) of ideas”—an ideology cast in the same mold as liberal multiculturalism. The noblest virtue of this ideology, we’re taught, is not the bare-knuckle struggle for truth, but the equal protection and representation of variegated perspectives and identities, especially those that have been historically excluded from the mainstream (or feel like they have been)."
Capitalism is a Paperclip Maximizer.
Forgot how great this article is. Needed to read this again.
The Earth has experienced five mass extinctions before the one we are living through now, each so complete a slate-wiping of the evolutionary record it functioned as a resetting of the planetary clock, and many climate scientists will tell you they are the best analog for the ecological future we are diving headlong into. Unless you are a teenager, you probably read in your high-school textbooks that these extinctions were the result of asteroids. In fact, all but the one that killed the dinosaurs were caused by climate change produced by greenhouse gas.
Every summer brings comic book spectacles that attempt new heights in extravagance and waste. Each time, the distinction between what might be authentically popular forms and those that win us over through sheer monetary bulk and grim “seriousness” is further mystified.
"This is the ground of politics as administration and necessity and the root of the technocratic age. Once the life and death of every living thing can become a matter of calculation without ideology or ethics, so is everything else. People can starve to death in empty flats because there’s no magic money tree; thousands can drown on the Mediterranean because we don’t have the resources to take in any more. It’s common sense. Common sense in the twenty-first century is always common sense from the point of view of an atomic bomb."
What becomes clear here is that ours is a system that is programmed to subordinate life to the imperative of profit.
Some revelations aren’t very revealing. Following the release of Donald Trump Jr.’s email correspondence with publicist Rob Goldstone, we have learned that the Trump campaign would have been happy to receive from the Russian government damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Indeed they loved the idea. But we already knew that
The purpose of the thought leader is to mirror, systematize, and popularize the delusions of the superrich: that they have earned their fortunes on merit, that social protections need to be further eviscerated to make everyone more flexible for “the future,” and that local attachments and alternative ways of living should be replaced by an aspirational consumerism. The thought leader aggregates these fundamental convictions into a great humanitarian mission. Every problem, he prophesies, can be solved with technology and rich people’s money, if we will only get our traditions, communities, and democratic norms out of the way.
Come for the takedowns, stay for the sobering reality that the almighty💰 is ruining everything.
"under capitalism, when markets are pitted against the state, the figure of the consumer can be invoked against the figure of the citizen. Consumption has in fact come to replace our original ideas of citizenship."
Just discovered Mark Fisher thanks to The Baffler. This essay lays out so much I have been thinking and talking about recently!
Such a great article.
The fact of the matter is that feudalism has been democratised. To a lesser or greater extent, we are all depending on handouts. En masse, we have been made complicit in this exploitation by the rentier elite, resulting in a political covenant between the rich rent-seekers and the homeowners and retirees.
Don’t get me wrong, most homeowners and retirees are not benefiting from this situation. On the contrary, the banks are bleeding them far beyond the extent to which they themselves profit from their houses and pensions. Still, it’s hard to point fingers at a kleptomaniac when you have sticky fingers too.
A part of me wonders whether this sort of thinking is a kind of giving up or actually pragmatic and useful. Not fighting the tide, but setting up camp elsewhere...
"From the porch of a rented house, he began to codify his intuitions. He had long been fascinated by Benedict of Nursia, the sixth-century monk who, convinced that it was impossible to live virtuously in a fallen Roman Empire, founded a monastery where the flame of Christianity might be tended during the Dark Ages. This March, Dreher published “The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation,” which David Brooks, in the Times, has called “the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.” It asks why there aren’t more places like St. Francisville—places where faith, family, and community form an integrated whole.
Dreher’s answer is that nearly everything about the modern world conspires to eliminate them. He cites the Marxist sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who coined the term “liquid modernity” to describe a way of life in which “change is so rapid that no social institutions have time to solidify.” The most successful people nowadays are flexible and rootless; they can live anywhere and believe anything. Dreher thinks that liquid modernity is a more or less unstoppable force—in part because capitalism and technology are unstoppable. He urges Christians, therefore, to remove themselves from the currents of modernity. They should turn inward, toward a kind of modern monasticism."
It’s all about social status, in other words, and the eternal desire of Americans to claw their way upward by means of some fancy-sounding euphemism. Back in the 1980s, English professor Paul Fussell set down a list of occupations that had contrived to class themselves up by adopting longer names that sounded more professional. “In many universities,” he wrote,
what used to be the bursar is now the disbursement officer, just the way what used to be an undertaker (already sufficient as a euphemism, one would think) is now a funeral director, an advance of two whole syllables. . . . Selling is raised to retailing or marketing, or even better, to merchandising, an act that exactly doubles its syllables, while sales manager in its turn is doubled by being raised to Vice-President, Merchandising. The person on the telephone who used to provide Information now gives . . . Directory Assistance, which is two syllables grander.
And so experts of every kind have in our time been promoted to curators, which is not just a longer word but one that carries grand professional implications.
So succinct and clear. *Share* with everyone you know!
I wonder how many generations it will take before this state of affairs becomes completely untenable and change is made...
Remember the Oxfam report early last year that found sixty-two individuals owned as much wealth as the entire bottom half of humanity put together? It’s gone down to only six — that’s right, six — in the past year: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, and Carlos Slim Helu. The total wealth held by those individuals increased in that time from $343 billion to $412 billion — a 20% increase in one year — bringing their total wealth to an amount equivalent to the total wealth of the bottom 50% of the whole human race.
This is an amazing read. If you are in ANY way interested in culture, society, your place and role in the emerging new world order or are just interested in watching a good game and need to gain some insight into the rules, read this.