For a New Critique of Political Economy

For a New Critique of Political Economy

Bernard Stiegler, Daniel Ross

Language: English

Pages: 100

ISBN: 0745648045

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The catastrophic economic, social and political crisis of our time calls for a new and original critique of political economy - a rethinking of Marx's project in the very different conditions of twenty-first century capitalism.

Stiegler argues that today the proletarian must be reconceptualized as the economic agent whose knowledge and memory are confiscated by machines. This new sense of the term ‘proletarian' is best understood by reference to Plato's critique of exteriorized memory. By bringing together Plato and Marx, Stiegler can show how a generalized proletarianization now encompasses not only the muscular system, as Marx saw it, but also the nervous system of the so-called creative workers in the information industries. The proletarians of the former are deprived of their practical know-how, whereas the latter are shorn of their theoretical practice, and both suffer from a confiscation of the very possibility of a genuine art of living.

But the mechanisms at work in this new and accentuated form of proletarianization are the very mechanisms that may spur a reversal of the process. Such a reversal would imply a crucial distinction between one's life work, originating in otium (leisure devoted to the techniques of the self), and the job, consisting in a negotium (the negotiation and calculation, increasingly restricted to short-term expectations), leading to the necessity of a new conception of economic value.

This short text offers an excellent introduction to Stiegler's work while at the same time representing a political call to arms in the face of a deepening economic and social crisis.

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which makes possible rhe p�oletarianization of me nervous system. is also what introduces the possibility of a new regime of psychic and collective individuation and. with it, the possibility of a new process of transindividua­ tion opening OntO an unprecedented politico-economic perspective: an economy of contribution. If dissociation results from short-circuits in transin­ dividu:uion made possible by rh... phannalton emerging from that process of grammatizarion in which. in the epoch of

represent the noble aspect of the rime of human activity-which in Micriaflu l'1 disaidjt I I have tried to show is the litnl' of nortir inunl1illl'llCt'l5-is the con· didon of possibility of l1eg·olillf1/. that is. cmploymelH time. I[ is because the soul can only be actually noetic for illurmitUIif paiods, and is therefore as such constitutcd as a "being·only.in·inrermirrence." behaving most (If the time: on the conrrary like a sensitive or even a vegcmlivc: soul. {hat the "inrerminenu" (the

feeling of Rowing from east ro west whereas it is in fact Rowing from west ro east. because the observed pOTtion, being a whirlpool, engenders contrary currents). indeed to durably block it (an available tech nique can be utilized in order ro counteract the new technique of which the tendency is a bearer). Such apparent contradictions are possible because technical faCtS are compromises between technical tendencies and social systems, which arc themselves organizations resulting from tendencies

Indianapolis: Indiana Unin:niry Pres.s, 1993). 2 Ars Induslrialis. an imcrn:uional usoci:arion for an indUSlri:a1 polltia of I«.hnologic� of spiril: hnp:llwww.af.lindusrrialls. "'& :3 This confcrcnce is ueee.uible :u: hnp:llwww.:usindumi:alis. orglpour-une-�cunom ic-dc-la-u)nrribul ion-] 4 S« pp. 66 and 84. 5 In the sen.sc in which I take this term, 5« p. 29ff. 6 The tc:ndency officlilious capital is always 10 reduce the rules to a minimum, if not 10 diminatc them :llmgcther. in order, as

invesrmenr, rh:tt is, hy restoring "profitability," which will in rurn restore an entrepre· neurial dynamism itself founded upon consumerism and its counterpart, marker·driven productivism. In other words, this "investment"' proposes no long. term view capable of drawing any lessons from the collapse of an induStrial mood based on the automobile, on oil. and on (he consrruction of highway networks. as well as on the Hemien networks of the culture indus· tries. This ensemble has until recendy

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