What is terror capitalism?
The man sat three tables away from us. Wearing a black suit jacket and a striped polo shirt, he looked like an ordinary middle-aged Uyghur man. He was holding his cell phone and seemed to be talking about something important. Along with Turkish tea drank from a small glass, I was reading and discussing a Uyghur novel called “The Backstreets” with a friend named Abilikin. We’ve been doing this every morning for weeks. The problem is that the man sitting three tables away from us is the same man as yesterday. This kind of thing happened two days in a row, which was a bit much.
I lowered my voice and said to Abilikin, who had his back turned to the man, “I wonder if that person is following us.” I tilted my head pointedly to let him know who I was talking about. “He was in the same seat yesterday. Maybe I was too suspicious, but I felt like he was pretending to be on the phone but actually taking pictures.” Abilikin’s face turned pale. He staggered to his feet.
We left and walked in different directions to see if anyone was following. It was 2014, and checkpoints equipped with facial recognition monitors had not yet spread throughout the city, so finding people in space still relied on human wisdom. We delete WeChat on our phones because we are afraid that if we are detained, we will be forced to let agents of the Ministry of State Security of the People’s Republic of China (referred to as the Ministry of State Security) see our contacts and chat history, but the text messages on our phones record our It can’t be deleted. We know that Tencent and China Mobile can share our intelligence with the Ministry of National Security at any time.
▌This article is an excerpt from the book “The Glimmer of Heijia Mountain: Xinjiang under the rule of China’s terror capitalism, a glimpse into the suffering and resistance of the Uyghurs through technological surveillance, exiled youth and nail households” (Facebook, 2023)
A few months later, I texted Abilikin to see if he noticed anything strange. everything is normal. After waiting for a day, we started to meet again. We were relieved and wanted to say that it must have been just a coincidence. We smoked our Poor Man’s Red River cigarettes, laughed at our own unfounded worries, and returned to our old business of tea and novels. Abilikin said:
You never know who is working for the police. And if you talk about politics, the conversation will inevitably turn into a discussion of oppression within two or three minutes. In a few minutes, the police will arrive and someone will be arrested. When I was a kid, no one ever disappeared without a trace, only to reappear a few months later. Now this kind of thing is commonplace. Available all day and night.
In 2014, the re-education system consisting of internment camps was just beginning, and it mainly targeted young Uyghur males in rural areas. At that time, Abilikin never imagined that just three years later, he and 1.5 million other people would be deemed untrustworthy and sent to the camps.
We are usually the first group of customers when the teahouse opens at nine o’clock. Sometimes I would be a few minutes late and I would see Abilikin muttering under his breath from across the street, cursing me for wasting his time. But even so, when I get to the table, I will still see that he has bought me a RMB 2 tea and the Middle Eastern sesame rolls that he knows I like.
As a young man who is underemployed, there is not much he can do. The most he can do is apply for a job, or meet his best friend Batur or me and talk about literature and politics. That’s how we got to know each other. If I didn’t see him for a day or two, he would call me and ask me where I was. He was very protective of our friendship. Doesn’t like that I spend too much time with other Uyghur men who are not in his friend network.
At noon, Batur and another friend would join us, and then we would eat hand-pulled noodles or the local hand-pulled rice called polu (called pilaf in other parts of Central Asia). At night, we often make careful plans about where to go and what to eat. Debating whether to go to the park to eat sunflower seeds or to play pool. We would stay out late just to talk about philosophy, romantic love, cheating, and music. We talked about people disappearing in the countryside, about protests and revenge killings, about police shooting indiscriminately at people, about surveillance systems, about political education camps, and about how national policies make the Han people rich but prevent the Uyghurs. The tribe does not allow them to do business, be bosses, find jobs, or even give them solid rights to become part of the city.
We talked about how the contracted police officers began to scan the mobile phones and passes of young Uyghurs during inspections, and about the regular inspections of Uyghur apartments, including scanning QR codes posted at the door. Household members are then checked off one by one using a digital checklist that can be checked off. In the dark night, in the park, with Kashgar-flavored white sunflower seeds wrapped in plastic bags in hand, and accompanied by Moji friends, it felt like we were separated from the People’s War on Terror, and we could talk freely about the above topics.
In February 2015, things began to change. In his native village in southern Xinjiang, Abiligin’s brother was detained after religious texts were scanned on his smartphone. Abilikin began to have sleepless nights. He would cry as his mother recounted how his brother was arrested. He had an argument with his father about why he didn’t want to go back to the countryside to support the family. He said now whenever a call comes from a number he doesn’t recognize, his heart starts pounding. For several weeks, he didn’t see me. He just walked around in his extremely cheerful reinforced concrete apartment, thinking about things and worrying about the future.
The movement to re-educate the Uyghurs has gnawed its way into the basic texture of their social life. In order for Abilikin’s brother to avoid a five-year sentence for “religious extremism”, his family paid 10,000 yuan to the police. His brother was sent to a re-education camp. In a very short time, surveillance systems have evolved from phantom police informants to smartphone scanning technology that targets family members around them, to re-education camps and facial recognition monitors.
Even with all this monitoring, Batur and other friends still forced Abiligin to leave the apartment and go out for a walk. We forced him to rejoin the dinner party. Although there was a surveillance system and some relatives and friends began to disappear, the anti-colonial friendship still allowed them to continue to live an independent life as young men alone in the city despite repeated defeats. This book is about how people continue to live their lives without fear of systems of confinement, degradation, and ultimately deprivation.
Although this tight social control system seems to be unique to northwest China, in fact, the various forces gathered in Abiligin are, to a certain extent, shaped by the recent global development in the creation of capitalist frontiers. . As contemporary theorists of capitalism (Berardi 2015; R. Benjamin 2019; Wark 2019; Zuboff 2019) tell us, the smartphone has become a tracking device between 2010 and 2020, and this Tracking devices can collect life experiences and behaviors into “residual data” and then transform the data into predictive products that can shape social life.
“The Glimmer of Black Armor Mountain” made these theories──that is, Shoshana. What Shoshana Zuboff (2019) calls “surveillance capitalism” examines the recent co-construction of contemporary capitalism and colonialism by feminist and decolonial thought – engaging in dialogue (Coulthard 2014; Bear et al. 2015; Byrd et al. 2018; Rofel and Yanagisako 2018).
This process allows “Glimmer of Black Armor Mountain” to explore how a surveillance system funded by the state and built with private efforts captured millions of Muslims, including Abiligin, in northwest China and turned them into terrorist capitalists. object. Drawing on more than twenty-four months of ethnographic research in the Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China from 2011 to 2018, I examined government documents and reports obtained from Chinese science and technology workers at that time, as well as Internal report from Chinese police. Based on this evidence, the book “The Glimmer of Black Armor Mountain” reveals that the social life of Muslims, especially the social life of young Uyghur men, has emerged in various systems designed and implemented by Chinese science and technology workers and the police. fundamental changes.
Overall, this book considers the rise of China’s state-led private technological development, and accordingly makes a broad-scale proposition about “a global shift toward a technology-political system of capital accumulation.” On a more specific note, the book considers the role of digital media surveillance in political control and economic growth. This surveillance system echoes the process of political system change. This can also be seen in other anti-terrorism campaigns. But what is more special in this case is that this system attempts to use surveillance and unfree labor to generate an epistemological (i.e. cognitive ) transformation. The production of knowledge and the social life it supports are the ultimate goals of contemporary capitalism and colonial projects.
At the heart of these discussions is my examination of what happens when techno-political systems—here seen as state-sponsored technological programming counterpointed to Uyghur social reproduction—are used to create capital, and I The way to examine it is to ask three interrelated questions: When lucrative state contracts are awarded to settler companies to build and deploy technology to monitor and manage Uyghur men and other ethnic groups, Uyghur men What will happen to the value of life? Can the implementation of such a system be seen as an amplified version of the process of dispossession? Finally, how does terrorist capitalism use physical and digital confinement systems to control their target groups in one place, thereby generating new forms of self-discipline and labor for private manufacturing to utilize?
In exploring these questions, I argue that terror capitalism manifests itself through digital confinement, ethnic-racialized debasement, and through material dispossession. I show how the urban technological life draws the Uyghurs into the market economy and into a task that makes people easily identifiable in urban society; on the other hand, the same technological life also draws the Uyghurs into new forms Islamic orthopraxis (right practice) and identity. These forces of dispossession and repositioning give rise to various competing forms of self-fashioning and various means of making themselves visible, and these different forms and means draw them into competing direction.
I also argue that it is important to understand capitalism beyond the various economistic frameworks and to see capitalism as an ever-expanding, institutionalized global social system. By extending my analysis beyond normative economic discussions that are decoupled from feminist and decolonial analyses, I demonstrate Uyghur social reproduction itself—the various forms of unpaid labor and mental effort that underpin market activity— That is the main scope of coverage of this system. Uyghur family and same-sex relationships, native mentoring models, religious and cultural activities, and land-based interpersonal relationships are all targets of digital confinement and devaluation, resulting in new forms of wealth for the beneficiaries of the system. Technological property and capital accumulation.
By interpreting contemporary security systems from a biopolitical perspective, I demonstrate that what is built in this space is not simply an internment camp—even though internment camps are indeed the focus of most academic and media attention. In fact, all Muslim groups in the region, including many Kazakh and Hui Muslims, as well as the Uighurs, who are much larger than the Kazakhs and Hui, are inevitably affected by many technologies that transform society. My focus is on the actual lived experience of the system that made the re-education camps possible, and I use this to show how Uyghur social life was broadly constrained by various constraints in the years leading up to the incarceration of the Muslim community. forms of deprivation.
This introduction first positions this book as a comprehensive discussion of racialized capitalism and settler colonialism. The book begins by arguing that the term terrorism initiated a new sequence of ethnic-racialization and shows how this contributed to the process of colonial dispossession. By situating China’s state formation within colonial discourses, this book first outlines how Maoist multiculturalism gave way to techno-capitalist frontier creation, and then contextualizes the “techno-capitalist creation” of this system. ─Political” complex, placed within recent academic research analyzing the economy from the perspectives of surveillance capitalism and decolonial feminism.
Finally, the introduction will introduce the initiative of this book, which is to examine these systems from the standpoint and practices of young Uyghur men, which can allow us to further understand the role of gender in new forms of racialization and anti-colonial survival processes.
This book considers active “cross-racial witnessing” as a means to give rise to a small “politics of refusal.”
“Glimmer of Black Armor Mountain: Xinjiang under the rule of China’s terror capitalism, a glimpse into the suffering and resistance of the Uyghurs through technological surveillance, exiled youth and nail households”
author: Darren. Darren Byler
Translator: Zheng Huansheng
brief introduction:“Heijiashan is another Muslim community in Urumqi that was razed due to “poverty” and “backwardness.” It was once the only place where they were free. “The author of “Xinjiang Re-education Camps” and anthropologist Darren. Byler spent more than eight years recording the exile, dreams and resistance of Uyghur men in a city under China’s terror rule in the 21st century. “Telling their stories lets people know how they knew they would be arrested and ‘disappeared,’ so that we can watch their social lives disintegrate while still trying to catch them.”