Modern visual and auditory electronic propaganda techniques utilizing black box AI (not artificial but advertising intelligence) algorithms to exploit consumers across a spectrum of digital devices (smart phones, laptops, notebooks, etc.) has given rise to what Harvard Business School Professor of Business Administration (emerita) Shoshana Zuboff identifies as surveillance capitalism, and defines: “1. A new economic order that claims human experience as free raw material for hidden commercial practices of extraction, prediction, and sales; 2. A parasitic economic logic in which the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new global architecture of behavioral modification; 3. A rogue mutation of capitalism marked by concentrations of wealth, knowledge, and power unprecedented in human history; 4. The foundational framework of a surveillance economy; 5. As significant a threat to human nature in the twenty-first century as industrial capitalism was to the natural world in the nineteenth and twentieth; 6. The origin of a new instrumentarian power that asserts dominance over society and presents startling challenges to market democracy; 7. A movement that aims to impose a new collective order based on total certainty; 8. An expropriation of critical human rights that is best understood as a coup from above: an overthrow of the people’s sovereignty.” (THE AGE OF SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power)
Lobbyists for multinational and transnational corporations will roundly deny points 1 and 2. To no avail. The votes are all in, the evidence compelling. Mainstream media outlets like NPR, CNN, FOX, Democracy Now, Intercept, The Nation, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian publish stories and report on events daily about individual, group, organizational, and government corruption that reduce to claims about the agent’s greed for money. From the Koch brothers cheating the government through false reporting and ripping off Native Americans to wealthy donors falsifying their children’s applications to get them admitted to elite universities, which they believe will improve their progeny’s chances for a better lifestyle through higher income; from the relatively benign teacher unions and worker strikes for a higher wage to the malignant exploitation of refugees by human traffickers, from avarice of Wall Street hedge fund managers to right-wing politicians canonizing that poster-child of mindless venality, Donald Trump–all confirm this thesis of the centrality of profit-maximization. The central issue in the Ukraine debacle is that U.S. and Russian corporations are battling tooth and nail for control of markets there—they aren’t doing it for their health but for profit. As Joseph Thompson wrote in The Broken Covenant in 1857: “Commerce cannot be entrusted with the moral interests of mankind. She has no principle that can withstand a strong temptation to her insatiable cupidity.” Cupidity is a synonym for greed or avarice.