Back in 2008 I felt a glimmer of hope that the citizens of the more “advanced” nations on our planet — in the Americas, Europe, and Asia — would begin to awaken to the obvious: As sure as shootin’, the social model of Homo economicus, in which private, profit-seeking interests are allowed to grow and metastasize unchecked by a collective moral mind , is a path to disaster. But no such awakening has occurred in the ensuing five years. In fact, the tides of modern “civilization” have actually been reinforced, abetted by well-heeled interests, such that our decent into the insanity that enshrines the profit motive as a means to a greater good are flowing more forcefully than ever.
As our technological abilities and impacts have gone global, we are experiencing a cultural tsunami in which special interests have seized the reins away from morally grounded collective governance by and for the people. The drones of destruction being deployed abroad and now at home, are just the hot tipped spears being employed to bring the human spirit to heel. Increasingly invasive surveillance by agencies charged with protecting the corporatists’ established order are just a blip on the radar. It’s the control of knowing made possible in the digital age that bodes most darkly for the future of mankind.
We who live in the vanguard of civilization are becoming increasingly plugged into the digitally generated special effects produced and managed by corporatists. We experience others, ourselves and the whole of the world as a digitized, idealized, virtual reality. We seek and find our friends in text and photos and sounds on social websites. We survey the world on Google Earth. We shop in virtual stores. We work in virtual workplaces. Besotted by sterile representations of a world that is essentially analog, we are fast becoming insensate to substantive human experience. We are becoming as if, like brains in a vat.
And because it has now become possible to relegate experience to that of brains in a vat that are selectively fed — force fed — prefabricated, scrubbed, engineered ideas divorced from the expansive whole of our corporeal sensate being, our collective social mind, a moral construct, has become reduced to individual brains in vats nourished by interests that control the tubes that feed our brains with digital pap, telling us that we who live in vats, are free. But free to what, for what and to whom?
Meanwhile, there’s a world out there, beyond our vats. Things are happening out there, beyond our vats. But we cannot understand or know that world, nor influence the course of events, nor make the world a better place, unless we unplug the tubes that are force feeding our brains, reanimate ourselves and actually feel the world and one another.