I got that Berardi book, the one that so annoyed me, back from the library. I finished it. More notes to follow, when I get time. For now, the footnotes.

It has 97 footnotes.
Footnotes referencing Marx = 14
Deleuze and/or Guattari = 21
Baudrillard = 17
Other philosophers and commentators on them (Including Epicurus, Hegel, Sartre, Marcuse, Althusser, Barthes, Heidegger, Foucault, Freud) = 29

Among the other footnotes, Mario Tronti appears once as does Bill Gates, three citations of
social-psychology works and a few other theoretical works.

Not everything in the book appears in the footnotes, of course. For instance, in the body of the book there is a five page discussion of Wim Wenders’ film. There’s also a reference to a US Bureau of Labor Statistics report about the extension of working hours between 1976 and 1998. Berardi notes a 6% increase in the percentage of workers, and a 5% increase in the number of manager, who worked 49 hours per week. (p78.) Neither is cited. Fair enough, a book is not 100% reflected in its footnotes.

I think the footnotes do give a sense of what sort of book this is, though. The footnotes mainly are about capital T Theorists, and a lot of the book involves close reading passages and quotes from these theorists. The book is mainly a theoretical or philosophical book of a sort that largely consists in engaging with similar books. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a legitimate sort of genre of book.

What I find frustrating, though, is that the book involves huge claims (more on this later) about contemporary capitalist society and historical capitalism, with no citations on the economy or labor practices, other than that unfootnoted refence to a US BLS report and a management perspective book, the one by Bill Gates. I mean, imagine a book that primarily cited BLS statistics, policy and gov’t reports, the financial press, and other books that engage with this sort of material. And imagine that this book made big claims about contemporary literary and cinematic sensibilities, with no minimal citations or references in passing. I expect that many readers would raise their eyebrows at this, and wonder what such a book would tell us about. It’d tell us about the author as much or more than the ostensible subject matter the author was on about. Readers might reasonably wonder if the book showed a worthwhile approach for understanding literature and cinema or if it was mainly an eloquently worded statement of the author’s assumptions and opinions.

That’s how much of Berardi’s book reads to me about the economy, assertions of opinion and assumption, a sort of “oh, well, we all know that…” kind of would-be common sense. A sort of technified myth, to use Wu Ming’s terminology.

More later, I gotta run.

*

Edit: more notes

On the preface – the preface defines the soul as at least in part a metaphor for ‘attentiveness, the ability to address, care for, and appeal to others.’ (10) What type of waged work has ever existed that didn’t involve the ability to address others or the capacity to pay attention? Being a paid professional test subject, perhaps, though even those people must fill out paperwork sometimes I’d imagine. This category is so expansive that it may as well be “species being” or “humanity,” qualities involved in all or nearly all waged labor.

Typical over-emphasis on the Grundrisse (11), with an implied “Marx said it, so it must be credible” sensibility and with no gloss on why some of this didn’t end up in the revised and published works Marx produced over the next 10+ years after the Grundrisse. (I’m thinking here of the notion of a circulation of capital that requires no time to circulate.)

There’s a metaphorical reference to “a workforce that is flexible, precarious, and permanently on-call – and equipped with the latest iPhone.” This is not intended literally, but the image is revealing I think, in that it suggests some qualities of normative subject behind this book. The literal entire workforce does not have these traits (precarity etc), but there are tendencies, pressures in that direction. Over all, there’s an unfortunate tendency in much of post-operaismo to use homogenizing turns of phrase and to talk about dynamic processes using static-sounding language. That’s not a huge deal; the iPhone reference, though, speaks in my opinion to a lack of attention to stratifications in the working class (for example, see here – http://www.photius.com/rankings/electrification_by_country_2007_2008.html – for electrification rates in various countries and here – http://www.edutopia.org/digital-divide-where-we-are-today – for internet access in the United States).

“It is impossible to separate the spheres of the economy and the political these days.” (11.) and “social productivity can no longer be accounted for under strictly economic categories” (12) This is an old pet peeve of mine. Why ‘these days’ and ‘no longer’? One could start from current examples that show that the economy and politics are inseparable, or one could talk conceptually about their relationship, neither would involve the weird presentist implication here. Anyway.

“The social pacts and productive truces of the old welfare states are gone.” (11.) This is overstated but it tracks onto an important truth, however inadequately posed, about an important change in the present. At the same time there’s again a lack of attention to stratification and the perhaps related lack of historical sensibility – the pacts and truces referred to here were highly selective, inclusion under (and access to benefits from) these was always hierarchically organized.

“work has become the central locus of psychic and emotional investment (…) work has become the core of our identity” (12). For whom? Here too both lack of attention to stratifications or just to differences and lack of attention to history. Arguably, for skilled trades has long been a ‘locus’ of this sort, tied to identity, particularly around the conjunction of gender and class identity (put reductively – real men work with their hands, in a skillful manner, and earn enough to support a family on their wage along). (See later in the book, p49+50)

“At the point of production, the primary lever of antagonism was the wage struggle” (13) I’m not sure about this. Perhaps in Italy, though I suspect that this was a selective interpretation on the part of people early on the operaismo circles. I like the aim here to validate wage struggles. At the same time, it’s my understanding that at least in some contexts in the 20th century US there was an unfortunate bait and switch, helped along by some union leaders I’m told, in which control over line speed and other workplace point of production control issues were swapped for high.er pay.

“the sphere of desire, the field of the imaginary and the affective” have become “the privileged force[s] in the production of value” (13.) Not really. Or arguably, this was forever (I mean, workers have always worked for wages in a sense out of desire for wages).

“the entry of the soul itself into the production process” (13) — there’s a metaphor here, lurking appropriately enough in the darkness of unstated assumptions, workers prior to postfordism as homunculi, vs workers today who are, allegedly, with their excess of productive soul, more or less angelic. The metaphor is a silly one, but worse it cuts against the periodizing impulse of the book – when people have worked, so have their ‘souls’; where goes the body, there goes the soul.

“Because [work nowadays] functions through the incitement of my specific creative and intellectual powers, I experience work as the segment of social life in which I am most free, most capable of realizing my desires: most myself.” (14.) For some types of work, sure. For all, nope. Analyzing the former sort of work is definitely worth doing, but why this type of work ought to be considered tendentially where all work is heading or as the paradigm for all work today (and worse, why that faux paradigmatic type of work ought to be talked about as if all work is currently like this) is beyond me. Consider the recent news about conditions at a Chinese plant that manufactures computer components for Apple; this is not the workforce of _The Soul at Work_. That aside, for other sorts of work it *is* sometimes possible that work can be a location of temporary freedom. I mentioned before that I picked up a minimal amount of being handy around the house from certain jobs I did, and that family members have gotten much more of this. There’s an element here of work providing elements of a highly proscribed freedom. I start working part time while fairly young and still living with my parents, I remember sometimes finding the forms of workplace authority liberating in comparison to the forms of family and school authority I was used to, though I quickly learned that work had other types of authority. I also enjoyed the relative freedom that came from having access to money that belonged to me.

Berardi will talk about operaismo as a tradition of ‘compositionism’, in that it ostensibly analyzes actual conditions of the actual working class, described in the preface as “the study of the changing composition of the working class as the key for deciphering novel forms of political organization and action” (14); this is not actually present in the book, though, except perhaps in highly distorted form, and it’s worth considering how we know (or rather, why one ought to assume) that novelty is always a key component to organizational forms.

The preface describes “the axiom asserting the primacy of workers’ struggles in the development of capital.” (14.) This has the great merit of stressing that this is an axiom rather than a hypothesis as it’s sometimes described (hypotheses are things we test, axioms we assume and move forward from). Unfortunately the axiom is not true, as I’ve mentioned. It is simply not the case that “worker insubordination alone initiate restructuration on the part of capital.” (14.)

“certain sectors (in Bifo’s analysis, the cognitariat) emerging as the paradigmatic form of labor.” (15.) This is pretty clear, and seems to me an accurate description of what Berardi thinks – there’s an emerging paradigmatic sector etc. It’s not clear to me that this is true, nor is it clear what to make of this if it were to be true. For now, just a bit of eytmology. Proletariat comes from the Roman proletarii, a legal category defining a class who only reproduce themselves and do not contribute otherwise to the state. (In a sense, the proletariat is a figure of what Giorgio Agamben calls bare life.) I don’t know the history of the term being taken up among 19th century communists, but clearly the term gets revised substantially. Part of what remains in the revised meaning of the term is that the proletariat own only themselves and their capacity to work, they do not own productive property. The cognitariat then would be, what, the class who own only their ability to think, a class who only think? Fine, if that serves as a name for Berardi’s stratum of choice for political orientation, but I don’t see the use of the term.

Berardi “attempts to decipher the possible forms of politics opened by a new class composition whose paradigm is the cognitive worker.” (16.) Perhaps. Or perhaps this is the ideology of a class fraction still in the process of coming to self-consciousness while simultaneously seeking its own interests (tied to its representation by theorists like Berardi as being the class as a whole and/or leading the class, at least tendentially). That is to say, maybe this is just the ideology of a new would-be labor aristocracy, skilled laborers seeing themselves as the real workers, the best workers, and building organizational forms in their own image. Kind of like a lot of talk about the common.

“the primary function of the work the post-Fordist factory commands is not the creation of value but the fabrication of subjectivities” (17). This is false. On the one hand I want to say that value production vs subjectivity is a false dichotomy. On the other hand I want to say that capitalist as capitalists care about subjectification to the degree that it’s relevant to value production. Capitalists do not command post-Fordist labor because they want to make subjectivities. They command processes of subjectification because (and to the degree that) it’s functional for surplus value production.

Nowadays “work is an entirely political necessity.” (17.) When was it not?

“the aesthetic paradigm of the communism to come will be consist in (…) elaboration of forms-of-life, a communism whose song will free the space in which resonates, and spreads.” (19.) I guess. But is this a communism practiced right now (a sort of communization?) or is this a future condition?

Setting the preface aside, the book proper is divided into two halves, each half likewise divided in two; each half moves from a section of highly schematic intellectual history or overview of certain theoretical concepts to a section of highly schematic contemporary theorizing with a veneer of the sociology of work/compositionism. More specifically, the first section traces some earlier conversations about the categories of alienation and estrangement, the second asserts with little evidence a “mentalization of working processes” (24), the third part provides an overview of some french post-structural theory, then the book closes with a section making grand assertions about increasing precarity.

“the 1968 movements were the first phenomena of conscious globalization” (27). On the face of it, this is laughable. What were, say, globe-spanning religions, or the international(ist) communist movements, or racial diasporas? All of these predate 1968 by a good many years. On the other hand, this typically overstated phrase has some use – it notes that 1968 was a year of global uprisings which shaped each other, and that did not have a single geographic organizing center in the sense of a national home or a directing headquarters. That *is* important.

Berardi talks at length about how “intellectual labor completely changed its nature” (29) writing that intellectuals “are no longer a class independent from production.” (33.) It never really made sense to talk about intellectuals as an independent class, if anyone really did talk about them that way. Rather, ‘intellectual’ refers to a movement function – rather like ‘writer’ and ‘organizer’ and ‘public speaker’ and so on. These can sometimes be jobs too, but there’s an important difference between these terms if they’re used to talk about work vs about movements. Berardi’s overinflated claim about the impact of the alleged growth of intellectual work relies on combining these two senses of terms. There is no particular reason why the fact that some people get intellectual jobs has to change the role of intellectuals in the working class movement.

Berardi writes that “At the time of the communist revolutions, the Marxist-Leninist tradition ignored the concept of the general intellect.” Maybe. But the *term* comes from the Grundrisse as far as I know and as far as Berardi presents matters, and the Grundrisse was not published until the early 40s. Hardly surprising then that the concept didn’t get more play prior to then, eh? Setting aside the issue of terms vs concepts, Berardi makes a typical claim for post-operaismo, that the general intellect is this huge big deal, in a way that simultaneously overestimate contemporary ‘knowledge workers’ and underestimates the ‘general intellect’ as it existed in the past. It also strikes me as tremendously glib to say that because of the general intellect’s allegedly new role in production now “the Leninist idea of the party if forever put aside.” (35.)

Berardi writes that in operaismo circles “the word “estrangement” replaces the world “alienation”, which inevitably alludes to a previous human essence, lost in the historical process, waiting for a synthesis capable of reestablishing it” (45). I’m sympathetic to the criticism of alienation here (though a friend with a more physically intense and routinized job than I have tells me that this is because I don’t work a job like he does), but I’m not convinced that it ‘inevitably’ alludes this way. Words don’t inevitably mean anything, and the concept could be refashioned to avoid that allusion. I’m being very picky now because I disliked the book… also, so, that’s the claim about operaismo, but then on the following page Berardi quote Tronti talking about alienation rather than estrangement, contradicting the claim in that quote! “The organization of alienation: This is the only possible direction in which the party can lead the spontaneity of the class.” Berardi adds, “The alienation Tronti discusses is not described in humanistic terms (loss of the human essence)” — in that case, alienation *doesn’t* inevitably allude to loss of essence etc! Sloppy stuff here.

Berardi writes of tendencies toward “the subsumption of mental labor within the productive process and the progressive reduction of mental labor to abstract labor, labor with no quality and no meaning, mental time serving only for the production of exchange value.” (58.) Sort of. All waged work is like that, in a way: it’s subordinated to capital accumulation. For whatever little it’s worth, I’m not convinced that use value and exchange value are such opposites, as I’ve said. Among other things, exchange-ability is a quality (as is trait of producing some product which is exchangeable) so mental labor subsumed to capitalism is not literally “labor with no quality.” The real point is that it’s boring, enforced, and tied to surplus value extraction (these are not surprising qualities for work to have in a capitalist society.)

This aside, I think there’s an issue here about abstraction. I don’t think abstraction, in the sense of “reduction of mental labor to abstract labor” really exists in such a way that we could say “these two sorts of work as actually performed, the one is more abstract than the other” or “this one’s abstract and that one’s not.” Work may get duller, more brutal, more routinized etc, but that’s not *abstraction*, it’s dullness, brutality, routinzation. Likewise for the marxist opposite of abstract[ness], which is concrete[ness]. To say “this is more abstract” or “this becomes more abstract” can sound reasonable, but it implies “this is less concrete” or”this becomes less concrete.” That’s silly. Abstract labor is an implied concept within capitalist societies, implied in the ways work and workers are treated. To put it another way, abstraction and concreteness are perspectives. All labor is concrete labor. And waged labor involves treating concrete labor as abstract, it involves abstracting from concrete labors. Mental labor might, perhaps, get subordinated more to production, become waged labor to a higher degree or frequency (and I still think Berardi overstates, by implication, the degree to which mental labor was not subordinated to waged labor – and the degree to which waged labor did not involve mental faculties – prior to postfordism), but even if so it’s not the case that it becomes less concrete and more abstract. Likewise when Berardi says “industrial labor loses any relation to the concrete character of activity” — yes, in a way, but really this means that industrial work tends to suck, the concrete qualities of the labor process still matter a lot for this. And “products who concrete and useful quality does not have any interest other than that of enabling the exchange”(60), this is the case for all commodities in capitalist society, from the capitalist perspective.

Berardi also overstates by saying that “The labor of physical transformation has become so abstract that it is now useless: machines can replace it completely.” (61.) Automation is something to take seriously, but as usual this is a tendency, a dynamic process, presented in static terms as accomplished fact.

Capitalism, as a cultural and epistemic, as well as economic and social, system, semiotizes the machinic potentialities of the post-industrial system according to reductive paradigmatic lines.” (62.) This sentence might speak to the class composition of the class fraction that Berardi’s book is written for – on the one hand, it’s a stratum used to sentences that make little sense on first reading (as a result of reading the legalese and technicalese in the manuals to the iPhones that they all carry and as a result of the continental philosophy seminars that they attend); on the other hand it’s a stratum used to using impressive sounding sentences for their perlocutionary force (very common in academic circles and in professional circles as a whole — this could be an area where this post-operaismo stuff could be some use potentially, or at least could parallel the linguistic turn in thediscipline of history, looking at both talk about skill and skilled labor [this is not a likely post-operaist avenue of inquiry, since this stuff is I think primarily about setting up a new stratum of/as skilled laborers] as well as the particular vocabularies bound up with particular skills and professions, and the perlocutionary force of all of these).

“the intellectualization of labor nowadays characteristic of the post-fordist era” (65). Repetition of the real subsumption hypothesis (69). It goes like this: in formal subsumption, capitalists take over older forms of labor and incorporate them under a property and wage regime. In real subsumption, capitalists actively reconfigure the labor process. The distinction tracks onto an important issue, the remaking of workplaces, but does so in a silly and distorted fashion. The labor process begins to be remade from the moment capitalism begins, there is a continuum here, a long running historical process (or rather, set of processes) with great variation. The two subsumptions leave all that aside, with the implicit idea that workers in early capitalism continued largely as before. Sure, because this is all a matter of perspective – mostly the same, mostly different, these are interpretive choices – but, consider Marx on primitive accumulation, the long process by which the proletariat became subsumed into its role as variable capital, only after being divested of access to means of subsistence and after extensive and brutal criminalization. This was a very real subsumption of the people’s life processes, people who did not continue to labor as they had before, even if (and I’m not at all clear of the degree to which this actually happened and frankly I don’t trust Berardi to make the assessment) certain labor processes did remain the same from pre-capitalism to early capitalism.

“Leninism is based on the separation between the labor process and higher-level cognitive activities (that is to say consciousness). This separation is founded on proto-level industrial work, since the modern workers have knowledge of their own abilities, but no awareness of the cognitive system structuring society. The roots of this separation become more and more fragile when the mass workers, forced into an increasingly parceled and alienating activity, develop their solidarity in a dimension that is immediately subversive and anti-capitalistic.” (70.)

It’s hard to know what to make of this (is this supposed to be compositionism?); it sounds like an implication that a bad Kautskyist/Leninist conception used to make sense, at least to some degree, but is now outmoded. That’s goofy. This is also weirdly economic determinist – the workers have certain consciousness because of the type of work they do, and this determines organizational form. Also, the insurgency of the mass worker that Berardi talks about happened in the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, not the 60s as implied here. The conflicts between the IWW and the AFL were in part contests between different class strata one of which (the IWW side) drew strongly from ‘the mass worker’. For instance, see on this Mike Davis, “The Stop Watch and the Wooden Shoe, about IWW strikes in response to taylorism.

“Today (…) As a general tendency, work is peformed according to the same physical patterns: we all sit in front of a screen and move our fingers across a keyboard. We type.” (74.) “the digitalization of the labor process has made any labor the same from an ergonomic and physical point of view since we all do the same thing: we sit in front of a screen and we type on a keyboard.” (75-76)

This is so annoying. Again, a metaphorical homogenization that must not be intended literally because it’s so obviously false. But that metaphor is still revealing in that it indicates the ‘we’ that Berardi has in mind – people who type, or as he puts it a bit later, “Those active in jobs with a high cognitive level” (77). That’s the class fraction or stratum he’s interested in understanding and perhaps in mobilizing. Those are fine, even laudable goals, but the metaphorical universalization is troubling in that case — Berardi’s understanding of the ‘we’ who work at computers does not involve an understanding of its place in relation to various hierarchizations/stratifications of the class. A very myopic and narcissitic perspective. “We type.” And we care about us and understanding us, and talk about ourselves often as if we are not simply the most important sectors but as if we are the only sectors. Also, we do very interesting and unique things which can not be automated, our work “is becoming much more differentiated and specialized with respect to the content that it develops.” (74.)

Oh, and, we are the ones who really produce economic value:
“Manual labor is generally executed by automatically programmed machinery, while innovative labor, the one that effectively produces value, is mental labor.” (75.)

A parallel sort of obfuscation of other labors occurred in the growth of the family/breadwinner wage, and I’m sure at other times too. (There’s a great Ranciere quote on this, about labor aristocracies, I can’t recally it off the top of my head, it’s in my talk on the “the common”.) Compare the narrow “we” with Don Hamerquist, who writes in his piece on Lenin that one of the key practical principles spelled out in the Communist Manifesto is that “communists should “represent” the interests of the whole in the movements of parts.” Not Berardi’s move here, for sure, rather Berardi deliberately obfuscates other ‘parts’ and ‘the whole’ in his myopia of/for a single ‘part’.

“for a cognitive worker every hour is not the same from the standpoint of produced value” (75) this is also true for manual labor, in that not all manual work means producing the same amount of stuff in an even distribution across work time – though really this is terribly poorly posed on Berardi’s part: value is not produced literally one hour at a time. Value is produced across the duration of total working time (hence Marx’s polemic against “Senior’s last hour”), value is a sort of average.

Berardi writes that “in the past two decades disaffection and absenteeism have become a marginal phenomenon” (sic) and cites a five or six percent increase in the number of Americans who work 49 hours per week. (78.) Now, he provides no data, just assertion, about absenteeism, but let’s say for the sake of argument he’s right. It does not follow from this at all that there has been a “workers’ conversion from disaffection to acceptance” or that the worker now find work “the most interesting part of his or her life and therefore no longer opposes the prolongation of the working day but is actually ready to lengthen it out of personal choice and will.” (79.) Again, is this compositionism? A single Bureau of Labor Statistics report showing a single digit percent change and we can derive the motivations of the proletariat? Class composition analysis is easier than I thought…! Berardi suggests a moment later that people work more “to have more economic power” (82). Sort of. Though I’m under the impression that real wages have remained static or declined in the U.S., which would mean more work is required just to stay where people are at (I could look up data on this, but I don’t need to – wow, compositionism is sure handy, I get to avoid that dull, difficult empirical stuff)

“Political communism was the power of backward and despotic bureaucracies that exercized (sic) repression and violence in order to protect their own power from the globalizing dynamics of capital (…) political communism was finally defeated by world capitalism.” (85.) Nothing in Berardi’s argument (his prose poem?) hangs on this but I’m not convinced of his ‘actually existing socialism vs capitalism’ distinction, I find the argument that the USSR was a type of capitalism very convincing. [Note to self: read the Aufheben stuff on the USSR and discuss it with Nick.]

“Info-workers can sometimes be described as craftsmen, since they invest their knowledge and creativity in the process of producing networks.” (86.) And Berardi’s book is a craft conscious project, at best. “communication put to work” (86) — how did work happen before people communicated during it? Must have been hard.

“it becomes possible to progressively reduce the entire production process to the elaboration and exchange of information.” (95).

“In the 1960s (…) Workers were forced to stand by the assembly line surrounded by hellish clanking noise: it was impossible for workers to exchange a word, since the only comprehended language was that of the machine.” (106.) Note that the 1960s are represented here by an allegedly paradigmatic figure. The whole approach here is of finding such a paradigmatic figure (what about everyone else? what to even call them, the a-paradigmatic? nonparadigmatic? the others?) in so-called analysis, and using that build this figures hegemony over the movement. Berardi takes it back a bit, though, saying that “Despite the machines’ clanking, it was possible to discuss and start processes of autonomy and revolt.” (116.) The “it was this way, no it wasn’t this way!” move is somewhat forgivable because it’s literary and not an argument, but that’s precisely the problem – the book’s main force is aesthetic rather than logical. It’s a mythical work, a matter of narrative expedient for Berardi, a technified myth.

“There is no possibility of political resistance to the absolute domination of Semiocapitalism” (139). Don’t worry, it’s abundantly clear that not everything said here is actually mean, so he doesn’t mean there’s no resistance possible.

For “young people taking out loans in order to study (…) debt functions like a symbolic chain whose effects are more powerful than the real metal chains used in slavery.” (140.) I knew those student loans of mine were bad, but I didn’t realize they were this bad…. quickly comrades, to the barricades! Jesus Fucking Christ.

“Imagine a middle class teenager in the United States, willing to plan a university education, in order to acquire the professional competence that will allow him access to the job market. This poor fellow, who believed in the fairy tale of Neo-liberalism, really believes that he has the chance of achieving a guaranteed happy life thanks to serious work and study.” (141.) But to go to college you will need student loans, and those will mean that upon graduation you “will have to start working immediately after graduation, in order to pay back a never ending amount of money” and this will lead you “to accept any condition of work, any exploitation, any humiliation, in order to pay the loan.” (141.) That’s awful. Way worse than slavery.

Okay, this is clearly a problem, but this is basically a bit of proletarianization (or reproletarianization, as some Love and Rage people put it in describing their base), since most working class people need jobs as soon as possible. Graduation from college means entering the labor market. Yes, the loans are a constraint (mine were, and are, a major headache), but the condition described here is not so much a “new model of subjugation” (141) as it is, well, what it means to be working class. I don’t want to minimize debt here, I know that’s very important, but Berardi seems to be up in arms over college graduates needing to find jobs. This too speaks to his idealized constituency, the ‘we’ who type for a living.

Berardi calls for new understandings of wealth as leisure time (142, 169). That works for me. Except, it’s weird that it’s mainly a problem of the failing of “the great majority of people” to grasp “this basic notion” – namely, that wealth means “someone who has enough time to enjoy what nature and human collaboration put within everyone’s reach’ — that this failing is the big problem. This sounds goofy like a ‘win people to counter culture and victory is ours’ kind of thing – if people could just get it “if they could be liberated from the competitive illusion that is impoverishing everybody’s life, the very foundations of capitalism would start to crumble.” (169.) Where’s the analysis of exploitation, in which our time is stolen so we have less of it to enjoy? Not to mention economic inequality…

His remarks on political suicide seem very problematic to me (168), he seems to reduce it to psychological pathology, which seems inaccurate to me despite his gestures at making this a sociological psychopathology derived from the strains of contemporary life. That leaves out ideology, and movements, and politics.

[Okay I have to go to bed. I’ve taken notes through page 184, I’ll finish tomorrow.]

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