The Techno-Industrial Complex
Tape my head and mike my brain, stick that needle in my vein.
In 1868 Christopher Latham Sholes of Milwaukee, WI invented a typewriter that could be mass-produced and pitched it to Remington Arms whose sales had been slumping since the end of the Civil War in 1865. This began the age of the discourse machine gun which led to the current flame-launching reality of the computer keyboard. The first pure digital thinking machine was invented by Alan Turing, a gay rogue mathematician, in the 40s to decipher mechanically encrypted Nazi FM radio broadcasts that telecommanded the tanks, submarines and divebombers of the Blitzkrieg. From 1943 on Allied victory was assured as Turing’s proto-computer had cracked Nazi broadcast code. Technology is created for war and major innovations require an all-out world war. World War 2 ended with three innovations: Turing’s proto-computer, the V-2 rocket and nuclear fission. The second two combined led directly to the InterContinental Ballistic Missile, and NASA. In order to assure military communication in the event of nuclear holocaust the Pentagon added the first to the mix and created Arpanet that became the Internet. As our collective nervous system is transferred to the Internet’s data banks and op systems in the form of two-bit digital code -that is unreadable to the naked eye- and new-age gurus herald a microprocessed democratic revolution in Wired! and Mondo 2000, we stand gaping as we realize that the Man, while giving us free reign with top-end software like WordPerfect and Virtual 303, maintains strategic control of the overall system through keywords like user-interface, user-friendliness and data-protection which obscure access to hardware, much like Hitler’s analog encryption system attempted to obscure FM radio broadcasts to Panzers and Stukas. Indeed, Nazi Germany did not allow the sale of FM receivers to civilian markets until their encryption system was in place. In an eerie “control of the means of production” parallel that would have made Marx groan and Stalin jump for joy, the corporate government holds the ace in the hole. You see, Turing’s thinking machine was 100% accessible and made no distinction between RAM and ROM yet your computer’s op system is “user protected”. Hardware is all that matters in the reality where we live and breathe and our connection to it in the realm of the PC is opaque. Meanwhile, kids become more and more like machines as they objectify the most sensitive parts of their bodies with technologically innovative piercings and tattoos; jacking their systems like nitrous-boosted hot rods, and Ollie North’s children play war games on virtual reality simulations that are conveyed on a video screen that employs rapid fire dots to communicate an image much like telegraphed Morse code, itself a military by-product of troop and supply movement. Adolf himself commissioned the Volkswagen company, envisioning a low-cost vehicle that would resemble a beetle providing transportation for the general populous and civilian infrastructure for the glory of the Third Reich. The only person he respected enough to mention by name in Mein Kampf was Henry Ford of Detroit, MI whose cross of the biological form with the mechanical form found fruition in the Ford Motor Company – which produced the Model T and engines for Nazi trucks. Detroit, MI is also famous for techno music in which computer generated tones are combined with a set of wheels driven by a DJ, or disc jockey, ideally spinning in a warehouse, creating a uniform and repeatable sound that is the ultimate expression of interchangeable parts and mass production processes whose glory is rivaled perhaps only by Wagner. We can only hope that our present-day trusted beloved oh-so-hip chauffeurs aren’t asleep at the wheel as they carry us through the long night at events with names like Pedal to the Metal, Proceed, and don’t forget that ride on the magic bus–Even Furthur. War is a game of competing technologies whose final end is the existence of one society to the exclusion of another. I contend that the underground rave movement, true to its gay black roots, is fighting for life and freedom to live with nothing so base as guns. We go right for the balls. Remember, before Elvis, you couldn’t dance unless you knew how. We are all in Elvis’ army and we have bigger sound systems and better guitars and we know how they work. The air to surface battle of 1991, in which American hardware destroyed Iraqi hardware, proved once and for all the purpose of the cyber-revolution. And just as the Internet on its off time provides stimulating entertainment, CNN broadcasts of Operation Desert Storm rivaled the Super Bowl. This makes sense as a good show diverts attention from what’s really happening; just as the War on Drugs of the late 80s successfully diverted attention from the true crimes that were running rampant, namely the Savings & Loan Scandal–itself a product of information (mis)management. Similarly, as Turing’s digital thinking machine yielded a mainline to Nazi intelligence, a stepped-up and much-ballyhooed conventional intelligence operation was assigned the credit -thus camouflaging the true battle that was raging between digital and analog information systems. And just as blood and guts can help to obscure the true front, the bleeding-hearted war protester chanting “Burn Baby Burn” while rioting on Mifflin Street can play right into the diversionary theatre. The Third World War is a war of ideas with no distinction between civilians and military personnel. The Vietnam War ended with Americans pondering Zen and Vietnamese craving the Pepsi experience. War is education. Artists surf the waves of technology, embracing change while others hide from it. As change painfully dislocates us from life as we knew it, artists express it. As technology accelerates, the pain intensifies and we get Gabber that makes acid rock and the blues look like a cake walk. As they confront and grapple with possible futures and variations on basic themes, the artist can be likened to Military High Command as it plots out imaginary scenarios on a symbolic map with little tanks, flags, troop chits, etc. General Curtis D. Schleher wrote in his Introduction to Electronic Warfare: “It is a universally accepted military principle that the victory in every future war will be on the side which can best control the electro-magnetical spectrum.” David Byrne of the Talking Heads said, “This ain’t no party…” P.L.U.R.,
I am indebted to Marshall Mcluhan, Buckminster Fuller, and Friedrich Kittler for these ideas.