While the Japanese tragedy has exposed the poisonous effects of the subjugation of knowledge by an obsession with capitalist accumulation, we should be able to consider what possibilities remain available for creating an autonomy for knowledge from capitalism in the future. We should be able to imagine a pathway for knowledge workers to self-organize, and we should be able to create the institutions, or models for future institutions, of knowledge production and transmission. The complex mutation of knowledge production and transmission, and the related transformation—or devastation—of modern institutions of education, has been a crucial outcome of financial dictatorship in the sphere of semiocapital.
Let’s not forget that in the 1990s—when the web prompted a new environment for cognitive activity, mutating the very methodology of producing and distributing knowledge—many theorists, technologists, and economists spoke optimistically of a long, inexhaustible economic boom, spreading the idea that collective intelligence and capitalism were finally allied. This was true in some sense, for the decade was marked by the widespread proliferation of dot-com enterprises that acted as a space for empowering cognitive labor, offering a degree of partial self-determination. Cognitive workers, engineers, artists, and scientists could create small, dynamic structures for communication and common production. But this did not last. The 2000 downturn of the virtual economy, the dot-com crash that followed, and the simultaneous change in cultural and political climate triggered a reversal, and a process by which the subjectivity of the general intellect began to be dismantle. The potency of mental activity came to be separated from the collective body, from the social circuitry of life.
In this process of this dismantling, labor has been precarized, living time has been fractalized, and collective intelligence has been subjugated. European governments’ attack on the educational system is the final blow to the autonomy of knowledge. The subjectivity of the general intellect is dismantled as a precondition to a much broader subjugation of the processes of knowledge, to the techno-linguistic enslavement of cognitive behavior in the sphere of production and consumption.
The cognitive performance of the precarious worker must become compatible, fractal, recombinable. Cognitive ability must be detached from sensibility, from the ability to detect, interpret, and understand signs that cannot be translated into words. The standardization of the cognitive process involves a digital formatting of the mind, disturbing the sphere of sensibility, and finally destroying it.
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