Giordano, L. (1992). Beyond Taylorism: computerization and the new industrial relations. New York NY: St. Martin’s Press. Reviewed August 4, 2011
Entries in capitalism (4)
Jones, B. (1997). Forcing the factory of the future: cybernation and societal institutions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Reviewed June 14, 2011
Andrew Ross argues that,
“a large part of pornography’s popularity lies in its refusal to be educated; it therefore has a large stake in celebrating delinquency and wayward or unauthorized behaviour, and in the respect is akin to cultural forms like heavy metal music, whose definitive, utopian theme, after all, is “school’s out forever”.
This is what the corp[orate] web2.0 is all about, they don’t want you to cache, or analyze content yourself, they want to control even how you play it. It is a sound bite, you don’t need all this excessive software to download and play it, you don’t need a dedicated embedded download-able chunk of code to play 1 music file for you. …
This is a constant push I see coming from the corporate world and the web2.0 isn’t immune, in fact it exacerbates what our monolithic ISPs like Rogers and Bell want to do.
Companies like Bell, Rogers, Shaw, etc. work to make sure that consumers cannot talk amongst themselves, they make consumers need a middle man. [excerpted from a private email conversation]
The words of the new freedom fighter, the new digital rebel, the Freetard. This sterile digital potlatch is an ideology of “digitalism”: a “sort of modern, egalitarian and cheap gnosis, where knowledge fetishism has been replaced by the cult of a digital network”. Digitalism is characterised across four planes:
- “Ontologically the dominant techno-paradigm believes that the semiotic and biologic domains are perfectly parallel and specular to each other… [that] a material event can be easily translated to the immaterial plane.”
- “Economically digitalism believes that an almost energy–free digital reproduction of data can emulate the energy–expensive material production.”
- “Politically digitalism believes in a mutual gift economy. [The] Internet is supposed to be virtually free of any exploitation and tends naturally towards a social equilibrium.”
- “Ecologically digitalism promotes itself as an environmentally friendly and zero emission machinery against the pollution of the old Fordism.”
There is a belief in the frictionless symmetry of the technological over the social. A liberation ideology that the next 50 lines of GPL’ed Common LISP will erase injustice and clear market inefficiencies while spreading the wisdom of collective liberalism. The slavery of code will cease and the chosen people of the silicon will guide society into the peaceful Future.
If, if, the shackles are thrown off.
But, the reversal is more true: the word is not made flesh, nor is the code made flesh, instead, “the flesh is made code”. The Gnostic movement is a “parasitic strategy of the flesh”. Indeed, “each bit of ‘free’ information carries its own micro slave like a forgotten twin”. These Gnostics believe that “software… [is a] universal political model”, where scarcity is removed and thus friction and rivalry is eliminated.
Instead, if the Web is alive and full of actants it is sick. Reconfiguring Serres leads to a landscape of informational and immaterial parasites. These parasites ensure that “there is never an equal exchange of energy but always a parasite stealing energy and feeding on another organism”. Abuse is always at work, indeed, “abuse appears before use”. The immaterial parasite doesn’t always remain immaterial, but “functions as a spectacular device… [accumulating] energy through and in favour of its physical substratum”.
Creative Commons is the worst offender, where the complicity with global capitalism goes unquestioned: the gnosis is too strong to penetrate the “promise [of] a new space for entrepreneurial freedom”. The Freetards never question how their work is captured and commodified by capital. Creative Commons ignores the materiality of the parasitism; instead, pretending that a Commons is the same for all. But, Dmytri Kleiner argues that the original institution of the commons was “land used by a specific community to harvest or breed their animals”. That “if money cannot be made out of it, a work does not belong to the commons, it is merely private property”. So, not only are the commons not free from the parasitism of capitalism, they disadvantage those without material assets who must strive against the centrifugal forces of capital in competition. Without material assets the poor cannot charge rent, where rent is defined as “the parasitic income an owner can earn just by owning an asset,” in contrast to “profit… [that is] productive and… refers to the power of capital to generate and extract surplus (from commodity value and workforce)”. On the Web the centrifugal forces are strongest as “immaterial commodities (that populate any spectacular, symbolic, affective, cognitive space) seem to suffer from a strong entropic decay of meaning”. As the value of the intellectual property approaches its marginal value the flesh of the creator is taxed. As Trent Reznor accepted the immateriality of his production, his very body became the salable, commodified, and depleted object. When his body approached its marginal value, he evaporated into the silence of a zombie Twitter stream.
Instead of a smooth and frictionless topology of the Web, we see a fragile yet antagonistic Web. The “desolate gesture of downloading the last Hollywood movie sounds rather like armchair activism” instead of an uncooperation, a sabotage. The parasitic Mega-Machine reproduced its totality, and “sabotage is the only possible gesture specular to the rent — the only possible gesture to defend the commons.”