A pervasive sense has taken hold that any and all of us are under suspicion and surveillance, walking on a tightrope, a step away from erasure of rights or security. Nothing new for many long-targeted populations, it is now surfacing as a broad social sensibility, ramped up by environmental crisis and pandemic wreckage. We have come to live in proliferating dread, even of dread itself.
In this brilliant analysis of the nature, origins, and implications of this gnawing feeling, David Theo Goldberg exposes tracking-capitalism as the operating system at the root of dread. In contrast to surveillance, which requires labor-intensive analysis of people's actions and communications, tracking strips back to the fundamental mapping of our movements, networks, and all traces of our digitally mediated lives. A simultaneous tearing of the social fabric – festering culture wars, the erosion of truth, even "civil war" itself – frays the seams of the sociality and solidarity needed to thwart this transformation of people into harvestable, expendable data.
This searing commentary offers a critical apparatus for interrogating the politics of our time, arguing that we need not just a politics of refusal and resistance, but a creative politics to counter the social life of dread.