Posts Tagged ‘capitalism


Castells’ The Information Age

Manuel Castells
The Information Age: vols. 1-3
Area: Digital Media
From Felix Stadler’s Review

•    Castells’ main argument is that a new form of capitalism has emerged at the end of this century: global in its character, hardened in its goals and much more flexible than any of its predecessors. It is challenged around the globe by a multitude of social movements on behalf of cultural singularity and people’s control over their own lives and environment.
•    This tension provides the central dynamic of the Information Age, as “our societies are increasingly structured around the bipolar opposition of the Net and the Self” (1996, p. 3).
•    The Net stands for the new organizational formations based on the pervasive use of networked communication media. Network patterns are characteristic for the most advanced economic sectors, highly competitive corporations as well as for communities and social movements.
•    The Self symbolizes the activities through which people try to reaffirm their identities under the conditions of structural change and instability that go along with the organization of core social and economic activities into dynamic networks.
•    Transformations amongst the trilogy
o    First: Changing relationships of production
o    Second: relationships of power and experience: crisis of the nation-state
o    Third: ties together the loose ends
•    Technology and society can’t be understood or represented without its technological tools
•    Rather than seeing identity as an effect, as a traditional Marxist would, he argues the opposite: identity-building itself is a dynamic motor in forming society
•    “A new society emerges when and if a structural transformation can be observed in the relationships of production, in the relationships of power, and in the relationships of experience” (1998, p. 340).
•    The first assumption structures Castells’ account of the rise of the Net: the dialectical interaction of social relations and technological innovation, or, in Castells’ terminology, modes of production and modes of development.
•    The second assumption underlies the importance of the Self: the way social groups define their identity shapes the institutions of society. As Castells notes “each type of identity-building process leads to a different outcome in constituting society” (1997, p. 8).
•    A society produces its goods and services in specific social relationships–the modes of production.
o    Since the industrial revolution, the prevalent mode of production in Western societies has been capitalism, embodied in a wide range of historically and geographically specific institutions to create and distribute profit.
o    The modes of development, on the other hand, “are the technological arrangements through which labor acts upon matter to generate the product, ultimately determining the level and the quality of the surplus” (1996, p. 16).
•    Identity is defined as “the process of construction of meaning on the basis of a cultural attribute, or related set of cultural attributes, that is/are given priority over other sources of meaning” (1997, p. 6).
•    Castells concludes that information technology evolves in a distinctively different pattern than previous technologies, thus constituting the “informational mode of development”: a flexible, pervasive, integrated and reflexive, rather than additive evolution. The reflexivity of the technologies, the fact that any product is also raw material because both are information, has permitted the speeding up of the process of innovation.
•    This new economy is informational because the competitiveness of its central actors (firms, regions, or nations) depends on their ability to generate and process electronic information. It is global because its most important aspects, from financing to production, are organized on a global scale, directly through multinational corporations and/or indirectly through networks of associations.
•    Rather than creating the same conditions everywhere, the global economy is characterized “by its interdependence, its asymmetry, its regionalization, the increased diversification within each region, its selective inclusiveness, its exclusionary segmentation, and, as a result of all those features, an extraordinarily variable geometry that tends to dissolve historical, economic geography” (1996, p. 106).
•    Its most distinct result is the emergence of what Castells calls the space of flows: the integrated global network. It comprises several connected elements: private networks, company Intranets; semi-public, closed and proprietary networks such as the financial networks; and public, open networks, the Internet. Social organizations reconstitute themselves according to this space of flows.
o    Technology: the infrastructure of the network.
o    Places: the topology of the space formed by its nodes and hubs.
o    People: the (relatively) secluded space of the managerial elite commanding the networks,
•    The space of flows has introduced a culture of real virtuality which is characterized by timeless time and placeless space.
•    Binary time expresses no sequence but knows only two states: either presence or absence, either now or never.
o    Within the space of flows everything that is the case is now, and everything that is not must be introduced from the outside: that is, it springs suddenly into existence.
•    Sequence is arbitrary in the space of flows and disorders events which in the physical context are connected by a chronological sequence.
•    Binary space, then, is a space where the distance can only be measured as two states: zero distance (inside the network) or infinite distance (outside the network), here or nowhere.
•    Power is concentrated in the intricate space of flows, to the extent that “the power of flows takes precedence over the flows of power” (1996, p. 469).
•    The classic embodiment of legitimizing identity, the nation state, is losing its power, “although, and this is essential, not its influence” (1997, p. 243).
•    Trapped between the increased articulation of diverse, often conflicting identities and the need to act on a global scene, the traditional democratic institutions–the civil society–are being voided of meaning and legitimacy: they lose their identity. The power of the political democracy, ironically at the moment when it reaches almost global acceptance, seems to be inevitably waning.


Class notes on Virno, H&N/Hardt lecture

Class Notes on Virno/Hardt/Negri and from Hardt lecture
Class notes

•    Multitude—known specifically through Hardt and Negri
•    People: Modes
•    New lexicon needs to be created
•    Refashioning of the individual
•    Return to Spinoza
•    Philosophical recap of people in Hobbes
o    Establishment of state and people
•    Less authoritarian—relation => Rousseau’s General Will
o    Formation of nation state in Renaissance
•    State is the absolute state (whole group of people is French)
•    Notions of people associated with formation
•    Philosophy with Hobbes, Political with unifications = People
o    Idea of people
•    Continuation of power of people
•    Transmutations—certain notion of people
o    Language, class solidarity
•    Line-up with respective nationalisms
•    Multitude doesn’t have rich history as People
•    Unity is not the same as unity of people
•    Deleuze and Guttari: ATP—packs, swarms, multiplicities
•    Some type of connection—not the same when entered into
•    Satre, Fourrier: some of the only 2 to “think” of groups
o    Bigger than the individual, smaller than the society
•    D & G: Multiplicities—doesn’t become closed off
o    No absolute fusion
•    Informational capital
o    Network, informational, Post-Fordism
•    Notion of multiplicity especially apt—what’s the basis of this?
•    Industrial capitalism—shift in terminology to describe new working class
•    Movement from workshops→large factories
•    Less and less access to totality
•    Assembly line:
o    Standardization: one size fits all
o    Taylor: Motion studies, film of workers, increase productivity, simplify movement, most work for time, empirical studies, dehumanized
•    Ford paid workers more so that they could buy the cars they made
o    Develop large consumer base
•    Ford to Ruether: “Use machines instead—no coffee breaks! No strikes!”
•    Ruether to Ford: “Machines will never buy cars!”
•    Kanesianism: shift away from classical economics
•    Inflation not seeing unemployment
•    Fordism becomes abandoned
•    3rd Industrial Revolution: computing technologies
•    Scale of production—dispersion
o    H & N: against concentration
•    Industry has become more informatized
•    Just-in-time production
o    Produce faster—easier to produce only on demand
•    Less absolute specialization, now more teams doing larger tasks
•    Branding and selling the idea
•    Old: Reliability New: Affective relation
•    Toyota-ism/Walmart-ism
o    Poverty would be worse
•    Control, surveillance management
o    Hyperstandardization
o    David Harvey, Condition of Postmodernity
o    Fordist→Post-Fordist
•    Flexible accumulation
o    Closet to real time
o    Employees be more flexible
•    Lifetime employment—never guaranteed again
o    Greater precariousness
o    Paid less, fired more easily
o    Precarity is general situation
•    University hiring: flexible accumulation
•    Virno: cynicism
•    Changes of labor world wide—proletariat replaced with notion of multitude
•    New international economy
•    Shumpeter—Austrian, early 20th century, glorification of the entrepreneur, creative destruction, building, everything to ground—start again more lateral, non hierarchical, get rid of middle management, individual responsibility
•    How this relates to the multitude
o    General intellect—how does this institute change?
•    Cosmopolitanism
•    Responding to dispersal
•    Realist or nationalist
•    What’s the notion of general intellect
o    Generally knowable
•    Idle talk
•    Form rather than fact
•    New political worker arrangement—language
•    Post-Fordist production—ability to network
•    Social capital
•    Intellectual v. manual labor
•    Thinkers v. strangers
•    Exile is everyone’s situation: a common experience, connected through seclusion
•    Responsibility—personal invite
o    New sense of what is common
•    Virtuoso: Performance v. product—labor not separate
•    The whole process is sold
•    82: Virtuoso, language, “humanness,” bio-politics has been translated to capitalistic gain
•    Foucault argues against systems of power
o    Subordinated to systems of power
•    Logic of capital—management of labor power
•    81: Understanding bio-politics
•    Constant variable capital
•    Potentiality rather than fixed quantity
o    Pays in terms of actuality
•    Nor just buying force, but instead personalities
•    Experiencing persona ‘good’
•    Less and less possible to talk about quantity as Marx suggested
•    Grundrisse: “Fragment on Machines”
o    Once mechanization reaches certain place, worker will be adjunct of machine—transition to communism can become easier
•    Capitalists own wealth of all society
o    I.e. science/technology become owned
•    General intellect has some relation to ‘intellectual property’
•    Primitive accumulation—can’t have capital unless great accumulation→into capital
•    Peasants→free, no longer live of soil
•    Accumulation of capital before capitalism based on other forms of accumulation
o    Pre-industrial
o    Marx hints
o    Structural process
•    Primitive: genome, medicine (primitive, herbal)
•    Increasing privitization of what used to be public
•    H & N: central to production process
o    More and more common
•    What potentially common becomes greater
o    Increases possibility of labor
o    Limits of time
•    Capital reaches limits but that limit becomes internalized and expands more aspects of human life to become commodified
•    Regan, Thatcher: Everything privatized, not individuality
•    Pollution credits
•    How have things that are common becoming privatized?
•    Debord and Adorno:
o    All forms of discourse and communication becoming spectacle—separated from the spectator
•    Leisure time and work time all subjected to commodification
o    Music, for Adorno, is all commodified
•    Spread of general intellect becoming important
•    Absolute capital domination (leisure time)
•    Labor as to be more in common
o    Live in a more common world
•    Performance: poesis and intellect
o    Increased exploitation, but commonness
•    Possibility of having same things in common
•    Forces of production
•    Civil disobedience
•    Autonomous in 70s: at least in Italy
o    Worker heroes?
o    Drop out of factories
o    Became zero worker
o    Against deadening effect of Fordism
•    New forms of protest movements
o    Genoa, 9-11, trade union strikes
•    Coalitions from different arenas
•    Immigrant rights
•    Aggregation of different groups and points of view
•    Decentered
•    Pragmatic correlative of multitude
•    Reactive—what’s the effectivity
•    Operating with different language
Hardt Lecture (on reading from Multitude)
•    Transformation of labor
•    One has to verify that people are capable of democracy
o    Cooperative self-rule
•    Habits of training
•    DuBois: black reconstruction
o    Think about population
o    Ignorance and poverty
•    Spinoza: superstition and ignorance
o    “Spontaneously” create democracy
•    How can we verify that people are capable of democracy?
•    Labor
•    Work is one place where people learn collective self-rule
o    Place of greatest un-freedom
•    Changing nature of work—shift in paradigm
•    Immaterial production
•    One shift exerts qualities over the others
•    Qualities enforced over others
o    Temporalities
o    Regimentation has influenced social life as a whole
•    Factories have influenced social lives
•    Ambitious/prudent
•    No longer progressively industrialized
o    E.P. Thompson
•    Work time/non-work time
•    Division of day into three parts
o    Fordist temporality
•    What succeeds the dominance
•    Qualities of factories no longer being imposed in social life
•    “Immaterial” production
o    Images, affects, ideas, code
•    Immaterial component is increasingly important
•    “Affective” labor
o    Healthcare, flight attendants
•    Create a sense of well-being
•    Feminization of labor
o    More women entering wage labor force
o    “Women’s work” becoming more prominent in economy as a whole
•    Non-contract work, no distinction between work time/non-work time
•    Re-gendered re-inscription of gendered roles
•    **Central to production of capital
•    Destruction of workday
o    Always potentially at work
•    Biopolitical production
o    New exploitations
•    Alienation—more sense in affective labor
•    New capacities for self-organization, ability to produce social relations
•    The democratic capacities
o    Realizing possibilities
•    Create society and social relation
•    Where does imposition come from?
o    Multiple rather than dualistic
•    Duratoin
•    Synchronization—not only in factory but at the home
•    Foucault and Deleuze
o    Shift from disciplinary society to control society
•    Foucault: disciplinary society as archipelago
o    Jumping from one to another
o    When outside one, then outside discipline of it
•    But…never really outside discipline
•    Repetition: Adorno and culture industry
o    Entertainment is regimented, too
•    Hegelian alienation bleeding of lived experience (?)
•    Foucault: power is only exercised over willing subjects
•    Resistance is prior to power
o    It’s ontological: Deleuze
o    Struggle for pre-existing power
•    Marx: capitalist brings cooperation
o    Brings and forces cooperation
o    Increases productivity => essential
•    Capital is no longer furnisher of relations
o    Cooperation is established in these relations themselves
•    Creativity on the clock?
o    Polychronism
•    High-context/low-context
o    Not time, but speed now
•    Migrant and survival techniques
•    Potential to be realized
•    Pride: predominant product is changing
•    Production of capital is a production of social relation
•    Production of automobile is the midpoint
•    What’s ultimately produced is relations
o    Only a means towards capital
•    Zizek: Hardt and Negri reproduce Marx’s error
•    Capital: for difference; Now: against difference
•    Has to constantly engage and decrease it
•    Nancy: being with
•    Return to Deleuze and ontological/resistance (sovereignty)
•    Ontological priority over power
o    Creativity happens in moments of resistance
•    Co-optation
o     Materialist teleology => dialectical
•    Determined by struggles
•    No end, no telos
•    Third form? Power → resistance
•    Anti-Oedipus: All reality is productive
o    Power is falling back on production
•    3rd Term: becoming
•    No center to power: Foucault
•    Possibility of social becoming
•    Kim Crenshaw—intersectionality
•    Political organization is required
o    Hegemonic instance must be imposed for that articulation
•    Role of the intellectual: what are people doing and go from there

July 2017
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