We are living through an incipient technological revolution. AI, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, commercial space travel, and other innovations are rapidly transforming everything from the workplace to the financial architecture of the global economy. While many of these technologies hold vast potential to benefit the social good, the multinational corporations and financial oligarchy that drive innovation and own its products are solely motivated by private profit. The consequences are unfolding all around us. As technology and the power of the oligarchy advances, the misery and disenfranchisement of the majority grows. We are now in an age of “Space Barons and Techtitans,” and the future they are leading us to is one of even greater exploitation, inequality, and ecological crisis. Loretta Napoleoni, author of Technocapitalism: The Rise of the New Robber Barrons and the Fight for the Common Good, joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss the technocapitalist present and future described in her book.

Studio Production: David Hebden, Adam Coley, Cameron Granadino
Post-Production: Adam Coley


Transcript

The following is a rushed transcript and may contain errors. A proofread version will be made available as soon as possible.

Chris Hedges:

A small group of high-tech savvy entrepreneurs who understand the velocity of technological innovation have harnessed this new power to establish predatory high-tech monopolies, such as Uber or Amazon. They subvert labor laws, strip the state of its power, gut regulation, ignore legal norms and amass personal fortunes in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Their apps, services, and private equity firms dominate our lives. They are technological predators seen in every aspect of social existence commodification. The living wages of working people decline. The gig economy abolishes job protections, sustainable incomes and benefits. AI replaces human beings. The most vulnerable are pillaged for profit. The sick feed the profits for big pharma. The bodies of poor men and women on the streets of our bleak.

De-industrialized cities feed the profits of the prison industrial complex. They’re worth nothing until they are locked in a cage in the world’s largest prison system generating between 50 or $60,000 a year fed, of course, to the privatized phone services, the money transfer services, the commissary, and the medical services that have privatized American prisons. Utilities sold to private companies gouge us with overpriced water, electrical, parking, and sewage bills. At the same time, we are the most watched, photographed, spied upon and monitored population in human history. This technology far from improving our lives is creating a new serfdom, if not a new slavery, all the while propelling us at a dizzying rate towards Ecocide.

Joining me to discuss our dystopian present and most probably our dystopian future is Loretta Napoleoni, author of Technocapitalism: The Rise of the New Robber Barons and the Fight for the Common Good. So let’s begin. You open the book with Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and I am very weak on that, so I told you you’ll have to hold my hand through it, but you really cite it as extremely important in the emerging societies in which we are going to live. So, I’ll let you just start and explain what they are and why they’re so important.

Loretta Napoleoni:

Well, basically, Bitcoin can be described as the currency of the people. I mean, for a start, let’s distinguish between Bitcoin and all the other cryptocurrencies. So Bitcoin is the first one. It was given to the world by an anonymous individual or group of individuals called Satoshi Nakamoto, and it was put into the cyber universe exactly at the time of the big crash, right after the Lehman Brothers crash. So the timing was perfect, which makes us think that perhaps whoever Nakamoto is, is somebody from the system, that knows very well how the system works.

What is really Bitcoin? Bitcoin is a currency which is produced by software, and this software performs all the task that a true currency should perform. So we’re not talking about the US dollars. We’re not talking about the pound or currency. They’re constantly devalued because of inflation, but we’re talking about the all style currency that was linked to gold and it was produced and it was in circulation according to the rules of the gold standards, which of course were very few for a very short time.

So Bitcoin is produced by software. So it’s not controlled by any central bank, it’s not controlled by any governments. The software has been programmed in a way in which these Bitcoin are released in blocks by an activity, which is called mining, and this activity is solution of mathematical formulas. The solution of mathematical formulas becomes increasingly more and more difficult. Now, why is that? Because whoever created this currency wants to guarantee a scarcity. So there is a limited number of Bitcoin that will be produced, which is 21 million. The time scale is going to be a century and a half almost, and the timing has to be every 10 minutes a block is produced. The timing and all of this structure is guaranteed by the difficulties of solving the mathematical formula. So this is quite complex, complex system which initially was not really understood.

At the very, very beginning, kids used to solve the mathematical formula like with skates, that kind of stuff, and then used the Bitcoin for various things. There’s an interesting story of somebody that bought a pizza using your Bitcoins, for example. But as we went through the financial crisis, it became increasingly clear the Bitcoin was an alternative to the fiat currencies, which clearly after 2008 had lost their meaning. Most of the bailout, for example, that was given to the banks was produced by clicking a few keys on the treasury computer. So in other words, money doesn’t exist. So this is the issue that Bitcoin trying to address to create a currency that will give you that stability and trust and will not be controlled by anybody else.

So the controlling system is all based upon the people that participate in the system. So you download your software from a computer, which is of course free for everybody. You start investing. You become a member of the Bitcoin community, and you are the one together with all the others that will evaluate the various activities that are taking place. So everything that happened is right there, is transparent, is in the clear. The solution, even the mathematical solution of the formula, and this is very important, once somebody manages to solve the formula and so a block is released, the entire community of people who are connected, so they’re part of the Bitcoin community, has to approve that solution.

So this is called proof of work. So it is quite complex to do it because we’re talking about millions of people. This is why Ethereum, which is another cryptocurrency came after Bitcoin, decided not to use the approval work, but to use a limited amount of people that would actually evaluate if that solution was right or not, but I disagree with that. I think if it’s the currency of the people should be in control, the control should be among the people.

So that’s more or less is… Oh, yeah. Then there is the other thing which is about to happen by the way, because in April, well, between the end of March to the beginning of May, there will be the halving. So every about four years, so every 21,000 blocks which are released, the number of blocks, the number of Bitcoins contained in the block is reduced in half. So at the very beginning, it was 50 bitcoins. Today we’re at 6.75. And then in a few months after the halving will be at 3.75. So that is a mechanism in place in order to guarantee that the Bitcoin is not inflated, and also to guarantee that whoever is using the Bitcoin does not use it for speculation.

Chris Hedges:

How widely used is it?

Loretta Napoleoni:

Well, at the moment, Bitcoin is widely used. We just got the approval for Bitcoin by the FDA. So basically every single big bank is using Bitcoin for investment, trading, the Bitcoins into the open. So this kind of recognition was very, very important. Now there was a reluctance, of course, to do that, but in the end they had to accept that the popularity of the Bitcoin is a reality. So finance, if they can make money for something, they will go and make the money and there are money to be made, of course, in Bitcoin. But the key issue here is the fact that Bitcoin is a threat to the currencies in circulation in every single state, so the US dollars or…

Bitcoin is a transnational currency, so it’s a currency that you can use everywhere, but it is a threat to the monopoly, to the monetary monopoly of the central bank, and that is why they try to stop it, but they couldn’t stop it. They couldn’t even put it out of law. They have done it with other currencies before because the software… I mean, you can’t put the software on trial, right? They don’t know who Satoshi Nakamoto is, so they can’t arrest them. Of course, the community of the Bitcoin holders is the people so you can’t stop the people from doing it. At the end of the day, money is based on an act of faith. You trust that the US dollar is worth something. In fact, in the US dollar it says in God we trust, meaning it’s a bit of [inaudible 00:12:23].

Chris Hedges:

Let’s talk about all the cryptocurrency fraud, the queen of cryptocurrency from Bulgaria, you write about her in the book. There’s also a lot of people have been fleeced in this digital currency world.

Loretta Napoleoni:

At the very beginning, again, we’re talking about Bitcoin, so Bitcoin was the first one, and then a few years later we got other currencies. The OneCoin, the one I talk about, Bulgaria clearly was a fraud and a scam. So looking at Bitcoin, even Bitcoin was used for illegal activity, was used in the Silk Road, for example, in the Darknet. Now, why was that? Because, I mean, it was a mean of exchange. There was no control and nobody knew really how traceable Bitcoin is, but once this became clear… Because what I have not explained to you is that every single block which is released is then logged into a blockchain. So the moment in which the proof of work is approved, that block becomes part of a chain. Inside that blockchain, we have all the information about the block, so who solved the formula, at what time and so on and so forth.

Let’s call it block number five. Okay. Every single time the Bitcoin contains in block number five are sold, purchase, halve, you can sell halve of it, for example, and keep that halve, everything is put in another block which is attached to that block. So let’s call it block 5A, and it stays right there. You can’t delete it. You can alter. That’s the blockchain technology which is behind the Bitcoin. So every single moment you can go into the software and see the life of every single Bitcoin was produced from day one, was in January 2009. So once this was understood, then the Bitcoin became one of the worst currency to use for illegal activity because you can trace it every single moment.

Now, if you want to do money laundering, for example, of course, you will have to move the Bitcoin from one of the blocks. Let’s say you have done some activities illegal and you’re been paid in bitcoins, so nobody has seen that from the point of view of the authorities, but the moment in which you want to change that Bitcoin into a currency, right? Because you do need to money launder those money. What are you going to do with the Bitcoin? Otherwise, it’s not sits there. That in that moment, then that is going to be registered automatically into the block. So this is how the monetary authorities but also the anti-terrorism, the anti-drug squads have unveiled several of these activities used through Bitcoin and of course, they have arrested people. So today actually Bitcoin is one of the least used currency because most of the illegal activity and criminal activity is actually done in cash because cash is still king when it comes down to traceability.

Chris Hedges:

Well, let’s talk about the fraud, I mean, because these cryptocurrency empires have a pretty rapidly deflated.

Loretta Napoleoni:

Well, the FTX, I think is the best possible example, but then again, it is not the cryptocurrency per se. Again, I want to distinguish between Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies because I’m a great believer of Bitcoin but not a believer in the other cryptos because Bitcoin is the only one that has this kind of system that I explained to you. The others are much more loose. But in any case, I mean, the FTX story is very significant because how did it happen? Well, Sam Bankman-Fried was a trader, I mean, was one of those intelligent mathematical kids and he was trading and then all of a sudden he discover that there were discrepancies in arbitrage between one place, another place. In other words, if you bought Bitcoin in Tokyo, you actually got a better rate than if you bought Bitcoins in New York.

Now, this is at the very beginning, so we’re talking about seven or eight years ago. So he thought, “Well, great, let’s exploit these differences,” and he made quite a lot of money. Then at that point, he decided that he was going to create an exchange. Basically, the exchange was doing what he was doing, so making money out of the discrepancies in prices due to the geographical position. But then it started to produce its own cryptocurrency, which of course was out of nowhere. I mean, it was not Bitcoin. It was that it didn’t have a software system. Just one day he decided, “Well, I’m going to issue this currency.” People started flocking and wanting to buy, especially celebrities.

Now, the guy was very popular among celebrities. This is another thing also this sort of tech titans is that they live in a ghetto, which is the super rich ghetto and everybody wants to make even more money using the expertise and knowledge of one another. So he start getting hundreds of millions from various people in order to invest in on exchange. He took the money, of course, in dollars or other currencies, and in exchange he gave them cryptocurrency. So basically the participation exchange was based upon exchange at the end of the day, dollars for this cryptocurrency.

Now, why did they buy this cryptocurrencies? Why did they do that? Well, because they thought that it was so smart and that they idea of the crypto exchange was so incredibly appealing that they thought, “I get today the cryptocurrency that is producing at an exchange of,” let’s say, “one-to-one to the dollar, and then you carry on making so much money, then it’s cryptocurrency is going to go up in value, and so it’s going to be more two to the dollar and I’ll be doubling immediately all my money.” Okay. So it’s a scam, but it is also a scam that was supported by people who participated into the scam, who were the victims of the scam, because it’s the classic story of people that come to you and say, “Oh, if you give me this money, I’m going to invest in that. You’ll double your money.”

Chris Hedges:

Does all of this threaten the hegemony of the dollar? Because of course, the power of the dollar is that it is the world’s reserve currency and once it loses that hegemony, it is going to be catastrophic to the American financial system.

Loretta Napoleoni:

Yeah, I think it’s going to be catastrophic not only to the financial system, but it’s going to be catastrophic also to the power of the state. So imagine a world, where you do not have anymore currencies, but you only have Bitcoin or something similar to the Bitcoin. So software will produce it and then your people will control it. So how is the state going to be able to print billions and billions of dollars to save the financial sector from yet another crisis? That would be impossible because the state won’t be in control of the Bitcoin. Okay. But also how would the state print the money to finance the war in the Ukraine? Because of course, the state will not have control over the money supply. Money is key. Money supply is the pillar, the biggest pillar of power or political power.

This is what the cyberpunk… At the very beginning in the book, I started the book with the story of the cyberpunk group of computer scientists in the Bay Area in the 1980s and these people wanted to guarantee the protection of the individual inside the net, so to prevent the state from controlling the net and from spying on people on the net also. They produce a cryptographic system to guarantee the people will be able to talk to each other without being spied by the state, but they couldn’t possibly, I mean, produce a way in which people would not have to use banks to do transactions because there was the real barrier.

If you want to buy something, you got to buy it through a bank, through a credit card, and you have to pay through a currency which is, of course, control by state. And then came Satoshi Nakamoto, but he came 20 years later. So I think this is the real threat now. That’s explained also why the state is now trying to produce its own digital currency, which is not a crypto, but it is considered like crypto. So they’re trying to catch up, but I am a firm believer that this potentially… If bitcoins really take off, this potentially could change the structure of the nation state.

Chris Hedges:

Let’s talk about crypto-anarchy and then you mentioned Julian Assange, and I just want you to play out his opposition to the crypto-anarchists.

Loretta Napoleoni:

Well, so the crypto-anarchists are… So the cyberpunks was a group of computer scientists all from the US. The only one that was not from the US was Julian Assange. Now, it was a very strange group of people because I mean, they were connected through technology, so they were all very much pioneers in the computer science, but politically they were very different. So there was a very strong group of libertarians, for example, I mean, the classic American libertarians where the state should not have anything to do with me, I can look after myself, that kind of stuff.

But there were also people, they were quite, I wouldn’t say necessarily right wing, but almost intellectually racist because these people were very smart, but also I think some of these people have serious social problem of interaction. They were on the spectrum of Asperger. Anyway, so part of this group was talking about a sort of supremacy of the smart guys over the people. So they were considering the people as a sort of inferior kind of groups that had to be ruled, they had to be directed, that they did not have the same kind of understanding of what’s right and what’s wrong that they did. Now, Assange was very much against that.

They had a mailing list, which was a mailing list where people would exchange. We’re talking about still at the time, which there was CompuServe, so very before we had the internet as we have it today and the mail system. So they had this mail system where they could talk to each other and exchange ideas and proposals. Within this mailing list, it was all cryptographic, so only them that could see it. There was a very heated exchange and discussion between this group of crypto-anarchists, if you want to call them, and Assange who instead said, “This is an instrument through which we can empower the people. The people should know. The people should be allowed to make decisions.” And then Assange went on, of course, to create WikiLeaks, which did exactly that.

Chris Hedges:

What did the rest do? Because they became, as you call them, the new robber barons. You have examples in there. Uber is a good example. But they harnessed this technology to essentially carry out vast campaigns of pillage and greed against the rest of us.

Loretta Napoleoni:

Well, I mean. We have several examples. Now, in all fairness, most of the robber barons were not part of the cyberpunk mailing list necessarily, although several of them, especially the founders, they became immensely rich because, of course, they were in the industry at the very beginning. So they stopped working, taking away several millions of dollars so they could do whatever they wanted. But I would say that the robber barons is very much the generation that comes right after people like Assange. In fact, there are some of them, they’re younger, 10 years, not very much, but these are the one who came to this kind of business through video games.

So, forget about politics. See, now, we have the very beginning, the internet was considered an instrument of empowering people and also bring about democracy into the society. Then a decade later, we have kids who have grown up playing video games who actually know the functioning of the internet extremely well, and they spot certain kind of situations where being computer-savvy, knowing how to code, because that’s the other thing, could create a business model that could enrich them immensely. And then they started. So the first wave made quite a lot of money, sold their businesses, and then they became the so-called serial entrepreneurs.

What is the serial entrepreneur? Well, this is robber baron basically because they spotted an opportunity. They learned from that opportunity. They made a lot of money from that opportunity, and then they decided to reproduce that model in another sector at the higher and higher and higher scale. Now, all of this was motivated by profit. So there’s absolutely no desire to produce anything that can enrich society. This is why I’m talking about the common good. Possibly, this is due to the fact that these people grew up with video games, so for them it’s all a game. See what I mean? That there is this filter of the internet, which doesn’t really make them understand exactly what does it mean to be exploited, or exploited, I would say by the system, but possibly also because of their ego, because all of a sudden being a serial entrepreneur, being Jeff Bezos for example, or being Elon Musk or Peter Thiel was of the maximum that you could achieve, so everything was allowed to you because you were… Except those original members of the cyberpunk because you are smarter than the others.

Chris Hedges:

But they’re not smarter. They’re smarter in terms of technology. There’s a wonderful short story by Stefan Zweig about the world chess champion, and everybody thinks because he’s the world chess champion, he’s wise about everything else. The conceit of the story is that he’s sort of an idiot about everything else. I think you do a pretty good job of exposing, especially figures like Elon Musk, and you get into the whole space industry are kind of idiots. What they do know how to do is harness this new technology to exploit.

So, just let’s give some examples. First, I want you to talk about blockchains, and then I want you to give the example of Uber because it’s kind of a classic example of how that technology is used as a bait at the beginning and then a form of really horrific oppression by the time it’s cemented into place in terms of timing and exclusion and all that kind of stuff. But talk about blockchains and then just talk about the case of Uber.

Loretta Napoleoni:

Well, I mean, okay, blockchain is what we have in Bitcoins. So potentially actually blockchain could change completely the way we interact at commercial level. It also could make obsolete phenomenal amount of work. So now we’re all talking about, yes, AI is going to make lots of people out of work, which is absolutely true, but the blockchain comes before AI. So let’s say you don’t need anymore to have a lawyer if you have these contracts, which are smart contracts, whereby the contract states that if certain circumstances are verifying, for example, a divorce, then automatically the division of wealth is going to be such, and this is signed and done, and that stays in the blockchain, so can verify they was done a certain date. Then the situation verifies, and then here you are, you’re not going to court, you’re not doing any because you already have the agreement in place. Now, this is a very simple example.

But blockchain also could be applied to smart cars. So here you are, eventually, you can have a driverless car, which through a smart contract will go by itself, will drive itself for a change of oil after a certain number of miles and go to the mechanic. They will do the change of oil or maybe the robot, they will do the change of oil, and pay automatically, because in the smart contract, which is again in the blockchain, you will have all of this information. When the certain number of miles will be reached that verifies, then all of this is going to happen. I mean, that’s what blockchain could do, and the same thing is for voting.

Now, it can be positive. It can be negative. It all depends. This is the issue. The issue is all of this technology can be immensely, immensely positive for us provided it’s put in the hands of the people for the common good. Well, of course, it is controlled by a limited number of individuals. Here we go to Uber, because at the end of the day, the concept of Uber, which by the way, the story is quite interesting because the guy, one of the two founders of Uber, he’s a Canadian and he sold his first startup for quite a lot of money and then he moved to San Francisco where he was working for the company that actually boat his original startup, but he was doing nothing, right?

So he was going clubbing every night in San Francisco and he was watching James Bond movies. So this is the kind of people were talking about, okay, these kids. So anyway, while he was watching Casino Royale, he sees that James Bond is calling his car with the smartphone through a map to come and pick him up at the casino. So at that point, he has this idea to create a system that would use the smartphone and the maps that Google had just put on the market in order to call a cab a night after going clubbing. Now, the problem was that you couldn’t find cabs because it was a shortage of cabs in San Francisco. So yes, the idea to use rental cars, the blue cars, the one that you can rent, what we call in the UK Minicabs, and put them on a map so that you could interact in the map and call them and see who is available and blah, blah, blah. So this is how he got the idea. And then eventually, he did develop the first Uber app, thanks to the technology.

Now, of course, he knew the technology because he was somebody who understood technology or knowledge of technology. The Minicab company in the UK that were doing that kind of service did not know the technology, so they couldn’t do it. They couldn’t do the app themselves. Now, today, everybody has the app, but we’re talking about a time in which really was a great idea. And then he had this idea that why using these cars, why not using normal cars? Why not using normal people so people can make an extra back basically driving people around through the app? Initially, it was very appealing to the drivers and to the passengers because it put together… So it was a system where he put together two people that were happy to do business together. I mean, the drivers were all self-employed, so they got a good return for their work, but then as the system developed, everything changed because of greed, of course. So Uber starts taking more and more and more percentage out of the driver, and then it start conditioning the driver also, forcing the driver to accept certain rides.

Chris Hedges:

Well, and punishing the driver if they don’t. I think in the book, they have 15 minutes or something, and if they don’t accept, then they can’t even get work.

Loretta Napoleoni:

Yeah, exactly. Then if you do not accept, I think it’s three rides in a row, you are locked out for 24 hours or for 24 hours. But you see, I mean, I was in Calgary just now and I was picked up by Uber driver and this guy was telling me that he had lost his job. I think he was from West Africa. He had family, a new baby, another child. The wife was not working, had lost his job, and he was doing Uber driving just to integrate salary, but now he was driving all the time. He was telling me that the situation hasn’t changed at all. I mean, Uber takes a big, big cut out of every single ride. I asked him, I said, “Well, why don’t you go and work for a taxi company?” He said, “There aren’t taxi companies.”

See, that’s the other thing because Uber has driven out of the market in certain places, not everywhere, in certain places, all the competition. Now, that is another element of what I talk about the book. These people have been able to create oligopolistic position for themselves and the few other people like them who actually can master technology kicking out everybody else. Now, that should not happen because this is again competition policy, but the only place where they’re trying actually to stop them and to implement competition law is the EU. In the US, it’s completely wild market.

Chris Hedges:

Well, they also skirt laws, labor laws, regulations. Because they’re a new technology, there’s no real oversight and they exploit it. There’s a lot in the book. I just want to close because you do at the end of the book with SpaceX space exploration and eco side, but here’s where you really lay out how technologically these people are quite gifted, but in terms of understanding reality, the world around them, and of course, what we face in a moment of climate catastrophe, they’re utterly clueless. You really make that point around this whole idea that we’re all going to live on Mars or something. So, let’s close-

Loretta Napoleoni:

Isn’t absurd?

Chris Hedges:

Of course, it’s completely absurd, but let’s talk about it because they don’t think it’s absurd. I mean, you actually write the physics of what being in a situation with zero gravity does to your… It destroys your body. I mean, it’s not even sustainable. But go ahead, I’ll let you talk.

Loretta Napoleoni:

Well, I mean, it took me a long time to write that section. I had to have doctors working for me to make understand because, okay, so Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos come across as if they know it all. Because you think if these people become billionaires, of course, I must believe what they’re saying. Well, it’s not because it’s absolutely not true. Now, the reason why they’re talking about going to Mars, colonized, being a multi-planetary civilization and stuff is because that kind of thought appeals to people, because people like to dream about us being able to conquer the universe.

So through that appeal, then they can get the real objective, which is basically to colonize the low Earth orbit. Now, the only place where the human body can live in space for a limited still amount of time, so we’re talking maximum one year with massive exercises to reduce the bond density phenomenon due to the lack of gravity, it is the low Earth orbit because the low Earth orbit still has a little bit of gravity, so you’re not completely out of gravity. So the reason why they want to colonize the low Earth orbit is because this is where the business of the future is going to be done. I mean, forget about the Moon, forget about the asteroids.

I mean, even if in a future not too far away, we could go and mine asteroids, you will have to do it with robots and the robots will have to live from the low Earth orbit. So that will be the center of distribution of activity in order to mine space. But for now, the reason why they want to colonize the low Earth orbit is because of telecommunication. So because they put satellites there and then here we are, they will mine our data, suck our brains basically through their satellites. There are places already in the world, like you go to the north of Canada, the very north of Canada where there’s no internet. The only internet is Starlink. So Elon Musk is the only one who provides internet there places in the Pacific, in the Atlantic, or there is no internet. So you can get very good internet through Starlink.

Now, another thing I want to add is why is this data so important? Everybody says, “Oh yes, data is how they managed to manipulate elections.” Well, the truth is the data with AI now is also going to be the fundamental factors of the future of warfare. Without that data, you’re not going to be able to go to war anymore. Whoever is going to have the most amount of data, because this is how AI actually improves, is going to have a distinctive advantage over all the others. So I think that again, they are a step ahead of us, but they’re also step ahead of governments, and the reason why they’re a step ahead of us and governments is because most people and most governments do not even bother understanding what the technological revolution is all about.

So it is our fault, and that’s what I say in the book, we got to wake up from it. I mean, we’re sleepwalking. This is the end of the book. I said, “We’re sleepwalking into dystopia and we don’t even realize.” We think everything is fantastic because we can see each other on Instagram, we can talk to each other on Facebook, and we do not understand. So I hope that this is what the book does to just teach a little bit about technology and help people waking up.

Chris Hedges:

Well, because it goes back to Plato’s cave, they have quite effectively mesmerized us on the apps and the screens while in a very real way, not just financially, but also in terms of you have a section on what it takes to produce an electric car. By the time you’re done, your carbon emissions are, I think you write that producing fossil fuel-driven cars, actually more, but it’s all a game. It’s all a very pernicious game while we’re barreling towards systems collapse.

Loretta Napoleoni:

Yes, exactly, system collapse but due to ignorance. I mean, look, this winter, for example, is always happened with the Tesla. I mean, at minus 15, minus 20, the Tesla stops working. Now, it doesn’t take a lot to know that because if you have your iPhone and you go to Finland and it’s minus 20, within a few minutes, your iPhone stops working because the batteries go flat because that’s what’s happened to the lithium batteries. But how is it possible? Nobody’s thought about this before. How is possible that nobody has confronted Elon Musk when he was launching his Tesla producing all this stuff, saying, “Excuse me, but okay, you can drive in California where the weather is never going below zero,” but what’s happened when you drive in the Scandinavian countries? I mean, what are you doing to prevent the flattening of the lithium batteries?

Okay. So I think a lot of journalists do not do their job properly anymore because they don’t have money, because I mean, newspapers and magazines don’t have money, but the government, for God’s sake, they do have money, so why there are not expertise from the government contesting that kind of information that is put through the various channels that these guys control?

Chris Hedges:

Well, in order to sustain this technological revolution, as you point out in the book, it’s an acceleration of our assault on the planet. So on the one hand, of course, we are given all these gadgets and toys, but we’re actually obliterating… In order for this revolution to happen, we’re obliterating what future we have left.

Loretta Napoleoni:

This is why the idea of colonized Mars is part of the narrative, because the truth is that if you tell people, “Well, don’t worry too much about climate change. Don’t worry too much about overpopulation.” Shall we discuss overpopulation also? Because we’re going to go and colonize Mars, and then Mars is going to be as beautiful as Earth, or Jeff Bezos comes with these weird ideas to create artificial planets inside, which of course, people could live. There’s a film, I think it’s called Elysium. It’s a film where there is one of those artificial where the poor people are on the Earth, they’re left behind, blah, blah, and all the rich people live in these artificial planets which are absolutely beautiful, and they all look like California, of course, where the weather is always nice. It’s not cold, blah, blah. Clearly, if you fall into that trap, you don’t worry so much about the planet because you think, “Well, there is a solution.” Well, no, there is no solution. This is the only planet we have. If we do not save this planet, our grandchildren will not be able to survive.

Chris Hedges:

And that’s the point of the book.

Loretta Napoleoni:

Yeah, this is the point of the book. Now, if all of this technology, because all this technology was put at the use of the common good, that technology could reverse everything, could reverse the climate change. Of course, it is not going to solve the problem of overpopulation, which is a problem that we have to address in a different way, but technology could, for example, provide zero energy production for the entire planet. You can put solar plants in the low Earth orbit, which harness the ray of the sun, and then send through microwave messages, microwave rays that send it to Earth, and they can power the entire planet. You know who is using this technology at the moment? I mean, the US is using that technology to produce the microwave weapon.

Chris Hedges:

That’s right. Depends who has it. Technology is a neutral force.

Loretta Napoleoni:

Exactly. Exactly.

Chris Hedges:

It serves whoever controls it. Unfortunately, we live in an age where the technocapitalists and the corporations have us in a death grip. That was Loretta Napoleoni, author of Technocapitalism: The Rise of the New Robber Barons and the Fight for the Common Good. I want to thank The Real News Network and its production team, Cameron Granadino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, Kayla Rivara. You can find me at chrishedges.substack.com.

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