As explained in The End of the Age of Plunder, structural violence is integral to the centralisation of power (structures) and money. Whether by design or evolution, COVID-19 and all the other conspiracies emanate from the structural incentives and penalties to exert control over all aspects of our lives, even down to our thoughts.
Alex, who co-authored the last two papers, Structures and Money in Transition and The End of the Age of Plunder, has been pivotal in coining key words and phrases. English is not his first language and his Cyrillic based language roots help him cut through the irrelevant to unearth key concepts such as plunder, structural violence, pixie dust and many more. It was he who alerted me to this video interview with Shoshana Zuboff talking about her take on “surveillance capitalism”. As Alex pointed out, because I was put off by the “capitalist” narrative, the word capitalist is a “disaster” because it obscures a deep, structural issue in ideology.
Shoshana Zuboff on surveillance capitalism
Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff wrote a monumental book about the new economic order that is alarming. “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” reveals how the biggest tech companies deal with our data. How do we regain control of our data? What is surveillance capitalism?
In this documentary, Zuboff takes the lid off Google and Facebook and reveals a merciless form of capitalism in which no natural resources, but the citizen itself, serves as a raw material. How can citizens regain control of their data?
It is 2000, and the dot.com crisis has caused deep wounds. How will startup Google survive the bursting of the internet bubble? Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin don’t know anymore how to turn the tide. By chance, Google discovers that the “residual data” that people leave behind in their searches on the internet is very precious and tradable.
This residual data can be used to predict the behavior of the internet user. Internet advertisements can, therefore, be used in a very targeted and effective way. A completely new business model is born: “surveillance capitalism.”
Look beyond capitalism to the structures which have created the infrastructure of mass data collection and behavioural manipulation – there lie the roots of our self-enslavement.
Why self-enslavement? Because, as Critical Thinking pointed out in its 6th iteration of analysis of the political economy: We are shackled and chained by beliefs and deference to authority, inculcated since birth…To live, we don the shackles and chains of own enslavement.
Shoshana describes the motivation for “surveillance capitalism” as financial but money is only the incentive framework to achieve something much deeper – thought control and, in coronavirus, shadow data and predictive analysis are integral to the implementation of total control over our lives and thoughts.
Alex refers to GDPR (European Union data protection directive) as a laughable attempt to regulate a “billboard”. GDPR addresses the information we knowingly disclose but, as Shoshana points out, that is not the main event – our behaviour and thoughts are modified through shadow data (face recognition, browsing habits, conversations and much more) and predictive analysis which GDPR doesn’t mention.
As stated at the outset of this post, whether this or other conspiracies are by design or the result of structural incentives and penalties influencing behaviour, the outcome is inevitable unless we understand that it is only our recognition of reality that can change this. For that we need to know what we’re dealing with.