Pepe Escobar’s new book Raging Twenties: Great Power Politics Meets Techno-Feudalism tells the story of a new phase of the U.S. empire.
By Pepe Escobar
The Raging Twenties started with a murder: a missile strike on Gen. Soleimani at Baghdad airport on Jan. 3, 2020. Almost simultaneously, that geopolitical lethality was amplified when a virus cannibalized virtually the whole planet.
It’s as if Time has been standing still – or imploded – ever since. We cannot even begin to imagine the consequences of the anthropological rupture caused by SARS-CoV-2.
Throughout the process, language has been metastasizing, yielding a whole new basket of concepts while solidifying others. Circuit breaker. Biosecurity. Negative feedback loops. State of exception. Necropolitics. New Brutalism. Hybrid Neofascism. New Viral Paradigm.
This new terminology collates to the lineaments of a new regime, actually a hybrid mode of production: turbo-capitalism re-engineered as Rentier Capitalism 2.0, where Silicon Valley behemoths take the place of estates, and also The State. That is the “techno-feudal” option, as defined by economist Cedric Durand.
Squeezed and intoxicated by information performing the role of a dominatrix, we have been presented with a new map of Dystopia, packaged as a “new normal”, featuring cognitive dissonance, a bio-security paradigm, the inevitability of virtual work, social distancing as a political program, info-surveillance, and triumphant Trans-humanism.
A sanitary shock was superimposed over the ongoing economic shock – where financialization always takes precedence over the real economy.
But then the glimpse of a rosy future was offered towards more “inclusive” capitalism, in the form of a Great Reset, designed by a tiny plutocratic oligarchy duly self-appointed as Saviors.
All of these themes evolve along the 25 small chapters of this book, interacting with the larger geopolitical chessboard.
SARS-CoV-2 accelerated what was already a swing of the power center of the world towards Asia.
Since WWII, a great deal of the planet lived as cogs of a tributary system, with the Hegemon constantly transferring wealth and influence to itself – via what analyst Ray McGovern describes as SS (security state) enforcing the will of the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank) complex.
This world-system is irretrievably fading out – especially due to the interpolations of the Russia-China strategic partnership. And that’s the other overarching theme of this book.
As a proposal to escape our excess hyper-reality show, this book does not offer recipes, but trails: configurations where there’s no masterplan, but multiple entryways and multiple possibilities.
These trails are networked to the narrative of a possible, emerging new configuration, in the anchoring essay titled “Eurasia, The Hegemon and the Three Sovereigns.”
In a running dialogue, you will have Michel Foucault talking to Lao Tzu, Marcus Aurelius talking to Vladimir Putin, philosophy talking to geoeconomics – all the while attempting to defuse the toxic interaction of the New Great Depression and variations of Cold War 2.0.
With the exception of the anchoring essay, this is a series of columns, arranged chronologically, originally published here on Consortium News/Washington D.C., Asia Times/Hong Kong and Strategic Culture/Moscow, widely republished and translated across the Global South.
They come from a global nomad. Since the mid 1990s I have lived and work between (mostly) East and West. With the exception of the first two months of 2020, I spent the bulk of the Raging Twenties in Asia, in Buddhist land.
So you will feel that the scent of these words is inescapably Buddhist, but in many aspects even more Taoist and Confucianist. In Asia we learn that the Tao transcends everything as it provides serenity. There’s much we can learn from humanism, stripped-off metaphysics.
2021 may be even fiercer than 2020. Yet nothing condemns us to be lost in a wilderness of mirrors while, as Ezra Pound wrote,
a tawdry cheapness
shall reign throughout our days.
The hidden “secret” of this book may be actually a yearning – that we’re able to muster our inner strength and choose a Taoist trail to ride the whale.
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Pepe Escobar, a veteran Brazilian journalist, is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times, and a columnist for Consortium News. His new book is Raging Twenties: Great Power Politics Meets Techno-Feudalism. Follow him on Telegram.