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Re: <nettime> The $100bn Facebook question: Will capitalism survive 'val
Brian Holmes on Sat, 3 Mar 2012 11:47:45 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The $100bn Facebook question: Will capitalism survive 'value abundance'?

On 03/01/2012 08:23 PM, Jonathan Marshall wrote:

To me, the problem is the complexity of what is to be thought, and
a general refusal to allow paradox - ie that something can be both
good and bad, that it can have contradictory drives - to exist
within the same thought.

I'm generally on board with that.

Thus is it not possible that facebook, and others, both exploits
free labour and provides something that enables people to do
something of their own? Why do we have to ultimately say it is just
one or the other?

Well, we don't. And the whole logic of the "apparatus of capture,"
introduced by Deleuze and Guattari and developed into a veritable
political economy by the Italian Autonomists and the Multitudes group
in Paris, does something very much like that, though without using the
concept of exploitation. For good reason, I think

Jonathan, I don't know your work or your concerns, so it is quite
possible and likely that my remarks in the previous post do not apply
to you. What I have found very limiting in recent years, in the
discourse around so-called web 2.0, is the use of Marx's notion of
exploitation in the strict sense, where your labor power is alienated
into the production of a commodity and you get an exchange value in
return. Then you can quote Capital or (worse) build the academic
simulacrum of a 1950s labor campaign around that model. For a while,
as I recall, Christian Fuchs was trying to calculate the monetary
value of the time people spend looking at other people's lolcats, or

What gets lost in such an approach is exactly what Michel points to so
perfectly in the second part of his article, the part that goes beyond
Facebook itself. He points to, not just the possibility, but the
*reality* of cooperative production using the tools that we now have,
and indeed, using the accumulated material, intellectual and artistic
wealth that is more or less ready to hand for many people in the world
today, despite the crushing realities of poverty and expropriation.
Most of the functions of capture and control that inhibit us from even
talking about the use value to which Michel refers seem to depend
on the simple suppression of this possibility of autonomy within
the imagination of the user and within the collective imaginary. In
the case of Facebook -- which I do use vicariously, through all my
friends -- this has been demonstrated on a global scale with the Arab
Spring and then Occupy. And it has been an impressive and welcome

Can we have an autonomous potential in any case? To me sounds like
a potential outside of society, outside of organisation, or the
interplay of chaos and structure. So again facebook might be good or

In my view, the quest for (and not some reified condition of) autonomy
is the very essence, or rather the departure point, of all egalitarian
politics. You know, it basically means the self (autos) trying to
define its own operating system or law (nomos). The autos can be
a group, it's fundamentally social, collective. When people try
deliberately and consciously to define who they can become in the
relation to others, either by just talking about it or more often by
developing a project together, they break away from the dominant nomos
(experienced as a binding norm) and attempt, well, to change life.
This always leads to some thinking (maybe what Blanchot once called
"thought from outside"). Of course in the process they/we end up
confronting all sorts of unconscious detritus and buried compulsions,
but in the best cases we also engage with some partial realization of
those very beautiful dreams of a fuller and more satisfying existence
from which one sometimes awakes in the morning with such a curious
feeling, so hard to pin down. Cornelius Castoriadis has written
wonderful stuff about the question of autonomy.

I do find that in much academic discussion - weighted by certain
shopworn but at the time justified polemics against the modernist
claim to the autonomy of art - there is a simple refusal to think
about the quest for autonomy. It's so much easier to talk about power.
I do it too, quite a lot. I'm a repeat offender in that department.
But usually at some point I get back, not just to the interplay of
chaos and structure (a phrase which I quite like btw), but to those
moments where particular people and groups make a move within that
interplay. The reason for always returning to this is simple: that's
what I find so passionately interesting in life. No accounting for
taste, however.

anyway, just some non-thinking.

Sorry, Jonathan. I didn't intend personal offense, but sometimes
launching a polemic is a good way to have a discussion. Thanks for
this one.

all the best, Brian

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