Capital and Affects
The Politics of the Language Economy
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.
This translation at long last makes Marazzi’s first book available to English readers. Capital and Affectsstands not only as the foundation to Marazzi’s subsequent work, but as foundational work in post-Fordist literature, with an analysis startlingly relevant to today’s troubled economic times.
Christian Marazzi was born in Lugano, Switzerland, in 1951. He obtained a degree in Political Science at the University of Padova, a master’s degree at the London School of Economics and a doctoral degree in Economics at the City University of London. He has taught at the University of Padova, the State University of New York, and at the University of Lausanne. He is currently Director of Socio-Economic Research at the Scuola Universitaria della Svizzera Italiana.
This Semiotext(e) edition includes the afterword Marazzi wrote for the 1999 Italian edition.