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The Rise of Tech Totalitarianism
Michael Rectenwald’s GOOGLE ARCHIPELAGO
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The Wall Street Journal just published a shocking expose, How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results, [by Kirsten Grind, Sam Schechner, Robert McMillan and John West , November 15, 2019], revealing not only that Google is exploiting its market power in ways the clearly raise anti-trust questions, but also that it shadow-bans sites that promote “hate or violence” even if “expressed in polite or even academic-sounding language”—i.e. VDARE.com and all immigration patriots. This confirms the terrifying message of Michael Rectenwald’ s new book Google Archipelago: The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom: the combination of Woke Capital and monopoly power is turning America into an open-air prison.

Rectenwald is a liberal academic who was chased out of New York University for dissenting mildly from the “pronoun wars” and the Leftist demand for blanket approval of transgenderism [I was a liberal NY prof, but when I said the left was going too far, colleagues called be a NAZI & treated me like a RUSSIAN SPY, RT, November 12, 2019]. In his book, he shows the Left is consumed by collective hysteria, a theme with which VDARE.com readers are familiar, and also that the ideology of “Corporate Socialism” and the emerging “Internet of Things” is making it impossible to escape from a repressive system.

Rectenwald lays out several terms that encapsulate his ideas—the eponymous Google Archipelago, Big Digital, Corporate Socialism, Google Marxism, etc.

  • The “Google Archipelago” is “the corporate leftist centralized system of Big Digital.”
  • “Big Digital” is the “mega-data services, media, cable, and internet services, social media platforms, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Agents, apps, and the developing Internet of Things” [the increasing ability and dependence of ordinary applications of operating online].
  • “Corporate Socialism” is an economic and political system under which a private monopoly or private oligopolies rather than that state eliminates competition and controls all production.
  • “Google Marxism”—originally a concept developed by George Gilder, who argued that Google assumed like Marx that the contemporary mode of production is the ultimate mode, with the only remaining issues are questions of distribution.

Rectenwald adds further that Google Marxism, “like “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” manifests as state-supported monopoly capitalism, and “actually existing socialism” [meaning the actual economic conditions that exist, rather than the “free markets” or “democracy” that are claimed to exist] for everyone else.

It’s an unclear definition and he occasionally links it with corporate socialism. But basically what he’s getting at is that Google commands the flow of information and uses this control to further its ideological and commercial objectives, which are often the same thing

In fact, Rectenwald’s concepts often overlap each other, and the recurring academic jargon may baffle the reader who hasn’t read his Foucault.

Yet his three major themes are easy to identify.

  • The first major theme: the promotion of far-Left social causes through major corporations.

As New York Times token conservative columnist Ross Douthat has noted, Woke Capital offers consumers symbolic rather than economic values. [The Rise of Woke Capital, NYT, February 28, 2018] Rectenwald calls these “rhetorical placebos in lieu of costlier economic concessions”—placebos which incidentally support “the elite’s agendas of identity politics, gender pluralism, transgenderism, lax immigration standards, sanctuary cities, and so on.” Rectenwald suggests this may be an effort by corporations to avoid higher taxes and regulations.

However, he also suggests a deeper ideological agenda, citing the recent notorious Gillette ad deconstructing masculinity. It turns out the co-founder of Gillette, King Camp Gillette (1855-1932, right) was also a “socialist utopian,” who railed against competition and dreamed of creating a “World Corporation.” Thus instead of the masses seizing the means of production, companies would continuously merge, eventually creating a “great Corporate Mind” that would have “life everlasting” and “all knowledge of all men.”

Gillette’s wild ravings seem uncannily accurate when it comes to

  • the second major theme: the emerging total control over human information possessed by Big Tech.

Users voluntarily provide data to corporations like Google and Facebook, which they can sell to advertisers. (Mark Zuckerberg himself referred to his trusting subscribers who had done this as “dumb f***s”.) They know us better than we know ourselves.

At the same time, these “private” corporations can also distort what information is provided to users and determine who can compete in the digital marketplace. And because of corporations’ “authoritarian Leftism,” this means that conservatives and patriots can be deplatformed, competitors to Establishment media removed, and Big Tech left in control the “public space” even while being technically “private.” In short, tech companies are taking on governmental roles.

Instead of the Internet freeing discussion, Rectenwald notes accurately that we’re witnessing “the disappearance of public discursive space.” Speech outside the digital sphere is irrelevant, but who can speak inside is determined by companies that practice “blatant double standards, egregious bias, politically-motivated designations of ‘fake news,’ and tilted search engine algorithms.”

In Rectenwald’s striking phrase, tech companies “have acted like referees of a game in which they are also players, taking sides in political contests and the culture wars.”

Naturally, this also means being able to massively manipulate election results by controlling the flow of information and deplatforming independent voices. This could mean that any “democratic vote” is essentially fake and illegitimate, because the outcome is determined in advance. Real political power is found not in Congress or the voting booth, but within the search algorithms and among the moderators of Facebook, Google/YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

This is obviously the area most relevant to readers, because VDARE.com and other sites have directly felt the cost of Big Tech censorship. Tulsi Gabbard is directly attacking Big Tech for its control over Americans’ freedom of speech.

Yet President Trump has done little to address these problems. In fact, the president’s much touted NAFTA replacement actually provides Big Tech with additional protections by specifically allowing companies to censor based on political views. His “Social Media Summit” didn’t feature anyone who had actually been banned [Trump’s Pathetic ‘Social Media Summit,’ by Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, July 16, 2019].

The Trump Administration isn’t serious about this. But if it doesn’t get serious in the time that’s left, defeat in 2020 is practically guaranteed.

  • The third major theme: Rectenwald argues that we are entering an age of practically unlimited tyranny, because we will be required to operate in a digital space endlessly patrolled by far-Left radicals.

Instead of an “Internet specially designed for individual expression and liberation,” the Internet is reshaping us, mutilating individuals “fit to inhabit it.” “Google Marxism” is destroying individual expression and creating a hive mind.

This will accelerate when the “Internet of Things” truly takes off and every application will be required to operate in an online space, with the “Internet ubiquitous, coextensive with the world at large.” We will never “go online” we will always be operating in cyberspace.

“The Internet is not imprisoned,” Rectenwald writes, “but it may become a prison, and once liberated, the world at large might become a digital gulag.”

ORDER IT NOW

This may sound dystopian science fiction. But in some ways it has already occurred. Under China’s social credit system, individuals can be tracked in the “real world” and the services they use and rights they possess are dependent on their standing within the digital system.

Consider also the drive towards cashless societies and its potential for tyranny.

Now imagine how such a system would work within the U.S.. Imagine if every time you tried to make a purchase, use an appliance, or engage with someone, the other person or company had instant access to the information Facebook, Google, and other “Big Data” wanted them to have.

Certain individuals would essentially be cut off from social life. You would be technically “free” to speak or operate a business, but cut off from the digital marketplace, your legal rights and economic viability would be essentially non-existent. There would also be no way out of the system, because everyone and everything, everywhere, would always be connected to the network.

Rectenwald examines the implications of Artificial Intelligence, particularly the way such systems are developing to predict human behavior. He expresses concern not just about the somewhat fantastic prospect of “’robot swarms’ gone awry, but the more fundamental question of whether humans will simply keep outsourcing decision-making to algorithms and AI.

Entire industries and basic human functions could presumably be performed more efficiently and effectively by AI. Furthermore, when it comes to distribution of resources, a sufficiently developed AI would be capable of “identifying, tracking, surveilling, algorithmically steering, digitally jailing, and ultimately controlling populations to degrees that would have made Stalin or Mao green with envy.” One possible future: a “docile, algorithmically-directed or even algorithmically-dictated populace, one that is unemployed and probably living on a Universal Basic Income because their labor is unnecessary.”

This raises the deepest questions. What does democracy, citizenship, or identity mean under such a system?

And while all this may sound bizarre, consider how you, the reader, already live in such a way to avoid negative mentions of your name online. Already, we live are in a system where a single media attack, magnified by social media companies that promote certain stories and suppress others, can shape a person’s entire life.

The ancient bonds of family, church, nation and law are as nothing in the face of a systemic digital assault. An individual’s ability to hold a job is already heavily dependent on Google results. What happens when there are no more escapes? What happens when everyone, everywhere, receives the information the elite wants them to know, even if it’s “fake news?”

This is unlimited tyranny. It also reduces each person into simply a part of a centrally directed System. One can already glimpse the bars of the emerging digital cage.

The solution? Conservatives must rethink their opposition to “the state” and realize the real threat to our liberties comes from Big Tech, not “Big Government.”

In the time that’s left, conservatives who value their faith and identity and progressives who don’t want to exist as mere corporate puppets must unite to guarantee free speech online. There should also be more systemic regulation, if not wholesale breaking up, of social media companies.

If we don’t do these things, contemporary China will seem like a libertarian utopia compared to what’s coming.

And thanks to Rectenwald, we can’t say we weren’t warned.

James Kirkpatrick [Email him |Tweet him @VDAREJamesK] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. anon[190] • Disclaimer says:

    One more reason that our civilization is doomed.

  2. anonymous[154] • Disclaimer says:

    Hi James,

    Do you know if Fuentes is familiar with Ron’s American Pravda series?

    His guys got stumped by Kirk at NC about the voting patterns of Whites in Vermont and such, but Ron has already explained that.

    I wrote a bullet points summary of Ron’s work and want to get it to him, if he isn’t familiar. Do you have a communication channel? I can post it here.

    I think we have a legit shot at taking out Con Inc. right now.

    Thanks and God bless.

    • Replies: @sameguy
  3. “Under China’s social credit system, individuals can be tracked in the “real world” and the services they use and rights they possess are dependent on their standing within the digital system…This is unlimited tyranny. It also reduces each person into simply a part of a centrally directed System.”

    Horse shit. Individuals can be tracked in the “real world” and the services they use and rights they possess are dependent on their standing within the digital system in the UK and the USA and, no doubt, elsewhere.

    It is a less limited tyranny for those already living in a limited tyranny like the UK and the USA, whose Roman-style governments are inherently tyrannical.

    Not in China, where government is part of the family and a servant of ordinary citizens. It was Mencius, not the commies, who came up with this idea: The people are to be valued most, the altars of the grain and the land next, the ruler least. It is by winning the favor of the common people that you become Emperor. The commies are merely exemplifying it:

  4. El Dato says:

    The solution? Conservatives must rethink their opposition to “the state” and realize the real threat to our liberties comes from Big Tech, not “Big Government.”

    Isn’t that addressed to the libertarians?

    I have never heard Conservatives that are seriously against “the state”, or “Big Government”. They would perform the weirdest sexually suggestive dances if there were promises that more taxpayer money can flow into their favorite scheme.

    On the other hand, the libertarian senses are tingling because those so-called “private companies” are delivering goods that people “want” (in the same way as a pig “wants” its daily slop) in massive doses, from Amazon to Android phones, to Google Maps to Facebook. For some reason, there is a large blind spot that appears in their mind whenever something is “private”, even if it means selling yourself into a prison (massive protip: The SS was a PRIVATE COMPANY, too)

  5. Svevlad says:

    Looks like we need a Gavrilo Princip or two to bring in the heat!

  6. Steve2 [AKA "StillStillSteve"] says:

    The simultaneous creation and takeover of the public on-line communication space by big tech is the end of any kind of individual existence or expression. Big tech itself itself is symbiotic with the security state. The public is mislead and driven into psychotic rages, eg. Trump Derangement Syndrome.

    The practice of doxxing followed by focused destruction is immoral beyond comprehension. Since no one is without sin, the digital mob and its leaders hold everyone’s life in hock. This means you and everyone else. Our digital Emperor is not benevolent or beholden to the people anywhere.

    The code masquerading as neutral/benevolent AI is a whip and a bludgeon to make you afraid and compliant. The leaders behind it are snarling and nasty. Their contempt for you knows no bounds.

    Your job, credit rating, even your legal or physical safety can be destroyed by some bit of code. Experts denounce algorithms for unPC decisions even when the decision code produces accurate results. Factor that with focused hostile intent against ideas and people judged deplorable and you get our current system. Do you believe it will get better with time?

  7. Johan says:

    “The Wall Street Journal just published a shocking expose, How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results”

    How shocking..

    Much ado about internet censorship and meddling with the ranking of sites. In a democracy no one realizes that the internet being a democratic publishing system in itself, democracy sygnifying the dictatorship of mass man, where mediocre mass man, being the majority, being the loudest, the most self-assertive and sure of himself over shouts all people of greater sensibility and for sure those of excellence.
    Free exchange of ideas? A laughing stock, mass man has no ideas and no vision. What mas man has where it concern ideas on the higher level is ideas which he has picked up, which are part of the zeitgeist, or which have at some point in time been aired by people of excellence.

    The search results on Google are merely a mixed product, the products of mass man, of what is canonical, and what is ventilated by visionless and idea-lacking parroting contemporary establishments who themselves emerged from mass man.

    So much for what freedom of expression and ‘exchange of ideas’ concerns, a lot of noise of mass man, and establishments who gained power, nothing new, nothing outstanding. Democracy will make society to be ever stuck in the same groove, aside of the new tech prophets, whom are merely fantasts, and the alleged ‘progressives’ by now being regressive fanatics.
    In a democracy, the freedom of expression is the right of mass man to make lots and lots of insignificant noise, and the right to parrot which altogether is expressed in search engines without any special meddling of Google.

  8. Johan says:

    “Instead of an “Internet specially designed for individual expression and liberation,” the Internet is reshaping us, mutilating individuals “fit to inhabit it.” “Google Marxism” is destroying individual expression and creating a hive mind.”

    The internet IS hive mind per definition, the above expression itself is merely founded on repetition of the same ideological democratic slogans. The internet being hive mind does not liberate, in fact, the mediocrity and repetition on the internet gives the impression of ideological, political and media obsession wherever you go. Additionally, social media is a mirror hall of the self, people from different cultures and backgrounds meeting each other merely having the illusion that they understand the other, while even more than in normal life, the other is a mere projection of the individual himself. To get to know a person and his views requires a long time, requiring the richness of local real life, and even then it can be faulty. The internet as a meeting place is already the great hall of illusions of hive mind.

    The vast richness of individual, the intimate small scale local life rocks, and is incomparable to that bleak world of illusion and mass hype.

  9. onebornfree says: • Website

    J. Kirkpatrick says: “The solution? Conservatives must rethink their opposition to “the state” and realize the real threat to our liberties comes from Big Tech, not “Big Government.””

    1] You’re seriously delusional if you believe “conservatives” are anti-state.

    2] You’re also seriously delusional if you haven’t yet figured out that “Big Tech” IS 100% “Big Government” .

    “Regards” onebornfree

  10. sameguy says:
    @anonymous

    He knows. He mentioned it on his show a few months ago when Ron wrote “American Pravda”. A lot of us younger guys really respect Ron because he genuinely seems to seek the truth, no matter how unpopular it is.
    Still, you should give him that bullet-point. it could really help.

  11. one of the best articles I’ve read lately…and one of the most important. I’ve been talking about Google’s “take over” of the internet for several years now.

    We can absolutely see where all of this is taking us now. Nobody can stop it. A few Wealthy billionaire Techie Men is all it took to bring our nation down…or soon will.

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