Saturday, 18 April 2015

On Capital Absolutism, Bio-Semiocapiltalism & Cognitive Workers

An epidemic of unhappiness is spreading across the planet, while capital absolutism is asserting its right to unfettered control of our lives. A bio-semiocapitalism infiltrates the nervous cells of conscious sensible organisms, it inoculates in them a thanato-political rationale, a morbid sentiment which is progressively taking hold of the collective unconscious, culture and sensibility. The biopolitical effect of semiocapitalism ( better said: thanatological effect of semiocapitalism) is essentially the capture of cognitive activity, and the subjection of the faculty of expression of the linguistic animal to the sleepless, aggressive dynamics of the labour market.

Language is captured by the networked machine and turned into an essentially productive activity. Herein lies the trap: people are encouraged to consider their linguistic competence as factors of economic competition, and to manage and invest in them as such. Creativity, expressiveness, affection, emotion - the human soul, in other words - are considered to be productive factors and consequently, they are evaluated according to standards of productivity. Exploitation, competition, precariousness, redundancy are not perceived as the effects of a conflictual social relationship, but internalised as deficiencies of the self, as personal inadequacies. The unceasing restructuring of the organisation of work is perceived as humiliation and brutality.

Only NON_INVOLVEMENT and the ability to remain extraneous, to refuse any identification with one's job and with one's working condition, only a radical rejection of the ethics of responsibility, might offer works the possibility of navigating a way out from this productivity blackmail.

Unfortunately, the ethics of responsibility, the phoney discourse on participation and collaboration, are prevailing in today's political and cultural life. We invest our psychic energies and our expectations into work because our intellectual and affective life is poor, because we are depressed, anxious and insecure. So we are trapped. The industrial worker who was obliged to repeat the same gesture a thousand times every day had no reason to identify with her work - so she invested her psychological energies into solidarity with colleagues, and her mind was free to hate the assenbly line, and to entertain thoughts that had nothing to do with her daily slavery. Conversely, cognitive works have been lured into the trap of creativity: their expectations are submitted to the productivity blackmail because they are obliged to identify their soul (the linguistic and emotional core of their activity) with their work. Social conflicts and dissatisfaction are perceived as psychological failures whose effect us the destruction of self-esteem.

For cognitive workers, particularly in conditions of precariousness, solidarity is rare. Everyone feels alone, pushed to complete at the mercy of precariousness.

Franco Bifo Berardi - extract from Heroes: Mass Murder & Sucide (Verso 2015)

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