This is the world we enter every day, on our laptops and our smartphones. It has become a battleground where the ambitions of nation states and ideologues are being fought – using us. We are the bounty: our social media feeds; our conversations; our hearts and minds. Our votes. Bots influence trending topics and trending topics have a powerful effect on algorithms, Woolley, explains, on Twitter, on Google, on Facebook. Know how to manipulate information structure and you can manipulate reality.
We’re not quite in the alternative reality where the actual news has become “FAKE news!!!” But we’re almost there. Out on Twitter, the new transnational battleground for the future, someone I follow tweets a quote by Marshall McLuhan, the great information theorist of the 60s. “World War III will be a guerrilla information war,” it says. “With no divisions between military and civilian participation.”
By that definition we’re already there.
To explore how we can respond meaningfully to this moment of crisis, we will draw on this and previous work to provide a snapshot diagnosing the fundamental contours of the crisis. This will provide the groundwork to see the crisis for what it is: an act of war on Planet Earth, on all of life, on all of us. Seeing the crisis for what it is, clarifies in a way that is often eclipsed in the everyday what’s really at stake. And this in turn opens us to seeing the possibilities for action, by unmasking the most fundamental obstacle to change: the illusion of our powerlessness, and the mechanisms by which this illusion is perpetuated to ensure the peoples’ silence, fear, apathy and disunity.
The inauguration of Donald Trump is a historic day, not just for the United States, but for human civilization.
But it is a mistake to believe that Trump is the problem who must be resisted. Trump is not the problem. Trump is merely one symptom of a deeper systemic crisis. His emergence signals a fundamental and accelerating shift within a global geopolitical and domestic American political order which is breaking down.
In order to know how to best respond to the incoming Trump era, we must understand how we arrived here.