Genocide as a win-win situation

Imagine. A company appears in your town and starts by making the public place more welcoming. Come play, says the company, come talk, come here and have fun. Let us help you with everything: we’ll keep your memories, traditions, we’ll take care to remind you about that friend you lost track some years ago. We’ll spread your news to everybody, we’ll get customers for your business. Are you alone? No problem, many people are like you, what if you could talk and meet them, whenever you want?

We don’t want anything important, says the company, just let us put some ads in the public place. It’s a win-win situation. Your social life will get better and we’ll make profit from those ads.

Hey, what if you let us manage your photos? All that stuff you want to keep, but there’s too more of it and it’s hard for you to preserve. We’ll put it on a cloud. Clouds are nice, those fluffy things which pass over your head in a sunny morning, while you, or your kids play together in the public place.

Remember how it was before? The town place was not at all as alive as now. You had not as many friends as now, your memories were less safe. Let us take care about all your cultural self.

Let us replace the commons. We are the commons of the future. We, the company…

We’ll march together and right all wrongs. Organize yourselves by using the wonderful means we give you. Control the politicians! Keep an eye on those public contracts. Do you have abusive neighbours? Shame their bad habits in the public place.

The public place of the future. Kindly provided by us, the company. A win-win situation.


2 thoughts on “Genocide as a win-win situation”

  1. I thank Kenneth Olwig for the following comment: “I guess the “English landscape garden” is a kind of precedent. It used plans utilizing visual perspectival representation (ie a form of spatial illusion) to design parks that look like commons, but which in fact are a kind of illusory space made up of “real” materials and maintained by gardeners. These illusory parks/gardens were often created in places where there had previously been real commons, or village public spaces, but where these commons have been enclosed in order to create a privatized (and often walled) space around a landed estate. In this way a virtual commons was created in place of a real commons, and access to this virtual commons was carefully controlled by the wealthy. Donald Trump’s golf courses, which borrow their design from the English landscape garden, are a modern form of this kind of enclosure. I have written about the English landscape garden in the book: Landscape Nature and the Body Politic (Madison: Wisconsin University Press, 2002).”

  2. I thank Donald Mitchell for the following comment: “It seems to me that the precedents are fairly obvious, though of course are much more limited in scope and scale:
    1. The model company town (perhaps including even socialist or cooperative ones like New Lanark) – in which not only was work life, but especially overall social life was controlled by the company (Pullman or Cadbury, for the most famous examples). The company took responsibility for stocking the stores, installing the priests and ministers, selecting the musical entertainment, and so forth. Obviously the point was to control workers, but the promise was to provide a good life free of labor-capital strife). Margaret Crawford among others have written good recent histories.

    2. Disneyland →Disney World →Epcot → Celebration, Florida (the model, in many ways for the movie Trumanville). From the earliest days of “Imagineering” at Disneyland through the Disney new urbanist town of Celebration, Disney’s goals has been to “provide something for everyone so that none may escape” (as Adorno and Horkheimer put it in a difference context). Especially in the case of Celebration, Disney has worked very hard to induce us into desiring and even demanding our own subjugation. Andrew Ross’s book, Celebration Chronicles is excellent.

    3. The shopping mall. In some ways this is the clearest analog, especially given the number of them (in the U.S. at least) called “Commons,” “Town Center” and similar names. The mall promises the cornucopia, freedom from violence, stress, and strangers, and climate control! Margaret Crawford is again one of the best theorists here, but there is any amount of good work on the mall that examines just how it seeks to totalize social life.

    Two excellent books that deal with just these issues (but predate Facebook) are Michael Sorkin (ed.), Variations on the Theme Park (Hill and Wang 1992) [Crawfod has an excellent chapter in this, but there are several others] and Mike Davis and Dan Monk (eds.) Evil Paradises (Verso 2006).”

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