Interview with Rainer Langhans

Digitization sends us into an eternal “Summer of Love”

One lives life forward and understands it backward. How does the time of 68 seem to you retroactively?

I think I understood today that we understood nothing then. At university there were few – the famous 2 percent – who were interested in political issues. Suddenly there was the spirit, still unexplainable to this day, which seized us all and literally drove us crazy. What today is known as the “68 feeling” existed worldwide – but it was mainly the students in the developed countries who noticed and accepted it most. Everybody felt it, but not everybody could get involved.

Some were too young and others too established to engage in this experience that overturns everything: an experience that broke with the old order of the world.

In retrospect, I would like to call it a mystical and spiritual experience. The question of how a better and more loving world – far away from mass murder and eternal war of our parent generations – is possible, was on the agenda for all of us. We no longer wanted to live as “people of the human wolf” as the people before us did.

We also wanted the better world actively and did not want to hear that the existing conditions could not be changed. We had lived them! To break the endless loop of fascist capitalism was therefore a matter of course for us.

The “Summer of Love” was the beginning of a spiritual journey. A wind blew over us, a spirit of the times that no one can truly put into words until today. We from the commune unexpectedly became a kind of “pop stars”.

A lot has happened since then – Harari has written the history of the man of tomorrow – Homo Deus. What do you think about that?

The dream of the new man is ancient. People have always striven to be different and new in themselves. In vain.

Homo Deus is an interesting work. I think that in his work he does not go enough into the spiritual path that we – each of us for himself – will take.

Against the background that he himself always goes to India to meditate for half a year and has obviously chosen a spiritual path himself, this is somewhat surprising.

Why do you mention that Harari meditates – What role does his spirituality play?

I find it fascinating that many of the “technique freaks” turned to the inner path and spiritual experience. With these experiences all the IT freaks are trying to digitalize the material world, to build a new, better world. The people in Silicon Valley are not all hippies and confessing 68s for nothing.

What do you mean – digitizing the material world to build a better one?

For this conversion, they first convert the old world into data. The materialist can process and understand data. This is the only way he has access to the “spirit”.

The Internet is for me the renaissance of the spirit of 68. Everyone is in contact with everyone. Everyone can recognize each other directly, see their beauty and be happy about it. He can love the other one. There is no more property. Share everything, share everything. And when there is no more property, there will be no more wars. The Internet leads to dispossession and consequently to world peace. Everything is communicated on the Internet. What is this in consequence other than the dispossession we dreamed of at that time? On the Internet, the private is public, i.e. political.

If the Internet is the way to world peace – how do you explain things like hate speech and cyber bullying?

The people had never been allowed to say anything before had no right to develop. For ages, they have only had the choice between being a working or war soldier. They are used to subordinate themselves in an authoritarian system.

And now suddenly you set them free – they can do anything in the digital world, say anything. On the one hand, this causes fear, and on the other hand, everything that has been suppressed up to now bursts out. The dam of oppression is broken and everything that was hidden inside for so long, the “murder pit”, is breaking to the outside.

It’s all coming out, the wolf consciousness. All the patterns they had to live in the materialistic world. All the anger, disappointment and desperation they hid from each other – everything comes up now. It must be, because only then can we work on it.

So digitisation is bringing our abysses to light? Everything that’s left unsaid is now blurting out?

First, people have to go through the hell of ego, through “it” in the sense of Freud. Most of the time, when people tried to do that, they got stuck in this hell, in their ego or fascism.

In the moment when the alternative to another life becomes visible, that is, when a first experience is made, you recognize the abyss – the hell – in which you have lived so far.

You can see that the supposed normality is a cruel one. When a real alternative comes along, you realize that all your efforts before to improve your life were in vain. You realize that everything you chose and did merely alleviated the symptoms, but was not a true alternative.

You’re saying that we still live in a fascist system?

Trump’s policy is a good illustration of this. He’s open about being an asshole. He holds up a mirror to the people and makes it clear to them that they themselves are some. Anyone who says that this is not true in this capitalist system is lying to themselves.

His predecessor, Obama – a prime example of an enlightened man and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – what else has he become but another capitalist warlord? Tragically, the wonderful enlightened Prince of Peace he wanted to be became nothing more than that.

If we want to get out of there – and we obviously do – then we could go back to the familiar forms of therapy: Remembering, repeating and working through.

Psychology is certainly not a panacea, but it is a technique and explains many things. On a collective level, this means that we have to recognize what fascists we have always been and – above all – still are.

The “enlightened” people then of course claim that they are humanistic and not fascists. But they are only pretending, but acting very differently. Thereby, healing includes the insight into the illness, in this case a collective insight. We have to wander through our abysses – first of all we have to recognize ourselves as fascist, before we can change. Then we can be free.

What role does digitisation play in political change? Do you think a digital world state is possible?

I think we already have that. Take Facebook for example – 2.1 billion users. This is the largest community of all. Never before has there been such a large community that communicates intensively with each other. With them our experience is realized: “The private is political”.

So you like the idea of a large digital state, like Bitnation, for example?

Abolish the money and upset the old order? I love it! Not state – in the digital society everything will belong to everyone. Everyone is a data bubble and therefore has as much or as little as everyone else. Only that applies.

The Internet is also bringing in the so-called “hangers-on” – those who have always been on the sidelines.

Privacy activists are very sceptical about the development and fear total surveillance – Aren’t you afraid?

The fear of the so-called data octopus, for me this is only the fear of the concentrated power that is created there in the net. But we are the power – only that we do not know that yet.

Also the fear of artificial intelligence – as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking spread it in their open letter – is for me only the old fear of freedom. The fear that it is possible to share everything with everyone else in real time.

What about methods like nudging — isn’t that manipulation?

No, that’s seduction – I seduce them into a certain behaviour. That’s a wonderful thing!

And China – the Chinese social credit system is not necessarily a seduction. What do you think about the Citizen Score? Do you see danger as well as utopia?

From personal experience I have to say that the way to paradise is full of obstacles and stones. In this way one encounters all the old patterns in a terrible form, especially because they seem insurmountable at first.

Here, only the existing conditions are reflected on the path, which were always there and still are. In the Chinese social credit system, only what is real becomes digitally transparent: capitalist slavery!

But now you can see it clearly. The digital world makes it recognizable and comprehensible. This transparency gives for the first time in the history of mankind the chance to overcome this exploitative system.

The worst thing about it is that the system constantly wants to give us the impression that it is insurmountable. But we can, we are no longer in the hell of lack of alternatives. The digital world provides us with the alternative because it is no longer roughly material.

What exactly do you mean when you say that the digital world offers us a way out of the capitalist system?

The Internet shows us the way into a new world. We’re gonna go through the old hell and finally put it behind us. Everyone wants to be free. One must not believe that the Internet is only technology.

It transcends them. After all, it makes it possible to see that everything and everyone is part of a great whole. On the Internet it is possible for everyone to have everything. And then there’s no more property. When there is no more property, there is no more reason to wage wars.

This is a new and free spirit to which we can open ourselves. The total transparency and the absence of old authorities, that makes it possible. Everybody loves everybody – that’s what we call friends or followers today. I believe the triumphal procession cannot be stopped, we can overcome evil.

So you see more possibilities than dangers in automation?

I see the fact that so many of the technology freaks meditate and turn inwards as a chance for the beginning of a new and loving world.

When was there ever a time in the world when 2 billion people were friends – like now on Facebook? There have only ever been enemies. If this is not the beginning of a new age, then what is it?

In my eyes this is an unmistakable sign for a better and more loving world. People have begun to communicate directly with each other – in resonance with their deeper self. Even if it is still a long way to go and dark valleys to wander through. Possibly the angels with the flaming swords are standing in front of paradise – but the path to an eternal “Summer of Love” has begun.

Oppression manifests itself through production conditions. We are in the so-called 4th revolution of work. Once again the world of work is changing for people. Is self-fulfilment at work more realistic today?

We, the ’68ers, didn’t want to work. We considered self-realization through the well-known work to be impossible. This is an ideology with the aim of maintaining the existing conditions.

Maybe that may be true of self-realization for some scientists and artists – but usually and in the business world in a special way it is about profit – not about realization and meaning.

The new work, be it digital nomads or meetings in co-working spaces, is more about people’s self-realization.

I maintain that the new IT groups do not have profit maximization as their corporate goal, but rather the improvement of communication, digitalization.

Do you believe that corporations will no longer have profit maximization as their highest principle? – Could you please explain that to me in more detail?

From the pursuit of profit to the pursuit of content: “Inter-Net content”. These contents mean a “smartization” of the world on different levels – a spiritualization and “de-materialization”.

If this trend leads to post-materialism, to one with each other instead of against each other, then the oppression by the relations of production also ends. The money and the old capitalist world is about to die.

Capitalism thus disappears from the world – instead of profit maximization, love maximization comes to the fore.

What is your forecast for the future?

In the meantime, a momentum of its own has developed that can no longer be stopped. Besides me, many others believe that a fundamental transformation of circumstances is already taking place. And that, of course, fundamentally changes the meaning of work.

The discussion about the unconditional basic income gives us a first impression. Originally a utopia! The fact alone that we are now seriously discussing this – is revolutionary!

We – the 68ers – have won! Love – not war – will be our future!


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