BISR Faculty Writing: Politics after Amazon, Futurism, and a Culture of (Child) Sacrifice

In The Baffler, Ajay Singh Chaudhary relates the story of Amazon HQ2, whose rise and sudden fall is “a microcosm of twenty-first century capitalism and a parable about the changing nature of politics for the left. The stakes are nothing less than the habitability of a global human ecological niche, and the necessary flourishing of some seven plus billion people within it. Put simply, as I have argued in more oblique terms elsewhere, Amazon, and firms like it, are incompatible with such a niche.”

In Real Life, Danya Glabau contrasts the cheap “naturalism” of a Jordan Peterson, which posits certain social fictions as immutable biological truth, with the unique power of science fiction to imagine possible worlds: “While science fiction has provided the scripts that many technologists have used to create our disappointing future, it also plays an important epistemological role in the struggle against racism, sexism, ableism, classism, xenophobia, and capitalism. It invites us to consider that the ways societies are organized in the here and now are themselves contingent fictions. Science fiction reveals that the social facts many have taken for granted — things like gender, race, sex, class, hierarchy, and domination that are often attributed to “human nature” — are not inherently true and could be otherwise in the future.”

In The Revealer, Patrick Blanchfield takes note of the great gap between our abhorrence of child sacrifice and abuse and our tolerance for the explicit, seemingly systematic abuse of children at the hands of powerful people and institutions, from the depredations of Jeffrey Epstein to Trump’s border camps to the Catholic Church to the multi-generational calamity of climate change. Writes Blanchfield, “The dissonance is stupefying … The exploitation and abuse of minors is right there, as cruel and ghoulish as you could imagine, out in the open. They are everywhere, overwhelming. Any given allegation will be debated endlessly and then forgotten, such that, while all of them may seem entirely plausible, no single one ever seems to rise to the level of being the one that will push opinion (or prosecution) over the edge. No one story seems like it can ever make a difference, precisely because there are so many of them … In other words, the very scale, horror, and obviousness of the abuse is so great, and the accountability so obviously lacking, that a profusion of allegations paradoxically inoculates the accused through sheer repetition.”