Our technofeudal tomorrow is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed, paraphrasing William Gibson.
Technofeudal Today - The Next
The Blue Origin has returned, and our pristine blue marble burns. Will's in London in quarantine, and I'm a snarky mood. It's not a very hopeful moment, but what to do about it? Will leans toward collective organization around a concrete goal. I wonder what an activist would get up to at a dinner party with a bunch of billionaires in a post-apocalyptic bunker. Will's short story, The Next, one of twenty terrifying tales, gives us some ideas.
#people #printed #amazon #banks #bezos #anarchist #mars #czar #billionaires #workers #oceans #space #nice #kill #mec #read #swordfish #thinking #labor #person
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Transcript Technofeudal Tomorrow - The Next
WK Hey, hello
LP So, quarantine in London?
WK Yeah, there's really not that much to say about it.
LP But you made it.
WK I did make it, that was, yeah, I mean it was really kind of amazing. Like it was basically a foregone conclusion that I wasn't gonna be making my Eurostar train when I was on the first train, but by three trains later, it was not only still gettable it was delayed by like 30 minutes.
LP Running and sweating and stressing no doubt
WK It was very stressful. You know. That's a normal Deutsche Bahn train journey.
LP Did you take that photo on the train actually?
WK Which one?
LP Invent and Wander, yeah
WK I think I'd actually taken that before. But it was weirdly fitting.
LP Yeah, Bezos is back from space. I was thinking it was Invest and Wander but
WK Invest and Plunder might be the title you're looking for...
LP Invent and Flounder
WK Ah he seems to be doing just fine. Frankly. It's the rest of us who're floundering. Maybe Invest IN Flounder, don't know, he probably has some flounder futures.
LP Well, you know, someone's got to continue exploring space in search for even laxer labour laws.
WK Like that was the joke on my Instagram. When I posted the image. Somebody said, you know, Hey, how about you stay up there? I said, there are no tax laws on Mars. And he was like, you know, that's actually probably why he's going up there. And it's like, yeah. The next thing was capitalism repeats itself, first as satire and then as reality.
LP Yeah, that's where we're at. Meanwhile, the oceans burning.
WK Is it still burning?
LP I think it's still burning.
WK Fucking hell. That's insane. I mean, there's been a fire in Pennsylvania for what, like 30 years now. So I wouldn't be surprised if that goes on for some time as well. Well.
LP Siberia is on fire too.
WK Yeah. That's also classic news.
LP Well, someone's got to be up there looking out for number one.
WK Yeah, totally. I mean, it must have had a nice view of like the rest of us, incinerating ourselves. But it's like, it's the people that went with him that I understand the least because there was like, some other billionaire who'd like paid millions, 10s of millions of pounds to go up there with him.
LP Right. There was an online auction.
WK Yeah. And he was like, Oh, shit, I double booked, I have to destroy something else today. So they gave his seat to like, some teenager. And it was like, Bezos, some woman who had been like a, you know, early pioneer in aeronautics. Some other person I didn't recognise at all. And then this like, kid and it was like, literally, like the Fantastic Four or something. Only, you know, none of them knew each other. That press conference is one of the weirdest things I've ever seen. "I just want to thank everybody, for all the workers, everyone who's working from Amazon, you know, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart." It was it was really weird. It was totally bizarre, because it was like, you know, he's taken a bunch of like testosterone and shit. And he's got a bunch of filler in his face, but he sounds like a sounds basically like Hulk Hogan now. It was like Hulk Hogan was thanking the Amazon workers. Who like, completely, obviously, labour practices are, no one needs to talk about them - you know, they're utterly brutal. But yeah, I mean, no sense of irony. And it was, as I said, is that if you got a cameo from Hulk Hogan to come in and do that. It was so fucking weird.
LP At least the workers don't have to be afraid of going to take a piss break now.
WK No, they still do. Like, there's no element of anything that's changed about that. Like while he was in orbit, people still had to worry about, you know, shitting into a bag or, you know, pissing into a bottle or whatever. And they will, you know, until the end of their lives, or when they're put into the Amazon mec suit, so they can be tortured. You know, there's the Amazon mec suit thing where it shocks you, if you, you know, you take a less efficient pathway to the thing for the delivery, like, like, eventually, they'll just kill you and put your consciousness into an Amazon mec suit such that, that's basically, you can live forever doing it, and they don't have to hire and train new people. Like that will be the future while he's like on Mars, you know, whatever, like
LP Properly abandoning the human race
WK I mean, they've clearly done that. Quite clearly, that's like, 50% of billionaires 50% of billionaires are the New Zealand billionaires. And then 50% are the space billionaires.
LP Well, you know, it's gonna require a lot of energy and concentration.
WK What like, like living in the hell they create, that's for sure. I'm certain of that.
LP Well, you know, we didn't think he could be any further removed from the average human being. But there he went.
WK You know, he makes the effort. And that's why he's at the top.
LP Yeah I was actually just thinking, is he also getting into the agriculture business?
WK I'm sure they're involved with some
LP No, I think it's just Gates
WK Like, there's no way Amazon couldn't be involved. I mean, technically Amazon is involved because of like, all those Agra companies will use Amazon Web Services for their like logistics and web hosting stuff. So I mean, yeah, he is involved at some level. I don't know if he's directly in the like, genetic engineering frankenfood stuff, but like, you know, Amazon's involved in it to a certain degree, because they're in everything.
LP I was just reading that last story in 20 Terrifying Tales
LP I was actually just getting into the last bits here. It's a bunch of innovators having dinner together, eah?
WK Yeah, exactly. And somebody told me like a week after I'd sent the proofs off that they had been in some bunker in New Zealand with some like version of these guys, and they were doing the exact same thing. They were sitting around troubling over the lighting, trying to make it natural. I was like, I knew they'd be doing that! I knew they'd be doing that.
WK And it's like, of course, of course, you know, as I say, it's first it's satire, then it's reality.
LP Why are they so fussed with the lighting?
WK Because, you know, the idea is, there's a lot of like literary references and stuff in the story, but like, the reason why it would obviously be the case is because the nature of artificial light has an effect on mood and has an effect on like, the way that people relate to spaces. And it of course is also one of the hardest things to reproduce. So the idea that you have the power to do almost anything - this would be like, the one thing, that in terms of like your day-to-day consumption, would probably be beyond even the most extremely wealthy person is like, to me, the thing that, I feel was so relevant about it. But also like, obviously, this is a thought it's occurred to them because this happened. I guess, like, somebody was telling me that this literally happens. He was like a flunky in one of their offices for a while, or their bunker rather, for a while.
LP Yeah, in the bunker, in your story, at the dinner party. They're dealing with 3d printed food.
WK Yeah. You know, they'll like have the high end version. But yeah,
WK Yeah, exactly. Because like, I don't imagine there would be any swordfish left by the time this story takes place.
LP But wait, I didn't really get it. How is this 3d printed food project central to the plan for establishing a moon base once singularity hits?
WK I mean because you can't raise animals on the moon, has no atmosphere. So you'd basically just have this 3d printed stock of you know, whatever kind of food you wanted, that you would print on Earth, or in the tunnels underneath the earth, and then you would you'd move it. So I mean, that came back to Bezos, he's talking about, you know
we're going to put heavy industry in outer space. And that's why this project was so useful that I did yesterday where I flew up in my dick spaceship and looked around five inches above the kármán line, and came back down. Yeah, that was because like, I want to put all heavy industry into space
And you know, the cost of that would be unimaginable, because he's like, "let's leave the earth a pristine jewel and put all the heavy industry in space". I mean, that's kind of the thinking. But yeah, basically, like you would do all this stuff on, like external sites, say a space station, if it's lighter stuff, or maybe you know if you needed like, physical geography, some version of terraformed, Moon or Mars, and you know, you could conduct all that stuff there. But you'd still need workers to exploit. So you basically send up their slurry as like this 3d printed stuff from, you know, whatever, whatever lab that probably the company would operate and charge them for as well. But yeah, but that would be, that was, kind of the premise of it, it’s like you have kind of like a cargo ship go up every, say six months or so or a year probably with 3d printed food that then would be distributed in these like colonised biodomes on other planets.
LP Couldn't you just print the food up there?
WK I mean, you could do that. I think that would probably be one of those things where it would be like, there'd be a latency problem. Maybe. But maybe not. It depends. I mean, I hadn't really thought of it in those terms. But I guess I thought of it as a, you know, ship up stuff at the same time. Because I'm thinking of container ships as my reference.
LP Maybe those container ships should just hold the people who get a free trip to Mars so that they can pay off with their labour in the 3d printing factory.
WK There's a lot of possibilities in there. I wouldn't rule any of them out.
LP Get off earth.
WK Yeah, I mean, that's where people are at now. And it's like, please as long as you don't come back, please.
LP Well, now that bookstores are pretty much annihilated. And yeah, the ocean’s on fire. I mean, what's there to stick around for?
WK I mean, that is the premise. I mean, like that, for me. The thing is, like, you know, everything's just this Marie Antoinette reality, like her little farm. Everything is the Marie Antoinette farm, the fact that there are any bookstores at all. They exist at the sufferance of Amazon. And, you know, I mean, increasingly, that's going to extend to every aspect of human life. The more structural penetration, the eight or nine billionaires who are, we decided, to outsource every aspect of human experience to. More is concentrated in their hands.
LP You know, they're putting food on our tables.
WK No they're not. Quite the opposite, like, keeping food off the tables of most people.
LP But what's it gonna take to get to the point where it's like, alright, off with his head. Off with their heads. This guy's.
WK I mean, the problem really is if you know, people were to do the whole French Revolution stuff, it's like, there's another guy who will step into that role. Like, you know, that was the anarchists of late 19th century, they, you know, they talked about the propaganda of the deed, where basically like, you'd go kill some industrialist, and that would immediately cause some worker uprising where everybody would be... I mean, there's a good book, I think it's a guy called Alex Butterworth, The World That Never Was or something like that as its title. And it's, you know, and I mean, when I read it at the time, I was like, like, what was wrong with all these anarchists? And you know, how crazy you know that they had these rather extreme ideas that you'd assasinate somebody, and it was like, by the end of reading, I was like, how was everyone on earth not an anarchist then, because the level of exploitation, particularly with regard to the Czar's. He spends a lot of time talking about Czarist Russia, particularly that, I was just like, how was anyone not an anarchist or not willing to kill everybody in the upper classes, but it was like, the answers was the one that I kind of came to the book with, it's like: number one, you kill the Czar, there's another Czar waiting. Number two, the Czar or whomever might be an analogue to the Czar today, they're much more likely to have sympathy than they are to be considered
LP Who are they're gonna have sympathy among?
WK Certainly, like the czar, like you know, okay, well, who was it, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, was stabbed by an anarchist and she was like, a sympathetic figure late after being stabbed, you know, she was, they talked about how good a mother she was, and what a nice person she was. Obviously just the act of killing another person, automatically, the burden-of-proof is on you to explain why you did it, in most cases. But I mean, I think there's this is natural I mean, I was listening to a thing about the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was generally a pretty detestable guy in his life, although, politically, he may have been the best chance Serbia, he was killed by Serbian nationalists, he would have been maybe the best chance Serbia had for an independent or at least autonomous region within the austro Hungarian empire at that time. Anyway, he was not well liked by a lot of the people who worked around him and you know, etc, etc. But he was shot, Gavrilo Princip shoots him. And, you know, even during the trial of Princip, they read out like, the last words of the Archduke who shot him, and he started crying, and somebody said to him, you know, "why are you doing this"? And he's like, "I'm not a beast". It's like, you know, people think lawfully, that that would change anything. I don't think it would change anything at all. Structural solutions, are what's gonna change it. Even if Jeff Bezos had gone up as like a roman candle to entrepreneurial Valhalla the other day, like, even if that had happened, there'd be somebody running Amazon tomorrow, Amazon still be here, like so, that's ultimately what you have to think about. When you think about these, like, propaganda of the deed type solutions. They're not really solutions in my mind, at least. I mean, hating them is one thing, but hating them stupidly is the worst thing you can do.
LP Yeah, we got to be careful with our time and energy, but come on.
WK I mean, I mean, look, I hate all these people. They're all appalling, abominable, ruthless barracudas. Barnacles inhuman, on whatever, like whatever fucking leeches, on the throat of humanity. Like Matt Taibbi described Goldman Sachs, 'the vampire squid stuck to the face of humanity' like that is an accurate characterization. But like, yes, as I said; if they leave the scene, by natural causes, or just by retiring - all the stuff still is in place that they've created. And it's about changing the stuff that they put in place? That's the problem.
LP (HEAVY SIGH)
WK Yeah, exactly. It's harder, much harder.
LP This doesn't give me a big warm feeling of hope.
WK It's not the most hopeful moment. I mean, you know, the oceans on fire, and Jeff Bezos is on your TV. It's work it's, you know, change doesn't happen on its own power doesn't concede anything willingly. So I think, take a lesson from the civil rights protesters of the last few years. You know, maybe we're still in the early days of concrete achievements, but the discussion has completely changed in terms of what you know, Black Lives Matter, protesters have accomplished #metoo protesters have accomplished what, even to an extent, occupied people have accomplished. You know, at least the term The 99% is a comprehensible term that a lot of people, I mean, I think it's inaccurate because it's not even 1% is one 1/10 of 100th of 1% really, the people who are the problem in a way, but you know, I do think that that notion of a mass movement, that's the only thing that's going to change anything, and no person can do that alone, and no propaganda-of-the-deed is gonna do that alone, either.
LP There's a good Adam Curtis quote on this, "yeah, you guys really want a revolution? Or you just want the banks to be a bit nicer to you?" And it's more the latter.
WK Yeah, like, what do people really want? And there are a lot of people who just want the banks to be a little bit nicer, which, they need to be, but I don't even think it's the banks that are the issue. It's beyond the banks, its governmental. Wherever I go to America, listen to a radio programme called the Bible Answer Man. And it's like, basically, people call him up and ask him questions about the Bible. He knows everything about it, but like, he frequently answers calls by saying you're the real problems are Christians, because like pagans are just exercising their job description, whereas Christians have a different mission. And it's like, you know, look, banks are just exercising their job description. They're literally, literally doing, in fact, they're statutorily required at a lot of places, to just maximise profits. Or to lend in ways that, you know, maximise shareholder profits, and corporations are under the same pressure as well. Banks, are corporations as well, but like, the point is, you know, the issue is, is not what somebody does within a system that allows them to do it, it's the system that allows them to do it. And so, banks being nicer, they're never gonna do that on their own if there isn't a legal framework within which they have to work. The more recent stuff with regard to tax avoidance, G7 agreement and tax avoidance and there's been, you know, kind of some minor movements towards climate justice stuff, but like, you know, those are agreements by the elite, for the elite. So a mass movement is the only thing that's gonna make, either the banks be a bit nicer, or
LP at best, maybe, even.
WK revolution and everyone's gonna. Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, I think that his point is, what I'm trying to make, is like, there are people who only want it to be the banks being a bit nicer. But even that's not going to happen, without like, major political change and upheaval, like it's not going to happen because somebody like a nice guy instead of Lloyd Blankfein is running a bank.
LP So what to do while the oceans burning, and Bezos is writing a giant phallic up into space.
WK Yeah, I mean, that is, well, I mean, it's the same point that it's always been. Really, you know, it's like: get people together, find a set of principles around which to advocate and it really has to be very goal orientated. Like, it can't just be like, hey, I want change, it has to be, hey, change this: x, y, z.
LP Yeah, I find it's like getting all the more difficult to get any group of people around anything. Even just change x, y, z. Or one thing.
WK I mean, there are all these like Internet, like viral moments that happen all the time. I mean, isn't that good at bringing people together, but maybe not keeping them together. But nevertheless, I mean, I think it's happening more and more, that there are, like people connecting with each other and, you know, staying together, maybe that's a little bit more of a question mark. But I do think people coming together happens a lot, then that's a question of how you keep people together. That's a lot harder. That's a lot more about building inst- I mean, COVID is a bad time for it of course atomization, created by the need for lockdowns and the need for non travel, but,
LP I don't know, I feel like that's brought people closer together, actually.
WK Maybe. I mean, in some ways. I mean, it's a digital atmosphere. I mean, I think people have reconnected, certainly. But you know, for me, it's the question of if they stay connected, from an activist perspective. That is the challenge.
LP So what would an activist at this dinner in your book get up to?
WK An activist wouldn't be there. An act- would just be on the menu.
LP An activist has like, somehow snuck in, with a scheme to carry out, among these innovators.
WK By that point, it's... we're in such a place as that person doesn't even really exist. Like, there's nobody left with a plan because everybody you know, is too busy. I mean, above ground, they're fighting with each other. Below ground, you know, they're reproducing the society that was above ground. I mean, somebody who turns up there is probably just gonna be like yeah, "I'm somebody's plus one. Give me some of that 3d printed swordfish".
LP Well, at least it'd be ethically sourced.
WK Definitely. I mean, that is the one thing you could say, for me, actually, I'm quite in favour of 3d printed meat. But that's another
LP Have you tried any?
WK No, I've not tried it. But like, I don't really like meat that much anyway, but like, if I would ever eat meat, again, 3d printed meat would be a really good step. You know, that's where a lot of the money that goes into some of this, like, waste innovation could go, but, it's not like anybody's priority.
LP i like ghostswag
WK oh, yeah yeah, totally forgot what story that's in
LP that's also
WK oh it was the producer
LP producer in, what is the story title again? Next?
WK yeah, The Next
LP The Next
WK well, I mean, everything else has been destroyed. And so, the idea is, you know, you're next
WK it's been a pretty strange few days. we're in a heat wave here. yeah, it's like, 30 today.
LP that's really hot for London
WK it's extremely hot for London, yeah, I mean, nowhere near some of the Berlin stuff we were seeing earlier in the year, but
Produced & hosted by Liv Phoinix
with William Kherbek
Sounds Radio FX and _91nova
Click here for the full twenty-six minutes of audio on Spotify
Above Twenty Terrifying Tales from our Technofeudal Tomorrow design by Jack Clarke and published from Arcadia Missa London
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