How Silicon Valley Utopianism Brought You the Dystopian Trump Presidency
By Jason Tanz : wired – excerpt
Two years ago, journalist Anand Giridharadas took the stage at the TED Conference and told the attendant techno-solutionists that they were, in fact, part of the problem. Literally, that’s what he said. Here, I’ll quote him directly:
“If you live near a Whole Foods, if no one in your family serves in the military, if you’re paid by the year, not the hour, if most people you know finished college, if no one you know uses meth, if you married once and remain married, if you’re not one of 65 million Americans with a criminal record — if any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that actually, you may not know what’s going on and you may be part of the problem.”
Seen from today, as Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president, Giridharadas’ message joins “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.” as one of the great unheeded warnings of the 21st century. That socioeconomic despair was profitably channeled to elect a president who—beyond his politics—represents a threat to most of the values the technocracy holds dear: transparency; multiculturalism; expertise; social progress. And, in the greatest of ironies, he used the tools and language of the technocracy to do it.
At least since the 1960s, the computer—and, beyond that, the Internet–has been a symbol and tool of personal liberation. Stewart Brand called the computer revolution “the real legacy of the sixties”–—an outgrowth of the “counterculture’s scorn for centralized authority.” The ideology was codified by WIRED alum Steven Levy in his 1984 book Hackers, in which he summarized the Hacker Ethic:
- Access to computers should be unlimited and total.
- All information should be free.
- Mistrust authority—promote decentralization.
- You can create art and beauty on a computer.
- Computers can change your life for the better.
These precepts inspired a worldview that saw institutions and middlemen as malign forces that mostly constrained human potential, and that placed unlimited faith in unshackled individuals to improve the world and their own lives. For much of the past three decades, that philosophy has borne out. It has become an unspoken truism of corporate and civic life.
The tech industry has achieved negative freedom. The question now is: What do people do now?… (more)
If the author is right, what do we do now? Regardless of how we feel about technology we need this perspective. We have been looking at the smart technology industry that attempts to force unwanted social and economic changes on our sophisticated population and has permeated the Democratic party in our country and brought about a pretty astounding political reversal. As difficult as the forced changes have been on our society, they are nothing compared to what we have brought to other parts of the world, as we seek to “improve” the lives of everyone on the planet. by bringing them into “our” twentieth century, insisting on global unity. If we don’t like being forced to change at an uncomfortable pace it is easy to see why people living in the 18th Century resist being forced into the 20th and 21st Century against their will. Read the book “Future Shock” by Alvin Toffler again if you don’t get it.