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<nettime> IO_lavoro immateriale/ What possibilities for action exist today in the public sphere?

IO_lavoro immateriale

IO_lavoro immateriale is a collaborative database  generated for Venice
Biennale '99 by Maurizio Lazzarato, Luther Blisset , Michael Hardt
(philosopher), Hans Ulrich Reck , Enzo Rullani and Iaia Vantaggiato. The
database serves as an open discursive machine to question the current
conditions of creative action and production in society. Starting from the
analysis of 'immaterial labour' (all forms of creative, intellectual and
affective labour are fully integrated and essential factors in the dominant
economical production), the group collaboratively searches for contemporary
political forms and concepts of creative actions in the public sphere. Each
of the participants develops an individual map with textual information
(Italian, English), evolving it into a continuously transforming discursive
topology. The information of all maps of the different participants
self-organises on an extra map. Here the relations between the information
included and arranged by the different participants will be visualized as
movements and force fields. Visitors in the Biennale exhibition (Austrian
Pavillion) can physically experience this collaborative database through an
Interface developed by Knowbotic Research via magnetic fields - all textual
materials can be browsed in the exhibition and via a native browser.

Following text by Maurizio Lazzarato served as starting point of the project:

What possibilities for action exist today in the public sphere?

	When we attempt to conceive possible action in the public sphere of
post-Fordism, we find ourselves in a completely new situation.  The modern
distinctions among instrumental action (action to attain a certain result
and, to
simplify it in the following text, we identify this action with labour),
action (action in response to the action of others) and artistic action
(action in
which the resulting work is linked to the open and indeterminate creative
process) do not exist anymore.
	The conditions for economic production, artistic creation, and
action have entered a zone of indifference where they are linked through a
series of reciprocal presuppositions.
	I think that this new situation is based on the fact that labour no
represents a special, separated practice that is structured according to
criteria and procedures than artistic and political practice. Labour tends
to be
expressed through the powers of desire, the powers of thought, and the
application of generic human faculties: language, memory, aesthetic and
ethical competencies and the ability of abstraction and learning. Thus, from a
formal point of view, labour does not exclusively produce commodity-objects
but also social relations, forms of life, and modes of subjectivation.
	In contemporary philosophy and sociology, the crisis of concept of
action only describes the result of a secular struggle conducted against wage
labour, that is to say, against the fact that the activity of the majority
of the
population is reduced to the execution of commanded tasks (to instrumental
action) for purposes that are external to the workers themselves.
	In post-Fordism, there have been radical changes not only in the
conditions that define political action, labour and artistic creation, but
also in
the modes of subjectivation corresponding to these forms of action: the
the citizen, the artist.
	In the capitalist and socialist West, labour has long represented
not only
the form of the "productive subject" but also the hegemonic model of
subjectivation that grounds identity, the sense of belonging, and the
visions of
the world. Socialism and capitalism have used labour and social classes as
forms to regulate, organize, and create hierarchies in society.
	Since the 1960s, the struggle against economic exploitation has been
accompanied by a radical refusal on the part of women, young people,
immigrants, various minorities and peoples of the Third World to accept a
"becoming" based on the "majority" model of the "male, white, professional
worker, between 35- and 50-years-old, resident of the town....".  In that
an increasingly important role was played by actions taken against forms of
subjection affecting everyday life, classifying individuals into categories by
providing them with certain forms of perception, sexuality and affection in
order to reproduce the labour force. Since then, the class system as a
model of
action and subjectivation has entered into a process of dissolution and
irreversible crisis. The coherence that ýlabourţ ensured among economic
production, political action and modes of subjectivation has given way to the
emergence of a multiplicity of new behaviors, forms of life, goals, and
of the world, which characterize what we call the multitude. The multiplicity
and heterogeneity of forms of life and modes of subjectivation no longer tend
to be expressed through the generality and abstraction of social classes.
	To understand the new forms of action that are now possible we have to
leave this event of the 19060s but without ignoring it.  The new forms of
action, which are expressed by social movements or more molecular practices,
articulate with one and the same strategy what had been previously separated
off in the society of work. In France, the struggles of the unemployed, health
workers, entertainment workers, and micro-political practices in general
express simultaneously or alternatively economic actions, political aims, and
common strategies that form strategies against the apparatuses of subjection
and search for new forms of subjectivation.
	These social struggles and "invisible" behaviors engage both in
molar confrontations with the apparatuses of power and strategies of
withdrawal, flight and circumvention. In the same way, they alternatively
articulate strategies of both separation and "mediation", both negotiation and
refusal. These behaviors appear and disappear in public space according to
logics that escape the rules of "representation."  Using Hirscham's
we could say that they employ, in an unpredictable way, both senses of the
French word ývoieţ: both ýthe voiceţ (in contestation) and ýthe exitţ (in
withdrawal and flight).  Their goals are neither representation nor the
of power (either violently, in line with communist tradition, or
peacefully, in
accordance with social-democratic tradition), but the constitution of new
relations and new sensibilities.
	The multitude acts in a public sphere that is ruled by political
mechanisms that function through representation and are organized according
to principles of universality.  The "citizen" and the "worker" are modes of
individualization that are absolutely foreign to the actions of the multitude.
There is no place in the sphere of representation for women, unemployed,
workers without job security, homosexuals, immigrants, and all those who do
not act in accordance with the modalities as applied in the paradigm of
"majority".  The new forms of action are not directed toward universality but
singularization; they do not operate toward a general re-organization, but
toward a transversality that tries to determine the passages and translations
among different forms of life and behaviors.
	This brief phenomenology of action in post-Fordism leads to more
questions than answers. How is a space to be defined divided into different
practices that are all aiming at singularization? Where is the "common ground"
of the multitude?  How is a public space to be established that is
conducive to
the parallel development of multiplicity and singularity?  What kind of new
relations exist between molecular and molar strategies?
	The strange revolution of 1968 integrated political and aesthetic
into labour; it dissolved the separation between time of life and work
time; it
displaced the distinction between performance and creation and redefined the
relation between factory and society. It undermined for good the role of wage
labour as the subject of production and politics. Paradoxically, this is
the point where we have to start in order to be able to define the
conditions of
possible action in post-Fordism, and especially to analyze phenomena such as
unemployment and poverty.  We risk misunderstanding the definition of
possible action if we do not start with the destructuration of the society of
work, which is desired and practiced subjectively through a multiplicity of
actions and subjects.
	In capitalist West, poverty and unemployment are not the result, to
KeynesÝ language, of an economy of scarcity but an economy of abundance.
Poverty and unemployment are not the results of an insufficient development
but rather of an excessive one; they are not the results of the lack of
norms and
regulations but of the powers and influence of the market and the State.
	The struggle against instrumental action showed that it was
possible to
take work out of the realm of necessity and transfer it into the realm of
creativity. The re-introduction of necessity through unemployment, work
insecurity, and poverty turns out to derive from a political will to dominate,
because business, market and State can only find their legitimation in
necessity.  How else can we explain the fact that since the beginning of the
"crisis" in the 1970s, wealth has more than doubled in the western
countries at
the same time that unemployment, poverty, and work insecurity have become
mass phenomena?  The market, business, and the State impose modes of co-
ordination that limit the wealth of the forms of co-operation and ignore the
nature of the productive forces of the multitude, because they only function
through the production, distribution and consumption of "scarce goods".
	But can knowledge and intelligenceˇthe motors for the future
economy ˝ be defined as "scarce" goods?  Only the will to accumulation, the
will to control the production and circulation of knowledge by business and
State can define these "products" as commodities or scarce goods.  The
problems of unemployment, work insecurity, and poverty can only be solved
when the "information economy" is structured in accordance with the
economic principles of "abundance," in other words, according to free
production, free circulation and collective appropriation of this production,
which simultaneously involves what is most singular and most social in all of
	The two problems are strictly linked together, because what is at
is precisely the form of creativity, activity and modes of expression.
>From this
point of view, the actions of the worker, the citizen and the artist have to
undergo a complete metamorphosis.

	1- Neither Habermas distinction between "instrumental rationality"
and "communicative rationality" or Hanna Arendt distinctions among
"labour, work and action" are able to account for the new forms of action.
						Maurizio Lazzarato

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