So much chewy material in this genuine monster of an Evgeny Morozov essay at New Left Review. Absorbing it fully would likely take a number of re-reads, not to mention a greater familiarity with the literatures and debates he’s navigating here; as such, to the only precis I can offer is Morozov’s own, from near the end of the piece:
The ultimate irony here is that the best evidence that ‘accumulation via innovation’ is—like capitalism itself—still very much alive, can be found in the same technology sector that Durand writes off as feudalist and rentierist. We can see as much when we abandon the overdetermined macro-narratives of these analytical frameworks—be it Harvey’s ‘neoliberalism’ as a political project or Vercellone’s ‘cognitive capitalism’. Thinking of technology firms the way Marx would have likely thought about them—that is, as capitalist producers—surely yields better results.
But the bit I wanted to clip here for my own (and I suppose rather narrower) uses is this:
… if the ‘political’ was so instrumental to the constitution of the ‘economic’, one might as well ask just what is gained by presenting capitalism as a system that keeps the ‘political’ and the ‘economic’ apart? That capitalists and their ideologues talk that way is one thing; the extent to which this is an accurate description of what actually occurs under capitalism—the thesis of Woods’s article—is another. Here one is reminded of Bruno Latour’s quip that modernity speaks with a forked tongue: it says that science and society are poles apart—but this strategic confusion is precisely what allows it to hybridize them so productively. It may be that the story of the political and the economic under capitalism is very similar.
My ears always prick up when someone invokes Oncle Bruno—naturellement!—but that’s an analogy which could come in very handy, even (if not particularly) when working with Latour’s own writings.
In other news, this week I’m waving-not-drowning (or so I hope) in the riptides of Swedish academia’s Eastertide grant application season, and fretting over poor L____’s being holed up in a mid-tier Manchester hotel for the next six days, thanks to her having started to exhibit C19 symptoms on the first day of a conference. She’ll be fine, I’m sure, but of all the places to ride out a nasty virus, that’s pretty low on the list.