The Trace That’s Left in Us

My essay on Alan Butler’s Down and Out in Los Santos project is now online at Fallow Media – a very worthwhile publication that you should consider supporting, here). I thoroughly enjoyed writing it.

As an after note, I wanted to point out something that I didn’t quite get to speak about, basically because I didn’t think of it at the time. Franco Berardi, towards the end of a recent talk on fascism, spoke about India’s push to go cashless. Ostensibly an effort to stem corruption in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in November 2016 that two of the largest banknotes, the 500 and 1,000 rupee, would now be invalid as currency. The problem with this push, however, is that it marks a start of process that in effect relegates certain sectors of the Indian population, namely the poorest, outside of the economy. As a result of this political move, the poorest or most remote sections of the population will find it more difficult to pay for basic things like food – 500 rupees equates to just over 7 euro – inasmuch as they will  have to wait, sometimes for weeks, so as to earn a banknote of a higher value.

This might stop corruption; but it also has the definite effect of creating a disturbing forced-synonymy of real and virtual. It creates a new caste – one that is left behind by information technologies, now invisible and worthless. And given that this is a worldwide trend – Korea, for instance, wants to go cashless by 2020 – this is altogether terrifying. For as it stands, to map the real in virtual terms means only to further exacerbate inequality; even more than this, it means to distinguish the human in specifically technological terms: in effect, we only exist through our relation to technology, and hence to a broader world economy.

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