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2022 | Buch

Marx, Alienation and Techno-Capitalism

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In this book, translated into English for the first time, Lelio Demichelis takes on a modern perspective of the concept/process of alienation. This concept—much more profound and widespread today than first described and denounced by Marx—has largely been forgotten and erased. Using the characters of Narcissus, Pygmalion and Prometheus, the author reinterprets and updates Marx, Nietzsche, Anders, Foucault and, in particular, critical theory and the Frankfurt School views on an administered society (where everything is automated and engineered, manifest today in algorithms, AI, machine learning and social networking) showing that, in a world where old and new forms of alienation come together, man is increasingly led to delegate (i.e. alienate) sovereignty, freedom, responsibility and the awareness of being alive.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter
Introduction
Abstract
It’s wrong to believe that techno-capitalism is in crisis or on the decline. Rather, it continues to produce hegemony and domination for itself, against society, against the individual and—last but not least—against the environment/biosphere. But no one rebels, no one seeks alternatives, and everyone adapts to the dynamics of the system, and to the many and apparently different forms of alienation that techno-capitalism produces. Words such as new, smart, sharing, like, social and start-up are constitutive of a neo-language necessary to legitimize the dominion/domination of the technique and of neoliberal capitalism and to create and make people accept everyone’s total dependence on the technique and its total delegation to the technique—and to the collective discourse/imaginary that it produces. So—according to the sociologist Lelio Demichelis, Author of this Marx, Alienation and Techno-capitalism—we need a new and urgent critical thinking applied to capitalism but, above all to technology/technique.
Lelio Demichelis
Techno-Capitalist Determinism
Abstract
Adapting to change: it’s a permanent self-reflexive figure both in a neoliberal sense and, above all, in a technical sense. Because humanity’s adaptation to capitalism and the industrial system has always been at the top of the neoliberal agenda (and of its biopolitical planning of society), and technique agenda. And adapting to change is a new form of alienation and self-alienation. But alienation seemed to have left the field of reflection of politics, sociology and psychology. The final result—argues Lelio Demichelis—is not Marx’s from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs, but the techno-capitalism from each (extracting the maximum possible value from everyone in relation to his ability to be connected, to innovate, to compete and to produce data) according to his human capital, to each (giving him less and less, but asking him more and more in terms of work performance, consumption, innovation and identification with the apparatus).
Lelio Demichelis
A Happy Self-Alienation
Abstract
The modern individual life has to be produced as a living activity, as an individual-enterprise, and therefore as a performing worker, in work as in sport, in games or in artistic activity, that is through all the activities by which one tries to succeed in life and learns to compete with others. For individuals who cannot be free but have to believe they are free. And so, to be better re-aggregated/re-integrated (and to become dependent on the capitalist-liberal-bourgeois organization) in structured forms and with binding and integrating/totalizing organizational norms (is the techno-capitalist engineering of life). And what once was the One-Dimensional Man (Marcuse) of twentieth-century serialized society has become—according to Lelio Demichelis in this Marx, Alienation and Techno-Capitalism—the apparently multi-dimensional (and multi-tasking), but increasingly one-dimensional man of a non-society governed by data and at the same time by technical pathos. Above all, dependence on technologies produces a feeling of omnipotence and individual and collective superhomism as well as technological narcissism.
Lelio Demichelis
Narcisuss, Pygmalion and Prometheus
Abstract
Argues Lelio Demichelis that humanity is so easily fascinated by the power of technology that men abandon themselves to it with infinite enjoyment, pathos and dreaming of expanding their own (will to) power which they believe to be infinite. Pathos plays easily on this activation and motivation mechanism, offering itself under the guise of a fascinating and irresistible existential and technological lightness. Humanity’s narcissistic-Promethean-Pygmalionesque fascination with technology can do without hope, offering itself (technology) as hope in an eternal becoming and at the same time dying, which burns itself and continually renews itself by offering new technological hopes (the latest smartphone, the internet of things, self-driving cars, remote working, the sharing economy) already present today in the best of all possible worlds. Narcissus, Pygmalion and Prometheus are the figures of speech for the engineering of a techno-capitalist world.
Lelio Demichelis
The Internet of Things and the Internet of Human Beings
Abstract
To connect, integrate, govern, control, eliminate conflict and reflexivity; to create a holistic approach to the corporate, brand and technology; to create communities: this is the essence of the techno-capitalist organization as a totalitarianism in the sense defined in turn by Alain Touraine: “total because it dominates the universe of subjectivity”. A totalitarianism—write Lelio Demichelis—also declined in the Internet of Things (integrating/interconnecting things, equipment, machines, etc.); but, above all in the Internet of Human beings (integrating/connecting and synchronizing each and every one—always and everywhere). So, the conflict between autonomy and heteronomy re-declining itself once again, masking alienation, promoting and activating and motivating the collaborationism of each person with the organization, where every form of apparent subjectivation contains a reality made up of actual subjugation.
Lelio Demichelis
From Guy Debord to Pulsive Integrated Techno-Capitalism
Abstract
Reality is turned into representation, representation is turned into reality—producing a totalitarian falling in love with this illusion. An individualized imaginary, but at the same time collective and collectivizing. A hetero-produced imaginary that, by realizing itself as the only and true possible and liveable reality, not only reifies itself as an imaginary (which indeed becomes living and productive of life and imagination), but above all reifies those who enter (who are led into) this imaginary, alienating them from reality, immersing them (precisely reifying them) in the virtuality of the network and of the representation/Plato’s cave. Guy Debord wrote: “The spectacle represents the dominant model of life. It is the omnipresent affirmation of the choices that have already been made in the sphere of production and in the consumption implied by that production. The spectacle serves as a total justification of the conditions and goals of the existing system”. So, write Lelio Demichelis in this essay Marx, Alienation and Techno-capitalismtoday, the spectacle is in (is produced by) the Silicon Valley.
Lelio Demichelis
Well Masked Alienation (I)
Abstract
Alienated, but happy. It is precisely the fascination (pathos) that technology and innovation, regardless of their purpose, exercise on human beings. For an even more connected and integrated/integrating herd/apparatus/social, but where each individual—this is the magic of techno-capitalism, argues Lelio Demichelis—must believe that they are kings of their personal, narcissistic and Promethean and Pygmalionesque world. It is necessary to instil in each person cumulative doses of will to power and domination; according to procedures, knowledge and repeated and reiterated normalizations that generate pleasure (pathos), because in an age that has made of creativity/innovation its mantra, this is in all cases made possible through the old behavioural technique of repetition, standardization and homologation that generates pleasure until it produces addiction. So, alienation exist, but is well masked. Theodor W. Adorno wrote: “Freedom has been transformed into a mere pretext for being able to better administer human beings”.
Lelio Demichelis
Well Masked Alienation (II)
Abstract
Alienation—remember Lelio Demichelis in this chapter of Marx, Alienation and Techno-Capitalism—is a process by which someone becomes other than what they would be if they were autonomous and free individuals. Therefore, they lose their individual or collective identity, connected to a negative condition of dependence or absence of autonomy. According to Marx, alienation (the estrangement of the worker) is determined not only in the worker’s relationship to the products of his labour, but also “in the act of production—within the producing activity itself”. Alienation and the division of labour: in the past, but even more now, argues the Author, the division of labour and its integration into the organization is still the iron rule of techno-capitalism, only the modality in which it is carried out changes: before, by concentrating and verticalizing the division within the factory and now (because the means of connection/production have changed), by being able to make it explode and apparently horizontalize outside the factory, but always centralizing the power of decision, controlling and surveillance. Today the worker—but also each person—becomes only a member (a node) of the system/Factory–network, increasingly integrated in an administrated and automated society (Frankfurt School: Marcuse, Horkheimer and Adorno).
Lelio Demichelis
The Nomos of Techno-Capitalism and the Diseases of Humanity
Abstract
How to come out of techno-capitalism (this is the goal to be achieved)? It is difficult, but possible, argues Lelio Demichelis. For example, recalling Georg Simmel, who a century ago wrote: “now instead of the old oil lamps we have electric light, but the euphoria for the progress of lighting makes us forget that the essential is not lighting, but what this allows us to see better”; just as the ecstasy concerning the triumphs of the telegraph and telephone “often makes us overlook the fact that what really matters is the value of what one has to say, and that, compared with this, the speed or slowness of the means of communication is often a concern that could attain its present status only by usurpation”.
Lelio Demichelis
Backmatter
Metadaten
Titel
Marx, Alienation and Techno-Capitalism
verfasst von
Lelio Demichelis
Copyright-Jahr
2022
Electronic ISBN
978-3-031-07385-4
Print ISBN
978-3-031-07384-7
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-07385-4