Scientific research and education cannot be segregated from thorough consideration of socioeconomic reality. No model can be prescribed to the society in disregard of the latter, delegating the resulting disarray to market mechanisms — the code phrase for the subjection of the public to new situations through corporate state’s neoliberal adjustment of policies. Thus engineered applications of change are marked by a lack of smooth adaptability and transition, the solutions being anything but an authentic alternative for the people, forced rearrangements instead, manufactured with other interests in mind than theirs.
Neoliberalism yet, heedless as it is to civil demands, is about modelling its systems and throwing them into the middle of society; from where the wild wild west of enterprise takes off and over. Not just like that, of course. In the case of technology, the techno-optimist propaganda endeavors to depict a top-down and non-transparent technology as something that should be, could be trusted and uncritically adopted. The revolutionary character of such a change is clamored endlessly to cloak the impositions in the design.
Likewise, in ‘the rise of the machine’, the in-progress electronification of everything, or the techno-capitalism, the society is defaulted to mere ‘adopters’. Without revealing the full extent of processes and intentions which would expose the inconsistencies of claims as well as incompliances and risks of practices for the public, the advancements brought forth penetrate through the individual, social and planetary life from head to bottom, to make it measurable, manipulable and monetizable, as neoliberal ideology loves to have everything.
In the high-decibel, multimedia-boosted trumpeting of the novelty, well-received by the gold-rushing profit-motivated ‘me-too’ masses of white entrepreneurs, other voices who are critical of its already visible and likely outcomes, hinting at where all that leads to, are (made to be) not heard.
The machine ‘rises’ on a unilateral track determined by business and military interests, and its applications as such will not bring about the free leisure and creative society of the humanity’s dream. On the contrary, the costs of change and its failures accumulate on people as unemployment, deprivation and degradation of own resources, even displacement, and increasing erosion of civil domain. Brutal policy shifts supplement the change; deregulation in all policymaking, privatization in economics, control through surveillance of civic life, and even armed conflict are a few of the measures taken to disengage the stakeholders from the context. Today, sovereign nations’ affairs are being staged and directed through data from ubiquitous surveillance of world’s citizens. On this level of abuse, sovereign states can be waged war upon, wars can be broken in a country through manipulation of its closely observed citizen groups, ruthless client armies can (be made) appear as if overnight in an already neutralized country to shape the course of events. This is only a part of the envisioned rule of the machine.
‘The rise of the machine’ is subjugation of people through technology. Custom-developed in private and well-funded labs to be packaged and served to the market, without concerning itself with hazard-freedom in physical and socioeconomic sense. Ensuing societal and environmental problems and the responsibility to address them are to be billed to the public domain, but the benefits are kept.
Enslavement of scientific advancement into single-track paradigms to the benefit of corporate interests and the detriment of humanity is unfortunately concealed by the never-ending bombardment of a false sense of improvement of the individual and social life, which aims to hide the very truth that voids the propaganda itself: that we are treated as illiterates. As long as the knowledge -the picture- is fully accessible and visible only from its designers’ side, we are forced to stay in the dark. Propaganda is to render people unaware and unsuspecting while they are buying into something that is flawed, incomplete or (too experimental, too obscure to be) completely known to them.
Whereas, in fact, in the simplest terms, a public research environment such as the university is to be a place of people (academicians) who are in the know, and who, with this knowledge of theirs, say NO to malpractice. Exhaustively critical approach and resistance in the face of coercion are inherent principles of true science. Which by definition excludes the production and dissemination of false premises.
We need to get literate in the sense that we understand the schemes that are imposed on us from every direction. And we need to expose them, too. Ed Snowden recently mentioned that we must shift the middle ground of literacy. He showed the world that the locks could be broken open; we need others to wide open the door, and break other locks.
As Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg expressed in the same session, with each courageous person taking the risk to expose the truth, others’ reservation to do the same will diminish more. We need to find our human voice back. In everything that has been taken from us by deceit. Many of us have been asking ourselves for a while, how much longer can we take it? Non-stop murdering of children, genocide of peoples in Gaza happening now in this moment revealed how humanity is in a state of being disregarded, how we let ourselves be rendered so passive and ineffectual, asking the same two questions; ‘how can this genocide be let happen?’ and ‘how have all of us not yet been able to jointly stop this right now?’
Citing Henry Giroux, “higher education must be understood as a democratic public sphere — a space in which education enables students to develop a keen sense of prophetic justice, claim their moral and political agency, utilize critical analytical skills, and cultivate an ethical sensibility through which they learn to respect the rights of others. Higher education has a responsibility not only to search for the truth regardless of where it may lead, but also to educate students to make authority and power politically and morally accountable while at the same time sustaining a democratic, formative public culture. Higher education may be one of the few public spheres left where knowledge, values and learning offer a glimpse of the promise of education for nurturing public values, critical hope and a substantive democracy. Democracy places civic demands upon its citizens, and such demands point to the necessity of an education that is broad-based, critical, and supportive of meaningful civic values, participation in self-governance, and democratic leadership. Only through such a formative and critical educational culture can students learn how to become individual and social agents, rather than merely disengaged spectators, able both to think otherwise and to act upon civic commitments that demand a reordering of basic power arrangements fundamental to promoting the common good and producing a meaningful democracy.”
Research and education need to return to being ‘universal’, and become freed from serving as extended corporate labs for ‘applied’ science. We need a free, truthful, people-oriented scientific development, and have to reject the receiver’s status of a unilateral and non-transparent technology, and the narrowed-scope scientific (!) activity behind it. The research needs to comprehend all parties and angles -including those from other disciplines- to a given context before proposing a particular solution. From economy, natural sciences, technology to law and finance, science in every field is demanding liberation from neoliberal paradigms, in broad participation and consideration of the majority of people.