Richard Barbrook on The Californian Ideology and the future

The Editors

Despite the fact that The Californian Ideology was written over 25 years ago, it's still recognized as a highly relevant text for everyone who studies culture and society in relation to the internet. According to Richard Barbrook, who produced this essay — or "manifesto", as he calls it — together with Andy Cameron, the essay was written during the end of a period in which the United States of America was seen as representative of what the future would look like. According to Barbrook, what was happening in the United States at that moment was imagined as a demonstration of the destiny of the rest of the world. Today, the situation is much different.

If Barbrook would have to write a similar text again, he'd name it "The Shenzhen Ideology", and focus on China instead of the US. According to him, the manner in which China has been dealing with COVID-19 shows how China has found a way to employ technologies for social purposes. The United States, however, has mostly focused on short-term commercial goals, and Europe has followed in its footsteps. This type of behaviour and its underlying ideological views are becoming untenable, Barbrook believes. Therefore, if Europe does not want to use surveillance in a way that is similar to the Chinese or American method, it will need to develop new, democratic perspective on the employment of technologies for the public.

Dr. Richard Barbrook on The Californian Ideology and the future