Theory in a Digital Age: A Project of English 483 Students, Coastal Carolina University

Antagonism of Capitalism

This age of information technology has also sparked a rise in collaborative production. There is a noticeable return to bartering as exchange for goods, service, and information. This type of exchange “no longer responds to the dictates of the market” and hierarchy of capitalism. People come together to exchange goods or services in a way that circumvents traditional means of getting those goods or services.

           For instance, airbnb allows people to rent spaces they own without jumping through the hoops of getting a business license and regulation from the government. They even call themselves a "peer-to-peer" marketplace. Similarly, the DIY movement has allowed a sharing a free information so you can “do-it-yourself” and ultimately save money. If I wanted to find a recipe for say vegan French toast, I could go on Pinterest where people have already posted an image that connects me to a site where the recipe is available. I have sidestepped the obligation of buying a cookbook.

           The currency of post-capitalism, according to Mason, is: free time, networked activity, and free stuff. All of these are almost inextricable from each other, for if a person “possesses” one of these they have access to the others. In a person’s free time they would spend time on the internet in various capacities and thus be involved in a network. Activity in these networks may include discussion of a particular subject or recruitment of members. The free stuff refers to autonomy provided in cyber space as well as the learning that comes from receiving information.

           What does this mean for labor? The past election cycle saw a disillusioned attitude from many people who held or previously held jobs consisting of manual labor (i.e. factory jobs, construction, etc.). However, promises to bring back these kinds of jobs are difficult to accomplish, especially when one considers the nature of labor today and the nature of labor fifty or sixty years ago. Machines have allowed for the decrease in need of human involvement. And this the goal of capitalism: to reduce labor.


           Marx furthers this antagonism saying:

Capital itself is the moving contradiction… on the one side, then, it calls to life all the powers of science and of nature, as of social combination and of social intercourse, in order to make the creation of wealth independent (relatively) of the labor time employed on it. On the other side, it wants to use labor time as the measuring rod for the giant social forces thereby created.

Necessary labor is being reduced constantly by technology while capital wants to increase surplus labor.

           A response to this crisis has been to open numerous low paying, low skilled jobs instead of jobs that interact with the information era in which we find ourselves. However, even large tech companies, people who recognize the importance of information, are trying to fit this into a traditional capitalist business model. It will fail after some time due to the nature in which we use information freely. As more and more people begin to have access to certain information, interact more in networks, the need for these large corporations decreases.

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