The old progressive way was to model the state on a factory full of big machines, ruthless managers and experts overseeing the entire operation while the workers scurry underfoot. The new way is to model the state on a dot com that collects information on you in order to assign you to a category that will determine how it will automatically manipulate you. It’s the sort of thing that seems like genius on a TED video or in the pages of the New York Times, but is even uglier and more doomed.
Swapping out the factory for the data center and patriarchy for matriarchy doesn’t fix the soulless hole at the heart of the problem. A perfect society built by trying to turn people into machines will always fail. It will fail whether the logo on the box reads IBM or Google, whether the engineers wear three piece suits or neckbeards and whether the poster on the wall is Big Brother or Elizabeth Warren.
Failure can’t be engineered out of the system. Failure is the system.
The social engineers are trying to stamp out bugs. They’re proposing to lower the Tylenol overdose rate while the national debt approaches 17 trillion, the average student graduates with $30,000 worth of student loan debt and the suicide rate for men continues to rise. But the bugs aren’t isolated faults, they are symptoms of the unworkability of the program. The programmers are trying to program people without understanding them and repressing people in favor of systems in order to achieve their target goals.
The social programs have failed. Socialism 2.0 is already as much of a social and economic disaster as Socialism 1.0. The future isn’t progressive social improvements micromanaged by experts, but electric poverty, tax dodging dot coms and online black markets. The modern Neros are still fiddling with their people manipulation software while everything around them burns.
Originally published at Sultan Knish.