From Marx to Mark: Philosophy of History in the Age of Facebook
From Marx to Mark. According to the founder of Facebook, the history of all hitherto existing society is not the history of class struggles, anymore. It has been so, in the age of the imperialistic West, of coal industry and of iron architecture. Today, in the age of the global economic crisis, of the world without a centre, of informatics and of social networks, history has become something else.
Philosophers used to look at universal history and offered comprehensive interpretations of its development: philosophies of history. Philosophers obviously were at the centre, if not at the culmination, of history itself. Today, in the plural world without a clear Western hegemony, at the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution, of the abolition of space and of continued acceleration, the West has found other prophets. The weighty portraits of a Hegel or the bearded expressions of a Marx have been replaced by the shaved babyface of a Zuckerberg. You can call him “Zuck”.
In a recently published post, the founder of Facebook tells his vision for the future of his company. In this context, Zuck engages in a sort of a philosophy of history: he offers an overall interpretation of the development of human history.
History is the story of how we’ve learned to come together in ever greater numbers — from tribes to cities to nations. At each step, we built social infrastructure like communities, media and governments to empower us to achieve things we couldn’t on our own.
Today we are close to taking our next step. Our greatest opportunities are now global — like spreading prosperity and freedom, promoting peace and understanding, lifting people out of poverty, and accelerating science. Our greatest challenges also need global responses — like ending terrorism, fighting climate change, and preventing pandemics. Progress now requires humanity coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community.
This is especially important right now. Facebook stands for bringing us closer together and building a global community. […] In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.
History of humanity is therefore presented as a progressive development of ever larger and more complex social infrastructures. This is a philosophy of history in a nutshell, and social networks are presented as the final outcome of the historical process. This position is peculiar, and worth a closer look. According to Zuck, the aim of such a development is a growing degree of wealth and freedom for everyone joining the community: «the purpose of any community is to bring people together to do things we couldn’t do on our own. To do this, we need ways to share new ideas and share enough common understanding to actually work together». The aim of Facebook is presented as that of facilitating humankind towards the creation of the first global community, and of driving its development. To facilitate this process, Zuck declares that he is committed to promoting communities which are supportive, safe, informed, civically-engaged and inclusive. Zuck gives a lot of details for every point. If you don’t bother reading through the entire text, what follows is a brief summary. Otherwise you can jump directly to page 3.
Current page: Philosophy of History in the Age of Facebook
Page 2: Global Community
Page 3: False Disintermediation
Page 4: Facebook and Accountability