The Role of Technology in Thana-Capitalism

The Role of Technology in Thana-Capitalism

Maximiliano Emanuel Korstanje (University of Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3473-1.ch015
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


In the days of Thana-capitalism, death is the main commodity which is produced and disseminated by the media worldwide. As in dark tourism practices, people are interested to gaze the Other´s suffering but in fact, far from being closer to others, it reinforces their happiness not to be touched by death. Since thana-capitalism is based on a social Darwinism where all are struggling against all to survive, others` death endorses an exclusive sign of supremacy for those who are still alive. Metaphorically speaking, life is understood as a thrilling race where only a few selected participants win. In reality shows like Big Brother, or Films like Hunger Games, there is only one winner. The competence of all against all is promoted by a cynic leader who looms from the darkness. This suggests that participants of these games not only are unfamiliar with their real probabilities to fail, in view the fact that they are moved by their own egocentrism but they are unable to cooperate with others to defeat the ruling elite. Is this a continuation of Social Darwinism?
Chapter Preview


We live in digital times, where events are covered and disseminated and consumed by a wider audience in seconds. This instantaneity paved the ways to the rise of a new digital culture where we can travel without even moving. The virtual reality has situated as the hallmark of a new 4.0 society (Warschauer & Matuchniak, 2010). To put the same in other terms, technology not only changed our current means of production but also the lifestyles as well as our habits, behaviours and social interaction with others (Gold 2012). The introduction of robots and virtual reality may very well erode the social ties since lay-citizens are certainly pressed to interact with an artificial “Other”. Doubtless, this is the end of hospitality as we know it (Korstanje 2017). In a seminal text, Jacques Ellul exerts a radical critique on “the technological society” shedding light on the negative effects of autocracy which are imposed by the logic of instrumentalism proper of the capitalist system. The legitimacy of the ruling elite is enhanced while the workforce passively accept the notion of efficacy as a form of genuine development. This creates a climate of extreme competence where only there is one winner and the winner of course takes it all. Ellul alerts that someday, humankind will be strictly controlled by Machines which move per their own ends. These automat robots are the direct result of an excess of rationality. He even toys with the belief that technology was conducive to the culture of capitalism in which case the logic of instrumentality mediates between citizens and their respective institutions (Ellul, 1964). Scholars are divided respecting to the role played by digital technology in the liberal world of consumers. Notably influenced by the legacy of Max Weber, Ellul was a pioneer in warning the grim future of humanity which may be subordinated to the exploitation of the liberal market. However, other voices like Guy Sorman (2008) claim that the forces of progress activate conservative counter-reactions that are oriented to prevent a more egalitarian society. Detractors of technology and its progress only are limited to tell part of the truth, which means the aftermaths of new techniques in the fields of the economy but ignoring those achievements promoted by technology as the expansion of life expectative or the improvements in healthcare overt recent years. As Korstanje and Skoll put it, neither good nor bad technology depends on the use people did. Concerned by the paradoxes of Chernobyl, modernity showed that technology enrooted in a world of complexities and uncertainness would be as “a runaway train” very hard to control. The paradox was that the same instrument will make of our life a safer place to dwell become in a global threat that very well jeopardizes our existence on this planet (Korstanje & Skoll 2014). Here some questions arise: what is the role of Technology in our modern World, is technology a mechanism of control or censorship in democratic societies? in what way?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Globalization: It refers to a cultural project of integration of economies and networks which leads to multiculturalism and interchange of worldviews.

Thana-Capitalism: This represents a new term just coined in this manuscript where death situates as the main commodity of good exchange process and current economic systems. Thana capitalism replaced risk society after 9/11.

Risk Society: It is the ways a society reacts against the rise of risks. Risk society alludes to the needs of forecasting future to prevent potential threats that may affects societal order.

Digital Surveillance: The use of digital technology to control others, citizens, and the life of a nation.

Censorship: It means the suppression of free speech rights or any right to express own ideas.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: