Amazon’s River of Implacable Force and Inscrutable Intention

An illiterate society has no heart, while an innumerate one has no head. The two are a license for the few to experiment with the many, to test a wealth of theories and to exhaust the nation’s wealth, to have the machinations to reduce people to machines, to have algorithms make us comply until we revolt in the ultimate act of noncompliance—we die.

Death is, alas, not an escape but an error: an analog scratch in a digital world, which awaits not an upgrade by nature but the transformation of human nature; the ascension not of the soul but the transcendence of the mind; the transition from the earth to the cloud in which we will survive neither in Heaven nor the heavens, but will rest inside the memory board of artificial intelligence.

Such is life in the world of perverted science. Such is life in the virtual world of a dwarfish engineer, whose Everything Store reads like a mashup between Animal Farm and “The Night Before Christmas,” where, after having led a revolt against Santa’s workshop, Jeff Bezos closed the factory, shot the reindeer, and starved the little people.

Pardon my mention of animal cruelty, as the greater cruelty is Bezos’s treatment of his own workers.

Pardon, too, my literary metaphors, as Bezos strikes me as that man behind the curtain: a shorter but nonviolent inversion of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.

Both are math wizards with manifestos. The Washington Post, which Bezos owns, ran Kaczynski’s rant against industrial society.

The paper’s previous owners printed this 35,000-word warning about human genetic engineering and the erosion of human freedom, which James Q. Wilson called “a carefully reasoned, artfully written paper.”

In contrast, Bezos is more gnomic. His letter to shareholders says there is no rest for the weary, that he reminds his employees to be afraid, to wake up every morning terrified.

Before you accuse me of comparing a billionaire philanthropist to a letter-bomber and triple murderer, before you indict me for implying a connection between the two, as one is physically harmless and the other inflicted terrible physical pain against his victims, let me state the obvious: Homicide is inexcusable.

Likewise, there is no excuse for watching society kill itself.

Photo credits: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images (Bezos); Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images (Kaczynski)

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