The Unbearable Privilege of Tech Tycoons

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“For the most part I think it’s good,” Check Point CEO Gil Shwed said when asked how concerned he was about the growing gap between the average wage in Israel and the income of the wealthiest high-tech tycoons. He went on to say in the report published by Yedioth Ahronoth on December 11: “I see that some of them are in a dreadful financial situation and I don’t understand why they don’t build a better future for themselves or why they are destined to live this way.” Beyond Shwed’s infuriating remarks, perhaps the most disturbing thing here is the external, allegedly objective vantage point through which he observes the reality and human society.

The issue here isn’t Shwed’s personal fortune or how successful he has been. The issue here is the huge influence that Shwed and others like him have on humanity and the reality of our lives. Shwed isn’t just “a businessman” or a “high-tech entrepreneur” or any other of those sterile definitions. By virtue of his leading one of the most powerful cybersecurity giants on the planet, Shwed should be seen and thought of as one of the most important military chiefs of staff in the new world.

When Shwed speaks in an aloof and capitalist (in the degenerate and anachronistic sense of the word) way about how he “doesn’t understand why they don’t build a better future for themselves,” we see that the problem is not just with this outlook, but with the way in which Shwed perceives himself, his place and his role in the emerging new world following the end of the age of politics.

The world of “how,” in which the rules of the game are redefined in a reality in which, for the first time, humans created a new universe is not just an upgrade or replica of the physical world, it’s an essentially different universe (space, time, codes, language, possibilities, etc.). Those who are currently engaged in shaping this new world, in developing its infrastructure, in leading it, do not have the privilege to observe human existence, its challenges and its soul, from the outside. The age in which the business sphere hid behind the political order is over. This is a practical statement, above all.

The chief of staff of the Check Point defense force will almost certainly fail at the great moments of reckoning. He doesn’t understand where humanity is it, his duty to the public and the only meaningful struggle today, between freedom and the slide toward totalitarianism. Rather, this chief of staff looks at the world through the lens of past figures, accepting the artificial and false separation between politics, business and society. He will collaborate with the forces that seek to preserve their withering power, even at the cost of our freedom, and will ultimately bring calamity upon his own society.

Everyone, and people like Shwed in particular, should look at what’s happening to Facebook now. Facebook’s ostensibly sterile strategy of disavowing real responsibility for the world that was created using its platforms eventually stirred countries to try to weaken it. Facebook tried to tiptoe through the raindrops, and ended up getting drenched. Obviously, as its relevance continues to erode, the nation-state, which aspires to be God, increasingly seeks to undermine any alternative power.

Only those business forces which grasp that the very revolution they are creating in the world and the very times we live in also make them social forces with a responsibility toward the public, and that they need to articulate a clear social theory, stand by the public in its growing struggle for freedom and take an honest and active part in shaping the new order, only they will survive and thrive in this fractured era. Make no mistake. If they don’t, then the alternative ultimately will be China. For all.

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