The End of Compassion

As war, police violence and mass shootings increasingly become part of our new normal, it is may appear as if we are simply going through a rough patch in our history. After all, violence has always existed. But it is equally possible that our society is permanently descending into a more violent, dystopian state. The polycrisis of pandemics, wars and climate disaster find humanity at a point in its history where it was already facing significant dilemmas: overpopulation, automation, and an increasingly harsh, unsatisfying and unhealthy way of life. Even without the current crises, humans were already well on their way to losing much of their emotional intelligence, which we often affectionately refer to as “humanity”. Soon it will be easier to program compassion into a robot than to “re-program” compassion into our police force, and into the rest of us. The Robocop age is becoming a distinct possibility, as we rely on algorithms to maintain social cohesion. Yearly surveys conducted by city authorities in the future will confirm this, in order to reassure the citizens: “new survey finds that robot police forces continue to be more effective and more compassionate than real humans”. 

The new digital economy has accelerated our transformation into emotionless automatons. While Google and Facebook have turned us into products whose data can be bought, sold, influenced and exploited, we in turn have become exploiters ourselves: our digital society has habituated us to treat other human beings as pages that we scroll through. We increasingly see other life forms on the planet on a purely transactional basis: as items on our “want” list, as opposed to independent entities with their own rights and wants. Our police forces are being trained to treat protesters as objects in a video game obstacle course. It is not simply our humanity that is being eroded, but our ability to be awake. The more automated and asleep we become, the less compassion we can feel for others, for the planet, and for ourselves.

Everything in our capitalist civilization follows the productization route, which is to turn everything, whether it is a piece of food or a human being, into something that can be bought or sold. If something in our society is not sellable, or doesn’t get any monetizable “air time”, then it is absolutely useless. Values such as dignity, compassion, equality, healthcare, environmentalism, are often red alerts for our system: they are loss-makers, extremely risky areas for our capitalist society to “invest” in. They only become profitable when hijacked to be weaponized as temporary, fake facades for political campaigns or clever product marketing, so that they can appeal to whatever humanity we have left in us. Governments, brands, sometimes even charities, have learned to play the “equality” card very well, whenever they need something in return.

George is an Author, Biologist, Chemist and Food Scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , read his books or join his blog by clicking Follow at the bottom of this page

2 thoughts on “The End of Compassion

  1. Every year we bring in existence 70 billion land animals…. just so we could kill them. These sentient beings have horrific and miserable existence before we turn them into pieces of flesh for us to enjoy. One of the easiest things anyone can do to move toward more compassionate and just world is adopt a vegan lifestyle.

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