GameStop and How Netanyahu Gets It

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Walking past a GameStop store in the Manhattan last week.

So now everybody is talking about young Redditors and the GameStop controversy in terms of revenge or revolution, and portraying the events in terms of big and threatening ideologies. Just as with Joe Biden’s inauguration, which went on incredibly peacefully given all the threats we heard about, reality is inflated with the aim of intimidating, of stoking the feeling that dark or mad forces out there have an appetite for destruction.

The truth is, no great ideology or revolution is at play here, even if some people are talking in such terms. For the current generation's members, all the rules stemming from a life emerging from the Industrial Revolution, becoming pawns for exploitative forces, are no longer relevant to them.

They don’t need a revolutionary ideology just to earn money using technology and to do what hitherto was only done over and over by those with means and connections as they sold the public a lot of rubbish about sterility. Those born into this century are just going ahead and doing. But their efforts, free spirit and natural ability to cast doubt on everything we were taught – in part in the interest of control – were “unthinkable.” This is precisely what the old order, the old power, seeks to snuff out.

How do they do this? By employing demonization and instilling anxiety. No method is more effective to kill possibilities for change.

This was true of the Catholic Church in the 16th century and of the nobility in the 19th century. And it’s true today. Times of “how” are by definition times of anxiety, of helplessness. Flaubert called it the “drainpipe” of history. Only anxiety can justify draconian measures like completely banning someone from social media; only demonization can justify shutting down a trading platform.

After all, at the root of things, are such actions really different from what the Chinese government is doing by defanging the Chinese financial giant Ant Group because the government sees how threatening the company is to its rule?

I won’t get into the many challenges posed by social media and the digital revolution. This is all well known. And it also holds true for every discovery and creation of new spaces. In this sense, the discovery of the digital universe is no different than the discovery of America. This is the way to think about it. But that’s not the story here.

After all, the things I wrote a year and a half ago like “the end of the age of politics” – the end of the age when the nation-state is God controlling everything and being the exclusive teller of the story of reality – become more real and demand a sober look.

To a large and disturbing extent, the only one in Israel’s dying politics who really understands this is Benjamin Netanyahu. His strategy exploits the crumbling of the frameworks. And he of course exploits this for his own needs, while all those who want to turn back time, to ignore the change, fall apart.

The fundamental tension of this age, and this has to be repeated many times, is between freedom and totalitarianism. The representatives of freedom in the previous order are gradually, out of a basic desire to preserve their power, becoming its gravediggers.

The citizens, the people without whom there is no story, have the responsibility to understand this, to grasp it, to create spaces for new ideas to be clarified, so that only in this way, and not by clinging anxiously to the past, a new story can arise that might preserve our freedom.

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