Since we are suckers for new ideas, the latest and somewhat broader definition of colonialism has captivated our imagination for the day. This new conceptualization is also throwing some light on our traditional understanding of colonialism. Here the focus is on newly emerging forms of domination. These came about, by and large, as a result of robotics, automation and informatics. If truth be told, the preponderance of the new ICT (Information and Communication Technology) or the colonialism it ushered, is much more overbearing than the directives of the overenthusiastic district commissioner of the mighty British Empire straddling the anthills of Africa’s dry land; even when ‘the sun doesn’t set on the British Empire’ was still an impressive factuality!
The latest version of colonialism is a bit different. It leverages products of modern technology to subjugate people in a protracted manner. Moreover, analyzing modern colonialism, oppressive as it is, might not be so straightforward if we are only to adhere to old methodologies. To start with, the received wisdom has effectively quarantined emerging analysis within the confines of old parameters as applied to traditional colonialism. At the dawn of the 21st century, where hypermodernity is the order of the day, such classic approaches might not be all that useful or even relevant. Ancient or old fashion colonialism was based, mostly, on specific coordinates of physical geography, constrained people’s (indigenous) movement, economic/social/cultural/religious discrimination and outright subjugation of natives by the conquering powers, etc. These were the features that informed our understanding of earlier versions of colonialism. To be sure, ‘neocolonialism’, which is derived from old brutal colonialism by emphasizing soft approaches, i.e., employing more pacified forms of domination, is not what we will be dealing with today. We consider neocolonialism as the harmonization of old colonialism with the expediency of ‘flag independence’!
The informatics revolution that has drastically reconfigured the world economy, particularly since the advent of the Internet, has expanded its domain of dominion across the breadth and depth of the human universe, just like the old colonialists. Our old friend Charles Hugh Smith, in his characteristic perceptiveness and baldness, to say nothing about his extemporary coherence, has fired the first salvo. He defined the new colonialism as a state of being that is overwhelmingly disempowering. It is, he says, a condition where the natives have no power, hence no choice! Certainly, one can work within this descriptive general framework to validate even the old form of colonialism as well as its newer offshoot-neocolonialism! For instance, the overwhelming information (information overload) the average sheeple (human mass) is bombarded with is beyond imagination, literally! From the receiving end of this immense trash, the human animal blocks, rather instinctively, what is not immediately needed. This time honored and honed survival mechanism, both biological and social, is what keeps us going preserving our relative sanity! From the dispensing end, the production of the massive information on the global scale, incessantly simulated by non-human operators, (entities of the computer world increasingly leveraging ascendant artificial intelligence) seem to have gone way beyond the absorption capacity of the dominant species. Nonetheless, all these spell domination!
Unless our infatuation with overabundant information is tempered, mostly by refusing to comply with prevailing unhealthy fixation on anything automata, human oppression of all kinds will become the dominant feature of modern life! The effort to liberate the human soul from the increasingly evolving social formations that are inherently dehumanizing requires the untangling of prevailing narrative imposed on us by the new colonizers. The ‘techno-sphere’, to use Orlov’s apt characterization, must be subjected to the whims of the human animal and not vice versa. There will be visible large-scale battles between life preserving tendencies and life destroying trajectories taking place in the near future. As it stands, destructive trends are winning the current day-to-day battles hands down. Whether this side is destined to win the totality of the war in the long run, is something that remains to be seen! Nonetheless, we should have no illusion; the techno-sphere is not driven by the logic of reproduction-the reproduction of lives. Its logic doesn’t even take into account the most obvious fact of resource limitation, let alone understand the refined societal values of human civilizations. In its essence, the ‘techno-sphere’ is an exploitative system driven by its own logic of reproduction, amongst which, the neglect of all lives and the larger ecosystem form its core principle!
This was first published in September 2017

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