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Pokémon GO: Stop the Exodus into Virtual Reality and Violence

by Jacques Cheminade
August 2016

International political leader Jacques Cheminade issued the following statement on August 2, 2016. Mr. Cheminade is a co-thinker of American statesman and economist Lyndon H. LaRouche,Jr., and a leader of the French Solidarity and Progress Party in France. He gave a major economics presentation at the recent Schiller Institute Conference in Berlin, and he is a candidate for President of France in the 2017 election. This article was translated from the French.

The hunt for Pokémons is the ridiculous, but also dramatic, expression of the mental state of our society. Ridiculous because it reveals an infantilization by consent and an addiction to digital protocols, and dramatic because it is the first mass manifestation of the confusion between the virtual and the real worlds.

Augmented reality integrates the digital into the real, through the use of the camera on a smartphone to bring the digital Pokémon into familiar places in the real universe, and at the same time brings the real world into the digital world, since our physical body becomes an element of simulated reality. One could say that with the Pokémons, the game is not really harmful and that a few expeditions into the virtual are just part of the "fun" people have today. First, it must be said that such "entertainment," at a time when we are threatened by economic chaos and war, is an immature flight. Moreover, one can easily imagine, along the lines of instinctive shooting video games like Manhunt or Call of Duty, that a Kalashnikov would replace the red ball and that an "enemy," be he "Muslim," "Russian," or ... a "crusader" would become the target. Realize the impact that would have on young minds.

One will object that that's going too far, and that no one has any such intentions. Violent video games prove the opposite. They are a product of techniques developed for the shock troops of the American Army, in order to "disinhibit" young recruits who had qualms about shooting to kill. It then moved from the military realm to the whole of society on a mass scale. It is easy to see how a "violence-augmented reality" could be even more effective. Now, playing involves killing in a gray zone between virtual and real, by mechanical reflex, where human compassion has no place and no chance.

It is certainly no accident that the main mass murderers of today, jihadists or school or discotheque killers, almost all "cut their teeth" on violent video games. That had been denied in the case of Mérah [the terrorist killing of seven French soldiers and Jewish citizens in 2012 -ed.], in spite of my warnings, but it now has to be admitted for the others: violent video games in which the players torture and assassinate others lay the basis for absorbing the criminal images of ISIS. For some mentally disturbed persons, kill to play becomes kill to kill. That is of course not the case for the majority, but the plunge into the virtual, that giddy moment where rules don't hold, makes one lose the taste for simple things of the real world; the player stays at home, with his game, and in socialization places, he loses the attention span needed to acquire knowledge, the slave of his reflexes.

Hillary Clinton, in her presidential campaign, claimed she "doesn't know who created Pokémon Go, but she's trying to figure out how to get the Pokémons to go to the polls." In fact, since she was quite effective at stealing delegates from her rival, she knows full well where the Pokémons come from.

Pokémon Go was created by Niantic, whose CEO John Hanke was one of the founders of Keyhole. Google took control of Niantic and of Keyhole. The previous CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, is organizing the entire digital sector of Hillary Clinton's campaign, from a start-up called The Groundwork. Moreover, when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, Google managers met with White House officials hundreds of times. Thus, the false naivety of the Democratic candidate is a fig leaf that barely covers the link between politics and social control of the "masses."

The conclusion drawn by Yann Moix in his column in Le Monde (July 31-Aug. 1) should be read with that backdrop:

"In a world in which normally constituted individuals, or those presumed to be so, are able to spend hours on end, sometimes even at the risk to their lives, capturing Pikachus out-of-doors, confirming that the heretofore natural border between virtuality and reality, between the false and the true, has been abolished, it can hardly be surprising that shooters, cutthroats, tramplers, bombers, snipers, arsonists and beheaders know exactly where to find the barrier between life and its negation."

If we want to seriously combat terrorism and barbarity in our society, we naturally need to implement security measures to protect ourselves, legal and police measures, including the banning of video games that spread a culture of death, but even more so, we need to stop the source.

To do so, it is urgent to show little children of ten and younger that life involves love, hospitality, Classical music, museums and books, and to give a sense in our school system of what is human in the human being. Because jihadists and terrorists come out of that school system, which is powerless today to counter the attraction of an illusory, virtual world.

Therefore, we need to rediscover the pleasure of knowing, learning, exploring, with all the demands that the joy of doing so entails. And in that regard, but in that regard alone, we must apply the law to everyone, with no lawless areas and no socially inaccessible zones. But for that, to change our state of mind, we have to bring into reality a project that inspires and makes us dream of how the future can be better.

That should be the first and foremost commitment of politicians. It is, in any case, the commitment I am determined to keep.

[The original statement in French is available on his website: []