Multitudes 32 : Spring 2008

Multitudes : Spring

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Toni Negri et Carlo Vercellone

Le rapport capital/travail dans le capitalisme cognitif

This essay proposes a synthetic matrix for reading the transformations in the relation between capital and labor which, since the social crisis of Fordism, have led to a rise in strength of the cognitive and immaterial dimensions of labor. The emphasis is placed particularly on the growing autonomy of labor and on the key role played by the production of Man by man – traditionally assured by the institutions of welfare – in the constitution of the Common and in the rise of an economy based on the driving force of knowledge and its diffusion. A major transformation in salary relations has progressively destabilized traditional, Fordist, terms of capital/labor, revealing, at the same time, the manner in which the transformation of labor and the crisis in the laws of the value-time of labor translate into a radical modification of the mechanisms of capture of surplus value. It is within this framework that the authors identify, on several levels, the process which leads to a return in force of annuity and a crisis in the categorical formula permitting clear separation amongst the trinity of salary, annuity, and profit. They also indicate the outlines of a process of class recomposition that would appear likely to find one of its principal vectors in the reappropriation of the institutions of welfare and the struggle for a guaranteed social income.


Cristina Vega

Le soin des autres et le travail de l’affect

This essay insists on the crucial position of affective labor and care. In the society of network labor, the principal object of work is no longer inanimate matter but life itself. The labor of caregivers, social workers, etc., is characterized by relational activity which, by nature, mobilizes affects and intelligence in the mutual co-production of services. Such activities are furthermore highly feminized and inscribed in the interstices between the public and the private, the domestic and the state spheres, market and non-market economies. Another significant trait : these new forms of work are increasingly guaranteed in the sphere of the market by an immigrant labor force that, although highly qualified, is often under-paid and subject to a heavy process of declassification. Under the impulse of neoliberal policies, the intensification of inequities in the distribution of revenue and the weakening of Welfare guarantees favor the birth of what André Gorz has called « modern domesticity ». The combination of inequality in both salary and inheritances is thus at the origin of a growing dualism in the labor market. We are thus witness to a marked tendency culminating in the generalization of the anglo-saxon model of regulation of cognitive capitalism, even though this trend bears no inevitable logic–as shown, for example, by the Nordic model of social protection and regulation of the labor market.


Cristina Morini et Andrea Fumagalli

Segmentation du travail cognitif et individualisation du salaire

The paper deals with the transformation of labour and wages differentiation, providing some empirical examples in the diffusion of cognitive labour, especially in the publishing industry. The first part gives a definition of cognitive labour by focussing on the role played by relation activities and learning processes. It is the type of labour which is able, better than others, to exploit the new types of dynamic scale economies which affect the way of accumulation of cognitive capitalism. Network and learning activities, by definition, lead to an increasing of labour and wage individualisation and fragmentation, which in many cases imply a precarious condition in term of income and social security. In the second part of the paper, the labour organisation is analysed as far as publishing industry is concerned. In the publishing industry, cognitive labour is increasing in relevant way as a consequence of the introduction of Ict. Empirical data show that this dynamic leads to an increase of wages differentiation and precariousness, more and more based on the new cognitive division of labour.


Bernard Paulré

Finance et accumulations dans le capitalisme post-industriel

The thesis of a financial capitalism is often opposed to the thesis of a knowledge capitalism. We argue that this opposition and the quasi order we get to choose between the two thesis are spurious. In the same global change dynamics, post fordism is producing an important development, qualitative and quantitative, of the financial area, and a knowledge based capitalism. Our intent, in this article, is to give some arguments for the justification of this interdependency and for the identification of its coherence.


Yann Moulier Boutang

Finance, instabilité et gouvernabilité des externalités

After putting the process of the financialization of capital into historical perspective, this essay focuses attention on the role of finance capital in the governance of externalities on two levels : (1) the first has to do with the revenge of negative externalities. The overexploitation of the planet resulting from two centuries of super-productivist growth has henceforth introduced a structural uncertainty into the global economy that weighs as much upon the price of non-renewable resources as, more fundamentally, the « price of the future as a whole ». For better or for worse, it is now finance capital that is going to be « asked to put a price on the future ». This state of affairs is all the more marked given that the development of activities designed to counter negative externalities is necessarily destined to play a major role in the dynamic of capitalism. Following the stock exchange protocols realized around dot.coms and then housing, it is extremely likely that the next stock exchange protocol will be directed at alternative energy sources and activities related to growth-related damage control. (2) The second level concerns the growing role of positive externalities linked to the process of production and the circulation of knowledge. More precisely, the revolution in information and communication technologies (ICT) and the rise of the immaterial translate into two convergent and eminently contradictory effects, to which finance capital brings a particular response. On the one hand, ICTs allow for the digitalization and codification of all that is repetitive in mental activity by depreciating the market value of information. However – and this is where we find our first contradiction – these codified and (re-) digitalized knowledges present a major problem to private appropriation. Although the cost of their initial production is definite, their marginal costs are by contrast very slight or even non-existent – a fact that makes the execution of intellectual property rights that much more difficult. On the other hand, this same automation of repetitive mental activities and the concomitant codification of knowledge displaces the heart of value-creative activity towards implicit knowledge that is codifiable only with difficulty : this is knowledge of the so-called second type, constituted by the triptych of creativity/intelligence/innovation. This is the paradigmatic model of immaterial labor that relies « upon the cooperation between minds working on computer and connected by the net (internet) ». The subjection of this form of productive network cooperation can only be indirect and formal. Within this framework, finance capital is thus forever destined to fulfill two structural functions. Only finance capital is capable of allowing the subsumption of immaterial labor while realizing the evaluation at fair value of immaterial assets, in a context of structural uncertainty where the « value of knowledge goods oscillates between nothing and incommensurable values and the price of monopoly, which is ultimately political ».


Antonella Corsani

Rente salariale et production de subjectivité

The central concern of this essay : the emergence of the figure of the « wage shareholder ». There is nothing new about this figure in and of itself if one thinks of wage differentials linked to social hierarchies determined by the professions. Or again if one thinks of wage-earning shares obtained by sections of the wage-earning system at the expense of feminine, precarious, and immigrant wage earners. What is new is that today the wage share results from a double process of wage individualization and « socialization of capital ». It is thus of a new nature, and its emergence therefore renders more indistinct the boundaries that separate the main categories of revenue : wage, annuity and profit. In this article, it is less a question of accounting for the figure of the wage-earning shareholder from a strictly economic point of view as to see it in terms of a double process that gives to it the functions proper to a machine producing subjectivity that unite the dangerous link between cognitive capitalism and neoliberalism.


Christian Marazzi

La monnaie et la finance globale

The various institutional reforms which have led since the end of the 70s to the « privatisation of currency » have formed the main base on which the subsequent power of (international) finance has been built, and, concurently, the dismantling of Welfare could take place. Core of this was the so-called autonomy of central banks, as their « umbilical cord » to national treasuries was severed. From then on, deficit financing and « keynesian » social expenditures became near-impossible. Emphasizing the autonomy of central banks from politics was mostly an institutional mutation meant to free monetary policies from social pressure and make it totally subordinate to rent creation and financial accumulation. No wonder then that « securitisation » of the public debt closely followed on the prohibition to deficit financing social expenditures. And then the outcome was not a reduction, but an explosion of public debt! And as debt servicing becomes a principal item on the budget, the « excessive costs » of welfare provisions is blamed, and a further break-down of social services is called for. It is in the same vein that price inflation is controlled, but assets inflation and speculative bubbles dominate « developped » economies. Meanwhile, in order to compensate for increasing income inequalities and diminishing welfare benefits, an exacerbated form of « private households deficit spending »has come into its own, as witnessed by the subprime crisis and mounting credit card defaults. So we are moving from an entitlements-based provision of social goods (housing, education, health etc) to one based on the pure logic of capital and its cycles. The only way out lies in the resocialisation of currency (and an end to the « independence » of central banks), profound fiscal reforms, the demise of rent-seeking, and the institution of an universal « basic income ».


Toni Negri

La démocratie contre la rente

Today democracy is no longer faced with absolute, land-based rent (ground and real estate) ; it must above all confront financial rent, capital, which money mobilizes globally as a fundamental instrument in the control of the multitudes. « Financialization » is the present form of capitalist governance. Obviously, this is still tied to rent, and it repeats the latter’s violent intentionality – just as it takes over the ambiguities and contradictions of any figure of capitalist exploitation. It would thus be stupid to think that financial capital does not represent in itself an antagonistic moment, for it always includes within itself labor-force as a necessary elements, which is both a producer of capital and a threat to it.


Jean-Claude Paye

Ennemi de l’Empire

Via the struggle against terrorism, the notion of war has made its entry into criminal law. The insertion of hostilities into the internal juridical order was first carried out by administrative acts concerning foreigners, justified in the name of the state of emergency. But the Military Commissions Act inscribes this notion of war permanently into law. At the same time, it changes both its content and its field of application. It allows the U.S. president to designate the country’s own citizens and its political opponents as enemies.


Pierre Lévy

Internet : de quel séisme parle-t-on ?

The recent book from Marc Le Glatin Internet, un séisme dans la culture ?, performs three intellectual acts. First, it resumes the main facts concerning the evolution of cultural practices on the Internet, particularly the multiplication of « free » downloading of works that are in principle protected by intellectual property. Second, it interrogates the notions of intellectual property and cultural diversity in relation to the new possibilities opened up by the Net. Third, it proposes some tentative solutions for legal and economic problems, mainly the artists remuneration, related to current media transformations. Facts are correctly outlined and questions are worth asking. But the proposed solutions – inspired by a mix of centralizing jacobinism, socialism and post-modernism – sound deceptive because they are based on philosophical and political presuppositions that are quite contrary to the current stream of cultural mutation. I discuss the author’s thesis from the standpoint of a philosophy of collective intelligence and proposes some solutions oriented toward the best exploitation of the new technical possibilities in the service of human development and emancipation.


Arnaud Sauli et Alexandre Soucaille

Propos sur le Camp : les « Tribus criminelles ». Inde, (1871– )

If European metropolises witnessed the development, throughout the 19th century, of various forms of concentrationary assistance and radical isolation through penal colonies, colonial space was the site of an even more explicit formulation and experimentation with the creation and the exclusion of of an undesirable human surplus, notably in South Asia, where the social system of castes could provide powerful ideological foundations for the colonial thinking on exclusion. This article seeks to illustrate this by examining the creation of the category of « criminal tribes » in India, during the last third of the 19th century.