Volume 74, Number 25 | Octuber 20 - 26 , 2004

Talking Point

What comes after satire

By Andrei Codrescu

The most insane predictions are coming true at an alarming rate. The implantable chip is here ready to deliver all your data to anybody with a scanner. Every phone call is taped. Every computer has enough spy-ware in it to keep a thousand marketers and blackmailers in business. There is no place to hold a private conversation because they’ll lick the sound right off your car windows. All these “advances” in technology are exclusively for our benefit, the citizens of the freest country in the world.

What’s going on in Fortress America? During the Cold War it was said that one in every four people in Russia spied on their neighbors for the secret police and every person, regardless of whether they were spying or not, felt spied on. Well, rest assured that you’re being spied on right here right now. The crazy thing is that you may be spying on someone yourself, without being aware of it. That’s the genius of capitalism: instead of one secret police we have jillions. Even “they” are a lot scarier than “they” used to be: “they” used to be the N.S.A., the C.I.A., the F.B.I., people who could afford sophisticated equipment. Now “they” is anybody with access to the Internet, including “you.”

Even 10 years ago, a human could still hide if he didn’t care to be found. Look at those quaint ’70s movies: phone booths, fingerprints that took months to come back from the lab, police that turned back at the state line, wanted men living high on the hog in Mexico. The old days. Well, no more: eye-scans, DNA, satellite imaging, implantable chips: you’re just a clunky relay in a network with its own plans.

Of course, not everything is flawless: out there in Pakistan where this stuff might be actually useful, it doesn’t work. Terrorists don’t sit still for chip insertion, and still have ways of giving us the slip. It’s just us who can’t give ourselves the slip. This week I was going to pray for the defeat of George Bush and his Spy State, but then I realized that that road was closed, too, because George and his boys pray so much God’s hold time is longer than the line for a flu shot. God may be giving George instructions, but He’s ruining prayer for the rest of us. Plus, it’s not God we reach when we pray now: it’s Hal, somewhere in India.


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