2021-03-09

Enough Money and Fantasy to Abandon — and Punish — Reality

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

How is your boycott of Amazon going? I didn’t realize I viewed Amazon so much until I made a conscious effort to avoid it and always use the alternatives I listed in Boycott Amazon Week. If you are looking for a tad more incentive to keep this side of the picket line read this:

Jeff Bezos’s Vision of the Future Is Basically Blade Runner

Jeff Bezos (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

It’s by Paris Marx and published on the Jacobinmag site. What a combo of names. The names alone inspire action — or inaction to avoid Amazon in solidarity with Amazon’s workers.

In May, Jeff Bezos unveiled his long-term vision for humanity’s future. During an hour-long presentation in Washington, DC, the Amazon billionaire described how humans will need to leave Earth if we’re to maintain “growth and dynamism” in the future.

For Bezos, our future is a series of free-floating space colonies called O’Neill cylinders in close proximity to Earth. This proximity, he argues, will help the planet to avoid exceeding its capacity as the population swells into the trillions. Such a development, argues Bezos, will allow us to produce thousands of “Mozarts and Einsteins.” But what about everyone else?

The richest man in the world with an intent to “save the Earth,” Bezos has claimed that space travel is “the only way” he can see to effectively deploy his enormous wealth — a statement he saw fit to make while simultaneously working to defeat a small tax increase in Seattle that would have bolstered programs to help the city’s soaring homeless population.

The quest for space habitats is essential, Bezos argues, because we’re destroying the planet. He says this as he nonetheless courts the oil and gas industry. Amazon workers have demanded their boss take stronger measures to address the company’s environmental footprint, but even his renewed pledge doesn’t go far enough. Its inaction is of course motivated by the logic of profit maximization — at the expense of planetary destruction. This is the same imperative that has driven Bezos to look to the stars.

Bezos is convinced that humanity will fall prey to “stasis and rationing” if we remain on Earth. The Jeff Bezos brand of never-ending growth will require constant population gains, increased energy use, and more resources than our planet can provide — so, into the stars we must go.

As is so often the case with the analyses of billionaires, a lot gets left out of the picture. The utopian future put forward by Bezos has blind spots so big you could pilot a starship through them. When they’re filled in, Bezos looks a lot more like Niander Wallace, the replicant manufacturer in Blade Runner 2049, than the savior he thinks himself to be. . . . 

The article is studded with sub-headings like Hero Complex, Sci-Fi Glimpses of an Unequal Future, Disposable Humans in a Billionaire’s World.

Paris Marx wrote another warning about Bezos in 2019. It begins:

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a billionaire who’s read science fiction your whole life. Your mind, deluded by your immense wealth, thinks that the only way to “deploy this much financial resource” is to invest in space instead of paying taxes so we can collectively solve the problems on Earth. When a fictional television show about space colonization is canceled in its third season, you swoop in to save the day because not only do you fund a space company, but you also own a massive streaming platform — and it needs content. After chatting with some of the cast, you email your team asking to announce the show’s renewal, and — ten minutes after they reply — you take the stage and are lauded by sci-fi fans across the internet for saving the day.

This is exactly what happened when The Expanse was canceled by Syfy and quickly scooped up by Amazon Prime Video for a fourth season after a personal intervention by CEO Jeff Bezos. It’s hard to imagine having so much money that you could both fund a space race and the media that could inspire it all at the same time, but that’s exactly what he’s doing.

The following two tabs change content below.

Neil Godfrey

Neil is the author of this post. To read more about Neil, see our About page.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to Vridar. Thanks!


3 thoughts on “Enough Money and Fantasy to Abandon — and Punish — Reality”

  1. Hi Vridar (Team)

    I’ve been away for some time … I’ve been looking in to a few things for a better lifestyle – a more fulfilling one. Part of the idea involves venturing in permaculture. I advise all, who don’t like the Blade Runner direction the Technocrats are trying to take this world towards, to seriously consider buying arable/ agricultural land – and work it for producing personal food and enough to share with another family and stockpile on food sensibly.

    It’s not going to end on robots, but universal credit, artificial meat and so on … as you are all aware. It is the thing of a run up to eschatology – even if you don’t believe there is going to be one … if there is not there will certainly be a dystopia if we do nothing.

    Find – The Greater Reset – for more information – that is Great with an ER at the end …

    I will eventually find time to reading and contributing more to the main Biblically themed articles … I promise.

  2. “will help the planet to avoid exceeding its capacity as the population swells into the trillions.”

    That has got to be a typo! Think we’re going to need a bigger boat.

    The sum total of transactions in the American economy before the pandemic in 2019 was well above 3 quadrillion dollars (gets hazy when trying to account for various types of options and derivatives). The top 10% of individuals and entities were responsible for 90% of those transactions in terms of value. Hence the reason for Prof. Edgar Feige (UW-Madison) to have proposed in the nineties such a thing as a digitally settled Automated Payment Transaction Tax where-in everything but local property tax is replaced with a tiny amount taken from the two sides of each transaction within the economy with no exceptions. For sake of simplicity if the rate (20 years ago he was modeling 0.7% or 70 cents per 100 dollars) was 2% someone would pay $1.01 and someone else would receive $0.99 with no time wasted on yearly, quarterly, or monthly returns. Implementation is little more than a software update as something 92% of all transactions are already digitally settled on computer servers with that still slowly increasing upwards a bit each year.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.