Reading time: 3:30min | Humanity as we know it is at stakes, never have been more. Brave new world is knocking.
It’s not the church, nor the aristocracy, nor the capitalists or the socialists. The real enemies are climate warming, artificial intelligence and surveillance economy — and everyone promoting them. Let’s make a film and call it The Enemy Image. Here’s the elevator pitch:
The story is about the war global villain corporations are waging against humanity, freedom and prosperity. If they win this war, they’ll secure their power and riches for eternity but democracy and freedom will be gone for good.
In history, the battle for freedom is man’s greatest victory. It was only civil liberty, over centuries fought for with a death toll past believe, that made free science and research possible, which today allows us to live free, healthier and more carefree lives.
This struggle has been against oppressors, against ruling classes, the nobility, the churches, communism or capitalism — against our species’ worst instincts. We pushed them back, and they got somewhat contained in our democratic societies under the rule of law. Finally, they blended in the loud noise of globalisation and the complexity of modern life. But they thrive in disguise ever since then — partly in every one of us.
With new potential oppressors such as climate change, artificial intelligence or digital surveillance economy, all the bad instincts come back with even more power.
Once again, many start to feel a sense of oppression and powerlessness. But for the lack of defined enemy images, this war becomes a struggle for one’s identity bringing to surface enemy images that we thought we’ve overcome.
In movements such as Black Lives Matter and MeToo, we experience reactions to enemy images such as racism, sexism or fascism, which determine our identities in a polarising way. One is either anti-racist or racist, feminist or gender hater, anti-fascist or nationalist, liberal city dweller or rural traditionalist. Rejectionist attitudes to these and many other issues are often argued with freedom, polarising society more and more. As if it were not enough, new movements that create additional enemy images are added to this mix. They question facts, truths and science and turn liberal politicians and individuals like Bill Gates into freely invented, absurd enemy images.
Populist politicians thrive on this emotional noise, amplified thousands of times on social media, and fuel it where they can. But tech industries like Facebook or Google are also beneficiaries of this development because their business model is monetising of the surveillance of our lives. They can use every distraction from it. That also applies to the oil and arms industry, the military-technological complex in general, a large part of the food industry, for the agricultural sector, in the end for everyone who despises the climate and environmental protection, or harvests our data. That also includes most rich and super-rich people who increase their fortunes most profitably in those sectors.
These villains feed on the polarisation, the disunity and fragmentation of the opposition, which doesn’t even recognise itself. They feed on poisoned gifts such as social media that make us weak by fighting needlessly over identities. They feed on our greed and short-sighted needs. They feed on our lack of education and dedication. They feed on our dream to become one of them.
The only way back into a democratic world of consensus-oriented coexistence without such polarisation and some unity at least seems to be the explicit naming of the imminent threats to humanity: global warming, artificial intelligence and the digital surveillance economy. We have to put faces to these villain corporations causing and supporting those threats because no one is forced to become an authoritarian, anti-democratic billionaire. As with anyone else they do have a choice.
Viewing them as strong enemy images would shift the focus from the internal to the external, unite society, bundle forces and promote the right measures to win this war — for a future worth living for everyone.
How does the film end? Well, as you guessed, it’s a series, and we are in episode 2. That is the part where we get to know the real villain, while the heroine has to leave her comfort zone to find the right path. First little skirmishes occur remotely. Somewhere at Episode 6 or so the heroine’s path will lead to a full-blown war that, in the end, a few episodes later, will reveal the villain’s real character and the heroine’s dedication. Will she make it?