Molly Hankwitz on Sun, 7 Nov 2021 23:14:40 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> “Wings Over the World” - 1936 - 2036/Reproducing class privilege in Meta version

apologies to the list for inadvertently leaving the name of Well's idea in error in a previous post to Felix about Meta "vision"

Below is what i was trying to say..."wings over the world" (as written about by H.G. Wells) 

enjoy, pls 

'Wings Over the World': Reproducing class privilege in Meta version ?

In 1936, H.G. Wells, the celebrated historian of the future, was the writer of the story of Alexander Korda’s film feature, ‘Things to Come’ a  lengthy black and white science fiction work projecting the state of global humankind in the year 2036. In the story, Wells’ conception of an elite society would emerge in the year 1970 (smile) “from the East” as a new civilization “which has carried over the scientific spirit of the old”. (Nugent)

"Wings Over the World' will be its name, says Mr. Wells, and it will be composed of the scientists, the inventors, the fliers and other knowledgful men who had the wisdom and the fortune to band together in exile while the rest of the world was engaged in war. They will have formed a new empire—the Freemasonry of Efficiency, the Brotherhood of Science—and, with the anesthetic Gas of Peace, they will subdue the combatant States…" (Nugent)

Wells’ a deep believer in the idea that all history and progress is about struggle, set the supremacy of 'Wings Over the World' in a context of perpetual global conflicts and perpetual human struggles on the part of other countries and states, thus, ensuring a contrast between the enduring supremacy of the new Wings society (apriori more rational, more peaceful, more supremely human)  and the unenlightened sods toiling in perpetual struggle and conflict. Presumably the latter neither knows enough (not supreme enough) to transcend their conditions, nor is capable of escaping elimination from the Gas of Peace (a weapon controlled by Wings)

Mark Zuckerberg’s “cyber” persona is that of a privileged, globalized colonizer, a figure who has dogged the computational world in a master narrative since the mid-nineties at least when Lisa Nakamura wrote her excellent book, Cybertypes, and critiqued, for example, assumptions around first-world “delivery” of personal computing and the internet to the third world as seen in tele comm and computer advertisements. She writes, “The iconography of the travelogue or tourist attraction in these ads places the viewer in the position of the tourist who, in Dean MacCannell’s words, ‘simply collects experiences of difference (different people, different places)’ and emerges as a miniature clone of the old Western philosophical  subject, thinking itself unified, central, in control, etc, mastering Otherness and profiting from it’ (Nakamura, 89 and MacConnell in Nakamura 90). 

As the central player in his version of ‘meta verse’, Zuckerberg presents himself as a man of supreme technological-innovation (proven by the success of Facebook as a popular and profitable global communications medium) thus becoming both ally of this past and an enunciator of his "new" present, which then must be protected, like the capacity to accumulate wealth, by its own legitimization or, to put it mildly, by his capacity to save the world as he sees fit and to create 10,000 new jobs in Europe. (?)  Because MZ presents as an inherently superior human due to his invention of Facebook, he is a privileged expert at the helm as it were. All the men of “Wings Over the World” had these very cool space-planes they could fly around in, as well as state-of-the-art communications and the Gas of Peace, a genocidal gas they could release to end “wars” far too petty for them. 

Mr. Zuckerberg escapes into the fantasy “Wings Over the World” elitism, just as we mortals fear the collapse of Earth in the Anthropocene.

“If our historian is correct, the year 2036 will find us living in underground cities, basking in artificial sunlight, breathing conditioned air, enjoying marvels of communication and transportation, dressed in cloaks and shorts, free from cold, indigestion, poverty and dinner jackets. But not free from conflict. That goes on in "Things to Come" because the doers remain at odds with the do-nots. In the new world the issue is closed when it is proposed to send a young man and a young woman around the moon in a rocket ship.(Nugent) 


Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet’, NY: Routledge, 2002. 

Frank S. Nugent, ‘H.G. Wells Presents an Outline of Future History in ‘Things to Come’ at the Rivoli, April 18, 1936, The New York Times.

Things to Come, film, dir. Alexander Corda, 1936. 

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