4 Stars Brilliant Vital Focus on Human Contributions to Economic Wealth Creation, Turgid Beyond Comprehension
The only thinig worse that reading a book in turgid academic French ( which I cannot do) is reading the same book translated into turgid academic English — turgid on steroids. This book could have been a ten page articulation of its core concept, that political economy needs to be rooted in the actual time-energy-intellect-spirit of each of the humans engaged in any process, rather than what we have today, where the financialization of the economy and the legalization of all forms of cheating and corruption, have impoverished and dispossessed the 99% for the benefit of the 1%.
Here is the most coherent bit from the official Amazon description:
By bringing together Plato and Marx, Stiegler can show how a generalized proletarianization now encompasses not only the muscular system, as Marx saw it, but also the nervous system of the so-called creative workers in the information industries. The proletarians of the former are deprived of their practical know-how, whereas the latter are shorn of their theoretical practice, and both suffer from a confiscation of the very possibility of a genuine art of living.
What I get from this book:
“Economy of Contribution” is the key phrase
Profits should reflect value creation that is sustainable, profits cannot be durable if they destroy society.
Fictitious capital (which I take to be compound interest on stolen money, derivatives, and stock gambling with the manipulation of futures as well as currency and interest rates) is the cancer of capitalism today.
In combination, consumerist capital (others would say big box swindle) and funny money (monnaie de singe in French) institutionalize carelessness, impunity, and the larger “consumption” of society by the bankers.
Shareholder capitalism disrespects and impoverishes the greater ecology of shareholders (workers, customers, communities, societies, host countries).
The “conservative revolution” is a much needed correction that subordinates the technical system to the economic system.
The author is strongest in showing that technology used to displace humans is destructive of political economy correctly understood as the total integration of politics (human ends, ways, and means) and economy (methods of production).
The author articulates the urgency of ensuring that technology empowers humans to do more creative work rather than less — I did a rant to this effect for Paul Allen’s INTERVAL in 1993, but of course they did not get it, nor did Amazon get it when I spoke to them in 2007 — everyone rushes to place technology in the service of the 1% and against the 99% and that is a YUGE mistake.
The author has a section on the collapse of a system of motivations, which I interpret to mean that when you take out the pursuit of happiness (fulfilment) and turn everyone into a cog, a slave, an automaton, you literally rip the heart out of the economy and out of society.
The economy of contribution and the conservative revolution must — as Special Operations has always said (but often dishonored) — put people first. The three “first principles” of SOF bear mention here:
- Humans are more important than hardware.
- Quality is better than Quantity.
- Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced.
My emphasis on holistic analytics certainly calls for the re-integration of political science and economics, as well as the the complete integration of true cost economics and commercial intelligence (decision-support) into every product, process, and policy. What we have today is a terribly corrupt system in which the 1% are not held accountable for screwing the 99% with impunty — with the active complicity of the US Government including particularly the Department of Justice and the FBI.