Continued from “The Vectoralist Class”
In the first part of this essay I presented the history of commodity production as passing through three overlapping stages, each of which entailed a bifurcation into two classes, which polarizes the social field. In each stage, that field has a certain definitive quality. The rise of industry, and the struggle between worker and capitalist, produces a more abstract topography, a second nature. The rise of information and the struggle between hacker and vectoralist produces an even more abstract topology, a third nature. This space becomes a global topology in which almost any point can connect to any other, mobilizing resources on a planetary scale.
At each stage, the field of class conflict might have a certain polarity between the principle dominating and dominated classes, but all classes across all three “natures” interact, as if in a game of three-dimensional chess. In many instances the key class conflict may be between different ruling classes. The unity of the three dominated classes can also never be guaranteed. They are not a multitude, but distinct classes with different functions in the production process.
With this understanding in place, it is possible to reframe a somewhat confused debate about whether to imagine historical change in terms of a force that would negate the relentless drive of commodification, or rather would accelerate it towards its end. Neither, as we shall see, offers much in our times by way of renewing the historical imagination.
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