“Every civilization is built off the backs of a disposable workforce. We lost our stomach for slaves, unless engineered.”
One of the ways the original settlers worked to solidify chattel slavery was by attempting to build a science around reproduction. The psychological terror, dietary restrictions and grueling hours in itself was enough to deplete the plantation labor force. Rebellion and the quelling of also meant high production values replaced by mass executions of the most hearty fugitives.
With effective breeding they could control a lineage of workers who would add to productivity, so as to ensure their dynasties ad infinitum.
Building a world so reliant on labor also meant ensuring that this mode of production would forever remain accessible. Advancements in technology tout an end goal of moving beyond human, and yet many scientific leaps are made with the express purpose of extending, as opposed to extinguishing human and (non)human life. I am not of the belief that white supremacy hinges on the physical eradication of the fugitive. Rather, in order for whiteness to remain the default definition of personhood, antiblackness has to be maintained at its current level of dehumanization.
[Disparaging remark scrawled on K’s door]
Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner film lends credence to the peril of living while non white in a world fueled by the settler economy.
This is a future deeply reliant on corporate sponsored consumption. In the sequel, it’s mentioned that the Blackout had erased most records, debt, allowing many replicants to escape from the fury of their plantation owners. Being white they are able to effectively hide amongst their white human counterparts.
Meanwhile, humanity is force fed garish holographic delights, processed food in Japanese style vending machines and replicant sex workers in legal brothels.
People no longer have to deal with the psychological strain of determining whether their quarry should be counted among them and spared. They are instead left to collect the flotsam of a world wrought by climate change, war and economic ruin. Making due on an earth pillaged by the mega rich, who have taken settler facism to the stars.
It also stands to reason that the nuclear fallout and climatic changes have forever altered the way most carbon based life was able to reproduce. Thus, the titans of industry had to find a way to re-insert slave labor into the economy.
The replicant is completely stripped of any semblance of humanity parceled out post Civil War and reconstituted via the Civil Rights Act. Steeped in a different type of social death. Created for pleasure, terraforming newly colonized worlds or military service.
By giving the slave a white face dystopian writers have long attempted to equate humanity with a label that is, for better or worse, a stigma long associated with blackness. This erasure is a false bid at equality. As well as a method of garnering sympathy for a class of being typically far removed from being seen as a respectable citizen.
As many a black scholar has pointed out, white supremacy thrives on the fugitive status of a people completely cut off from their legacy.
K: “I’ve never retired something that was born before.”
Madam: “What’s the difference?”
K: “To be born is to have a soul I guess.”
Madam: “Are you telling me no?”
K: “I wasn’t aware that was an option madam.
Madam: “Attaboy. Hey, you’ve been getting along fine without one.”
K: “What’s that madam?”
Madam: “A soul.”
K is a replicant hunter-killer, a newer model with a longer life span, advanced memory implants. Greater cognitive skills than the older Nexus models built by the Tyrell Corporation. He’s the perfect slave catcher. Wily, despised, focused.
His human masters have given him enough freedom that he has even cultivated a simple home life with his holographic girlfriend.
K is tasked with hunting down the origin of an ossuary found beneath a dead tree. The bones of a long dead replicant reveal a truth withheld by Tyrell and a prize that will allow the Wallace Corporation to colonize even more planets. K’s ultimate aim is to destroy any evidence that a child was actually born. And also to find and retire the replicant spawn.
For Niander Wallace, reverse engineering the formula once perfected, then hidden by Tyrell, he could shift his focus from creating a new line of replicants to solidifying his God status among humans.
K begins to lose his conditioning in typical everyman fashion, failing his baseline tests and eventually going rogue. The promise of participating in a miracle pressing the replicant to cosign to mayhem. And thus be counted as more than machine. You see here a dual blessing, so to speak. Spiritual atonement and citizenship.
This is the origin story of our time spent as wanderers in the hollow. Ours has been a fight to reclaim our spiritual, mental health, reproductive and the most basic of human rights. The upheavals, rebuilding, putting in a consistent bid to live. Puzzle piecing the flotsam of our existence, so thorough was the thunderstorm of slavery.
Despite reports to the contrary, the fugitive will always have a place here.
Be it the vanguard or the back room, we’re forever tied to the machinations of the European ethno-state. It is only just that we persevere long enough to watch it fall into dust.