From The Boy Kings, by Katherine Losse, pg 201. Losse was asked to write blog posts about Mark Zuckerberg’s philosophy, something which he outlined to her in general terms:
“It means that the best thing to do now, if you want to change the world, is to start a company. It’s the best model for getting things done and bringing your vision to the world.” He said this with what sounded like an interesting dismissal of the other models of changing the world. I could imagine, like he may have, that countries were archaic, small, confined to one area or charter. On the other hand, companies— in the age of globalization— can be everywhere, total, unregulated by any particular government constitution or an electorate. Companies can go where no single country has gone before. “I think we are moving to a world in which we all become cells in a single organism, where we can communicate automatically and can all work together seamlessly,” he said, by way of explaining the end goal of Facebook’s “big theory.”
My sense is this view of ‘companies over countries’ is a relatively common one amongst the digital elite. It’s also key to understanding philanthrocapitalism: the political complexity of the world melts away in the face of a single minded concern to discover the most efficient way of bringing your vision to the world.
But what are the political implications of this? As Losse goes on to write, “It sounded like he was arguing for a kind of nouveau totalitarianism, in which the world would become a technical, privately owned network run by young “technical” people who believe wholeheartedly in technology’s and their own inherent goodness, and in which every technical advancement is heralded as a step forward for humanity.” This is roughly speaking what I’m trying to explore with the techno-fascism idea: how will what is currently a vague musing on the part of digital elites develop as part of a broader set of social transformations currently underway? How will their own vested interests, against a background of growing social upheaval and threats to their accumulated wealth, shape the development of what is at present little more than a mystical faith in solutionism and the singularity?
The extent to which this idea is discursive can be overstated, as Losse explains, she told Zuckerberg that she struggled to articulate his philosophy for him in a coherent way:
The question was what did any of these values actually mean, and why should we want them? This was something only Mark could explain. I told him that I was having trouble coming up with satisfactory essays on the topics he’d assigned, and asked him to schedule time to explain his ideas in more detail, but he was too busy or wasn’t inclined to explain further— it was hard to tell. I came to the conclusion that perhaps he thought I could invent these arguments of whole cloth, or that we already were cells in a single organism and I should be attuned enough to intuit what he meant, but I couldn’t, and so the essays were never written or posted
Categories: Digital Sociology