Go Home, Occupy Movement – The McFB – Was Ist Das?

Ever since, years ago, I coined
the expression “McFB way of life” and particularly since my intriguing
FB articles (Is there life after Facebook I and II) have been
published, I was confronted with numerous requests to clarify the meaning.
My usual answer was a contra-question: If humans hardly ever question
fetishisation or oppose the (self-) trivialization, why then is the
subsequent brutalization a surprise to them? 

Not pretending to reveal a
coherent theory, the following lines are my instructive findings, most
of all on the issue why it is time to go home and search for a silence.   

Largely drawing on the works
of the grand philosophers of the German Classicism and Dialectic Materialism,
it was sociologist Max Weber who was the first – among modern age
thinkers – to note that the industrialized world is undergoing a rapid
process of rationalization of its state (and other vital societal) institutions.
This process – Weber points out – is charac-terized by an increased
efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control over any ‘threat’
of uncertainty. Hereby, the uncertainty should be understood in relation
to the historically unstable precognitive and cognitive human, individual
and group, dynamics. A disheartened, cold and calculative over-rationalization
might lead to obscurity of irrationality, Weber warns. His famous metaphor
of the iron cage or irrationality of rationality refers
to his concern that extremely rationalized (public) institution inevitably
alienates itself and turns dehumanized to both those who staff them
and those they serve, with a tiny upper caste of controllers steadily
losing touch of reality.  

Revisiting, rethinking and
rejuvenating Weber’s theory (but also those of Sartre, Heidegger,
Lukács, Lefebvre, Horkheimer, Marcuse and Bloch), it was the US sociologist
George Ritzer who postulated that the late 20th century institutions
are rationalized to a degree that the entire state becomes ‘McDonaldized’,
since the principles of the fast food industry have gradually pervaded
other segments of society and very aspects of life (The McDonaldization
of Society
, a controversial and highly inspiring book of popular
language, written in 1993).  

Thus paraphrased, Ritzer states
that (i) McEfficiency is achieved by the systematic elimination
of unnecessary time or effort in pursuing an objective. As the economy
has to be just-in-time competitively productive, society has to be efficient
as well. Corresponding to this mantra, only a society governed by business
models and sociability run on marketing principles is a successfully
optimized polity. Premium efficiency in the workplace (and over broader
aspects of sociableness) is attainable by introducing F.W. Taylor’s
and H. Ford’s assembly line into human resources and their intellectual
activity (sort of intellectual assembly line)1. Even the
average daily exposure to the so-called news and headlines rather serves
an instructive and directional than informational purpose. Hence, McEfficiency
solidifies the system, protecting its karma and dharma from any spontaneity,
digression, unnecessary questioning and experimenting or surprise.  

(ii) McCalculability
is an attempt to measure quality in terms of quantity, whereby quality
becomes secondary, if at all a concern. The IT sector, along with the
search engines and cyber -social clubs, has considerably contributed
to the growing emphasis on calculability. Not only the fast food chains
(1 billion meals, everybody-served-in-a-minute), Google, Facebook, TV
Reality Shows, and the like, as well as the universities, hospitals
and travel agencies, all operate on a nearly fetishised and worshiped
‘most voted’, ‘frequently visited’,‘most popular’, a
big is beautiful
, matrix. It is a calculability which mystically
assures us that the BigMac is always the best meal – given
its quantity; that the best reader is always a bestseller book; and
that the best song is a tune with the most clicks on YouTube.
One of the most wanted air carriers, AirAsia, has a slogan: Everyone
can fly now
2. Amount, size, frequency, length and volume
is all what matters. Thus, a number, a pure digit becomes the (Burger)
king. Long Yahoo, the king! Many of my students admit to me that
Google for them is more than a search engine; that actually googalization
is a well-established method which considerably and frequently replaces
the cognitive selection when preparing their assignments and exams.
Ergo, instead of complimenting, this k(l)icky-Wiki-picky method
increasingly substitutes the process of human reasoning. 

(iii) McPredictability
is the key factor of the rationalized McDonalds process. On the broader
scale, a rational (rationally optimized) society is one in which people
know well beforehand what (and when) to expect. Hence, fast food is
always mediocre – it never tastes very bad or very good. The parameter
of McFood is therefore a surprise-less world in which equally both disappointment
and delight are considerably absent. McMeals will always blend uniform
preparation and contents as well as the standardized serving staff outfit
and their customized approach. In the end, it is not about food at all.
What makes McDonalds so durably popular is a size, numbers and predictability.
(All three are proportionately and causally objectivized and optimized:
a meal, who serves it and those served – until the locality and substance
of each of the three becomes fluid, obsolete and irrelevant). In such
an atmosphere of predictability or better to say predictive addiction,
the culture of tacit obedience (ignorance of self-irrelevance through
the corrosive addiction) is to bread, even unspotted. Consequently,
more similarities than differences is the central to a question of predictability,
on both ends: demand (expectation, possibility) and supply (determination,

(iv) McControl represents
the fourth and final Weberian aspect for Ritzer. Traditionally (ever
since the age of cognitivity3), humans are the most unpredictable
element, a variable for the rationalized, bureaucratic systems, so it
is an imperative for the McOrganization to (pacify through) control.
Nowadays, technology offers a variety of palliatives and tools for the
effective control of both employers (supply, probability) and customers
(demand, possibility), as well as to control the controllers. A self-articulation,
indigenous opinionation, spontaneous initiative and unconstrained action
is rather simulated, yet stimulated very seldom. Only once the wide
spectrum of possibilities is quietly narrowed down, a limited field
of probabilities will appear so large. To this end, the IT appliances
are very convenient (cheap, discreet and invisible, but omnipresent
and highly accurate) as they compute, pre-decide, channel and filter
moves, as well as they store and analyze behavior patterns with their
heartless algorithms.  

Aided by the instruments of
efficiency, calculability and predictability, the control eliminates
(the premium or at least minimizes any serious impact of) authenticity,
autonomous thinking and independent judgment.
Depth and frequency of
critical insights and of unpredictable human actions driven by unexpected
conclusions is rationalized to a beforehand calculable, and therefore
tolerable few. Hyper-rationalized, exercised, ultra-efficient, predictable
and controlled environment subscribes also a full coherence to the asymmetrically
social and dysfunctional-emphatic atmosphere of disaffected but ultimate
obedience (‘guided without force’, ‘prompted without aim’, “poked,
and fleshmobbed for ‘fun’, ‘useful idiots’,
‘fitting the social machine without friction’).  

Ergo, the final McSociety
product is a highly efficient, predictable, computed, standardized,
typified, instant, unison, routinized, addictive, imitative and controlled
environment which is – paradoxically enough – mystified through
the worshiping glorification (of scale). Subjects of such a society
are fetishising the system and trivializing their own contents – smooth
and nearly unnoticed trade-off. When aided by the IT in a mass, unselectively
frequent and severe use within the scenery of huge shopping malls (enveloped
by a consumerist fever and mixed with an ever larger cyber-neurosis,
disillusional and psychosomatic disorders, and functional illiteracy
of misinformed, undereducated, cyber-autistic and egotistic under-aged
and hardly-aged individuals – all caused by the constant (in)flow
of clusters of addictive alerts on diver-ting banalities), it is an
environment which epitomizes what I coined as the McFB way of life.  

This is a cyber–iron cage
habitat: a shiny but directional and instrumented, egotistic and autistic,
cold and brutal place; incapable of vision, empathy, initiative or action.

If and while so, is there any difference between Gulag and Goo(g)lag
– as both being prisons of free mind? Contrary to the established
rhetoric; courage, solidarity, vision and initiative were far more monitored,
restricted, stigmatized and prosecuted than enhanced, supported and
promoted throughout the human history–as they’ve been traditionally
perceived like a threat to the inaugurated order, a challenge to the
functioning status quo, defiant to the dogmatic conscripts of admitted,
permissible, advertized, routinized, recognized and prescribed social

Elaborating on a well-known
argument of ‘defensive modernization’ of Fukuyama, it is to state
that throughout the entire human history a technological drive was aimed
to satisfy the security (and control) objective; and it was rarely (if
at all) driven by a desire to (enlarge the variable and to) ease human
existence or to enhance human emancipation and liberation of societies
at large. Thus, unless operationalized by the system, both intellectualism
and technological breakthroughs were traditionally felt and perceived
as a threat.  

Consequently, all cyber-social
Networks and related search engines are far away from what they are
portrayed to be: a decentralized but unified intelligence (navigated
by gravity of quality rather than of a specific locality). In fact,
they primarily serve the predictability, efficiency, calculability and
control purpose, and only then they serve everything else – as to
be e.g. user-friendly and en mass service attractive. To observe
the new dynamics of social phenomenology between manipulative fetishisation
(probability) and self-trivialization (possibility), the Cyber-social
Platforms –these dustbins of human empathy in the muddy suburbs of
consciousness– are particularly interesting.    

Facebook itself is a
perfect example of how to utilize (to simulate, instead of to stimulate
and empathically live) human contents.
Its toolkit offers efficient,
rationalized, predictable, clean, transparent, and most intriguing of
all, very user-friendly convenient reduction of all possible relations
between two individuals: ‘friend’, ‘no-friend’. It sets a universal
language, so standardized and uncomplicated that even any machine can
understand it – a binary code: ‘1’ (friend) ‘0’ (no-friend)5,
or eventually ‘1’ (brother/sister), ‘1/0’ (friend), ‘0’
no-friend – just two digits to feed precise algorithmic calculations.
Remember, number is the king. Gott ist
, dear Nietzsche – so are men.  

Be it occupied or besieged,
McDonalds will keep up its menu. Instead, we should finally occupy ourselves
(e.g. by reducing enormous tweet/mob noise pollution in and all
around us).6

It is a high time to replace
the dis-conceptualflux on streets for a silent reflection at

Sorry Garcin, hell is not other
people. Hell are we!! 

Post Scriptum: 

In his emotionally charged
speech of December 2011, President Obama openly warned the US citizens:
“Inequality distorts our democracy. It gives an outsized voice to
the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists (…) the wealthiest Americans
are paying the lowest taxes in over half a century (…) Some billionaires
have a tax rate as low as 1%. One per cent! (…) The free market has
never been a free license to take whatever you want from whoever you

(The Oswatomie High School,
Kansas, 06 December 2011, the While House Press Release). 

Two months before that speech,
the highly respected, politically balanced and bipartisan Budget Office
of the US Congress (CBO) released its own study “Trends in the Distribution
of Household Income between 1979 and 2007” (October 2011). The CBO
finds that, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by: 275% for the top
1% of the US households, 65% increase for the next 19% of households,
less than a 40% increase for the following segment of households of
the next 60%, and finally only an 18% income increase for the bottom
of 20% of the US households. If we consider an inflation for the examined
period of nearly 30 years, then the nominal growth would turn to a negative
increase in real incomes for almost 80% of the US households; a single
digit real income increase for the upper 19% of households; and still
a three-digit income growth for the top 1% of population.   

According to the available
internet search engine counters, this CBO study has been retrieved 74,000
times since posted some 3 months ago. For the sake of comparison, an
average clip of great- granddaughter of ultra-rich, billionaire Conrad
Hilton is clicked on YouTube over 31 million times. Roughly 3
million Americans would represent the top 1% of its population. Who
are other 99% – pardon, 28 million individuals – interested in trivial
clip/s (with obscure but explicit lines: They can’t do this to
me, I’m rich
) of Miss Paris? 

Remember what I asked at the
beginning of this article: If humans hardly ever question fetishisation
or oppose the (self-) trivialization, why then is the subsequent brutalization
a surprise to them? 

Anis H. Bajrektarevic, professor

Chairman Intl Law &
Global Political Studies

12 JAN 12

contact: [email protected]   

First published
by the US Journal of Foreign Relations (January 2012)


  1. Weber, M. (1951)
    Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft – Grundriss der verstehenden Sociologie

    (Economy and Society), Tübingen, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck)
  2. Ritzer, G. (1993)
    The McDonaldization of Society: An Investigation into the Changing Character
    of Contemporary Social Life
    , Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press
  3. Schlitz, M. (1998)
    On consciousness, causation and evolution
    , Journal of Parapsychology
    (61: 185-96) 
  4. Fukuyama, F. (2002)
    Our Posthuman Future – Consequences of the Biotech Revolution
    Profile Books, London (page: 126/232)
  5. Bajrektarevic, A.
    (2002) Environmental Ethics – Four Societal Normative Orders,
    Lectures/Students Reader, Krems, Austria
  6. McTaggart, L. (2001)
    The Field
    , HarperCollins Publishers

Anis H. Bajrektarevic is former legal practitioner and the president of
Young Lawyers Association of BiH Bar (late ‘80s). Former MFA official
and career diplomat (early ‘90s). Research Fellow at the Institute for
Modern Political-history analyses, Dr. Bruno Kreisky Foundation and the
Legal and Political Advisor for CEE at the Vienna-based Political
Academy, Dr. Karl Renner (mid ‘90s). Later, he served as a Senior Legal
Officer and Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Vienna (Liaison
unit with Governments and IOs) at the HQ of the Intergovernmental
Organization ICMPD. Prof. Bajrektarevic is the author of dozens
ILAW/JHA– and SD–related presentations, publications, speeches,
seminars, research colloquiums as well as of numerous public events
(round tables & study trips, etc.). He lives in Vienna, Austria.

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