I've just finished reading the manifesto Mark Zuckerberg wrote on the future of humanity. I've laughed a lot. But afterwards, when I reached the end, a serious question took root in my mind: Is Zuckerberg a humorist or does he really believe every word he wrote?
If we are in the presence of a humorist, we can include Zuckerberg in the great tradition of satirical utopians. You know the sort, people who are deeply unhappy with the reality and who, in turn, use literature to entertain and moralize. The problem is that I suspect Zuckerberg is serious because a "sense of humor" is something that doesn't fit the character.
To sum it up, the manifesto wants to build a perfect future. And what future is that? That's easy: a future without poverty, without war, without angst, without solitude. And how do you achieve such a future? That's easy too: by mobilizing the billions of human beings who use Facebook.
My laughter started from the very beginning: "are we building the world we all want?" the prophet Mark asks. No, son, we're not. Each of us builds a world he understands because the idea of a common purpose only exists in the head of a fanatic. Worse, of a fanatic who believes he's talking in the name of "all."
In theory, a world without poverty, war, angst and solitude can have its charms. Especially, and preferably, if it's proposed by a Miss Universe contestant in a bikini. But to imagine Mr. Zuckerberg in such garments, beyond the fact that it's esthetically hair-raising, is politically absurd. What defines the human species is the diversity of interpretations and solutions regarding any social issue.
Yes, poverty is a misfortune. But knowing how to fight it — by redistributing wealth? through free enterprise? under what form? — has been a topic of pluralist discussions for centuries. The same goes for war (are some wars criminal? are some wars necessary?), angst (what would be art without this interior demon?), or solitude (sometimes, hell is other people, to quote Sartre).
But Zuckerberg's delirium continues. He writes that the future belongs to "meaningful groups," groups of people that share the same fortunes or misfortunes. For instance, if I have a specific disease, I can find my own, specific class. Zuckerberg's future is made of hundreds, of thousands of virtual ghettos. Like the leprosariums of old or the sanatorium for people with tuberculosis.
What's more, Zuckerberg believes that artificial intelligence will, one day, be able to save human beings from themselves. If I'm a large consumer of pictures and videos on the topic of suicide, it will possible to "identify" my "deviant" behaviors and prevent the gruesome fate. Prevent how? Zuckerberg doesn't say. I imagine the army will intervene: the young sociology student working on his thesis on Émile Durkheim's book Suicide will get his door smashed open by the military and will affectionately be put into a straitjacket.
For many thinkers, suicide is actually the ultimate act of freedom — or, as Emil Cioran used to say, it's precisely thanks to the certainty that there always is a way out of the earthly existence that we can engage in our life. In Zuckerberg's world, not even humanity's most intimate choice will be safe.
Finally, the obvious part: Thanks to Facebook, voters and elected leaders will be closer than even and will listen to each other. In other words, if the "tyranny of the majority" approves savagery, the politician, in order to be elected, will defend savagery.
The mediation mechanisms that liberal democracies have always defended (courts, parliaments, etc.) will need to be defeated in the name of the "general will," this ominous category Rousseau bequeathed to his disciples.
To be fair, nothing Zuckerberg writes is new. He merely repeats the typical fallacies of globalist thought: Global issues can only be tackled by a sort of "global community" — a euphemism for a "global government."
Inevitably, it doesn't cross Zuckerberg's mind that it's precisely this supranational and transnational globalism that produces the populist (and nationalist) reaction we're currently witnessing.
Mark Zuckerberg's manifesto is a megalomaniac and authoritarian document written with the illusionary ink of good intents. If such adolescents have no sense of their ridiculousness, the world will be a little bit better already if adults don't lose theirs.
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