Franco “Bifo” Berardi
Franco Berardi, aka “Bifo,” founder of the famous “Radio Alice” in Bologna and an important figure of the Italian Autonomia Movement, is a writer, media theorist, and media activist. He currently teaches Social History of the Media at the Accademia di Brera, Milan.
Semiocapitalism is infiltrating the nervous cells of conscious organisms, inoculating them with a thanato- political rationale, a morbid sentiment which permeates the collective unconscious, culture and sensibility— an obvious effect of sleep deprivation and a patent consequence of the stress placed upon attention. The digital capture of attention and experience has, notably, been the crucial goal of the Google corporation, whose mission is to create the most flexible and dynamic relationship as possible between the Net and the netter, between the machine and the cognitive worker.
The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy
Translated by Francesca Cadel and Mecchia Giuseppina
Preface by Jason E. Smith
Capital has managed to overcome the dualism of body and soul by establishing a workforce in which everything we mean by the Soul—language, creativity, affects—is mobilized for its own benefit. Industrial production put to work bodies, muscles, and arms. Now, in the sphere of digital technology and cyberculture, exploitation involves the mind, language, and emotions in order to generate value—while our bodies disappear in front of our computer screens.
In this, his newest book, Franco “Bifo” Berardi—key member of the Italian Autonomist movement and a close associate of Félix Guattari—addresses these new forms of estrangement. In the philosophical landscape of the 1960s and 1970s, the Hegelian concept of alienation was used to define the harnessing of subjectivity. The estrangement of workers from their labor, the feeling of alienation they experienced, and their refusal to submit to it became the bases for a human community that remained autonomous from capital. But today a new condition of alienation has taken root in which workers commonly and voluntarily work overtime, the population is tethered to cell phones and Blackberries, debt has become a postmodern form of slavery, and antidepressants are commonly used to meet the unending pressure of production. As a result, the conditions for community have run aground and new philosophical categories are needed. The Soul at Work is a clarion call for a new collective effort to reclaim happiness.
The Soul at Work is Bifo’s long overdue introduction to English-speaking readers. This Semiotext(e) edition is also the book’s first appearance in any language.