The good, the ugly and the even uglier of 2022/23

Photo by: Brenden Cowan

Throughout the 2022/23 production year at The Brock Press there were serious societal wins alongside alarming large-scale failures such as the tripping back of civil rights, rising global tensions and the threat of AI. There’s a lot of work to do in the political space and this writing year made that more clear than years past. 

As fundamentalism is on the rise globally — with the basic rights of women being removed in a country as advanced as the United States with the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade — labour and progressive movements have been on the rise as well. 

For example, in the U.S. the assumption that the existence of billionaires and the state’s subordination to capital interests are net positives for society as a whole were disrupted when the Staten Island Amazon warehouse successfully formed a union for the first time in the corporation’s history. Leader of Amazon Labour Union, Christian Smalls, became the face for North American labour’s rebuke to corporate profiteering off the backs of the inflation brought on by global supply issues, not to mention decades of stagnant wages despite growing productivity. 

For reasons like the symbolic support for Smalls, Joe Biden is continued to be lauded as the most progressive president since F.D.R. by some liberals. However, this seems a laughable caricature considering the crackdown on the rail strike he undertook four months ago. The railway workers on strike simply didn’t have paid sick days or weekends off, yet Biden had no hesitancy in breaking the strike. 

Globally, the close presidential election in Brazil in late October ultimately ousted the far-right Bolsonaro government for the incumbent Lula da Silva of the Workers Party, proving the continued strength of the Pink Tide movement in Latin America. 

In France, as of writing, the largest protests since the ‘68 uprisings are underway against Emmanuel Macron’s use of special constitutional powers to hemorrhage his proposal past the legislature raising the age of retirement from 62 to 64. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel attempted a similar power move by giving the majority government in the Knesset the ability to disregard the country’s judicial system. Riots have been breaking out that haven’t been seen since 1948, and they even managed to push Netanyahu to retract the bill. 

Still, the soft Cold War that has begun to arise between the “autocratic East and the democratic liberal West” has produced alarming examples of an attempt to assert both western and eastern hegemony. 

When Canada’s Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, replied to a member of the African Bank of Development about his concerns that the West’s funding of the Ukraine war was depleting resources going to impoverished parts of Africa, she suggested that Africa ought to take a lesson from the Ukrainian president about the willingness to die for one’s country in order to establish democracy.

European powers and their settler-colonial offspring have destabilized African democracy for centuries, and when leaders like Patrice Lumumba of the Congo fought for Pan-Africanism and national freedom in his country, it was the West who helped assassinate him. The Russian invasion of Ukraine was an unlawful violation of international law and human rights but the rhetoric of Western imperialism that has emerged in the West as a result of the nation is often nothing short of hypocritical — especially considering we don’t see the same attitude of protecting and funding sovereignty from Western democracies when it’s the territorial integrity of the Yemeni or Palestinian peoples that are being violated.

Needless to say, tensions between the two major economies occupying the east and westare concerning and this last year has only seen the raising of those tensions. 


Social media in the West increasingly exhibits a kind of dystopian breakdown of meaning, with a reflexive exchange of often vitriolic discourses. Meanwhile, billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter in 2023. Why did he buy the popular social media app? Simply because he can. He even has a ton of renegade “independent” journalists willing to dish out information — likely for clout — that Musk easily could have selected for, which they published on his platform, the content of which serves Musk’s interests. This was once called PR, but no longer in this era of algorithmically supported social bubbles and its corollaries of identity tribalism, misinformation and a kind of Nietzschean perspectivism that unites the expanded multiplicity of niche groups on the Internet.

Meanwhile AI intelligence is continuing to threaten the notion of what being human even means anymore, as historian Yuval Noah Harari explores in his book Homoh Deus. With ChatGPT and other MLs and form of machine intelligence starting to question whether the Turing test has been passed, the question now is how can we regulate these technologies before it’s too late and multinational corporations give them full reign to invade our lives as they bolster consumer capitalism in the most efficient and all-encompassing manner. Not to mention the world of quantum computing which every major nation is in a race to develop as it’s a computer that completely changes notions of what a computer is and has the potential to work out problems at the subatomic level. 

We are entering an era where it won’t be clear that we’re in a machinic dystopia. Instead, rather ironically, the future looks like it will be characterized by a general disorientation around what the human is. With no clear paths out of global capitalism at the moment, either a serious societal upheaval is needed or the next stage of global economy will be something where there is no antagonism between human beings but rather through the divisions that AI powers create; a class of those well-versed and able to serve the various AI apparatuses that control basic decisions about our day-to-day lives at the commanding heights of the economy. 

For example, what stops an AI-model that is coded to maximize for employment efficiency from recommending men over women because women have a higher likelihood of needing leave for maternity reasons. From the purely deductive standpoint of the AI, men would likely rank higher on an index of this kind that’s produced for employers. 

The only solution to a problem like the one above is the same one needed to curb the detrimental effects of neoliberalism today: regulate, socialize, then regulate some more. 

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