Watched: The Century of Crowd Control

Watched: The Century of Crowd Control

Since the popular sectors overflowed the confinement centers and thus neutralized disciplinary societies, the great social disorder that ensued prompted the search for new forms in order to control large human agglomerations in order to recover the capacity to govern them. . Without this, any system, and in particular one based on exploitation and oppression, would sink into deep chaos.

Since the years following the outbreak of 1968, that search has been relentless. It is about replacing the outdated panopticon: a tool capable of controlling crowds with the same efficiency as individualized control. The technologies that have been developed in recent years, very particularly artificial intelligence, go in that direction. New technologies that facilitate control do not appear; those that are most suitable for the control of large masses are developed as a priority. The results are shocking and we must know them to acquire the necessary capacities to neutralize these devices.

The police of the main countries, China, the United States, Russia and the European Union, adopted modern technologies to better control their citizens. Days ago, the media reported how the Chinese police control crowds at train stations, using glasses equipped with small cameras for facial identification, connected to the police database that allows them to identify people in seconds ( ).

We are talking about large human concentrations, which implies the use of very precise technologies and, in addition, the creation of a database that is reaching 1.4 billion people, that is, the entire population of the most populated nation of the planet. China has already installed 176 million security cameras, which will be 400 million by 2020 ( In the most troubled regions, police databases include iris scans, DNA and photos of faces, tightening the fence on dissidents.

In western countries you can already take a photo of a neighbor sitting on the bus, and in seconds know their identity. If that is what iPhoneX users can do, we can imagine the levels of sophistication that state security services have reached.

One aspect that deserves reflection is proposed by the Georgetown Center for Privacy and Technology Law. Álvaro Bedoya, its director, reflects: The DNA and fingerprint databases were made up of people with criminal records. A biometric database of law-abiding people is being created (

The above data shows the incredible progress of the State to control people, but also large companies that have similar systems to facilitate relationships with their customers. The result is that we are being watched under the open sky (previously it was only possible to watch indoors), all the time and in all places, like never before in the history of mankind. It is part of the brutal concentration of power and wealth in the states, which are controlled by the richest 1 percent.
It is evident that this development –product of the neutralization and overflow of the confinement and discipline centers, something we must not forget– affects the ways and means of resisting and fighting against the system. In history, every type of oppression has been responded to with new strategies. It seems necessary to draw some reflections for the future.

The first is that we are just at the beginning of ever more detailed forms of population control. A new era of mass control is being inaugurated, structural, not conjunctural, which will last as long as it takes the popular sectors to overflow or neutralize it. The primary task at this point is to identify them.

The second is that we must learn from the past, specifically from the struggles against the confinement centers, in particular the factories and schools, which were the most populated areas of discipline and, therefore, the most conflictive. Strictly speaking, it was not a fight to appropriate the command center, the panopticon, but to destroy or avoid it, in the most unusual ways but always based on popular culture: I work reluctantly, using the exit to the bathrooms as time to spend. leak, steal seconds and minutes from the productivity timer, and so on.

It was not an organized resistance from the unions or parties, and this is fundamental. It was the workers themselves, the inmates of the study centers and the students, who gained millimeters in each contest, something that the leaders rarely understood but never guided. These cultures to survive oppression, such as those recounted by James Scott in The Dominated and the Art of Resistance, are little esteemed and misunderstood by those who bet everything on the institutional framework, as empty as it is unproductive.

The third question is: the most varied ways of resisting artificial intelligence applied to mass control of populations will have a common characteristic: control over bodies is telling us that these bodies are and will be battlefields. I do not underestimate the analyzes, nor the ideologies. But bodies are the core of emancipation; therefore, joys and pains, celebrations and anguish, shape the rebellions, as the Indian peoples and the feminists below have taught us.

It may seem vague. It certainly is. It is not about studying to define a strategy, but about starting small and medium-sized actions, to neutralize control. Finally, human creativity, which is the key to our survival as a species, is an adventure without certainty, with an unpredictable end. We can only trust our collective strength and the stubborn tenacity of life.

Raul Zibechi

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