The soul at work by Franco Berardi

Testi — March 6, 2012

p.14 I experience work as the segment of social life in which I am most free, most capable of realizing my desires: most myself.

p.19 … work has become the site of libidinal investment, but produces pathologies and depression rather than the damned serious practice of happiness.

p.21 The rise of post-Fordist modes of production, which I will call Semiocapitalism. Takes the mind, language and creativity as its primary tools of the production of value.

p.24 Our desiring energy is trapped in the trick of self-enterprise, our libidinal investments are regulated according to economic rules, our attention is captured in the precariousness of virtual networks: every fragment of mental activity must be transformed into capital.

p.37 …the more the wage earner’s energy is invested in productive activity, the more s/he reinforces the power of the enemy, of capital, and the less it left for oneself. In order to survive, in order to receive a wage, workers have to renounce their humanity, the human investment of their time and energies.

p.80 It seems that ever less pleasure and reassurance can be found in human relations, in everyday life, in affectivity and communication. A consequence of this loss of eros in everyday life is the investment of desire in one’s work, understood as the only place providing narcissist reinforcement to individuals used to perceiving the other according to rules of competition, that is to say as danger, impoverishment and limitation, rather than experience, pleasure and enrichment. (…) the effect produced in everyday life is that of a generalized loss of solidarity.

p.82 In order to have more economic power (more money, more credit) it is necessary to devote more and more time to socially homologated labor. This means though that it becomes necessary to reduce time for joy and experience, in a word, for life.

p.83 One reason is well-known: in a situation of competition workers are obliged to accept this primordial blackmail: work as much as possible or die.

p.86 The investment of desire, which for the craftsman deeply connected to its local community and its needs used to have a reassuring character, for the info-worker develops along very different lines, producing anxiety, incertitude and constant change. Flexibility is the necessity to displace, move, and constantly change perspectives. This is the double-sided fulcrum of desire and productivity for the info-worker. Experience, knowledge and flux are at the same time the constitutive aspects of existence and the context of active labor.
Cognitive labor is essentially a labor of communication, that is to say communication put to work. From a certain point of view, this could be seen as an enrichment of experience. But it is also (and this is general the rule) an impoverishment, since communication loses its character of gratuitous, pleasurable and erotic contact, becoming an economic necessity, a joyless fiction.

p.142 The real wealthy of the future will be those who will succeed in creating forms of autonomous consumption, mental models of need reduction, habitat models for the sharing of indispensable resources. This requires the creation of dissipative wealth refrains, of or frugal and ascetic wealth.

Berardi, Franco. The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009.

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