We may be living in technologically revolutionary times but there is no assurance that the socioeconomic changes these technologies bring will be for the better. Technological dynamism does not equal technological determinism. Revolutionary new technologies will not automatically usher in utopia. How things fall-out will depend on how we act; how we “become consciousness of this conflict and fight it out.”
This section explores the possibility that we will get it wrong.
This single greatest threat before us arises from reactionary forces which will seek to retain hegemonic control of the new forces of production. The single greatest error we can make is to accept the argument that the relations of capitalist production should be preserved in the new social formation. I call this mistake the great hamartia – the tragic misstep, the fatal flaw. It gives birth to myriad false solutions and deceptive proposals for how we should respond to the changes in our economic base.
If we agree to allow a small, elite class to own and control all the productive apparatus of society while the rest of us sink into the role of passive consumers, a new type of dispossessed lumpenproletariat, we will create a dystopia of exacerbated class antagonism and inequality.
The new Galtian overlords will rely on ever more sophisticated surveillance methods and crowd-control techniques to maintain their hegemony. They will control all the repressive powers of the state. They will be the state. Resistance will be futile; two plus two will equal five.
Tragically, we will have created this type of society for ourselves at precisely the one time in history when a classless, democratic alternative was finally within reach. Everything cascades from that one tragic misstep of preserving capitalist class structures.
I know this is not easy to grasp. My concern for brevity in this introduction has, perhaps, caused me to be somewhat hyperbolic. That’s why I’ve created this entire section to explore in sober detail the tendencies in our present society which are contributing to our slouch towards this dystopia.
Ultimately, the greatest threat to a free and open democratic society may be our own apathy and ignorance. By dragging these subjects out into the light I hope to increase understanding and develop defenses against them. An informed citizenry is still the best defense against tyranny.