Naomi Klein is doing well here in showing off her ignorance of how we’d like things to be. Her complaint is that the capitalists – this time in the form of the tech giants – are going to profit from the coronavirus.
Good, we’d like the capitalists to profit from the coronavirus. Because to make a profit – absent the State forcing people – you have to provide something that people want. That they will voluntarily take from you in return for whatever it is that you demand in return. That is, you’ve got to offer the people something they value more than you ask for in order to make that profit. And why wouldn;t we want people to be offered things they value more? This being rather the point of having an economy, that people get more of what they wantthey want:
Naomi Klein: How big tech plans to profit from the pandemic
Ms. Klein presents this as a problem. And yet it’s the very thing we all desire to happen.
If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because, pre-Covid, this precise app-driven, gig-fuelled future was being sold to us in the name of friction-free convenience and personalisation. But many of us had concerns. About the security, quality and inequity of telehealth and online classrooms. About driverless cars mowing down pedestrians and drones smashing packages (and people). About location tracking and cash-free commerce obliterating our privacy and entrenching racial and gender discrimination. About unscrupulous social media platforms poisoning our information ecology and our kids’ mental health. About “smart cities” filled with sensors supplanting local government. About the good jobs these technologies wiped out. About the bad jobs they mass produced.
And most of all, we had concerns about the democracy-threatening wealth and power accumulated by a handful of tech companies that are masters of abdication – eschewing all responsibility for the wreckage left behind in the fields they now dominate, whether media, retail or transportation.
This being the heart of the Kleinian idiocy. It is we consumers who get to decide all of this. If we, say, prefer online shopping to bricks and mortar then that’s what we’ll go and do. As we seem to for perhaps 20% of our retail expenditure at present. That wreckage is not because the tech plutocrats have made it possible, but because we, the peeps out here, prefer it.
This is actually one of those times that Dr. Heinz Kiosk is correct, we are all guilty. But then as a colonial Ms. Klein will not have been exposed to the eternal verities of that character.
Of course this is not a great surprise, Klein always has had that unerring instinct to pick up the economic stick by the ordure stained end. The real question has to be why the rest of us pay such attention to her maunderings. For she’s complaining that we’re getting more of what we so obviously desire to have more of. She wishes to change the world so that we don’t. Why are we listening to her?