BOOK: (White) Imaginary Futures

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.


I have almost finished reading the outstanding work Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to The Global Village (London: Pluto Press, 2007) by white Marxist male, Richard Barbrook. IMHO, the work makes for a veritable tour de force and is essential reading for those interested in decolonizing computing vis-a-vis understanding how (white) visions of the future repeatedly – or rather ‘algorithmically‘ – inform and inflect the present, not to mention for Barbrook’s useful, yet highly Eurocentric, account of the Cold War origins of computers, ICTs (information and communication technologies) and the Net. (For a brief discussion of the ‘algorithmic’ nature of White Supremacy / Racism, interested readers are invited to check out the following extended abstract by Dr Syed Mustafa Ali, Lecturer in the School of Computing and Communications at The Open University: “Transhumanism and/as Whiteness“.)

Interested readers can download a copy (PDF format) of the book here.

A highly useful overview of the book was presented by Barbrook at Warwick University in 2011 and is available for viewing on YouTube:

One of the most interesting sequences of slides appearing towards the end of the presentation is the following:The Futures.JPG

From a Counter-Racist / decolonial perspective, I am immediately led to ask who is this we that Barbrook is inviting to invent new futures? I should also like to suggest that for non-white VoRs (Victims of Racism / White Supremacy), the wording of the first slide (on the left) should be replaced with the following:

Those who do not remember the [White Supremacist / Racist] future [that shapes the White Supremacist / Racist present] are condemned to [have the White Supremacist / Racist future] repeated [on them]



LINKS: Cybernetic Racism (White Supremacy)

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

One ongoing research interest of mine relates to how the globally operating system of White Supremacy (Racism) is refining / adapting itself in the so-called “Information Age”. (Interested readers are invited to check out the following earlier blog posts: COMMENT: The Subtlety of Cybernetic Racism, Race: The Difference That Makes a Difference, Racism (White Supremacy) and The Philosophy of Information, Towards a Critical Race Theory of Information and COMMENT: Monitoring Color Monitors.)

In this connection, I should like to share the following links with interested readers, the first three of which might be regarded as somewhat ‘conspiracy-theoretical’ (sic) in tone:

Here is a brief description of this text:

Techgnosis uncovers the hidden mystical and religious impulses that animate our contemporary obsessions with media and technology. It is a wild ride, chock full of curious characters, esoteric information and visionary insights. The book tells the story of the alchemical origins of electricity, the occult dimension of computer games, and the Zen of cybernetics. It reminds us of the irrational, even dreamlike underside of our supposedly rational machines.

Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to the Global Village by Richard Barbrook

Here is a short description of the latter work:

Imaginary Futures traces the emergence of the computer era in the context of desperately competing ideologies, economics, and empires … Richard Barbrook argues that, at the height of the Cold War, the Americans invented a truly revolutionary tool: the Internet. Yet, for all of its libertarian potential, hi-tech science soon became a tool of geopolitical dominance. The rest of the world was expected to follow America’s path into the networked future. Today, we’re still told that the Net is creating the information society. Barbrook shows how we can reclaim its revolutionary purpose: how the DIY ethic of the internet can help people shape information technologies in their own interest and reinvent their own, improved visions of the future.

I am interested in reading these works, particularly the latter two, from a Counter-Racist / decolonial perspective, with a view to revealing (possible) Eurocentrism (Racism / White Supremacy) embedded both in the historical events that took place and the accounts of them by the white male authors of these works, viz. Erik Davis and Richard Barbrook, respectively.

In this connection, I should also like to invite interested viewers to check out the three-part documentary All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace by white male Adam Curtis.