Archive for January, 2024

Reflections of our era’s zeitgeist visionary on the alternate reality world

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

Doppelganger: A Trip Into the Mirror World, Naomi Klein, 2023

Naomi Wolf on Steve Bannon’s War Room

It’s a reminder that just because something is currently enclosed in a certain kind of financial arrangement does not mean it must forever stay enclosed. History is filled with successful struggles against earlier forms of enclosure – colonial powers were ejected from their onetime colonies; foreign owned mines and oil fields have been nationalized and put under public control; Indigenous peoples have won legal victories reclaiming sovereign control over their ancestral territories; Unjust ownership structures have been changed before and they can be changed again.

It bears remembering that many of the technologies that form the building blocks of modern tech giants were first developed in the public sector, with public dollars, whether by government agencies or public research universities. These technologies range from the internet itself to GPS and location tracking. In essence, Big Tech has appropriated commonly held tools for private gain, while adopting the discourse of the commons to describe their gated platforms.

That is the real source of my speechlessness in this unreal period: a feeling of near violent rupture between the world of words and the world beyond them. In recent years, left social movements have won huge victories in transforming the way we talk about all kinds of issues – billionaires and oligarchic rule, climate breakdown, white supremacy, prison abolition, gender identity, Palestinian rights, sexual violence – and I have to believe that those changes represent real victories, that they matter. And yet, on almost every front, tangible ground is being lost. Changing the discourse did not prevent the world’s ten riches men from doubling their collective fortunes from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion in the first two years of the (Covid) pandemic; it did not stop police forces from increasing their budgets while teachers have to pay for basic supplies out of pocket; it did not prevent fossil fuel companies from collecting more billions in subsidies and new permits; it did not prevent the Israeli police forces from attaching the funeral of the revered Palestinian American socialist Shirleen Abu Akleh after a bullet that was almost certainly fired by an Israeli soldier took her life.

Bill Gates at Davos solving the world’s problems

On the very exclusive meetings at Davos, Aspen, etc.: “In every case they take up the mantle of solving the world’s problems – climate breakdown, infectious diseases; hunger – with no mandate and no public involvement and most notably, no shame about their own central roles in creating and sustaining these crises.”

Novelist Daisy Hildyard; “You are stuck in your body right here, but in a technical way you could be said to be in India and Iraq, you are in the sky causing storms, and your are in the sea herding whales towards the beach. You probably don’t find your body in those places; it is as if you have two distinct bodies. You have an individual body in which you exist, eat, sleep and go about your day-to-day life. You also have a second body which has an impact on foreign countries and on whales…a body which is not so solid as the other one, but much larger.”

In Hildyard’s conception, our complicity in wars fought with our tax dollars to protect the oil and gas that likely warms our houses, cooks our food, and propels our vehicles, and in turn fuels extinction, is not separate from us, it’s an extension of our physical beings. “This second body,” she writes, “is your own literal and physical biological existence—it is a version of you.”