Sunday, 1 September 2019

The Hypermodernity of Individuals and Identity Reduced to Dividuals and Data

How PC Outrage and Cancel Culture actually work for Accelerationist Capital and Technology

by J. Albert Barr






"Capital follows you when you dream. Time ceases to be linear, becomes chaotic, broken down to punctiform divisions. As production and distribution are restructured, so are nervous systems. To function effectively as a component of just-in-time production you must develop a capacity to respond to unforeseen events, you must learn to live in conditions of total instability, or 'precarity', as the ugly neologism has it. Periods of work alternate with periods of unemployment. Typically, you find yourself employed in a series of short-term jobs, unable to plan for the future." - Mark Fisher: "Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?" (2009)

"With the internet as its nervous system, the world's connected cell-phones and sensors as its sense organs, and data centers as its brain, the 'whatever' will hear everything, see everything, and be everywhere at all times. the only rational word to describe that 'whatever', is 'god' - and the only way to influence a deity is through prayer and worship." - Anthony Levandoski on Wired magazine

"The mobile phone industry is the back-bone of the global brain that is being put together." - Rick Wiles

"You know what they say the modern version of Pascal's Wager is? Sucking up to as many Transhumanists as possible, just in case one of them turns into God." - Greg Egan: "Crystal Nights" (2009)




In a key early scene from 1999's zeitgeist defining cyberpunk film, The Matrix, we see Neo encountering Morpheus for the first time. Morpheus begins by asking Neo a very direct question:"Do you believe in fate?" Neo answers in the negative, stating that he "didn't like the idea that he wasn't in control of his life." Agreeing with Neo that he knew exactly what he meant, Morpheus goes on to tell Neo this: "Let me tell you why you are here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?" And of course Neo answers immediately with, "The Matrix".

Morpheus then proceeds to tell Neo what The Matrix is: "The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work. When you go to church. When you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth." Neo then asks the obvious, "What truth?", to which Morpheus ominously answers, "That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind!"

The Matrix become a huge box-office hit in 1999, and shortly after, a pop-cultural sensation, literally blowing the minds of many of its fast-growing ardent fandom, and provoking much philosophical discussion and analysis - both astute and hare-brained - regarding the film and its profound implications. Others, however, simply saw it as a cool, slick piece of Hollywood entertainment and that's all; consumable and disposable and ultimately innocuous commercial fodder. The notion of being a "red pill person" or a "blue pill person" entered the social conscious and vernacular not long after 9/11 happened, interesting enough.

Moreover, not long after social media exploded onto the cultural scene, as the Digital Age began to become more and more pervasive in the lives of all those who were spending more and more time on the internet after 2004, particularly "connecting" with people on a new social networking service called Facebook, downloading their music onto MP3's and iPods, and partaking in proliferating on-line gaming sites, the idea of what was once generally accepted as "consensus reality" began to breakdown and fragment, rendering it far more "subjective" than "objective". This was unwittingly, or not, facilitated by new stringent measures placed on many of the previous "freedoms" that Americans, especially, but also Canadians and Europeans inalienably enjoyed since after the Second World War. This, thanks solely to the fallout of September 11, 2001, with the introduction of the Homeland Security Act of November 2002, for instance, and an ever-widening division in the populace, politically, socially and culturally, especially between active Democrats/liberals and Republicans/conservatives. Commercial flying became an inculcated and standardized nightmare, because, at this point, anyone could be a terrorist threat to national security. A Kafkian presumption of guilt absorbed itself, inexorably, into the collective conscious and became "normalized".

This so-called sense of "guilt" was psychologically sublimated through the coordinated mantra of George W. Bush's, "You're either with us or against us", onto, and into, the minds of the American people, regarding the "necessary measures" implemented by the American government to crackdown on terrorism by flushing out all "evil doers" and the "axis of evil" who represented the very antithesis of America's "values and identity". For a little while, this fear-mongering rhetoric unified most Americans, regardless of political party affiliation. In other words, most everyone behaved and did their patriotically-charged due diligence, i.e. continued to "shop" and be consumers of freedom, like George W. encouraged them to be. 

However, when it looked as though Saddam Hussein did not, in fact, have "weapons of mass destruction", like W. and his right-hand men, Dick Cheney (who was really in charge) and Donald Rumsfeld, adamantly claimed he did, things began to sour in the House of Bush Jr. during his second term, thus clearing the way for an inevitable Democratic victory for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. And what parasitically latched onto Obama's promise for "change" was that same pesky sense of "collective guilt" that W. exploited, from the right, during his presidency, only this time it morphed into "politically-correct guilt", from the left, with the sudden spread of identity politics, intersectionality, gender dysphoria, otherkin, systemic racism, easily triggered emotionalism, toxic masculinity and 4th wave feminism. Initially, these highly politically-charged concepts were predominately relegated to a university and college campus curriculum and syllabus, which were gaining more and more momentum since the early 90s, when postmodernism was entering its zenith, its final phase. And, all the while, Gen Xers were beginning to have kids, and those kids were being subjected to all kinds of "helicopter parenting", self-esteem counselling, Ritalin prescriptions, accruing the benefits of government-funded programs like No Child Left Behind, resulting in many a "participation trophy" being won, and bicycle helmet sales going through the roof.

Unbeknownst to said parents, and society at large, the vast majority of those kids, whom we know as Millennials, were developing a skewed sense of self, in their own world and the world in general; many of whom were growing up with an inflated, unrealistic, humorless and narcissistic sense of personal entitlement. A marked cross-section of them coming from economically privileged backgrounds and liberal environments (ironically, despite having "progressive parents" that smothered, or at least greatly limited, their early development and subjective experiences) began to go to university or college by the end of the 2000s, with a highly susceptible sense for the power of political and philosophical suggestibility, unlike generations that came before it, who didn't have the convenient benefits of in-real-time social media dissemination of opinion and perception. And it was here that the Millennial generation, like a perfect, sociologically-determined storm, "intersected" with the aforementioned identity politics et al, which had become a pervasive fixture on university campuses over the last few decades, coincidentally enough. Like a kind of "politicorticulture", this Millennial generation seems as if it was, in supremely calculated fashion, grown from a crop of seeds into the current politically-charged harvest, and easily offended, electorate class that has apparently taken most of contemporary culture hostage, with many MSM outlets, liberal Hollywood and corporate institutions like Disney, Google, Twitter and Facebook happily towing the "woke" line as "gatekeepers", under the seeming guise of "social justice", cultural diversity and sexual/gender equality. But to what end, ultimately? It's not for a social justice utopia of safe-space equality for all, I can tell you that! Capital, I suspect, has another Utopian vision in its panopticonal, surveilling cross-hairs, or rather, algorithms.





Whatever the consequential ramifications of the secret Jekyll Island meeting in 1910, featuring the participation of several of the richest men in the world, at that time, resulting in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, which initiated what would become the Haves and the Have-Nots being bridged by the newly developing "middle class"; John Maynard Keynes economics; a highly profitable, but devastating, Great War; and the notion of "the bewildered herd", "the phantom public", "cold war" and the cultural "stereotype", all of which were coined by "the Father of Modern Journalism", Walter Lippman, in his exceedingly influential books, "Public Opinion" (1922) and "The Phantom Public" (1925), and Edward Bernays' propaganda-cum-public relations innovations, it's crucial that what once was the banking system, "the machine", eventually became the system itself, the cybernetic program, "the matrix", when economic computation and digital data, networks of information coincided with 70s and 80s computer software development. Crony capitalism and Reaganomics were all the rage in the economic boom of the 80s, thanks in great part to the events of October 6, 1979, as we entered the post-Fordism era and forever changed working environments and conditions. As Mark Fisher elucidated in his important 2009 book, "Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?":

"According to Marxist economist Christian Marazzi, the switch from Fordism to post-Fordism can be given a very specific date: October 6, 1979. It was on that date that the Federal Reserve increased interest rates by 20 points, preparing the way for 'supply-side economics' that would constitute the 'economic reality' in which we are now enmeshed. The rise in interest rates not only contained inflation, it made possible a new organization of the means of production and distribution.. The 'rigidity' of the Fordist production line gave way to a new 'flexibility', a word that will send chills of recognition down the spine of every worker today. This flexibility was defined by a deregulation of Capital and labor, with the workforce being casualized (with an increasing number of workers employed on a temporary basis), and outsourced." 

Perception is everything in our industrial-cum-digital world, especially for those in positions of power, economically and culturally speaking. And it has been necessary to manufacture and manoeuver perception(s) through an ever-increasingly complex society, culture and civilization. This immense process takes a lot of planning, calculating and execution, with many, many variables, contingencies and nuances to consider. It takes a great mind, or set of minds, to successfully maintain a specific perception of the world that is not only accepted, but welcomed, and even defended, by those who, under less manipulated conditions, would perhaps be aghast at the thought that they were being deliberately duped on a daily basis. But then again, it appears that some dispositions are seemingly predisposed to welcome an illusory life of servitude to an economic system, national identity and symbolic order, in general. Therein perhaps lies the rub, in terms of ever achieving a wholly unified populace collectively rejecting an eventually transparent world of manipulation and exploitation perpetrated by a few elite factions, who have traditionally inherited their powerful positions and riches.

The time-honored, human frailty known as fear remains the greatest weapon wielded against us. We are socially tribal by nature (despite SJW's attempting to redefine what "human nature" actually is now) and we all have within us the fear of being rejected by others and even being ostracized and excommunicated. This very fear is now being exploited by social justice agendas, victimhood mentality and identity politics in the corrosive form of "outrage and cancel culture", where deplorables (to use Hillary Clinton's cringe-inducing, sanctimonious nomenclature) are now being deplatformed, censored and banned outright on social media, doxed, demonetized on You Tube and essentially publicly shamed wherever they attempt to initiate an indiscriminately open discussion and/or debate. Far-left identitarians appear to be willfully immune to any logic, reason and fact-based arguments, evidently taking a strategic page right out of radical community organizer, Saul Alinsky's, playbook for effective radical activism: "Conservatives have a tendency to try to win every debate with logic and recitations of facts which all too often fail to get the job done because emotions and mockery are often just as effective as logic." This remarkable sentence could very well be ground-zero for the birth of the contemporary "social justice warrior".

But the mere necessity for such immature and childish tactics betrays any notion of tenable justification under the predication of what we understand, generally, to be a civil society of coexistence and cooperation. But this is why a generation of unqualified entitlement, socially stunted, knee-jerk emotionalism, and utter lack of self-awareness, was so crucial to develop and implement on the political/world stage. Indeed, we have verily entered the "clown world" and "upside-down" of confusion and lunacy where they can pass a law that allows a transgender male to have "the right" to have an abortion, regardless of not actually being biologically equipped with a uterus. This should be called for what it is: mental illness, and "enabling mental illness" at that. But what was previously adjudicated as a mental illness, such as gender dysphoria, by the APA, has now been overturned and furthermore pushed onto the general public to be accepted and seamlessly incorporated into the culture and society at large. In Canada, Bill C-16 was passed by Parliament in 2016 to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code which added gender expression and gender identity as "protected grounds" within the Act. The traditional gender roles of men and women are being categorically reversed, where young men are now appearing effeminate and easily emasculated (some are even wearing unironic t-shirts that say "Beta Cuck 4 Life"!), and conversely women are becoming more masculine and socially aggressive. Surely this is sheer madness on an increasingly mass scale!

The Digital Age, neoliberal late capitalism and the rampant acceleration of technology has evidently played a critical role in our present identity politics and culture war crisis. Yet another cultural phenomenon happening on a lesser scrutinized scale is what is called "otherkin". More and more people, typically under the age of forty, are declaring themselves as "other" than their birth species. For instance, some are now identifying as "wolfkin" or "bearkin" or "deerkin" or "serpentkin", or even alternative identities emanating from fantasy or myth, like "elfkin" or "dragonkin" or "wizardkin". There's even a subculture called "Furries", where they dress-up, akin to cosplayers, as their favorite, personally identified furry creature. And much like gender dysphoria people, otherkin people are clamoring for social acceptance and legal acknowledgement within society, safe from ridicule and discrimination. There is real evidence here to suggest that humanity, certainly in the West, is regressing dramatically from generally well-adjusted individuals and mature adults to increasingly depressive, mentally ill, infantalized, data-processed dividuals, as Gilles Deleuze proclaimed in his 1990 essay, "Postscript on the Societies of Control":

"The numerical language of control is made of codes that mark access to information, or reject it. We no longer find ourselves dealing with the mass/individual pair. Individuals have become 'dividuals' and masses, samples, data, markets, or 'banks'. Perhaps it is money that expresses the distinction between the two societies best, since discipline (societies) always referred back to minted money that locks gold as numerical standard, while control (societies) relates to floating rates of exchange, modulated according to a rate established by a set of standard currencies. The old monetary mole is the animal of the space of enclosure, but the serpent is that of the societies of control. We have passed from one animal to the other, from the mole to the serpent, in the system under which we live, but also in our manner of living and in our relations with others. The disciplinary man was a continuous producer of energy, but the man of control is undulatory, in orbit, in a continuous network. Everywhere surfing has already replaced the older sports."

We are systematically being reduced and divided into algorithmic bits and bytes, mere information devoid of any real knowledge and "authentic being" in the Heideggerian sense. As the father of cybernetics, Norbert Wiener, said, "Information is information, not matter or energy." Our ontological experience is now an on-line avatar drained of nearly all and any identifiable visceral humanity, wherever you happen to be located, seeing as you are now ubiquitously connected to the matrix/hypermodern electronic exosphere enclosed around the entire globe, having a smart phone on your so-called "person" at all times. This is why so many "people" feel so disconnected with others, despite how many social media sites they frequent daily, and the moment to moment texts sent and received. As Peter Sloterdijk concluded, we are "foam", separate little bubbled worlds rubbing up against other bubbled worlds, only connected by the electronic membrane of the matrix that constitutes our "world interior". Wherever we are, it is. Mark Fisher called it Capitalist Realism. It is all around us, the very air we breathe. This is now our Hypermodern "reality".




According to John David Ebert and Brian Francis Culkin, in their collaborative new book, "Hypermodernity and the End of the World", postmodernism officially ended on September 11, 2001 and hypermodernity began, at least politically, where as culturally/technologically, it began in 1995 with the commercial advent of the internet when Windows 95 was released. I'm inclined to agree with the 9/11 commencement, as postmodernism was still very much a thing right up to the millennium, and at least residually for the first few years of the 21st century, ultimately dissipating completely by the time of the 2008 economic crash. We've been wholly in a hypermodern state ever since. One of the main differences between postmodernity and hypermodernity, again, according to Ebert and Culkin, is that the media of postmodernity had all been analogue, such as records, cassette tapes, photographs, magazines, celluloid. And the media of hypermodernity is exclusively digital:

"With the satellization of the Exosphere, the analogue telephone became transformed into the cell phone and later the smart phone, which jacked the individual into the World Interior from wherever on the planet he or she happened to be located. One didn't have to go anywhere to be included in the new Hypermodern World Interior. All analogue photographs could be dissolved from their nitrate surfaces and melted into cyberspace directly from the brain as the camera became an appendage of the World Interior. Vinyl records were dissolved and liquefied, and celluloid films transformed into bytes that obsolesced the movie projector. All analogue media were liquefied, dissolved and fed into the new matrix."

The Hypermodern Digital Age has utterly liquefied most everything within its all-encompassing mainframe, rendering it all as free-flowing information/data and pure Capital. It's no wonder so many "dividuals" are confusingly identifying with just about anything their unhinged narcissism becomes attracted to. In a recent study conducted by Idaho State University and College of the Canyons and Center for Positive Sexuality in Los Angeles, a paper entitled, "Do We Practice What We Preach? Real Vampires' Fear of Coming Out of the Coffin to Social Workers and Helping Professionals", a study that primarily focused on the growing "otherkin" and alternative identity community of "real vampires" - I kid you not - the researchers opined, "...it seems that rapid advances in technology provide a social environment conducive to the development of unique and unconventional identities. We should not be surprised to see a proliferation of nontraditional identities in the future."

They weren't kidding, in a manner of speaking, ironically. This definite proliferation of innumerable identities, regardless of the traditional parameters of reality, healthy maturity and political conviction, has been symptomatic of what has happened to language itself, that which ultimately constitutes the world, the Symbolic Order, in the Lacanian sense. Language, and its users, have unwittingly deteriorated unto semiotic chaos and excess, where in Hypermodernity, "too much is never enough". And this "language in chaos" appears to be affecting everyone, regardless of race, gender, politics, cultural identity, beliefs, ethics and values. Neoliberal late capitalism may very well be dragging us all towards the Singularity, like Elon Musk has been incessantly warning us about, where all differences will be rendered obsolete, as well as any discernible humanity, thus ushering in what Vernor Vinge predicted back in 1993: the post-human age. Is this what the far-left identitarians and SJW's are unrelentingly, and ultimately, fighting for? Because this is where we're headed, folks.





  







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