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<nettime> Autonomy, Labour, and the Political Economy of Social Media
Dmytri Kleiner on Tue, 17 Jan 2012 15:23:54 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Autonomy, Labour, and the Political Economy of Social Media

Autonomy, Labour, and the Political Economy of Social Media

I'm flying off to Athens on Thursday to give a public talk[1] in an
occupied theatre with Tiziana Terranova, with whom I also participated
in a discussion on the Empyre list last week[2].

The Talk is titled "Autonomy, Labour, and the Political Economy of
Social Media."

The Political Economy of Social Media is of course nothing other than
the Political Economy of Capitalism applied to Social Media. Looking
at Social Media through the lens of capitalism unveils some rather
striking implications, many of which have become central to my work,
and many which I'm only beginning to explore further.

The basics are by now well discussed, among many others, I have
covered these some time ago in InfoEnclosure 2.0[3] and expanded upon
the theme in the Telekommunist Manifesto[4]. The central fact is that
Capitalism will not fund free, open networks. It can not do so because
it must control user data and interaction in order to capture profit,
and for this reason capital financed centrally controlled social
platforms are replacing free, open, peer-to-peer platforms.

The trouble is, once you understand that capital will not fund open
platforms, the question remains, who will? How can they be funded. In
the Manifesto and in earlier works, I introduce the idea of Venture
Communism, an autonomist/mutualist approach focused on worker's
self-organisation of production as way to build what capitalism can

However, many questions remained open, for while Venture Communism may
sketch out a structure with which a common stock of productive assets
can be efficiently allocated among independent producers, similar to
the way computer networks provide an efficient way for independent
workers to employ a common stock of immaterial productive assets, it
doesn't got very far into investigating how these material productive
assets can be acquired by a Venture Commune in the first place.

The basic idea that bonds are sold in order to acquire productive
assets. But sold to whom? In a functioning Venture Commune, with
established enterprises producing wealth, this would not be an issue,
the bonds would be purchased by the worker-owners of the commune from
the retained earnings of their productive output.

However, the bad news is this is not possible before the commune
exists, because before the commune exists the workers are not
worker-owners capturing the full value of their collective
contribution to production, but just workers. Working for capitalists.
Workers who are paid just enough to sustain their lifestyle while the
capitalist-owners appropriate all the remaining wealth produced.

In other words, as I explain in my arguments about Kickstarter
that I reposted from the Empyre list a few days ago. In order to
"kickstart" workers-self organized forms of production, to create
free and open social media platforms, or anything else, we must, in
the first instance, depend on the retained earnings that workers can
consistently divert from consumption.

The problem is the basic workings of the labour market functions to
drive this potential amount toward zero.

What this means is that we can not solve the problem by way of
autonomist or mutualist means alone, but need to engage directly in
political struggle. Even if our goals are autonomist, our ability to
achieve our goals is directly tied to the level of wages and public
goods provided by society, for this determines the structure of
wealth, wich itself the determines the total amount of wealth we can
invest in becoming worker-owners rather than just workers.

For this reason Counter-politics[5] is required, and indeed, perhaps
Counterpolitics is perhaps the an important strategy that emerging
"Crowd Funding" platforms could fund.

The role of the State is to mediate among the classes on behalf of the
ruling class. The role of Counterpolitics is to engage in struggle
within the theatre of the State against the ruling classes. Not to
take the State, but to build social power and fight to maximize wage
levels and availability of public goods to create the space for
autonomist and mutualist means to make the state irrelevant. Can we
Crowd-fund The Debtors' Party? [6]

I'll be at Stammtisch a little earlier than normal today, probably
around 8pm or so. See you at Cafe Buchhandlung! [7].

[1] http://www.mignetproject.eu/?p=502

[2] http://wp.me/p24fqL-sO

[3] http://www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/infoenclosure-2.0

[4] http://telekommunisten.net/manifesto/

[5] http://wp.me/p24fqL-K

[6] http://wp.me/p24fqL-X

[7] http://bit.ly/buchhandlung

Center for Gender Studies of the Department of Social Policy of
Panteion University and the European research project MIG {AT} NET invite
you to the event titled: ÂAutonomy, Labour, and the Political Economy
of Social MediaÂ. Presentations by:

Tiziana Terranova - Becoming autonomous? Labour and the political
economy of digital social media

Dmytri Kleiner â P2P Communism vs Client-Server Capitalism

on Thursday 19 January 2012 at 7:00 pm at Empros Theater, 2 Riga Palamidi Street, Psirri

Tiziana Terranova lectures and researches cultural studies and new
media at the Università degli Studi di Napoli âLâOrientaleâ
in the Department of Human and Social Sciences. She is the author of
Network Culture: politics for the information age (Pluto Press 2004).
She is currently working on a book on neoliberalism and the Internet.

Dmytri Kleiner is a member of Telekommunisten and develops
miscommunication technologies, including deadSwap, Thimbl and R15N,
He is author of the Telekommunist Manifesto. He can be followed at

The event will be held in English.

Dmyri Kleiner
Venture Communist

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