On this tumblr page you will find a lot of stuff that you can also find on www.mdbergfeld.com The reason I use tumblr is because someone told me that it's what you do these days.
yesterday I watched the movie ‘Her’. For those who haven’t watched the movie the story is about a man who starts a relationship with his computer operating system which has the scope to develop and grow beyond itself (artificial intelligence). No spoilers!
Here are a few comments and thoughts about the film.
1) The movie highlights the dual nature of technology under capitalism. Technology is both empowering and alienating. The fact that humans interact and ‘materially appropriate’ these technologies has contradictory effects for our society. So it is not true that our society is necessarily more alienated than it was 150 years ago. Neither is it the case that we are more connected as the film so beautifully conveys.
2) With the advancement of communications technology under capitalism it is assumed that we, the users, gain more control over the technologies at our disposal: The fact that I no longer have to watch a tv show at a certain point in time but can stream it whenever I want. However that omits a trade-off with capitalist technologies. You either have control over ‘form’ or its ‘content’. This classical antagonism in capitalism means we remain alienated from the very technologies at long as they are not under socialised control.
3) Just as Walter Benjamin sought to come to terms with ‘mechanical reproducibility’ in his day and age we have to come to terms with the ‘electronic reproducibility’. Reproducibility democratises the relationships between people and different human and non-human actors. As Benjamin states so poignantly the advancement leads to a loss of ‘aura’. After watching ‘Her’ it might be argued that this new form of technological innovation (in fact, personalised robotics) might restore ‘aura’. It might be very hypothetical but this could awaken old ideologies that we believed capitalism had long rendered obsolete.
4) business journalists and Economics professors want us to believe the future is bright. They perpetuate the myth of the college drop-out inventing mobile apps, gadgets or social networking sites in his parents’ garage of childhood bedroom. In doing so, they rewrite the rags to riches-story for our digital era. Apparently, everyone can be a Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, or Jeff Bezos. What is omitted is the fact that most start-ups fail even if they manage to bring venture capital on board. Moreover, no one ever mentions the fact that Amazon.com first became profitable eight years into its existence and estimates have it that Twitter has never made a single Cent in profit. These digital pioneers are not some kind of Schumpeterian productive entrepreneurs, or heroes in an ageing capitalism who can defy gravity. They epitomise the volatility of a senile system.
5) Most technological innovations have not fulfilled their promise of reducing our workload or the hours of our working week. Many people work 50 or even 60 hours a week. So while the new futurists talk about the promise of 3D-printing technologies and personal robots we should remind ourselves that the most recent technological innovations have not alleviated inequality, introduced more control over our lives or created the potentiality of overcoming capitalism once and for all. While these myths have day-traders foaming at their mouths, the Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang (by no stretch of imagination an anti-capitalist) successfully debunked the transformative power of the Internet in economic terms. He argues that the washing machine freed up women to enter the labour market and thus was a far more disruptive technological innovation in absolute terms.
So yeah this ended up a bit longer than I thought it would. Hope this gets people thinking about the role of technology in our lives. Says the guy who spends every waking minute on Facebook.
Forget House of Cards make sure to follow Turkey’s newest soap opera “Tayyip and Sons”. Classic lines include: “Son, get rid of all the money in the house”
Remember the difficulties Walter White of Breaking Bad had in hiding all those barrels of money. If he had only watched ‘Tayyip and Sons’ he would have known that shoe boxes stuffed with $5 Million are just as bad/good.
Are you also fed up with all those other Turkish soap operas and those good-looking guys in them, Tayyip and Sons has none of it: It’s full of ugly dudes and pure machinations and greed.
Keep your eyes out for Season 2 of ‘Tayyip & Sons’ soon on PenguinTV
Søren Goard reports on the protests erupting in Bosnia:
The uprising in Bosnia, seemingly bursting from nowhere, is possibly one of the most important things to happen in Europe so far this year. Burnt out police cars, anti-nationalist graffiti on government offices and rooms stuffed with unemployed youth and striking workers attempting direct democracy; these are the images of a genuinely social revolt. It is the most significant political development in Bosnia-Herzegovina since the end of the conflict in the 1990s and the imposition, by the UN, of the Dayton Agreement - a kind of super-bureaucratic and barely workable apartheid that makes Bosnian parliamentary politics almost impossible to explain.
So over the last three days I read David McNally’s ‘Global Slump - The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance’.
I had listened to many youtube talks by McNally and had read the debate in the ISJ. His talks, articles and book on Zombies and capitalism are highly entertaining and insightful. For those who have followed the debate in the ISJ I must admit that McNally makes a very convincing argument about how neoliberalism (1982-1997) was able to counterveil the crisis in profitability. While both sides of the debate are trapped by using secondary data to make their point, McNally’s narrative in ‘The Global Slump’ has convinced me somewhat more.
I recommend people to read the book - the way it links the different fault lines of the crisis (financialisation, debt, migration, resistance) is unique. The style of writing is accessible, even poetic and funny at times.
Also make sure to check out the other books such as ‘Catastrophism’ inSasha Lilley's 'Spectre series'.