Like everyone I was inadvertently becoming informationalised. I remember feeling the need for more information, more knowledge in order to understand these changes. This enormous shift from our collective industrial past was transforming not only work and social practices, but how an individual sees the world, others, and ultimately how they understand their self. As Hardt and Negri put it, at the point where industry is replaced by information in economic terms it’s not so much about de-industrialising the human condition as “informationalising” it. This shift, at least in terms of labour and manufacture, has been taking place since the early 1970s as growth in western economies was increasingly linked to the service industries and information technology I would like to propose that conceptually, as a sort of meta-narrative, it can be traced back to the Macy Conferences on cybernetics 1943 to 1954. (Johny Spencer, 2003)
From 'What is to be done?' – Approaching the task through Debord and Negri:
Politics has been emptied of any content and no one any longer has any hope in the development of history. The problem with critique is that it will not live up to its self-fascination or its absorption in the object. We have to avoid the solidity of activism and its ideological security, keep its promiscuity and fervour at bay. The complex density of existence is suspended in a racketistic standpoint identity, i.e., in following. After Debord it seems clear that the critical analysis of society cannot be performed as a personal contestation. The critical analysis of society can either be based on a realistic gathering of knowledge and observations or be a matter of ideology or political conviction. It is no longer possible to try to connect a critique of everyday life with a critique of capitalism, where the sole outcome is that the revolutionary feels revolutionary. "We know the possibility of other vital insurrections, but we also know that their scarceness in history […] make them fall fatally into this mythology of subversion and mythology of a subversive-self that is among the most efficient means to avoid the revolutionary experience".(88) This very suspect self-knowledge is caught between narcissism and the desire for condemnation. It is not possible to locate any kind of revolutionary mode de vie or capital-negating philosophy of life. But it might be possible to live in a revolutionary way, that’s all we are left with. The problem with the desire for action might exactly then be ‘desire’ and not ‘action’. The desire for action. The word ‘desire’ raises a lot of difficult questions that reveal the fragile character of this undertaking. Can desire be substituted with need? Is it simply an emotional response when I feel aroused by the destinies and thoughts of Kronstadt, The Commune of Paris, the group around Miasnikov, May’68, Sapronov-Smirnov, April’77, LEF, Barcelona, the Makhnovians, etc.? Perhaps the weight of the question of ‘what is to be done?’ is so tremendous that we do not even dare pose it in these times. Perhaps we are left with Pierre Guyotat’s judgment that until we have grown eleven fingers on each hand the revolution is still to come, meaning that we want a world where all is not already enshrined in a destiny, nor still entirely to do. (Mikkel Bolt, 2001)
A new interview with Michael Hardt (via).