Today, the new corporations and sectors associated with technocapitalism are influencing how we view human existence, life and nature, and are well on their way to impose new realities.
– Luis Suarez-Villa
What I’m about to portray is the sort of open nightmare of a neoliberalist future, a dystopic vision of the control machine of this corporatist socio-cultural complex extended to maximum overdrive, an open-ended structure for an unfinished history of the future. As I think through many of the current issues of my dystopic novel trilogy I’m working through the layers of this world building scenario, stretching the canvas and extrapolating based on certain known givens in our present society and technologies.
As food scarcity becomes more and more apparent in the years to come, and as a result health, nutrition, and global food production take on ominous priority within the socio-political spectrum we will begin seeing technology and capital merging in ways that may become irreversible. The use of bioengineered seeds may introduce anomalies that in the short term resolves the food crises but introduces unknown variables into the genetic heritage of life on earth as we’ve known it. With the promise of bioengineering and synthetic life forms corporate entities are transforming inorganic matter into living organisms, all the while patenting them as private property for marketability in some future economic system. These corporate entities operations will very likely lead to the creation of myriad living organisms, from viruses that can generate disease to microbes that produce fuels, to human organs for replacement, to new animal species and possibly humanoids, all created as corporate property. A new industry and a vast new market may thus be created for synthetic life, affecting most any aspect of human existence and of nature.
In the technocorporate City-States of this future corporate entities will hire or design workers based on form and function, creating the desired traits through genetic design or temporary clone bank retrieval systems. Since these corporate entities will own the blueprint for such cloned entities, which having already been extensively practiced on numerous animal and plant species by corporate entities seeking to profit from their use, there will be no conflict of an ethico or socio-cultural consideration. These entities will be the private property of the corporations and can be dealt with as any other organic or inorganic commodity. Designer babies will be bred and grow up within corporate enclaves oblivious to the mores of twentieth-century culture of family, etc. They will work in the hives of the future as drones within a maximum system of efficiency and rationality. Some will function as bureaucrats, others as engineers, while still others in any of the major guilds based on a scientistic naturalism that endorses a soft version of a Theory-of-Everything.
Knowledge will be universal and distributed within a technology that is invasive to the whole of the population within these corporate enclaves. Nanotechnology, combined with advances in computing, telecommunications, intelligent software and biomimetics, will turn most of these Enclaves into pure surveillance societies, where most every personal activity is monitored and archived in corporate datatanks. The end of individual privacy coupled with greater social, political and economic control, will allow these powerful corporate entities to play a fundamental role as providers of technology, executors of surveillance, and controllers of public governance for their regions.
Experimentalism represents the ethos of this new technocapitalism. Experimentalism will be at the core of technocorporate states— experimentalism for the sake of profit and power above everything else. To have any chance of success, experimentalism must have no bounds. It must encompass everything, anything, that corporate strategy deems worthy of pursuing— human existence, life, work, nature, the planet or even the cosmos— whenever they happen to be of use to corporate power. Corporate enclaves will no longer be bound by humanistic creeds or ethics, but will be based solely on a new Prometheanism, omnivorous and total. Research is driven by profit, not impersonal knowledge for its own sake. The bottom line will rule all forms of experimentalism. The world as an aesthetic playground, a laboratory of desire: global society, all of humanity, life and nature will become guinea pigs in this experimental laboratory of the future technocapitalist corporate apparatus.
The technocorporate state lives and dies by research, and by the appropriation of the results of research, systematization is a fundamental necessity. Corporate power and planning actively and strategically sets research agendas, and that it strives to control and manipulate the course and scope of research programs, along with their outcomes, and whatever results can be appropriated in order to extract value. Yet, the institutions that embody this experimentalist ethos will not only be deeply grounded in technological research, but must also exploit a vital intangible, creativity, whose qualitative character makes it practically impossible to program. It is this intangible factor that will make or break a City-State and its technocorporate agendas. Without innovation and creativity these new technocorporate states will die, therefore they are caught in the moment of rediscovering the need for wildness, for real humans who have creative potential, and who unlike their clone drones can actually think for themselves.
This means that creativity cannot be generated or reproduced internally by the technocorporate power, through its control of the corporate domain. “The socially mediated nature of creativity imposes major dilemmas on technocapitalist corporate power, mainly because of its curtailed control over its most vital resource, and because of its need to influence the external societal forces that reproduce creativity”.(1 ibid.)
New asymmetrical forms of warfare will continue as these disparate City-States vie for the remaining resources of the planet. The new tools of warfare will involve genomics and genetic engineering, synthetic bioengineering, nanotechnology, biomimetics, intelligent software and advances in computing and communications, to produce diverse war machines, animal-like war robots, cyberwarfare, and possibly genetically engineered humanoid soldiers that can more effectively kill and be expendable.
Because of legalistic hijutsu corporate entities by the mid 21st Century rule the judicial systems through Council Drones, and with its major battles over the domain of intellectual property rights won they’ve built a legal system that encompasses every creative activity within their respective corporate domains. The all-encompassing character of technocapitalism and of its corporate apparatus extrapolates this and other pathologies to the world, imposing new realities that influence vital aspects of social existence such as our governance, how we view social justice, and how we deal with life and nature.
Yet, outside the closed structure of these technocorporate enclaves lies the world of old humanity still vigorously hanging on, getting by, struggling in the ghettoes, slumlands, and tent cities beyond the perimeters of these gated paradises of the elite. How do these humans of the old civilization live? How do they survive? What do they think? What do they believe? One need go no further than to study and wander the broken worlds of Neza-Chalco-Itza (Mexico City), Orangi Town (Karachi), Dharavi(Mumbai), Khayelitsha (Cape Town), Kibera (Nairobi) as well as Bogota, Colombia; Baghdad, Iraq, Venezuela, and Ghana. One could spend years living in these realms, visiting and speaking with the people who live in these places. Currently, there are 200,000 of these communities across the world, according to the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, most of them in and around cities, and that number is growing exponentially. This will only get worse. These are the throwaway people, the people of a forgotten humanity. We, too, will become a part of that in the future that is coming at us in accelerating disquiet. Are you prepared? How will humans overcome their plight in such indifference? How can they reestablish relations to each other and form new intensive forces to counter the machine worlds of the technocorporate enclaves? How do children grow up in such worlds? What makes them happy? What makes them sad? And, most of all what allows them to laugh or cry, to be human? What would be the vectors of ‘meaning’ in such a meaningless world?
In my mind I see a young girl, a clone that has through no fault of her own been ejected from the enclave into this seething mass of humanity that lives in the squalor of an extended encampment of tenements and dwellings surrounding the protected valley of Torquz a City-State above what used to be Old San Francisco. I also see a young boy who is troubled and struggling to make sense of his family and world, who has a gift, a secret creative spark that others fear and the technocoporate elites want to manipulate to their own advantage. The two children happen on each other by chance or design? What happens from there is the story of narrative struggle as they are caught between total control and utter chaos, navigating through its harsh ‘aesthetic playground’ or micropolitical ‘symphony of becomings’. (thanks, Edmund!). Both of these children have defects, the one cannot speak (the girl) the other is partially crippled. Yet, they have a fondness for music and movement, and discover in the slumreg music of the barrios and its technokinetic dance rhythms: a speedrift aural sculpture that rides the riversong planes of intensity where bodies flow into the slipstream of the real. The technocorporate system is watching all this, they understand that it is this spontaneous creativity that is at the heart of their power. They seek in these two children the force of creativity they can use at the center of their own technological control system. This tension between the needs of the collective corporate entities that rule these City-States and the individual creativity and wildness of real humans that roam the periphery of civilization is at the center of the three projected books.
Obviously this is an exaggerated scenario, and I admit is a part of an ongoing battle within my own fictional modeling of a dystopic novel I’m writing about the near future. Hopefully will not be this bleak, but I figure we should push things to the limit and see where they take us. It doesn’t look pretty does it. And, as with all things, it will probably be a lot worse than any sci-fi writer could even imagine. Let’s hope our imaginations fail us and that we turn away from such dark worlds.
1. Luis Suarez-Villa (2013-01-28). Globalization and Technocapitalism (Kindle Locations 90-94). Ashgate. Kindle Edition.