Don’t Be Evil. Rana Foroohar on Big Tech

The FT’s Rana Foroohar discusses the ‘evil’ side of ‘Big Tech’. She is pushing her new book, but it is an interesting interview which touches on a range of issues relevant to the economics, business, politics, finance and culture of this increasingly all-pervasive phenomenon.

Foroohar has also written on the dangerous and distorting power and influence of ‘Big Finance’, which has become known as financialisation and has generated a large and growing literature among political economists, particularly those writing in the Marxist and post-Keynesian traditions.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Be Evil. Rana Foroohar on Big Tech

  1. I.

    Very important topic. Many problems.

    However, some of the bad things ascribed to Big Tech (extensively synonymous with the Internet) are really deficits or weaknesses in human nature: I was addicted to Matchbox cars, my parents managed to curb the addiction, from which I am fully recovered today.

    One of the most untoward aspects of our handling Big Tech and the Internet is that we cannot rid ourselves of the addiction to be tribal. In fact, perversely, we tend to leverage tribalism by the very instrument that could be its best anti-dote.

    II.

    Big Tech solutions and the Internet afford us unprecedented means to attain enlightenment, education and verisimilitude, and organise ourselves in the spirit of freedom (= economic, political and cognitive/scientific competition), it could help us tremendously in being grown up critical thinkers, curious and respectful of those who think differently.

    Instead, the Internet is being degraded to serve tribalisation.

    It seems, no place is more indicative of this abuse than Germany, where the extent of Selbstgleichschaltung (think, speak and act in lock step, eagerly anticipating what the establshment might expect of them) has reached unheard-of proportions.

    Peeple are almost voluptuously eager to follow the powers that be (government and its media) and feel like “ein Volk (one people), ein Reich, ein Führer”.

    In the days of the GDR the area around Dresden used to be called “das Tal der Ahnungslosen”, the value of the clueless, because people could not receive TV broadcasts from West Germany. It used to be the highest ambition of people in the GDR to supplement GDR-news with as much alternative information from the West as possible. At some time, it was no longer possible to sell TV sets in the GDR that had not the technical ability to receive Western programmes.

    Fast forward, in the meantime, Germany has been ruled by a GDR-propagandist for 20 years (Chancellor Merkel), and loves it, and — of their own accord — people are cosily congregating in a new vale of the clueless (Selbstgleichschaltung), keeping eyes and ears shut, so as not to receive news diverging from the party line. Pluralism has evaporated in this county.

    It’s eerie, it really is, in Germany of all places!!!

    The incredible potential of the Internet to improve the quality of our knowledge and expedite a democracy of open minds isn’t taken advantage of at all, simply because people stick to a handful of the largely traditional (and basically state-run or state-conforming) media.

    The German has been transformed from a citizen (critical of the government) to a complacent political consumer, always on the side of the authorities.

    Twenty years ago, had someone proposed a vision of today’s Internet, I would have cried out: the days of Gleichschaltung are over.

    Far from it:

    Hitler was forced to threaten, persecute, jail, maim and kill millions of Germans to achieve Gleichschaltung (everyone thinking, speaking and acting alike) — he would be envious of Merkel, who must be chuckling with joy at the eagerness with which her subjects endeavour to be politically correct and please their Führerin.

    • It should read “the vale of the clueless”, and of course “people” instead of “peeple”.

      And may I add that ordinary people are eager to police and enforce political correctness, and attack and ostracize those diverging from the party line. They increasingly disregard and even take potshots at the rule of law and the need for democracy — in favour of state-ordained fanaticism.

      Methods of tolerance, critical discourse and peaceful coexistence in society are losing out against dogmas — the prevalence of dogma is the highest political objective, which inevitably leads to the use of power and repression — rather than long-term political tit-for-tat and compromise and open-minded discourse — to establish the dominant values and themes in society.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.