The people on the streets and on public transport appear more as people than blurs, there's a distinct sense of belonging without adherence to a particular cause or reason. I do not have the urge to debate over global topics, which I am removed from anyway because of powerlessness I embody. When I look around this powerlessness is more visible but the cacophony of the media narratives makes us believe that we are more important than we are. – A break from the news
Most of our everyday life we are propelled through with a feeling of power. We are told that our actions have consequences and they hold us in the middle of things: pay your taxes, wear your masks, vote for change, buy local.. for most part we do believe in them and do our best to participate. Societies that do not operate on these levels of consciousness wither into a painful existence while we soldier on, believing that we have the power to change anything and everything in our lives.
But, can we really? While the news amuses us with how much wealth Jeff Bezos has hoarded this year or with some political brouhaha from across the world, we assume in part the bodies of the people we read and think about. The politics of the country we live in is far from us and the globalized American dream has us wondering what step we take in the future can make us the capitalists we love and hate at the same time. The plebeian existence we inhabit is hidden behind the millions of customizations we are granted in the internet age, a power trip that was hitherto unknown to previous generations.
The music we listen to, the books we read and the restaurants we go to are all hidden in the black boxes we possess each moment, hidden from the everyday audience. Behind the scenes they are the access to central servers that pile up money with the very information we hold secret with the people next to us. In these moments we feel powerful that we have access to all the information and products in the world but what we cannot control is the faces and the powers behind the screen. Power now has become abstracted, it is no longer the politician who controls what we want and how we want them but a Silicon Valley billionaire who in his nonchalance is putting a hyper-libertarian world view into action without your permission (you clicked on “I agree” of course).
In a pre-internet era there was a singular flow of information and a chain of command that was local. There was not a constant monitoring of oneself (unless someone lived in East Germany under the aegis of the Stasi) and the villains of ones life could be found in the nearest Capital city. Now that is not the case. If one wants to decry job losses and protest against Uber, where does one go to? And if Uber were to be shut down, what about the market forces that Uber has helped unleash? Sitting on contracted work with no benefits in an economy that promises more “freedom and flexibility” for both consumers and producers alike, what's the political upheaval one is really aiming for?
I am not saying that societal problems did not have a global relation in the earlier generations but with the advent of the internet, our problems have been collectivized into an effective global package. Google is just identifiable as the crucifix around the world. To google is to exist in the 21st century, this is a reality that no-one of us is going to escape anytime soon. The buzzwords of disruption and digitization, are warning signs that the security of being middle-class, is being slowly taken away by a class of extremely rich people who we have learnt to revere. How does one fight for their rights against someone situated in another country altogether?
What has been really disrupted is our lives: one part of it is being drained into the dossiers of mega-corporations and the other we are trying to figure out how to make our presence in the economies we live in. We do not talk about these things because we are all engaged in the same game of capital worship. If we were as honest to each other as we are to layers and layers of internet surveillance, we would see how powerless we are in the global scheme of things. A part of the rebellion against the current iteration of how things are organized would come from this shared powerlessness.
This powerlessness should make us question why power should be concentrated and if that power should be concentrated between a few companies and investors on the planet. Governments do not have the gall  or the creativity to fight the new operators of power. If the lowest common denominator in a democracy, the voter, finds their place of helplessness then it is easier for the government to see their relative position. This helplessness will be a bargaining position for the world of the future. As the power becomes powerless, it starts to fight back.
The first step in the process is to come out of the induced stupor of artificial self-worth that our current state of living provides. Communicating our fragility in the market ecosystem instead of trading ego boosts on Instagram would pave the way for a greater social conversation about current state of our power. This can be translated into political will and speak – it is irrelevant if someone is Indian or Tunisian in the current iteration of the market. It's US, China or a handful of developed countries everyone is dependent on and this dependence is only getting stronger by the day. When the political apparatus of countries start to wake up to this stark divide – (hoping that most countries have the interests of its common people at heart) – change can be expected. The hegemonic nature of countries are always in flux, to steer it away from the current establishment requires unity of the powerless and resolve.
 As we speak, the Indian government has banned a fresh lot of 118 Chinese apps citing surveillance as a reason. None of the American or other internet companies that operate on the same revenue models find no mention for the same practices. If the government was really so concerned about the well-being of its citizens, it would shut down the internet. This is a sign of the helplessness once the Indian government wakes up from its Doublethink.
#capitalism #democracy #power #internet