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Occupy Silicon Valley
"Peasants' Revolt" Underway in the Bay

Late last year the Economist‘s Adrian Wooldridge predicted 2014 would bring a “peasants’ revolt against the sovereigns of cyberspace,” and not even a month in we’re already seeing forceful expressions of this backlash on Big Tech. At 7am last Tuesday morning, a group of angry protestors marched to the Berkeley home of a Google X developer, unfurled a banner reading “Google’s Future Stops Here” and handed out flyers featuring the above image and a message to “Fight Evil…Join the Revolution.” The group stood in his driveway for 45 minutes before moving on to block a nearby Google shuttle bus pickup site.

What did Anthony do to draw such ire? The protestors, who call themselves Counterforce, seemed to be using the engineer as a stand-in for a variety of “evils” committed by Google, ranging from its work with Foxconn to its recent acquisition of military contractor Boston Dynamics. But just as Anthony is a stand-in for Google, so too is Google a stand-in for the root of all evil in this group’s mind: capitalism. From their flyer:

As long as capitalism functions, everything it is connected to will be poisoned with its sickness. People like [Anthony] are gentrifying neighborhoods, flooding the market with noxious commodities, and creating the infrastructure for an unimaginable totalitarianism. This is the evil that we stake our lives against.

At the face of it, these seem like the actions of the lunatic fringe, but Tuesday’s melodrama underscores wider-felt discontent with the Bay Area’s tech workers, and with the tech behemoths they work for. A whole generation of idealists is slowly and painfully coming to terms with the fact that Big Tech is Big Business. It’s being played out in a fight over Google busing employees out to its campus—a service many complain is enabling the gentrification of San Francisco.

Remote work could help defuse this busing conflict and broker a peace in Silicon Valley’s burgeoning class warfare. Is there anything telework can’t do?

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  • Pete

    What is being displayed is envy.

    • Kavanna

      It’s beyond that. It’s a bad intellectual superstructure trying to process a world that doesn’t make sense to people who don’t understand how it all works. And they have endless student debt they’ll never pay back, and they live in their parents’ basement.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The Luddites live! Capitalism with its “Feedback of Competition” and the “Invisible Hand” which calculates all known data, is the only thing that stands in the way of the stagnation and decay of the Government Monopoly. These fools would have us all standing in line for hours for a pair of East German shoes that don’t even fit us. Warning: Obscure reference to a scene in “Moscow on the Hudson” with Robin Williams, which is representative of what happens when Big Government has too much control. It really is a question of Capitalism and its attendant growth, or Leviathan and its stagnation and decay.

    • Jim__L

      Just as long as capitalism can be persuaded that when it thinks it has managed to “calculate all known data”, it’s probably wrong… see the Mortgage Meltdown, a few years ago.

      Seriously, if “calculating all known data” were the answer, the Statists would be trying it. Already are trying it. It’s not really going to help make Statism work.

  • TommyTwo

    OMG! I guess I spoke too early when I said our Anthony is a most inoffensive man! 🙂 🙂

    “Peasants’ Revolt Underway”? You can say that again.

    So, how many of those “Counterforce” thugs would have any idea of where I’m going with the following allusions?

    1. Detroit
    2. Salem

    • Tom

      Regarding the first, they would claim that the first was the result of capitalism, and that if they were running things nothing like Detroit would ever happen again. As to the second, how dare you compare these heroic defenders of truth, justice, and the American way to those witch-hunting Puritans.
      Now, in the real world, it is true that there would be no city like Detroit in America, as there would be no abandoned houses, because it would be illegal to move out of your terribly built house in an unsafe area with awful schools. As to the second, the fact that they have all the worst traits of the New England Puritans and none of the virtues is lost on these people.

      • TommyTwo

        Capitalism done run over my dog!

        • Tom

          Shhhh! You’ll give them ideas.

          • TommyTwo

            🙂 Well, to keep it all tied together, I should have said: “Capitalism turned me into a newt!”

          • Boritz

            But definitely not a Newt.

          • Kavanna

            Is that Newt from Georgia? And, will I live in my parents’ basement? Where does that fit into the mode of production and the contradictions inherent in the system?

            They’re all newt-wits.

    • Corlyss

      “You can say that again.”

      Sounds like an Ashley Brilliant-ism.

      I wonder if this isn’t what the OWS crowd is doing now when they aren’t living in their parents’ basements.

    • Kavanna

      The peasants are revolting … I’ll say ….

  • free_agent

    You write, “Remote work could help defuse this busing conflict”.

    I don’t see how that would come about. If Google didn’t need to pay for buses to have employees live in SF proper, the gentrification of SF would proceed faster, not slower.

  • Fat_Man

    Peasants? I think not. Peasants are not marxist radicals in the US. More likely the coddled children of the upper classes, terrified by the realization that they will be relegated them to downward mobility in the new order of the ages by their lack of technical skills and STEM education, and pissed off that their degrees in neo-colonial gender studies qualify them only to be barristas and janitors.

    • Kavanna

      Precisely. They’re saddled with a junk intellectual superstructure, trying to comprehend the world around them, and failing to process.

  • Boritz

    The peasants are revolting.
    It is obvious where this is leading. In 100 years Google will be a city floating above the clouds while the Morlock descendants of Counterforce work 14 hour subterranean shifts to keep the steam powered machines running.

    • Kavanna

      Where are the Eloi in all this?

  • Gene

    There was a time in my life, not too long ago, when I believed that sooner or later my countrymen would grow the f*** up. Those days are over.

  • Boritz

    The two groups need to be brought together quickly to make peace. Two possibilities:

    1) A White House beer summit.

    or, in the absence of a presidential invitation

    2) Convene their own meeting to explore areas of agreement and commonality. Wear pajamas…drink chocolate…talk about healthcare…

  • ljgude


    • Kavanna

      Telepath Avenue … Weenietown ….

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