The object in your hand is cheap plastic. You gaze down at it, restless.
To better know what threatens us, we should consider whether Weber was right: around us is a tightening ‘iron cage of administration”, a systematic disenchantment and loss of meaning, a triumph, indeed, of rationalisation.
Historically, rationalisation came in three waves. First was the legalisation of private property, second the codification of individual rights and third, the bureaucratic provision of welfare. To this, we can now add a fourth - the fastest and most powerful moment of rationalisation ever, the hole in the world where the meaning leaks out - the Great Replacement.
Unaware and staggering blind, we push the project of quantification deep into our daily lives. Most of us are unable to recognise this for what it really is: a social process written deep in the DNA of our societies. So we try to solve problems with algorithms, to replace human interaction with hollow virtuality and mimic those organisations that feature a monetorised self.
If human capriciousness is to be controlled by an automated bureaucracy, then what, precisely, is the point of humanity? Creativity? Empathy? Mutual recognition? Those seemingly human functions will themselves be replaced – though poorly - by what is merely a vulgar simulacrum. The object in your hand is a plastic imitation, a mere shadow of the real. We cannot defend the human if all we see is inefficiency.
Weber’s structural process of rationalisation now rides a surging digitation, a ‘general-purpose technology revolution’ that calculates and ‘throws a blanket of equivalence’ over all difference. Everything has its price, the human is reduced to the instrumental and the religion of capitalism continues to wring meaning from the world.
It is a ‘crime of obedience’ to further the Great Replacement.
Part of you is not your own and needs taking back. The object in your hand is the key, for to inspect it is to enter a world of thin appearance. Here, in the systematic destruction of work and community, the existential struggle that surrounds you is for a hollow and quantified attention. It is plastic and false, yet within it can be read the age-old project of social control.
Today, no one speaks for us, so we study what threatens us, practice democratic organisation and approach the mass refusal in tiny steps.