CONTENTS

 
   about
   MICHAEL BETANCOURT NEWS
   movies: AESTHETICS
   movies: NEWS & REVIEWS
   movies: SHOWS & SCREENINGS
   random art notes
   random how-tos
   research: AVANT-GARDE MOVIES
   research: MOTION GRAPHICS
   research: VISUAL MUSIC
   theory: CRITICAL OBSERVATIONS
   theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM
   theory: GLITCH & POSTDIGITAL
   theory: working notes

 

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SEARCH ARCHIVES

archives begin in 1996

  

notes on 'The Fantasy of Equivalence'

story © Michael Betancourt | published December 7, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

An erasure of ontological distinctions plays a crucial role in the commodification of human labor as an assumption of equivalence between not only differently skilled labor, but the products of that labor: that the variable quality of production does not figure into its valuations. This basis is innate to the question Karl Marx addresses at the start of his analysis, Why is labor represented by the value of its product (commodities), and labor time by the magnitude of that value?, which reveals equivalence as a foundational, even necessary part of the definition of capitalism. Although exchange value arises from social activity, it is at the same time dependent on the suspension of differenceequivalence reifies the commodity form as an abstraction apart from its materiality, a separation that recalls the aura of the digitalreturning digital capitalism to its origins in the industrial labor. Marxs analytic enshrines equivalence by setting aside distinctions between high and low quality, as well as between skilled and unskilled labor, in order to advance an abstraction of that productive process that depended on the assumption of the interchangeability of commodities, labor, and capital. His disregard for the material and qualitative differences between commodities mirrored the labor-intensive manufacturing processes of the period when he developed his critique: the concern with the productive capabilities of labor as a constraint on production provides a literal limit on quantity, valuation, and quality of the productive labor performed, for example, by the unskilled child labor employed in the factories Marx was considering. This issuechild laboris an implicit and unacknowledged component assumption for his analytic, one that simultaneously passes without comment in its construction but that guides the conclusions he derives.




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Fake News and Agnotology

story © Michael Betancourt | published December 6, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

The emergence of the fake news phenomenon in the United States during 2016 and 2017 demonstrates the political applications of agnotology, quite apart from its structural role in maintaining digital capitalism. In being used for obviously political ends, agnotology reveals its foundations in equivalence: a social relations and assumptions, whether between instances of type, qualitatively distinct actions, or in divergent forms of immaterial (intellectual) labor are symptoms of the expansive semiotic processes of digital capitalism.




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Kritik des digitalen Kapitalismus

story © Michael Betancourt | published November 12, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

The German translation of The Critique of Digital Capitalism is available for pre-order from the publisher, WBG Verlag!

Die grten, erfolgreichsten und mchtigsten Unternehmen unserer Zeit sind lngst nicht mehr nur im klassischen produzierenden Gewerbe zu finden. Der atemberaubende Erfolg von Firmen wie Facebook oder Google beruht auf der Bereitstellung immaterieller Dienstleitungen, insbesondere aber auf der Sammlung von Daten.

Mit seiner Kritik des digitalen Kapitalismus legt Michael Betancourt eine scharfe Analyse dieser neuen konomischen Verhltnisse vor und beleuchtet deren Eigenschaften und Probleme. Von der vermeintlichen Demokratisierung der Gesellschaft durch die freie Verfgbarkeit von Informationen ber die Illusion der kostenfreien, weil nicht physischen Herstellung digitaler Produkte bis zur Neudefinition des Verhltnisses materieller und immaterieller Gter: Betancourt setzt sich mit den Begleiterscheinungen der digitalen Wirtschaft auseinander, die schon lngst unser Leben bestimmen und prgen.






 
a note on 'The Fantasy of Equivalence'

story © Michael Betancourt | published July 9, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

The capitalist conception as labor value being wholy dependent on the amount of time required for production, described by Karl Marx as a foundational principle of his critique, depends on an assumption of equivalence between not only differently skilled labor, but on the products of that labor. This fantasy authorizes the valorization of intellectual labor and production regardless of its validity within the database: the precession of agnotology around this apparent relativism depends on the same beliefs in equivalence, a reification of abstract principle as instrumentality. Marxs analytic reveals this fallacy precisely in setting aside the issues of distinction between labor in order to advance an abstraction of that productive processhis disregard for the material differences between skilled an unskilled labor mirrored the labor-intensive productive processes of the period when he developed his critique: the concern with the productive capabilties of unskilled labor as a constraint on production provides a literal limit on the production work performed, for example, by child labor.






 
The Paradox of Agency - New Article!

story © Michael Betancourt | published December 5, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

CTheory has posted my new article, "The Paradox of Agency," that describes the new alienation we all live within: created by automation, this alienation masquerades as a liberating force enabling fluid forms of identity/action/being in the digital society, but if and only if we accept the limited range of constraints generated by the digital systems builders. A new, contemporary alienation originates from within this affective surplus of agency created by digital systems. Any action or behavior not contained by this structural preconception is designated as invalidrendered impossible through a technology that transforms the social restrictions into instrumentalities that cannot be questioned. The limits of this freedom are immediately apparent in the situation of gig workers (such as on-demand labor) whose work is managed by autonomous systems. The separation of action from result by the aura of the digital reveals this alienation in the paradoxical dispersal of efficacy and immediacy of control.