Capital and Affects

The Politics of the Language Economy
Christian Marazzi
Translated by Giuseppina Mecchia

We do little more than state the obvious when, trying to come to terms with the politico-institutional earthquakes traversing our times, we say that language is the key to politics.
–from Capital and Affects

Communication as work: we have recently experienced a profound transformation in the processes of production. While the assembly line (invented by Henry Ford at the beginning of the last century) excluded any form of linguistic productivity, today, there is no production without communication. The new technologies are linguistic machines. This revolution has produced a new kind of worker who is not a specialist but is versatile and infinitely adaptable. If standardized mass production was dominant in the past, today we produce an array of different goods corresponding to specific consumer niches. This is the post-Fordist model described by Christian Marazzi in Capital and Affects (first published in 1994 as Il posto dei calzini [The place for the socks]). Tracing the development of this new model of labor from Toyota plants in Japan to the most recent innovations, Marazzi’s critique goes beyond political economy to encompass issues related to social life, political engagement, democratic institutions, interpersonal relations, and the role of language in liberal democracies.

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