Within the past decade, technology has become increasingly automated and interconnected. Artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and mobile devices have rapidly transformed our society. Many refer to this phenomenon as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” especially since Klaus Schwab popularized the term in 2016. Due to the interconnectedness of these technologies, tech corporations have greatly benefited from the network effect, i.e., a good or service increasing in value as more people use it.
Production under capitalism tends toward centralization and concentration within industries. Monopolies are formed through mergers and acquisitions, crushing any competition in the market while relentlessly pursuing profits. The network effect has amplified this tendency of capitalism; since smaller networks are not only less profitable but also less useful for their participants, the markets for networked goods and services tend to become dominated by one company with the biggest network.
Corporations such as Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram which changed its name shortly after the Wall Street Journal published the Facebook Files), Google, and Amazon have made many of us completely dependent on their services by using the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the network effect to their own advantage. You want your small business to succeed? Better make a Facebook Marketplace account. Do you enjoy listening to music? Unless you have an extensive collection of CDs or vinyls, you likely use Spotify or a
similar platform. Are you an independent journalist? Well, if you need to expand your audience and make a living from your job, you better stick to writing articles that serve Big Tech’s interests.
As our country becomes more diverse, bourgeois media will continue to promote the idea that a more “inclusive” ruling class indicates progress for all oppressed peoples. They can no longer afford to limit Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaire Syndrome solely to white males. If the majority of Americans believe that we can somehow join the capitalist class, we will be less likely to replace the irrational economic system of profits in command with a people-centered socialist economy.
During the summer of 2020, various tech corporations voiced their support for the George Floyd protests. Or, at least their PR firms decided that performative “anti-racist” gestures would be the best for their company’s image. Apple posted a letter on its website announcing that they will donate to organizations including the Equal Justice Initiative, without disclosing how much money will be donated. Amazon donated $10 million to multiple organizations that support “justice and equity.” Google pledged to donate a total of $12 million to various civil rights groups. The CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, tweeted a thread listing the grants that he issued.
However, the trend of Silicon Valley weighing in on social issues did not begin only two years ago. This trend really started picking up in 2017, after Donald Trump was elected president. Various tech corporations opposed Trump’s travel bans, intentions to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Trump’s tweets about banning transgender individuals from the military, as well as many other actions and statements from the Trump administration.
Now that social media platforms have effectively decided that #BlackLivesMatter is the intellectual property of global capital, does this mean that material conditions for Black Americans have improved? For a select few millionaires, things sure have gotten better. The Black Lives Matter Global Network was founded in 2013 by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Ayọ Tometi; the organization did not have to publicly disclose its funding until 2020, when the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. As reported by the Associated Press on May 17, the BLMGNF has $42 million in assets. The foundation spent millions of dollars to purchase luxury properties, including the infamous $6 million Southern California mansion.
Samaria Rice and Lisa Simpson, two mothers who have lost their sons (Tamir Rice and Richard Risher) to police brutality, issued a joint statement criticizing the BLMGNF and wealthy professional activists who are seen as leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement. After all those celebrities tweeted #BlackLivesMatter and posted black squares on Instagram in 2020, why were 19.5% of Black Americans still living below the federal poverty line? Why do a handful of tech oligarchs and millionaire activists continue to live in opulence, while working families of all races are struggling to feed their children and fill up their gas tanks?
Due to the symbiotic relationship between Big Tech and the military-industrial complex, it should not be surprising that these two factions of the ruling class have adopted the same system of woke etiquette. Today in the neoliberal era, Silicon Valley supplies the US Military with plenty of technological advancements and pro-war propaganda, decades after the Department of Defense (DoD) and other public sector entities provided funding for the research and development of technologies that tech companies still use to this day.
Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, has been heavily involved with strengthening ties between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon. The Defense Innovation Board was formed in 2016, with Schmidt as the inaugural chairman, to bring Silicon Valley technology to the DoD. From 2018 through 2021, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) – chaired by Schmidt himself – made recommendations to the US President and Congress on developing AI technology for US national security interests. The NSCAI was disbanded in October 2021, a few months after its final report which pointed out that the US could not beat China’s AI technology. Unfortunately, within the same month, Schmidt launched the Special Competitive Studies Project as a private foundation to continue the AI arms race.
The Washington Post, owned by Jeff Bezos, is one of many corporate news outlets churning out wartime propaganda to make the Kiev regime seem like an innocent victim of Russia’s completely unprovoked military aggression. Now that the Lugansk People’s Republic has been fully liberated from the neo-Nazi battalions that have tortured and killed thousands of innocent civilians over the past 8 years, the Washington Post is trying desperately to pretend that Russia is somehow losing.
Next time the algorithm promotes an article which portrays Vladimir Putin as some psychopath who will bring the entire Eurasian continent under the control of his evil illiberal empire, it is important to remember that Silicon Valley CEOs are profiting from the US and NATO proxy war in Ukraine against Russia. The Washington Post adopted the slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness” a few years after being purchased by Bezos, and the Washington Post has since fulfilled its own slogan. It should come as no surprise that Google removed the “don’t be evil” clause from its code of conduct in 2015 – the same year that Ashton Carter, then Secretary of Defense, gave a speech to Silicon Valley CEOs urging them to enlist in the new arms race against Russia and China.