Dear Brian,

thank you for your thoughtful commentary.

Related to the crisis of national and international governance, I hold
Joseph Masco's pithy formulation to be true: “the crisis-utopia circuit
that empowered the high modernist culture of the mid-twentieth century, we
now have a crisis-paralysis circuit.” With the eclipse of socialist,
developmentalist and post-colonial projects, “futurity” as a horizon of
positive social transformation has been increasingly removed from the
dominant political discourse, and the crisis narrative serves primarily to
amplify the sense of danger that the state is called onto to resolve by
ensuring the stability and the continuation of the status quo. In the
pandemic, we have witnessed how expansive the state's governing capacity
can be, and we are witnessing it now with the energy crisis across Europe,
yet such shakeups lead to no transformation. Governance is in paralysis.

A good example is the way the patents for vaccines were handled in the
pandemic. States have funnelled billions in both research money and
pre-orders, yet could not bring it over themselves to impose
open/compulsory licenses, so that vaccines could be produced by generic
drug producers. The result was that those who held patents for a while did
not have ample production capacity, whereas those who had ample production
capacity could not access the patents. Unnecessary deaths were a

In a world so thoroughly committed to capitalist social metabolism and
stark intra-social and inter-social inequalities, significant
transformations seem hard and unattainable as the maintenance of status quo
seems so central. This feeds both a growing frustration and unrest over
time-worn forms of domination and the fascistic unrest over that unrest — a
form of fascism that Alberto Toscano has called "conservative politics of
antagonistic reproduction". One may interpret the unrests of this day and
age as an insurgency and counter-insurgency over purposes of social
governance, as the capacity to maintain the stauts quo among accumulating
crises becomes increasingly difficult.


On Fri, Jul 15, 2022 at 8:32 AM Brian Holmes <>

> Tom, how brilliant to hear from you. I miss all my friends from former
> Yugoslavia. Really great to have your insights on this.
> I quite agree with your two points, and the way they go together.
> Possessive individualism is the anthropological structure created and
> imposed by capitalism. (For those who might not know, the concept was
> developed in a book called The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism
> by C.B. MacPherson.) The fundamental idea goes back to John Locke, who
> thought that the right to private property was derived from the
> individual's improvement, through labor, of something existing in nature,
> such as land. The vast structure of bourgeois rights is anchored in the
> individual by this idea, which not incidentally served to justify
> colonialism. Whatever you may think of the Lockean doctrine, though, it's
> crucial to realize that what contemporary capitalism presents us with is a
> simulacrum of this doctrine. For the globalized cybernetic capitalism that
> took form after 1989, the individual is conceived as a target for coercive
> messages and products that promise self-improvement, the ownership of
> durable property, and ultimately, the access to citizenship. However, the
> self-improvement is an induced and manipulative fantasy, the property that
> may be acquired is fungible and disappears in successive crises, and the
> citizenship is an illusory facade over oligarchical rule. The real social
> relations sustained and masked by this ideological structure are those of
> the global factory constituted by just-in-time production and distribution,
> with its headquarters in the old Western core countries and Japan. All this
> to restate Tom's contribution.
> I totally agree with all that, and what's really important are these
> observations:
> "Had it not been for the contemporary cybernetics revolution, that
> post-socialist restructuring of the capitalist world-system would have
> looked very different. But more importantly, had it not been for that
> geopolitical conjuncture, the contemporary cybernetics revolution would
> have developed in a very different direction. "
> Interestingly, I am in Kassel right now and I'm reviewing the old
> catalogue of documentaX, Politics / Poetics, for an interview I'm gonna do
> in a few days. At that time when the transformations of the post-socialist
> world were only beginning, we were extremely conscious of the need to
> rethink societal conflict, the way it is expressed through both art and
> revolution, and the way that it is settled through the construction of new
> institutions. We could well see that the older - and fundamentally unjust -
> democratic institutions of the nation-state that had been resurrected after
> the two world wars were now going to be abandoned, in favor of an
> American-led global capitalism whose cybernetic operations we could, at the
> time, only dimly perceive (when I say "we," I mean the people in France who
> curated that Documenta - other people, including many participants in the
> show, perceived the coming cybernetic world order much more clearly).
> However, I'd say this keen awareness of the need to create a new social
> contract came to nothing. It has been buried by tidal waves of populism,
> whether the grassroots or, more often, the corporate variety.
> Now the thing that we worried about back then - and that Jacques Ranciere
> formulated so well in the 1990s - is actually happening. The repression of
> what you may call "the people" by the corporate simulacrum of possessive
> individualism is giving rise to that more serious form of populism known as
> fascism. This is a live issue in the US after the January 6 insurrection,
> and it's worth noting that at this point, the US no longer "leads" anything
> at all - I would say no one does. The situation is open, and threatening.
> And the voice of intellectuals with an historical awareness is pretty much
> absent from the scene (I'm curious if you see it that way, Tom).
> I agree that it's very hard to imagine FAANG - or, given the name changes
> going on, what we could also call "MAANA" - simply withdrawing from its
> double role of instigator of global desire and coordinator of global
> delivery. Yet at the same time, the national and international institutions
> that were debilitated by the rise of global cybernetic capitalism are now
> breaking down, they are unable to resolve multiple contradictions. It's
> undeniable that there is a shift in world politics toward personalized
> oligarchical power - this is what the "technofeudalist" thesis is trying to
> get at, though in a pretty inarticulate way I'd say. How does cybernetic
> capitalism react? How does an impersonal, hyper-bureaucratic or
> technocratic structure react to the reassertion of personal power claims,
> against the backdrop of rising neonationalist populism? Why is what used to
> be called "the left" so quiescent in the face of this emergent
> transformation in the global social contract?
> I'd be interested to hear more about that, from Tom or anyone else. I'm
> thinking about these issues all the time, as the drama unfolds.
> best, Brian
> PS - this was written a few days ago but somehow it didn't send...
> On Tue, Jul 12, 2022 at 9:57 AM Tomislav Medak <> wrote:
>> Dear Brian, dear all, an intriguing discussion.
>> I guess some things are in the eye of the beholder. Both Morozov and
>> Ström fail to note at least two aspects of the historical context of the
>> rise of Big Tech and are easily observed from the post-socialist vantage
>> point.
>> Firstly, the expansion of possessive individualism beyond the capitalist
>> first world: an individualism weaponised by markets and technologies, not
>> limited to the sphere of consumption, but extending equally into personal
>> identity formation, social interactions, mass communication and political
>> subjectivation. Technofeudalism-thesis is, in my view, its symptom,
>> transfixed by the return of personal, though this time hyperindividualised
>> forms of social domination built on cybernetic profiling and resulting in
>> growing economic power. The gig economy manifests that relation between the
>> sovereign consumer and the worker dominated by a tracking system in the
>> most direct and blatant way.
>> Secondly, the globalisation of free trade since the late 1980s, with the
>> relocation of manufacturing largely to Southeast Asia: the geographic
>> disaggregation and growing distancing of the capitalist production and
>> consumption has made dominant the capital's commodity circuit headquartered
>> in a few dozen countries of North America, Western Europe and a couple of
>> other places, at once generating demand and commanding the productive
>> capital overseas (and extracting energy and materials from the sacrificial
>> hinterlands across the globe).
>> Had it not been for the contemporary cybernetics revolution, that
>> post-socialist restructuring of the capitalist world-system would have
>> looked very different. But more importantly, had it not been for that
>> geopolitical conjuncture, the contemporary cybernetics revolution would
>> have developed in a very different direction.
>> FAANG are centrally located in the commodity circuit.,
>> straddling online commerce and the global supply chain, has been the most
>> successful at prospecting in this global geography. It's at its core
>> business a giant shop with a global supply chain attached, whereas Google
>> and Facebook are advertising space. Viewed, from the world-system
>> perspective, they have the function of helping generate consumerist desires
>> and delivering gratification to your door. The networked services that they
>> are producing and are making available for free are largely enabling of and
>> subordinate to that function. The rest of the Big Tech has provided the
>> nuts and bolts coordinating extracting, manufacturing and shipping. For
>> that they have altogether been lavished with exorbitant market valuations
>> that form the basis of retirement insurance for large parts of the working
>> population in some of those few dozen countries.
>> Globalisation or sovereign consumerism might not be all that new, but the
>> demise of socialist and anti-colonial projects has made their expansion a
>> singular event in the history of capitalist development and goes a long
>> way, in my mind, to explain the conditions under which the Big Tech has
>> ultimately evolved.
>> Now, with the trade war with China and the Russian aggression against
>> Ukraine, but also with the growing environmental and energy crunch, the
>> question is how that fragmenting post-1989 neoliberal world will adapt —
>> and, unfortunately, adapt it will. I assume, in the most inert ways. Some
>> manufacturing will reshore to places like Mexico, some of the additional
>> domestic extraction will be brought online, absent supply-chain problems
>> renewables deployment might get a bit fast-tracked, but ultimately a
>> delinking from China for its advanced manufacturing infrastructure or
>> Russia for its mineral resources does not seem feasible overnight. The
>> FAANG will have to adapt even less, as they are in the business of inducing
>> demand, and in the looming recession demand will be in short supply,
>> allowing them to continue to appropriate a good chunk of surpluses from
>> other sectors.
>> Best to all,
>> Tom
>> On Mon, Jul 11, 2022 at 11:09 PM Molly Hankwitz <>
>> wrote:
>>> hi thank you...learning so much and trying to understand 'capitoloscene'
>>> -
>>> one of my favorite points in Berardi's lecture (Sass-Fee lectures) on
>>> this time was that 'the problem with cybernetics is that the system
>>> feedback loops are still modeled on the Cold War' - this seems so
>>> correct...we have had something else between 1980s and 2000s and 'feedback'
>>> is something else now and changing with AI, etc.
>>> Brian i did not know that Morozov was a leading net-critic, so I'm glad
>>> to know something I did not.
>>> wanting to initiate a nettime- global court of judgement on 'economic
>>> crimes' - Bezos, Oil profits from Ukraine, burning of Amazon being my top
>>> three...all will be "guillotined" by the geopolitical earth commons.
>>> we need new spatial models for economic warfare and how to "combat" it
>>> molly
>>> On Sun, Jul 10, 2022 at 11:56 PM <> wrote:
>>>> Just came across this -
>>>> On Fri 8 Jul 2022, 03:08 Molly Hankwitz, <>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Hello, Boris, and Brian,
>>>>> Thank you for all of your writings and reviews. Boris, those
>>>>> descriptions of how corporations will fill the gap of the state by
>>>>> providing travel money for women employees seeking abortions...are
>>>>> chillingly correct, and scary and partly what I do really like about 
>>>>> Safiya
>>>>> Noble's position (her name has been misspelled by me, apologies - Noble,
>>>>> not Nobel - forgive me for being obsessed, but imho she is moved to write
>>>>> because she is deeply concerned with the loss of public assets to the
>>>>> private sector...this all seems to be one ball of wax...
>>>>> womens' rights being subsumed under employee contracts of individual
>>>>> corporations and the rights of corporations to acquire (say in higher ed)
>>>>> public assets as their own...this further eroding the public sphere(s)...
>>>>> I got around to reading the Morozov not the Strom piece
>>>>> There are two conditions of the present which resonate with me in
>>>>> these discussions of capital accumulation, yet which aren't about 
>>>>> customary
>>>>> conditions of factory labor, or other examples of capitalist economies
>>>>> because they are unusual circumstances...they are such flagrant examples 
>>>>> of
>>>>> exploitation that they stand out.
>>>>> Situation 1: Bezos making 49 billion dollars of income during the 2
>>>>> years of  massive humanitarian loss and pain due to COVID. Okay, so he
>>>>> happens to own a global delivery business, which did well during this
>>>>> time...but can't such individual, highly predatory capitalism be 
>>>>> regulated,
>>>>> unlawful or fined heavily as a blight? Should anyone be able - without 
>>>>> some
>>>>> kind of payback - to exploit humanity so flagrantly without some kind of
>>>>> fine or sanction?
>>>>> Example 2. Ukraine war...oil and gas prices sky high at the expense of
>>>>> 100s of 1,000s of refugees, loss of life, loss of environment, loss of
>>>>> architecture, loss of cultural identity...should oil companies be able to
>>>>> reap profit while a war persists? maybe we need a global court to judge
>>>>> such huge profits at humanity's expense?
>>>>> These profits so frequently allowed to move forward without
>>>>> consequence or questioning in the fiction of an objective stance -
>>>>> so when Mozorov and Noble both analyze how capable big tech (Google)
>>>>> is of amplifying financial gain and the objectification of the vulnerable
>>>>> ...maybe these giant shifts in scale can be a start to understanding what
>>>>> capital is doing. (Thanks Brian and Boris and Felix for trying). I think
>>>>> about screens, screen time, the small screen of our smartphones as pieces
>>>>> of peasant turf in the fragmented feudal fiefdom, once part of a pastoral
>>>>> commons, more public and less exploitable, and now mined and marred by
>>>>> proximity to the minute by minute data-extraction of cyber-markets. I 
>>>>> guess
>>>>> that might go to digital labor, but much is so unconscious that maybe
>>>>> better to stay on the giant global events and who is profiting?
>>>>> molly
>>>>> On Thu, Jul 7, 2022 at 3:52 PM Brian Holmes <
>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>> First, Strom focuses on something that has been central to this list
>>>>>> forever, namely tech. He does so in response to some really simplifying 
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> even spurious talk about technofeudalism (by Varoufakis and others), but
>>>>>> also, in response to the rather dogmatic and reductive Marxism displayed 
>>>>>> by
>>>>>> Morozov himself, who btw has been the best net critic publishing in the
>>>>>> mainstream press. That last detail suggests that Morozov's dogmatism 
>>>>>> might
>>>>>> be a significant symptom of a larger failure to grasp the present, and 
>>>>>> for
>>>>>> that reason the debate in the New Left Review becomes quite revealing 
>>>>>> (plus
>>>>>> I actually recommend the Morozov article on its own merits as well, 
>>>>>> there's
>>>>>> a lot of interesting stuff in there about various strands of Marxism).
>>>>>> Problem is, Morozov does not seem able to grasp his main object of
>>>>>> interest, which is the internet and networked societies, with the
>>>>>> conceptual tools he is trying to use. He returns to the Book I of Capital
>>>>>> paradigm, where an industrial firm makes a widget and competes with other
>>>>>> industrial firms to sell it on the market. This is the simplified schema 
>>>>>> of
>>>>>> typical dogmatic Marxism, which ought to have disappeared when the
>>>>>> Grundrisse and the notes for the unfinished books of Capital were 
>>>>>> published
>>>>>> in the Sixties and Seventies. But it didn't disappear and here's Morozov
>>>>>> defaulting to it! Strom, on the contrary, says that under cybernetic
>>>>>> capitalism, the firm acts to shape all the factors that constitute the
>>>>>> market, namely distribution, sales, financing, government regulation and
>>>>>> security, as well as the wage regime that sustains worker/consumers and,
>>>>>> even more crucially, the cultural environment that stimulates and 
>>>>>> channels
>>>>>> consumer desire. That kind of shaping was done throughout the twentieth
>>>>>> century - just consider the development of credit, social wages, and
>>>>>> advertising in the early mass-manufacturing period - but cybernetic
>>>>>> machines and cybernetic theory allowed it to be done with incomparable
>>>>>> scope and intensity, through the fiber-optic cabling of the world in the
>>>>>> 1990s, the consolidation of networked just-in-time production and
>>>>>> distribution in the same period, and then the development of social media
>>>>>> and platform capitalism in the 2000s. I think all the valuable
>>>>>> contributions to the understanding of neoliberalism take this cybernetic
>>>>>> aspect on board, although sometimes without naming it as such. If you 
>>>>>> look
>>>>>> at David Harvey, Bob Jessop, Manuel Castells, Hardt & Negri, and dozens 
>>>>>> of
>>>>>> others, they all discuss how capitalism, and therefore, individual
>>>>>> capitalist firms and states, act to deliberately shape their operating
>>>>>> environment. That's the core cybernetic idea: control is exercised 
>>>>>> through
>>>>>> the design of the overall factors that govern social interaction, which
>>>>>> means systemic factors, such as communication, logistics, the monetary
>>>>>> system, etc. It's an idea that Hayek understood very well, by the way, 
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> it's worth noting that Hayek became a kind of cybernetics aficionado in 
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> Sixties. Anyway these particular capacities of control gave rise to a
>>>>>> recognizably distinct phase of capitalism, usually called neoliberalism 
>>>>>> but
>>>>>> here called cybernetic capitalism in order to insist on the importance of
>>>>>> those control functions. So, I may not have been clear enough in my post,
>>>>>> but I was trying to say that this cybernetic aspect is real, in fact it 
>>>>>> is
>>>>>> a core component of contemporary neoliberal capitalism. My question is, 
>>>>>> why
>>>>>> is the cybernetic logic of neoliberal capitalism now being forgotten 
>>>>>> after
>>>>>> such important work was done, and after  major struggles were carried on 
>>>>>> in
>>>>>> the 1990s and 2000s in clear cognizance of that cybernetic logic? We 
>>>>>> talked
>>>>>> about it on nettime endlessly for over twenty years, many of us engaged 
>>>>>> in
>>>>>> activism on these issues, and people like Felix Stalder, myself and 
>>>>>> dozens
>>>>>> of others published quite a bit about it, all in the shadow of the major
>>>>>> thinkers that I've partially listed (there should be probably fifty more
>>>>>> names in that list), and also with a lot of help from science and
>>>>>> technology studies. Yet Morozov's text seems like a symptom of a general
>>>>>> and ongoing theoretical regression with regard to the analysis of
>>>>>> capitalism. I'm mystified by the apparent decline of social theory at 
>>>>>> this
>>>>>> moment in time. Strom is not the be all and end all of social theory,
>>>>>> certainly not in one brief article, but at least he clearly names and
>>>>>> analyses cybernetic capitalism as it is actually practiced by the big 
>>>>>> tech
>>>>>> firms. And he does so in such a way that you can use his work to fill in
>>>>>> all those huge gaps that are inevitable when we're just referring to one
>>>>>> short article.
>>>>>> The second thing is that many of the components that came together to
>>>>>> form the distinctive phase of neoliberalism are now in open crisis, that
>>>>>> is, they are breaking down under the weight of their own contradictions.
>>>>>> Neoliberalism has been characterized by the free global movement of money
>>>>>> capital, factors of production and finished goods, and by the race to the
>>>>>> bottom in labor markets that has made labor freely exploitable, through
>>>>>> deregulation, outsourcing and a widespread reliance on immigrant labor 
>>>>>> with
>>>>>> reduced rights. But now the international monetary system has become
>>>>>> unreliable and is splintering, war and the rivalry between major 
>>>>>> capitalist
>>>>>> blocs is seriously disrupting the ability to produce anywhere capital 
>>>>>> sees
>>>>>> a comparative advantage, and the exploitation and subsequent abandonment 
>>>>>> of
>>>>>> labor is causing social turmoil, on the left in the form of struggles by
>>>>>> racialized minorities and precarious workers (often one and the same), 
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> even more on the anti-immigration right where many people have also been
>>>>>> seriously affected by capital flight and abandonment (I live in the US
>>>>>> Midwest where this condition of abandonment is at its most extreme).
>>>>>> Simultaneously to all this, damn, the climate, and more broadly, the
>>>>>> biogeochemical cycles that sustain earthly life, are being stressed to 
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> point of collapse, which is causing enormous tension, both on the left
>>>>>> where we are aware and very afraid of these impending ecological
>>>>>> catastrophes, and on the right where they are terrified of the admittedly
>>>>>> major and highly disruptive changes to the industrial system that are 
>>>>>> being
>>>>>> proposed (like, cancel the oil, steel and cement industries, cancel
>>>>>> industrial agriculture - this kind of talk makes people very very 
>>>>>> nervous).
>>>>>> All this tension and open conflict suggests that the distinctive phase of
>>>>>> neoliberalism will now go through a period of turmoil, comparable at 
>>>>>> least
>>>>>> to the turmoil of the Seventies, and more likely I'm afraid, to that of 
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> late Thirties and early Forties. Neoliberalism is not over and you're
>>>>>> right, it is useless to simply proclaim that it's over when nothing
>>>>>> recognizable has yet replaced it. However its core axioms are threatened
>>>>>> and it appears almost certain that many of these axioms will now evolve,
>>>>>> almost surely in a capitalist way I'm sad to say. After all, 
>>>>>> neoliberalism
>>>>>> itself is just a reorganization of two hundred years of capitalism, and
>>>>>> every time you check your phone in the taxi when leaving the train 
>>>>>> station
>>>>>> or the airport, you are reiterating major phases of technological and
>>>>>> organizational development that still leave their mark on everyday life.
>>>>>> Like the train and the automobile, the computational machines of
>>>>>> neoliberalism and the cybernetic logic that governs them will continue to
>>>>>> be important in whatever new figure of capitalism arises from the present
>>>>>> turmoil. But their importance will change, just as the importance of 
>>>>>> trains
>>>>>> has changed, and as the importance of the automobile is about to change
>>>>>> through electrification. Can we be aware of these changes as they happen?
>>>>>> Can we grasp an overall pattern of change as it emerges? And crucially, 
>>>>>> can
>>>>>> we follow how the big tech firms will evolve, and what kinds of new roles
>>>>>> they will take on as the crisis of neoliberalism gets deeper?
>>>>>> Finally, I think what Molly Hankwitz is trying to point to is that
>>>>>> what we do now, and even, how we interpret the deeds and misdeeds of
>>>>>> Silicon Valley, could become crucial to the ways that tech evolves, and
>>>>>> capitalism along with it. You know, in the US, neoliberalism largely
>>>>>> "solved" its race problems by abandoning Black workers, either through
>>>>>> automation, or outsourcing, or by drawing on immigrant labor. The 
>>>>>> resultant
>>>>>> conditions of abandonment plus onslaught from the increasingly 
>>>>>> nationalist
>>>>>> and racist right have provoked a major critique of the whole contemporary
>>>>>> capitalist system AND its colonial roots. That critique has spread from
>>>>>> Black people, who kicked it off, to Indigenous people, who significantly
>>>>>> deepened it on the ecological level, and now to the whole progressive 
>>>>>> bloc
>>>>>> and especially precarious youth, who are directly threatened by the
>>>>>> breakdown of neoliberalism and its ecological consequences. How does 
>>>>>> such a
>>>>>> critique affect tech, which is unlikely to just go away (dream on) but
>>>>>> which is likely to undergo major changes over the next decade? That's a 
>>>>>> key
>>>>>> question, and when I get some time I'll check out the book that Molly's
>>>>>> talking about. I think she's making an important contribution there, but
>>>>>> hey, it takes time to read a book so I have not done so yet.
>>>>>> Anyway, we might agree more than you initially thought, or if not,
>>>>>> maybe we can have a better discussion by making some of the assumptions
>>>>>> more explicit.
>>>>>> best, Brian
>>>>>> On Thu, Jul 7, 2022 at 11:58 AM thresholdpeople <
>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>> Hi everyone,
>>>>>>> Brian, thank you for sharing these articles, and everyone for the
>>>>>>> conversation.  Molly, Nobel's book seems interesting, thanks!  I've got
>>>>>>> some issues with Strom's article, and perhaps Nobel offers a clearer
>>>>>>> picture.
>>>>>>> First though, and respectfully, I think it is dangerous to declaring
>>>>>>> neoliberalism dead, or dying.  Or wishful thinking, at best.  How many
>>>>>>> catastrophes have we all experienced that resulted in such a
>>>>>>> pronouncement?  And now we are seemingly looking at only impending
>>>>>>> catastrophes from nearly every direction, as we pass by others that have
>>>>>>> already struck, and yet neoliberalism remains.  And is it actually
>>>>>>> weakening?  I truly don't think so.  Look at climate change:  as
>>>>>>> governments continue to provide "told you so"s to neoliberals as being
>>>>>>> completely ineffective at being able to enact any substantive policies, 
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> market continues to both reinforce the power of the status quo, and 
>>>>>>> provide
>>>>>>> a new bubble for capital to flow in to:  for-profit companies developing
>>>>>>> products that claim to be the solution we all need.  In the US, now in a
>>>>>>> post Roe v Wade world, it's again certain companies stepping in to fill 
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> void left by government, offering to provide funding for travel for
>>>>>>> reproductive care for their employees.  The ascension of seemingly
>>>>>>> anti-neoliberal leaders, like Trump and Bolsonaro, continue and bolster
>>>>>>> this trend.  Neoliberalism is shockingly, and unfortunately,
>>>>>>> hyper-adaptable.
>>>>>>> I haven't read Morozov's essay yet, so maybe I'm jumping the gun a
>>>>>>> bit on judging Strom's.
>>>>>>> I found Strom's take interesting for additional points of historical
>>>>>>> analysis of our current situation, and I agree with his fundamental 
>>>>>>> points
>>>>>>> of needing to understand the levels of abstraction in play to understand
>>>>>>> how exploitation occurs, how power operates and normalizes, that
>>>>>>> we're not reverting to feudalism, and that capitalism is complicated.  
>>>>>>> Is
>>>>>>> what he describes actually different than neoliberalism though?
>>>>>>> Strom writes:
>>>>>>> Many aspects of this transformation are discussed under the rubric
>>>>>>> of ‘neoliberalism’. No doubt the brutal drive to put profit über alles 
>>>>>>> has
>>>>>>> had devastating ramifications for society, subjectivity and the planet’s
>>>>>>> ecology; yet the focus on production and exchange should not occlude 
>>>>>>> other
>>>>>>> aspects, such as communication, inquiry, organization and technology.
>>>>>>> Neoliberal transformations are underpinned by cybernetic changes that 
>>>>>>> laid
>>>>>>> the foundations for a global market to operate, via instantaneous
>>>>>>> communication and rationalized logistics.
>>>>>>> Isn't his just a description of the technical infrastructure that
>>>>>>> makes neoliberalism possible and thrive?   What makes lean production,
>>>>>>> outsource, subcontracting, causualization, etc possible?  And as such, 
>>>>>>> just
>>>>>>> capitalism as we currently know it?
>>>>>>> I found the essay pretty scant on what this infrastructure (of
>>>>>>> capitalism) means, or why it being like that enables what we have.  
>>>>>>> There's
>>>>>>> a lot of focus on the financialization it enables, but where are the
>>>>>>> people?  As an example, there was nothing on the fact that a lot of this
>>>>>>> technology, eg AI/machine learning, is made possible and propelled by
>>>>>>> ultra-precarious low wage labor, by those who are so far removed from 
>>>>>>> maybe
>>>>>>> any company, who can even claim them as employees?  Or even the logic of
>>>>>>> using this same technology to source and hire the same laboring people 
>>>>>>> that
>>>>>>> continue to do this work.  This work ultimately contributes up toward 
>>>>>>> these
>>>>>>> immense valuations and speculations in these companies.  Maybe the
>>>>>>> exploitation is taken for granted, and thus left out, but it's almost 
>>>>>>> like
>>>>>>> the infrastructure he describes is shown to be self-sustaining, and
>>>>>>> self-fulfilling.  This is problematic I think.
>>>>>>> I think the closest he gets is that *I* or *you* - this
>>>>>>> individualized notion - will be strip-mined of our precious data based 
>>>>>>> on
>>>>>>> the technology we have around us.  This is an important consideration, 
>>>>>>> no
>>>>>>> doubt, but seems to be missing the point?
>>>>>>> I feel like I'm missing something here.
>>>>>>> Last year I read Wendy Hui Kyong Chun's book called *Programmed
>>>>>>> Visions: Software and Memory*.  It was published over 10 years ago,
>>>>>>> but I believe it has a lot in the way of extending and deepening Strom's
>>>>>>> core point, but also taking it to task where it's lacking. It
>>>>>>> focuses on the parallels and paradigms in both computing technology and
>>>>>>> neoliberal governance.  She wrote about how code is an abstraction and
>>>>>>> metaphor, and in computing as it stands now, it is a metaphor of a
>>>>>>> metaphor.  The code one writes no longer represents what happens when 
>>>>>>> one
>>>>>>> runs it.  In a sense, the sheer complexity of the system is beyond one's
>>>>>>> the capabilities of being able to grasp it in total.  She traces it 
>>>>>>> back to
>>>>>>> biology, Eugenics, chemistry, the military industrial complex, etc.  And
>>>>>>> offers a very good history for how the computing industry came to be, 
>>>>>>> going
>>>>>>> into gender dynamics.  She saw potentials for intervention within this
>>>>>>> logic.  Her book was
>>>>>>> And maybe this is tangential, but I would also recommend this talk
>>>>>>> by Nancy Fraser -
>>>>>>> It's focus isn't on technological infrastructure, but rather that
>>>>>>> capitalism requires non-capitalist spheres to sustain itself.  She
>>>>>>> discusses how capitalism can only be fully understood at this 
>>>>>>> intersection
>>>>>>> point and relation.  She describes these relations are highly 
>>>>>>> problematic,
>>>>>>> contradictory, and areas with crisis tendencies.  Fraser highlights the
>>>>>>> ecological, social and political as three such zones and their 
>>>>>>> boundaries:
>>>>>>> economy and nature, economy and society, and economy and polity.
>>>>>>> Importantly, I think, she identifies these as points of social struggle,
>>>>>>> and sees the possibility for coalition building across these three 
>>>>>>> points
>>>>>>> as a way to fight capitalism.
>>>>>>> Boris
>>>>>>> ------- Original Message -------
>>>>>>> On Wednesday, July 6th, 2022 at 1:25 PM, Molly Hankwitz <
>>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>> Brian et al,
>>>>>>> What a great and hopeful last paragraoh, Brian. Perhais, as you say,
>>>>>>> now that neoliberalism is attacking itself, there will be change…can be 
>>>>>>> a
>>>>>>> more productive critique if the beast than hipster slants.
>>>>>>> I will mention that Nobel’s book, which I’ve read very closely, not
>>>>>>> only analyzes the regimes behind search, but provides ideas; is a 
>>>>>>> clarion
>>>>>>> call for what is needed to resurrect a 90s era value in public 
>>>>>>> information
>>>>>>> - transparency, literacy, and accessibility to a wide range of sources
>>>>>>> rather than the singularity of google’s authority - and this from a 
>>>>>>> black
>>>>>>> information scholar who is already versed in how information skews 
>>>>>>> history.
>>>>>>> Thank you…lots more to read.
>>>>>>> Molly
>>>>>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>>>>> On Jul 6, 2022, at 10:07 AM, Brian Holmes <
>>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>> The thing to conclude from this thread is that capitalism is a
>>>>>>> beast. You hope it's gonna change, and then it just adds new fangs. We 
>>>>>>> all
>>>>>>> watched this happen despite (or even to some extent, because of)
>>>>>>> Nineties-era hopes that decentralized networks would translate into a
>>>>>>> distributed productive basis for a new society. took this hope 
>>>>>>> on
>>>>>>> board in the most pragmatic way possible, and Jaromil, your conclusions
>>>>>>> after two decades of sustained effort are definitely heard on this end.
>>>>>>> It's sad to be the one who gives them a theoretical framework, but this 
>>>>>>> is
>>>>>>> where resistance comes from, right? I don't think there's any way to 
>>>>>>> share
>>>>>>> struggles, to socialize resistance, without updating the critical 
>>>>>>> analysis
>>>>>>> of power. And we're overdue for a reboot on that account.
>>>>>>> Felix, your pamphlet does something fundamental in that regard,
>>>>>>> which is basically to ask, is the mining in data-mining the same as the
>>>>>>> mining in South America? Or in other words, has the raw expropriation of
>>>>>>> colonialism ever been separable from the rule-governed exploitation of
>>>>>>> factory labor? The answer that has emerged everywhere, and especially in
>>>>>>> the Americas, is no, the beast of capitalism has those two heads. The
>>>>>>> pamphlet is particularly interesting because it tries to grasp them
>>>>>>> together, and to see how they have together caused the Great 
>>>>>>> Acceleration
>>>>>>> of climate change, rather than defaulting back to one or the other as 
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> prime explanation. To me it is certain that the Great Acceleration of 
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> 1950s would have never happened without the postwar spread of the
>>>>>>> cybernetic regime, which includes not just computers but a vast
>>>>>>> organizational form, the corporate state. It takes a willful ignorance 
>>>>>>> not
>>>>>>> to see that this has always been a neocolonial, extractive regime (the
>>>>>>> example of oil extraction, one of the biggest consumers of CPU cycles, 
>>>>>>> is
>>>>>>> there for all to see). Okay, that ignorance was deliberately practiced 
>>>>>>> by
>>>>>>> many of us for decades, out of hope, as a kind of constructive wager - 
>>>>>>> no
>>>>>>> regrets about it. But now is a time of resistance, and it's really 
>>>>>>> getting
>>>>>>> urgent to have more precise observations and stronger theories about 
>>>>>>> where
>>>>>>> the double-headed and heavily fanged beast of capitalism is going. 
>>>>>>> That's
>>>>>>> why I came out against the idea of techno-feudalism, and all the 
>>>>>>> reductive
>>>>>>> hipster concepts that now just limit our understanding, with no 
>>>>>>> political
>>>>>>> benefit in return.
>>>>>>> Since 2008 there has been huge uncertainty about how cybernetic
>>>>>>> capitalism would evolve, because of insuperable contradictions within 
>>>>>>> its
>>>>>>> financial core. After Trump and Brexit, the just-in-time system of
>>>>>>> globalization came equally into question. Now the Ukraine war, including
>>>>>>> China's qualified support for Russia, has made it clear that this 
>>>>>>> system of
>>>>>>> production-distribution will not stand. We are headed for a major
>>>>>>> restructuring, further influenced by the fearsome encroaching reality of
>>>>>>> climate change. How is the existing system, the beast, cybernetic
>>>>>>> capitalism, going to morph under these new conditions?
>>>>>>> For years on nettime we speculated about exactly that question, but
>>>>>>> each crisis, from the dot-com bust onwards, was quelled by the 
>>>>>>> injection of
>>>>>>> central-bank money into the system. Now it seems that the free-money
>>>>>>> strategy has reached its limits. All the world saw that China was able 
>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>> use direct state control of the economy to solve a major financial 
>>>>>>> crisis
>>>>>>> on a 2008 scale, centered in real estate and particularly around the
>>>>>>> Evergreen corporation. Apparently they dealt with it, you don't hear any
>>>>>>> more about it. This is definitely a clue. It is apparently possible to
>>>>>>> combine cybernetic capitalism with a strong state. Whether or how that
>>>>>>> combination might come into being in the so-called West is a real 
>>>>>>> question.
>>>>>>> In any event I am certain that the thing we speculated about for so
>>>>>>> long is now really happening. The neoliberal paradigm is being hit by 
>>>>>>> all
>>>>>>> the monsters that it has created - Russia, precarity, climate change - 
>>>>>>> and
>>>>>>> at the same time, AI is coming out of the box. A new
>>>>>>> production-distribution system is both technically imaginable and widely
>>>>>>> desired. The next decade will see, either generalized war and entropic
>>>>>>> breakdown, or a reformulation of the exploitative/extractive combo. I
>>>>>>> reckon that option 2 is more likely, although definitely with limited 
>>>>>>> war,
>>>>>>> of the kind we're seeing now or maybe worse. If you don't want to leave 
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> right-wing ideologists in charge of the question of a state-led, 
>>>>>>> protective
>>>>>>> cybernetics, then now is the time to give up the hipster concepts and
>>>>>>> restart the pragmatic analysis of what is indeed a very ugly beast. How 
>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>> grasp it as it emerges?
>>>>>>> courage to all,
>>>>>>> Brian
>>>>>>> On Wed, Jul 6, 2022 at 5:27 AM Jaromil <> wrote:
>>>>>>>> dear Brian, Felix and nettime readers,
>>>>>>>> coincidentally, let me share some recent news, small but relevant
>>>>>>>> to complete the analysis:
>>>>>>>> let me complete with what this magazine (historically pro-systemd
>>>>>>>> and aggressively posed against all critics) is perhaps afraid to tell: 
>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>> master of systemd now works for Micro$oft.
>>>>>>>> I hope you
>>>>>>>> don't mind me per-using your quote Brian.
>>>>>>>> On Sun, 03 Jul 2022, Brian Holmes wrote:
>>>>>>>> > This is totally on point, Jaromil. The tech industry has always
>>>>>>>> been able to think cybernetically - it has to, in order to handle
>>>>>>>> interactive networks with millions of users - but what you're pointing 
>>>>>>>> out,
>>>>>>>> in a very specific situation, is how it's now able to carry out 
>>>>>>>> integrated
>>>>>>>> strategies affecting entire fields or "modes of practice." In your 
>>>>>>>> example,
>>>>>>>> it means reshaping all the factors that condition the software 
>>>>>>>> development
>>>>>>>> process, including institutional ones such as the literature on 
>>>>>>>> standards
>>>>>>>> and the processes for their validation.
>>>>>>>> >
>>>>>>>> > On the global level both Google and Microsoft are notorious for
>>>>>>>> transforming governance through the introduction of particular types of
>>>>>>>> software and information-processing services that reshape the activity 
>>>>>>>> of
>>>>>>>> corporate officials and bureaucrats, and in that way, affect entire
>>>>>>>> societies. However I had never considered that Red Hat would be doing 
>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>> same within social-democratic spheres where FOSS development is 
>>>>>>>> supported
>>>>>>>> by public money. It's somewhat depressing news, because FOSS 
>>>>>>>> development
>>>>>>>> for public use is really one of the few places where the 
>>>>>>>> social-steering
>>>>>>>> capacities of Silicon Valley are challenged... I don't have the 
>>>>>>>> expertise
>>>>>>>> to fully evaluate what you're saying (although I have read about 
>>>>>>>> Devuan and
>>>>>>>> the systemd controversies!) - but anyway, yes, I think we are talking 
>>>>>>>> about
>>>>>>>> exactly the same thing here.
>>>>>>>> I love how the research and works by Florian Gottke remind us about
>>>>>>>> the importance of topping statues, an act operating through the 
>>>>>>>> language of
>>>>>>>> liturgy, and firmly preluding radical changes in governance.
>>>>>>>> And so there is a symbolic event last year worth mentioning: the
>>>>>>>> topping of RMS from his role as prophet: we wrote about it here
>>>>>>>> - an open letter written together with Christina Derazenski, a big 
>>>>>>>> loss as
>>>>>>>> I believe she'd be able to describe much better than me what is 
>>>>>>>> happening
>>>>>>>> and through the lenses of feminism.
>>>>>>>> Today we have the not-so-symbolic event of Linux development being
>>>>>>>> steered by Micro$oft, with all implications enounced in this thread.
>>>>>>>> So now let me once again use nettime to mark an event in time -
>>>>>>>> this list is the best literary blockchain around! :^D
>>>>>>>> Today we witness the epilogue of what was the F/OSS movement with
>>>>>>>> all its dreams of glory and democracy or do-ocracy or whatever 
>>>>>>>> fascinated
>>>>>>>> our friend Biella so much when describing Debian. Today we observe 
>>>>>>>> what you
>>>>>>>> mention as a "classic cybernetic takeover" vastly overlooked by 
>>>>>>>> academic
>>>>>>>> literature about governance and free software.
>>>>>>>> I am fascinated by all this, but somehow relieved there will be no
>>>>>>>> more a global F/OSS movement, just pockets of resistance.
>>>>>>>> Foucault, Deleuze, Caronia... they have seen all this already.
>>>>>>>> And they were right: being and becoming marginal, feels good.
>>>>>>>> Also some security experts were right from the beginning, about
>>>>>>>> using OpenBSD.
>>>>>>>> ciao
>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>>   Denis "Jaromil" Roio think &do tank
>>>>>>>>   Ph.D, CTO & co-founder    software to empower communities
>>>>>>>>   ✉ Haparandadam 7-A1, 1013AK Amsterdam, The Netherlands
>>>>>>>>   𝄞 crypto κρυπτο крипто क्रिप्टो 加密 التشفير הצפנה
>>>>>>>>   ⚷ 6113D89C A825C5CE DD02C872 73B35DA5 4ACB7D10
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