Woke Capitalists As Mini-Chinas

Woke Capitalists As Mini-Chinas. By Rod Dreher.

This is the world of “surveillance capitalism,” a term coined by Shoshana Zuboff, a former Harvard Business School professor. …

Surveillance capitalism hoovers up detailed personal data about individuals and analyzes it with sophisticated algorithms it to predict people’s behavior.

The aim, obviously, is to pitch goods and services tailored to individual preferences. No surprise there — that’s merely advertising. The deeper realities of surveillance capitalism, however, are far more sinister. The masters of data aren’t simply trying to figure out what you like; they are now at work making you like what they want you to like, without their manipulation being detected.

And they’re doing this without the knowledge or informed permission of the people whose lives they have colonized — and who are at present without means to escape the surveillance-capitalists’ web. …

It is not at all difficult to imagine that banks, retailers, and service providers that have access to the kind of consumer data extracted by surveillance capitalists would decide to punish individuals affiliated with political, religious, or cultural groups those firms deem to be antisocial. Silicon Valley is well known to be far to the left on social and cultural issues, a veritable mecca of the cult of social justice. Social justice warriors are known for the spiteful disdain they hold for classically liberal values like free speech, freedom of association, and religious liberty. These are the kinds of people who will be making decisions about access to digital life and to commerce. The rising generation of corporate leaders take pride in their progressive awareness and activism. Twenty-first century capitalism is not only all in for surveillance, it is also very woke. …



Zuboff quotes an unnamed Silicon Valley bigwig saying, “Conditioning at scale is essential to the new science of massively engineered human behavior.” He believes that by close analysis of the behavior of app users, his company will eventually be able to “change how lots of people are making their day-to-day decisions.”

Maybe they will just try to steer users into buying certain products and not others. But what happens when the products are politicians or ideologies? And how will people know when they are being manipulated? …

Consider Amazon’s decision to stop selling books that put forward a critical point of view on transgender ideology. … This is perfectly within Amazon’s legal rights, but given Amazon’s stranglehold on book retailing, its decision has the effect of powerfully discouraging that any books like that will ever be written. This is left-wing illiberalism, tout court.

Left-wing illiberal democracy won’t come to us via pure autocracy, as in China. It will come from the merger of elites in government, business, and other institutions, and their enforcement of their ideology through the market, and via technology embraced by surveillance capitalists — and by the rest of us, as the cost of participating in the modern economy.

Unless we can stop them.

Imagine a world with no arguments or disagreements, because everyone has access to only the same information and only certain points of view are published at all.

What’s the point? And definitely not the way humans have progressed to date. If humanity is going to stagnate in a new feudal age, better hope there are no other civilizations out there in the galaxy that we find ourselves in competition with.

hat-tip Stephen Neil