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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bureau of Public Secrets/ Situationist texts

For anyone interested in the work of the Situationist International who has not already found it, here is an essential resource.


When I knew I was moving from London back to Scotland I went round to Compendium (sadly no more) in Camden and bought a few key texts Desert Island style.

The one which has proven the most essential is Debord's/ Society of the Spectacle. There were two versions, but the one I bought was the old Black and Red translation published by Dark Star/ Rebel Press - since it was the 'punk' one.

These days though I jump straight to Ken Knabb's more recent (and online at Bureau of Public Secrets) translation. Got to say it is 'clearer' than the old one.

I was checking Ken's version out today. Despite the poverty of academic life, I have been campaigning to stop Glasgow University closing down their Dumfries Campus. Or more accurately, I have been doing research for the campaign, which includes the IWW - see their postcard from Dumfries blogged below. CNT/ FAI flags flying ....

So I found a bit of maybe useful information - a recent/ 2006 critique of the 'Knowledge Economy'


although not directly mentioned, the underlying theme seemed to be pretty damn close to that of Debord/ Soc. Spec. This line, from Section 57, in particular

As soon as society discovers that it depends on the economy, the economy, in fact, depends on society.

To give a flavour, here are some quotes I used from the article/ paper:

the Third Way is a political economy based on the assumption of the reality of globalization, and accordingly it redefines the role of social democratic politics to act for the creation of wealth within the parameters set by globalization. Since capital is uncontrollable, what government must do is to provide the stable framework and infrastructure so as to attract capital and inward investment. The other leg of this strategy, however, is to increase the value of the capital within its borders, that is, the human capital or the potential of the people. Attracting foreign investment has a parallel here in those labor-market policies, education policies, or asylum policies which attempt to attract the “best brains.”

Practically all New Labour policies, whether they be aimed at social inclusion, the pre-schooling of young children, or the preservation of the historical heritage, are economic in the sense of being given a role for the strategic creation of the human and social capital of the knowledge economy. In the same way, virtually all social or cultural values, from trust to curiosity and aesthetics are in New Labour thinking also economic values and therefore legitimate objects for economic intervention.

This expansion of the field of the Economy has meant that areas such as education policies, cultural policies and social policies have become new forms of industrial policies.

See what I mean? Everything starts with an e. Oops, wrong reference...

Everything is subjugated to the economy - including knowledge and the 'social and human capital' of the 'knowledge workers' - like academics - who are the latest recruits to the proletariat. Hang on, here is a quick Debord:

16 The spectacle is able to subject human beings to itself because the economy has already totally subjugated them. It is nothing other than the economy developing for itself. It is at once a faithful reflection of the production of things and a distorting objectification of the producers.

Which is more than enough to be going on with.

love n chaos



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