There is an explicit kinship between plantation slavery, colonial predation and contemporary forms of resource extraction and appropriation. In each of these instances, there is a constitutive denial of the fact that we, the humans, coevolve with the biosphere, depend on it, are defined with and through it and owe each other a debt of responsibility and care.

An important difference is the technological escalation that has led to the emergence of computational capitalism in our times. We are no longer in the era of the machine but in the age of the algorithm. Technological escalation, in turn, is threatening to turn us all into artefacts – what I have called elsewhere “the becoming-black-of-the world” – and to make redundant a huge chunk of the muscular power capitalism relied upon for a long time. It follows that today, although its main target remains the human body and earthly matter, domination and exploitation are becoming increasingly abstract and reticular. As a repository of our desires and emotions, dreams, fears and fantasies, our mind and psychic life have become the main raw material which digital capitalism aims at capturing and commodifying.

Achille Mbembe, 2019


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