SUPER CHOMSKY BROTHERS: So there’s this new PlayStation game, “State of Emergency,” in which you get to play an anti-globalization rioter. And Salon has this article on it. Now, I don’t want this site to become SalonSkipper; but this is too good to resist…
First off, apparently none of the righteous rioters are white. From the game intro: “…its me and Ricky Trang, and a rainbow coalition of kickass who gots our backs — cholos, niggaz, kung fu kids from Chinatown, all going hella wild on the racist, consumerist, globalist system, looting it clean, and it is friggin [hee hee!] beautiful.” You can play “Hector Soldado, the reformed Latino gangbanger who believes the Corporation is doing more harm to his neighborhood than the daily drive-bys; [or] Libra, the biracial human rights lawyer who decides the only true justice now possible comes from the brick and the gun.” (Can you play Sari Ross, the riot grrrl who milks her Indian heritage for every ounce of political positioning it’s worth? Or Jake Phipps, the white liberal who becomes increasingly frustrated with Sari’s posturing, and takes it out through passive-aggressive comments about how focusing on racial issues may “distract from the economic points we’re trying to make here”? If you hit the “jump” button twice, both of them talk for three hours, effectively winning any battle they join.)
The second neat thing we learn is that the rioters aren’t reacting against capitalism. They think they are, but they ain’t. Here’s the setup: “State of Emergency is set in a very near future, when the wildest anti-globalization prophecies have to come to pass: A giant multinational corporation now dominates the entire country, devastating the environment, dissolving all democratic governance, controlling all media. Dissent is prohibited, and the only glimmer of resistance is from the Freedom Movement, an underground affiliation of young people who take to the street with their faces masked by bandanas.”
Remind me again how this differs from the USSR. Just like adding “The People’s Democratic Republic of” before your name doesn’t make you populist, democratic or republican, so adding “Corp.” after it doesn’t make you a free-marketeer. Tyranny isn’t exactly in the Robert Nozick/Libertarian Samizdata/Reason magazine gameplan. (Related thought: How cool would it be if there was a PlayStation game where you could fight back in Tiananmen Square? Think it’ll happen? What about “Priest on the Run,” where you try to outwit the ChiCom goons while still saying Mass every day? Somehow I betcha Rockstar won’t be coming out with those anytime soon.)
If the sole idea here is that corporations can become tyrannical, uh, sure, does anyone dispute that? (Although in order for it to happen, the corp.s must be able to ally with repressive governments, as in Burma, Nigeria* or the Belgian Congo. This in no way excuses the corporations; it just points out that there are more villains on the scene than the Black Bloc might want to acknowledge.) But the PlayStation game speaks with forked tongue. Originally, the rioters were supposed to battle the “American Trade Organization,” thus mirroring the actual Ruckus Society & friends. But then the scenario was changed, so that now they’re fighting what is actually a just battle against a real oppressor, rather than an idiotic campaign that downplays and obscures the real problems with globalization, in favor of breaking windows in ordinary people’s cars and smashing up McDonalds storefronts owned by striving immigrants. Cute-o.
(*That New Criterion article on Ken Saro-Wiwa is disappointing in two ways–it has the typical NC hopelessness, the belief that conservatism means that every effort to improve the world just makes things worse, so there’s no need to suggest alternative solutions–and it doesn’t mention Shell Oil. I linked to it because it takes Saro-Wiwa seriously as a writer, unlike most of the stuff you’ll find on the Internet about him, and it demonstrates that Shell couldn’t do anything without the dictator Abacha.)
Erik Wolpaw of Old Man Murray has some great comments: “‘Totalitarian corporations are basically right behind fascist aliens and Nazis on the list of overworked video-game villains,’ says Wolpaw. “They’re even ahead of mean elves.’ …Wolpaw even examined one popular gamer bulletin board to see if interest in anti-globalization issues had been spurred by State of Emergency. But so far, ‘after wading through 46 pages of posts, I couldn’t find a single message dealing with the WTO, capitalism or Indonesian child laborers … On the other hand, I did find a lot of posters begging for the code that makes people’s heads pop off when you punch them.'”
And the Salon story helpfully links to these stories providing info on the anti-globalization movement’s corporate funders. In a CNN-Enron-hearings touch, there’s this para.: “On the arts-and-entertainment side, anti-globalization has been promoted by Michael Moore’s films and books (from Disney and Fox Newscorp, respectively), while its marches are accompanied by the music of Rage Against the Machine (Sony) and Manu Chao (Virgin).”
But corporations stifle dissent, of course. Of course. Yargh… enough.