As “president elect” Biden stocks his cabinet with Wall Street warmongers and big tech supremacists, no amount of stammering through far-Left slogans will stave off grassroots disillusionment. Belatedly, progressives are realizing that they’ve been conned, used, and abandoned; that they have more in common with the disenfranchised MAGA voters than they’d ever imagined. Corporations are taking over the world, and elected officials have become mere stage props.
As usual, the naked power grab by woke corporatism finds its most advanced expression in California. How else to explain the election of George Gascón, an avatar of woke extremism, to become the next district attorney of Los Angeles County? In a bitter, hard fought campaign where Gascón’s strategy relied on demonizing the incumbent Jackie Lacey—also a Democrat, though a black female who is tougher on crime than he will be—Gascón was the recipient of millions in donations. The most notable of these donors was the notorious George Soros. But even more money came from a collection of high tech billionaires and Hollywood moguls.
The most generous among Gascón’s big tech benefactors were Netflix founder Reed Hastings and his wife Patricia Quillan. Together they contributed $2,153,000, nearly edging out Soros’s $2,250,000 to be Gascón’s biggest donors.
The Smart Big Tech Money
Whatever else one may say about high tech billionaires, they’re not stupid. Many of them have experienced extraordinary luck, since not every nerd with a college website dedicated to rating the physical attractiveness of coeds ends up parlaying that prurient diversion into a company worth nearly a trillion dollars. But only luck combined with brains, and only ambition combined with an unimaginably rigorous work ethic, enables someone to ride a concept all the way from a dorm room to the pinnacle of Silicon Valley power. Whether it comes from Zuckerberg, Hastings, or even the bedraggled Dorsey, this is smart money.
So what are they thinking? Why did California’s elite digerati join the Hollywood glitterati to support George Gascón, a man whose previous act as San Francisco’s district attorney was so destructive that even that city’s ultra liberal mayor, London Breed, declined to endorse his candidacy for Los Angeles County district attorney? Getting into the mind of someone like Reed Hastings is not easy—the man “does not comment on his personal donations”—but we have to try. Because understanding his motivation, and by extension, the motivation of all the big tech money behind the far Left, may lend some coherence to what on the surface seems inexplicable.
An intriguing article by Sara Roos, published just before the election in the obscure Los Angeles Education Examiner, attempts to connect the dots. In her article entitled “Big money for pro-charter school board candidates, picks George Gascón for DA,” Roos claims the same ideology that informs the charter school movement is at work in these hotly contested races for district attorney.
Roos may be mistaken to consider charter schools a poor alternative—charters in Los Angeles Unified School District tend to outperform the traditional public schools both in terms of dollar cost per pupil and in terms of educational outcomes. LAUSD badly needs competition, so long as one monopoly isn’t replaced with another. But her larger point addresses privatization, and deserves careful consideration. She writes:
LAUSD’s school boardroom has become a surrogate battlefield for neoliberalism, public-private partnerships and the leveraging of public goods for private gain. So, too, it would seem might the race for LA County’s District Attorney signal a new incursion on privatization in criminal justice.
How else to explain the decision by someone like Reed Hastings to go big in support of someone like George Gascón? What Gascón is going to do, widely reported and hence not necessary to reiterate here, is dismantle current modes of law enforcement and criminal justice. But what is the end game? What is going to fill the vacuum in law enforcement and follow-up prosecutions, when crime in Los Angeles, already way up in the last few years, continues to soar?
The Public/Private Endgame in Law Enforcement
Answers to this question point repeatedly towards either private solutions, or “public/private” solutions, or, as Roos puts it, “a vast satellite system of private vendors and service providers embedded amongst the public in competition for public dollars.”
This is already seen in the scandalous waste of public resources on privately constructed “supportive housing” for the homeless and low-income residents of Los Angeles County. The average per unit cost of “supportive housing” comes in at over $500,000, with that money, all of it sourced from taxpayers, spread lavishly among “stakeholders” including the cost of government fees and permits, the operations of powerful nonprofits, and “a vast satellite system” of private-sector consultants, developers, construction companies, brokers, attorneys, and public relations firms.
This ongoing corruption, barely legal at best, does more than just deliver obscene profits to the players involved. It can also be designed to delay effective solutions to homelessness until targeted areas are ruined, and as productive residents flee, private sector developers move in to demolish and rebuild, creating additional overpriced monstrosities designated as “supportive housing.” And yes, there is a connection here to law enforcement, and there is a connection to the high tech industry as well. For starters, anyone living in housing of this nature is under constant supervision, and subject to remotely activated “lockdown.” But why stop there?
A troubling article published on December 15 by John Whitehead, president at the Rutherford Institute, explains the opportunity for Big Tech to take over much of the role currently relegated to law enforcement, as well as how Big Tech has the capacity to greatly surpass conventional law enforcement in the scope of behaviors it will monitor and control—in your home, in your car, and everywhere you go.
Entitled “Big Brother in Disguise: The Rise of a New, Technological World Order,” Whitehead’s article leads off with a quote from George Orwell, “You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” Elaborating on how that quote describes the world we’re living in today, he writes “This is not freedom. This is not even progress. This is technological tyranny and iron-fisted control delivered by way of the surveillance state, corporate giants such as Google and Facebook, and government spy agencies such as the National Security Agency.”
Imagine the additional trillions that Silicon Valley tech companies are going to make, as they move from addictive communications platforms to the “internet of things.” And every one of these things, from driverless cars to smart light bulbs, thermostats, and doorbells, will be recording everything you do. This in turn leads to predictive policing, which in some opportunistic inversion of logic, is not the same as “profiling.”
Eventually, and by “eventually” we’re talking within the next ten years, it will be possible to monitor not just individual behavior, but individual moods if not actual thoughts. At the least, expect your body to be continuously wired to a very sophisticated version of lie detector equipment, tracking your pulse, respiration and body temperature. Incentives will be provided to encourage participation, and failure to participate will identify candidates for enhanced surveillance. In the name of combating threats from climate change, racism, pandemics, elections—there are no boundaries on what is necessary to keep us “safe”—not just speech, but all activity will be controlled. And to augment the defunded, reinvented police, all manner of auxiliary government and private entities will be weaponized. And augmenting these auxiliaries will be robots and drones. Resistance is futile.
Privatizing the Public Sphere for Greater Control
What Sara Roos alludes to, the privatization and “public/private” morphing of government, connects with this even more ominous vision of Whitehead’s in two ways. First, and most obvious, this is an opportunity for profits to the high tech industry that boggle the mind. Trillions will be made. Somewhat less obvious, but if anything more important, is that we have done a poor job so far in understanding how the Bill of Rights applies to private space. The unchecked abuses we have witnessed on the monopolistic communications platforms over the past few years, and especially over the past few months, is just the beginning.
How will the Bill of Rights protect anyone, if the entire public sphere is privatized? From the playgrounds to the prisons, private ownership means house rules. Imagine straying unauthorized into a privatized space in, say, 2027, and encountering a swarm of slap drones. After you’ve awakened, if you’re lucky, from your Ketamine injection—precisely administered via a dart launched from a hovering drone—your attorney will explain how the castle doctrine now pretty much informs every square inch of planet earth.
We cannot stop technology, we can only try to manage the rollout, preserving as many of our freedoms as possible. In this context, the public sector, answerable to people instead of corporations, may be our only hope. And maybe, just maybe, Bernie Bros and Trump supporters, equally disenfranchised, equally discarded, will unite on one common principle: monopolies harm ordinary Americans no matter where they appear. When concentrations of wealth in the private sector render the public sector “monopoly” impotent, you’re looking at a paradigm shift. And new paradigms generate new politics.
Ultimately, the true clash of civilizations in the world is not between ideologies. It’s a technology-driven power struggle between Westernized nations and China. A struggle, that is, so long as Silicon Valley doesn’t sell its soul to the Chinese. Either way, and even in this broader context, George Gascón is a useful prop. The actors wielding him along with all the other elected props, are multinational corporations led—collectively speaking—by the trillionaires of Silicon Valley. Moreover, this sort of technological evolution cannot simply be stopped, even if we were willing to throw away the many good things it brings us in order to eliminate the bad.
Ultimately, the world we inhabit in a few short years is very likely to be either China’s Orwellian “1984” version of techno-tyranny, or Huxley’s somewhat more benevolent “Brave New World” techno-tyranny, courtesy of Silicon Valley.
You’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy. Go to work George. The world holds its breath.