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thelegendarybirdmonster wrote

our actions have no impact on the general trend of global warming. The power of the intention behind our actions and the actions/discussion that stem from them might have an impact.

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Fossidarity wrote (edited )

From Diagnostics of the Future by Peter Gelderloos:

Bioeconomic Expansion

The seven billion human beings on the planet is a small flock if every life form and every form of life can be plugged into capitalism. There’s no reason a new productive expansion of capitalism has to be geographic, since capitalism works in a space of flows, managing relations, and not in a space of places, managing square kilometers.

A bioeconomic expansion would constitute the invasion of capitalism into the processes through which life itself is produced and reproduced. The precedents for this activity are important, for they represent the first incursions, but they have not yet been developed to the point that they could ignite a new cycle of accumulation. Such precedents include, in the production of organic life, genetic engineering, and in the reproduction of human life, social network technologies. The former have allowed a few companies to make a lot of money, but they have not been terribly effective, and still fall far short of their potential to change our relationship with food production, disease, and other areas of intervention. The latter have produced mass stupefaction and exponentially improved techniques of social control, but they are still measured in the advertising dollars they generate for the sale of real commodities, a quaternary sector rather than an economy in its own right.

A bioeconomic expansion would involve profiting on the planetary processes that, once plugged into a capitalist logic, could be analyzed as “reproductive”; the biological processes that are constantly exploited through primitive accumulation but have still not submitted to a capitalist architecture; the organic chemical processes that constitute the constant unfolding of life; and the social processes grouped under the heading of “free time” that until now have only been clumsily exploited by consumerism. The rudimentary beginnings of profit models targeting the first three can be found in carbon trading, fertility treatments, and gene therapy, respectively.

Over the next two decades, these sectors might expand in the following ways:

  • The deployment of orbital reflectors or other devices to decrease and then fine-tune the amount of solar radiation that reaches the planet. Together with an increase in carbon capture technologies, this could enable the business-oriented mechanical control of the climate, not as a biosphere within which the economy takes place, but as yet another realm of economic considerations.

  • The use of cloning to prevent the extinction of economically useful species. Together with a total inventory of biodiversity regulated by AI that can deploy drones and genetically coded nanobots capable of identifying and destroying members of target species, this could theoretically allow for total rational control of all ecosystems, with the parameters and objectives set by whatever consortium of companies and governments own the technology and oversee the procedures.

  • The assemblage of made-to-order nanomaterials and the use of genetically modified animal/factories to produce complex organic compounds. This would do away with the concept of “natural resources” by turning prime materials into an industrial product unbound by natural limits.

  • The development of nanomedicine and gene therapy to further wrest human life away from the vagaries of death and disease, which negatively impact human productivity. Death especially is a problem, as it allows people to escape domination permanently.

  • A shift away from open field monoculture to a decentralized total control model of agriculture based in greenhouse production and hydroponics, in which food production takes place in an engineered environment that is totally controlled according to light, heat, atmosphere, water, and nutrients, breaking with Green Revolution agriculture that attempted to carry out food production by industrially modifying the natural environment. Decentralized agriculture would be more energy efficient, reducing dependence on long-distance transportation and heavy machinery, and it would temporarily allow for an increase in employment and investment as agricultural land—40% of the planet’s surface—is redesigned and also potentially reintegrated with urban space.

The capitalization of social processes can progress through the expansion of therapeutic, leisure, sexo-affective, recreational, and entertainment economies and the algorithmic surveillance and organization of those economies. This would entail the total conquest and abolition of that partial victory won through centuries of labor struggles, “free time.”

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Fossidarity wrote (edited )

Once upon a time, capitalists were only able to appreciate the productive value of their underlings, whom they viewed either as slaves or machinery, depending on how progressive they were. The resistance of those exploited classes failed to abolish this relationship, but it did succeed in winning some breathing room. The achievement of higher wages was above all the attaining of “free time.” Workers didn’t want higher wages for the same 12- or 14-hour days; they left that for the professional classes, like lawyers and doctors, whose sense of self-worth derives entirely from their value to the market. They wanted to be able to meet their needs more easily in order to retain a part of their lives for their own enjoyment. The opposition between life and labor could not be more clear.

Capitalism can brook no autonomy, no liberated space, but neither could it overcome the resistance of the exploited. For a century, its strategic engagement with free time was to produce alternative commercial activities to capitalize on the choices people made while not at work. Free time was still free, but if capitalists and state planners could impoverish the imagination and the social landscape to the point that people were more likely to choose consumer activities over non-monetary forms of play and relaxation, they would remain tied into capitalist relations in a way that created artificial demands, thus sustaining new productive sectors.

Public greens and commons were paved over, party politics and state repression led to the wane of workers’ centers, sidewalks and plazas were absorbed as restaurant terraces, the sofa in front of the radio or television replaced the front stoop or the chairs and benches placed directly in the street, communal spaces of sewing and washing were replaced by machines, sports were professionalized and commercialized, bars replaced drinking in the woods or in the parks, walks in the mountains gave way to specialized sports dependent on the acquisition of expensive gear, plastic and later electronic monstrosities eclipsed the simple, imaginative, and physically engaging wooden toys that uncles would carve for their nephews and nieces and the mere sticks that children would pick up off the ground and turn into a million different things depending on their imagined and self-defined needs.

Capitalist incursions into free time necessitated advertising, which took the form of an increasingly aggressive, ubiquitous call for attention, a distraction from the non-monetized possibilities within the terrain of free time, subject to diminishing returns as advertising’s targets became increasingly hostile, cynical, sophisticated, saturated, or self-absorbed. The decreasing effectiveness of advertising reveals that free time still provided people a choice, and though capitalists overwhelmingly won that competition against unmediated nature, imagination, and sociability (here my automatic dictionary jumps in with a squiggly red line to tell me that “unmediated” is not a word)—and the consumer economy has been immensely profitable and only becomes more so as time goes on—the effectiveness of advertising notwithstanding, those in power prefer that we do not get any kind of meaningful choice at all.

So be it: in the new economy there is no more distinction between labor time and free time or even producer time and consumer time; rather, all lived time is absorbed into a unified capitalist logic leading to a qualitative advance in the production of subjectivities. Since the advent of the cell phone, workers are always on call, but the social technologies that have been inaugurated more recently or wait just over the horizon mean that the entirety of our lived time is subject to surveillance, commercialization, and exploitation. Whereas before, information on consumers could be sold to advertisers who could make money convincing people to buy material products, with the entire economic chain dependent on the sale of a manufactured good at the end of the day, we have seen a qualitative leap in which data has become a resource with intrinsic value (think bitcoin), and in order to retain our status as social beings, we have to turn all our processes of sociability over to the digital apparatuses that mine our activity to produce data.

Before, you could still be a sociable human if you played soccer in the park, invited people over for a barbecue, or went camping in the woods rather than buying tickets to the game, meeting at a bar, or going bungee jumping. Today, you are a social pariah as well as unemployable if you have no smartphone, no Facebook or Instagram, no GPS, and don’t use whatever that stupid app is that enables you to invite people to events.

There is no longer the possibility of spending free time in the woods as a non-commercial activity when your movements there are tracked on GPS, allowing the relevant entities to attach a value to natural parks or scheme about how to fill that commercial space.

Nixon took us off the gold standard to allow financial expansion to proceed unchecked. To regain stability, capitalism may well anchor economic value in data—in one form of bit economy or another.

The social economy will need to grow considerably if it is to enable a new cycle of capitalist accumulation, and though getting internet access and smartphones to a global majority is certainly a necessary precondition, that in itself won’t be enough to constitute an industrial expansion. Remember that the US economic expansion of the postwar era was based largely on everyone getting a car, and everyone in the middle class a house in the suburbs. In comparison to houses and cars, phones are rather cheap pieces of equipment to constitute the backbone of an industrial expansion, given that each cycle needs to be exponentially greater than the industrial and financial expansion in the cycle that preceded it.

Room for growth in the social economy will have to include a further integration of surveillance of people’s vital activity and exploitation of their productive potential, so that surveillance is not limited to spotting criminal behavior or identifying which products to advertise, but constantly captures all activity within an economic logic, thus inviting people to express themselves or contribute their creativity to the adornment of virtual and social spaces—allowing everyone to be an influencer in some way. It would also include the ascension of crowdsourcing to a dominant productive model, taking advantage of total connectivity to treat the population as a permanently available labor pool ready to dedicate itself to solving some problem or another, often without any pay in return. There would also be an exponential growth of therapeutic, leisure, sexo-affective, recreational, gastronomic, travel, medical, design, and entertainment economies into a merged quality-of-life economy capable of generating the hundreds of millions of employment profiles that will replace the ones AI and robotization will make obsolete in manufacturing, telecommunications, retail, design and architecture, janitorial and hygiene work, and eventually transportation and delivery, clerical, accounting, and secretarial sectors, supervisory and management positions across sectors, construction, surveillance, and security.

The quality-of-life sector would make up for the misery and alienation of capitalist life through a totally engineered sociability. Everyone would be in some kind of therapy, and the upper-middle-class and higher would have emotional and physical therapists, personal trainers, and dietary consultants; they would eat out far more often than cook at home, and their lives would largely revolve around leisure activities. The precarious would work not only in restaurants and sales but also in an expanding sex-work industry distinguished from other forms of employment by increasingly blurry borders, or else as yoga instructors, guides for extreme sports and adventure tourism, or assistants or filler characters for commercialized LARPing, paintball, and similar games. Designers and programmers would make up a large and highly remunerated segment of the working class, lower only than executives and capitalists, and followed in turn by professionals like lawyers, doctors, technocrats, and professors, then cops, then nurses and other therapists with a wide range of responsibilities and pay grades, then precarious but well paid “creatives,” then the remaining blue collar professions like carpenters and repair workers who deal in situations too variable for AI to handle, then teachers, and then the bulk of the precarious in the quality-of-life economy.

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