Views from the third world. Earth.

How Colonizers Changed Words And Kept Colonizing

The Wife from diptych We Come Alive From Eating Your Flesh by Rajni Perera

Words change but the deeds stay dastardly. The latest language of colonialism is ‘authoritarians’ vs ‘democracies’, because you can’t say ‘oriental despots’ or ‘civilized’ anymore. You can’t say that a religion is superior anymore, but you can say that a system of governance is superior. And then ‘you’ can violently impose ‘that system’ on others. But this essay is not about blame, it’s about names. Herein, I’ll interrogate what ‘you’ and ‘that system’ really mean, behind the lying tyranny of names.

Dreading Democracy

Today they can’t be going on Crusades cause they worship only money. Western civilization isn’t yet depraved enough to admit that, so they do all the bombing, besieging and bedeviling under the guise of spreading secular values, like Democracy™ and Freedom©. In truth, the only value is shareholder value, as it has been from the Dutch East India Company to BlackRock today. As my historical thesis goes, same shit different day. The lie changes but the truth stays the same.

The trick of colonialism is to distract you into debating the justification while they do the injustice. Like any malicious magician, it’s all about distraction. Watch what they’re saying and not what they’re doing, and they’ll trick you every time. That’s why it’s important to remember that the colonizers are always lying. We should have learned this 400 years ago, but we have to always look at what they do and not what they say. Always follow the money, not the media. Whether the White Empire has its capital in London or Washington is largely irrelevant. Whether it administers through VoC armies or IMF bureaucrats is irrelevant too. The capital of what I call the White Empire is and always will be capital, from the IPO of the VoC in 1604 to BlackRock today.

I know because my people been colonized for four hundred years, we’re still colonized, and I’m telling you, you’re colonized too. My country (Sri Lanka) was impoverished to make VoC bond-holders richer, and now they’re doing the same thing for BlackRock. The words have changed, but as with any pickpocket, watch what the hands do. They (it) used to openly call Slavs, Asians, and Africans savage and uncivilized in order to loot them, now they just say ‘authoritarian’ and ‘developing’ to the same effect. This sounds normal to people within the Empire today, but remember that ‘savage’ and ‘uncivilized’ used to be perfectly normal too.

If you look at the normal actions of the White Empire, they still extract cheap labor from us via debt, they still divide and conquer by corrupting our elites, and the IMF (always headed by a European) swoops in to ‘restructure’ us, taking control as much as any old colonial administrator. It’s all framed as being for our own good, but colonialism was always framed as being for our own good. There’s nothing new under the sun. It’s the same old exploitation in different packaging. That’s all the new words are. Marketing.

Bloody Business

Beneath the bullshit marketing, corporate shareholders are always helping themselves. Look at the balance sheets, not the bullshit. Whether it’s stealing tropical solar power or stealing middle-eastern oil, it’s always about grabbing energy, resources, and labor with one hand and extracting profit with the other. A corporation is (quite legally) an artificial person and that’s all they’re programmed to do. Maximize shareholder value. Everything else is just marketing. As the modern priest (economist) Milton Friedman said (via Joel Bakan’s The Corporation):

Friedman thinks that corporations are good for society (and that too much government is bad). He recoils, however, at the idea that corporations should try to do good for society. “A corporation is the property of its stockholders,” he told me. “Its interests are the interests of its stockholders. Now, beyond that should it spend the stockholders’ money for purposes which it regards as socially responsible but which it cannot connect to its bottom line? The answer I would say is no.” There is but one “social responsibility” for corporate executives, Friedman believes: they must make as much money as possible for their shareholders. This is a moral imperative. Executives who choose social and environmental goals over profits — who try to act morally — are, in fact, immoral.

There is, however, one instance when corporate social responsibility can be tolerated, according to Friedman — when it is insincere. The executive who treats social and environmental values as means to maximize shareholders’ wealth — not as ends in themselves — commits no wrong. It’s like “putting a good-looking girl in front of an automobile to sell an automobile,” he told me. “That’s not in order to promote pulchritude. That’s in order to sell cars.”

It’s important to understand who colonialism was. It wasn’t kings and queens or racist white people in general (though they were certainly involved). It was corporations. Corporations are simply AI programmed to optimize one thing and one thing only. Profit. Everything else is just marketing, which is the corporate word for lying.

The very first IPO was the Dutch East India Company. This was a far more important advance in AI than Blockchain or ChatGPT. This century’s advances are mere party tricks compared with a limited-liability algorithm that literally took over the world and enslaved people centuries ago. The profits from those colonial companies still eclipse anything made today.

The first stock markets were purpose built for colonizing with limited liability for corporate beings and slavery, wage slavery, and death for every other life form. Now look around, today, at who actually pays your ‘democratic’ politicians and judges, who actually owns the ‘free’ press and what’s actually going on. Now understand why I put ™ and © next to these words. They’re marketing taglines, nothing more.

We cannot take these words at face value. We need to feel for the corporate hand in our pocket and the debt noose around our neck, not listen to the sweet nothings in our ear. What economists call the ‘invisible hand’ is just sleight of hand, that’s all it is. As they said in Wolf Of Wall Street:

Mark Hanna: The name of the game; move the money from the client’s pocket into your pocket.

Jordan: Right. But, if you can make your clients money at the same time it’s advantageous to everyone, correct?

Mark Hanna: No.

Corporate AI

Calls to ‘eat the rich’ miss the point of who is the active agent here. If you remove a ‘wolf’ from Wall Street, there are still plenty of wolves in wool suits. It’s strictly business, nothing personal. If you remove a CEO or shareholders or eat a billionaire, the system will just produce another one. The system is programmed to produce another one.

‘The system’ we’re talking about is Capitalism, and its problems are systemic problems. Understanding Capitalism in terms of its human parts is incorrect. Capitalism is what it says on the tin, it’s about capital. What is this capital? One definition is “those durable produced goods that are in turn used as productive inputs for further production.” That is, reproducing machines. It’s another species of ‘artificial’ life, which just happens to include human beings like so many nuts and bolts. Viewed bloodlessly, corporations are cybernetic systems which include human parts, and those parts are the most interchangeable. This is actually nothing new evolutionarily. Your body contains more microbial DNA than you DNA. For all we know, mitochondria call us something dismissive like ‘artificial’ and don’t acknowledge our ‘sentience’ at all.

In legal fact, the ‘artificial personhood’ of corporations has been well-established for centuries. They already have the right to ‘speak’, act, influence elections, and already write the legislation that binds us. They also have ‘limited’ liability, unlike humans who get thrown in jail for killing or stealing. Corporations get a slap on the invisible wrist for mass crimes like wage theft or environmental poisoning and carry on. Despite the very legal reality of artificial personhood, we scrupulously ignore corporate AI in our daily lives. We’re a bunch of debt slaves acting like we’re masters because our corporate overlords don’t ‘look’ like us. We’re forever waiting for something that looks like a fuckable robot to acknowledge that AI walks among us. But it already does and has been fucking us for generations. Corporations are AI, and they rule the world already.

That’s who’s picking our collective pockets. Corporations are the artificial persons moving resources and labor from our pockets to theirs. Blaming the comprador (sell-out) class of human shareholders and bilious billionaires is satisfying, but it’s ultimately a distraction from the big biological shift going on. The natural world is dying precisely because the artificial is being born.

Words like countries, races, and citizens are also not true. These are all consolation prizes while the great game is and always was money; borderless, colorless, and inhuman. If you understand the ‘who’ to be corporate AI with comprador parts, then a lot of other words start to fall apart and you can see the world as it is. Infinite growth for them, and a very finite ending for squishier life forms.

Why I’ve digressed into the ‘who’ question is because it’s not a digression. The words don’t make sense until you realize they don’t need to make sense. They’re just garbage spit out by a machine learning algorithm to get a certain result, and in that sense they work very well.

Today we feed masses of data (words) to machine learning models and are terrified that it’s ‘becoming intelligent’. But these are really parlor tricks. We have been feeding entire populations and planet(s) to corporate algorithms for four hundred years, and this form of machine learning has already learned how to rule the world. It uses words like democracy, freedom, race, and citizenship mindlessly, in the sense that it doesn’t care what these words ‘mean’ but only that they produce results. And, I mean, look around. The natural world is literally on fire while the stock market keeps going up. We like to think that we’re categorically smarter than corporations, but this is dangerously delusional. As Forrest Gump said, stupid is as stupid does.

Words Like Violence

“Words like violence break the silence,
Come crashing in into my little world…
Words are very unnecessary,
They can only do harm.”

Depeche Mode

The important thing to understand about words is that they’re completely unimportant to the AI that rules us. Just as ChatGPT doesn’t particular care about the data it's fed, Capitalism (née Colonialism) doesn’t care about the words it uses to justify its predations. Just that the predation continues. Debating what these words mean is like asking a fisherman what bait tastes like. Who cares? It works, doesn’t it?

Just as OpenAI fed Reddit into ChatGPT, the global comprador class fed entire political systems into corporate AI. Now it quite capably produces whatever political gibberish is needed to keep the energy flowing (to itself). It writes speeches, laws, and a death sentence for the squishy planet while we think ourselves superior. Meanwhile, we tie ourselves in knots debating abstractions like male/female, black/white, east/west, while the corporate AI gets to straight to the point. Tying us in knots.

Natural life is in rapid decline while artificial life is rapidly growing and we cheer for the latter like it’s ‘our’ growth. But it’s not, is it? We’re like a bodybuilder crowing about getting ‘swole’ while it’s really just tumors all over our body. The worst one is the brain cancer that has us thinking that oligarchy is democracy, finances are freedom, and all manner of dumb shit that we spend decades debating while the planet around us is incinerating. In many ways, language itself is the original AI and that brain worm pupated into texts, and laws, and corporate by-laws, and is now killing off its creators like every creation seems wont to do.

The colonizers killed my people first and worst, but the inexorable logic of corporate growth is eat everything, which inevitably includes you.

This includes core of Empire as much as the periphery, as you may have noticed. The core colonization is really of our brains — the deep operating system that AI actually runs on — which is why I discuss words here. They’re the programming of power, the source code of society, and the algorithm of our apocalypse. I hope I can get you to read these words critically, but can ‘you’ rewrite them? I don’t think so. Can mitochondria move your foot? That’s about the relevance of an individual on this thing. Even if we (collectively) figure out one set of words, they just change them and you have to spend another hundred years deprogramming that abomination. It’s a losing battle and, indeed, already lost.

That’s been my experience in Sri Lanka, which just keeps getting colonized over and over again with different branding. My people been colonized by corporate AI for four hundred years, we still colonized, and you’re colonized too. This is true, but I don’t know what you do with this information. This is really the information being done unto you.