One of the biggest trends of the post financial crisis period has been a plunge in the American public’s perception of the country’s powerful institutions. The establishment often admits this reality with a mixture of bewilderment and erroneous conclusions, ultimately settling on the idea people are upset because “Washington can’t get anything done.” However, nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to corruption and serving big monied interests, both Congress and the President are very, very good at getting things done. Yes it’s true Congress doesn’t get anything done on behalf of the people, but this is no accident. The government doesn’t work for the people.
The image above looks like concept art for a new dystopian sci-fi film. A billionaire superman with a rictus grin, striding straight past human drones, tethered to machines and blinded to reality by blinking plastic masks. Golden light shines down on the man as he strides past his subjects, cast in gloom, toward a stage where he will accept their adulation. Later that night, he will pore across his vast network and read their praise, heaped upon him in superlatives, as he drives what remains of humanity forward to his singular vision.
Except it’s not from a sci-fi movie — it’s from Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, and the man is Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg. The picture trips all of our “horrible cyberpunk future” alarms, carefully put in place by everything from The Matrix to Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent. The former uses evil squid-bodied robots, the latter privileged human elites, but both works see humanity too distracted and preoccupied — by a full-scale replica of late-90s reality, or just sports on TV — to even be aware of the actions of those in charge. Zuckerberg’s picture acts this out: MWC attendees plugged into Samsung’s Gear VR headset literally can’t see the Facebook boss as he breezes past them.