Conspiracy Capital: Cognitive Capitalism, InfoWars America, and the Evolution of Sustainable Finance

We are now a decade into a new coalescence of capital, information, and socionature. As the speculative leverage built on U.S. predatory real estate capital collapsed into what Ben Bernanke called the worst global financial crisis in the history of capitalism, Silicon Valley visionaries were rediscovering and engineering an obscure but powerful concept developed in the 1920s by the Russian geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky: the noösphere. Initially conceived as a hopeful prediction that planetary industrialization would foster humanity’ s collective global awareness of what we would today call the Anthropocene, the noösphere’ s evolutionary implications were refined amidst the advancing information and communications technologies of the 1950s and 1960s. By the first decade of the twenty-first century, the noösphere finally became a part of mundane everyday experience with the mass social networking of billions -- as Wall Street infrastructures of securitization had evolved from the traditional spatial fix (the overcapitalization of land and urban built environments) into a more dynamic, adaptive circuitry of investments in a) ‘ nature banking,’ bioprospecting, genomics, and environmental derivatives, and b) the cybernetic mining of the globally networked human attention span in what is now widely described as ‘ cognitive capitalism.’ In this presentation, I analyze the central contradiction of this capitalization of the postindustrial noösphere: the fundamental American Exceptionalism of political legitimation and public opinion on humans, nature, and human nature. In the Trumpian noösphere of Breitbart and Infowars, evangelical creationists and climate-change denialists who angrily reject evolution are, in fact, co-evolving with nativists and White nationalists who understand all too well their imminent extinction in a survival-of-the-fittest ecosystem of ethnoracially diverse learning, progressive cosmopolitan innovation, and a relentless intensification of Celebrity Apprentice competition.