Monday, February 08, 2010

Web 2.0 as unpaid surplus-labor extraction

From Stanley Aronowitz's The Politics of Identity:
Marx's logic, that "the specific form in which unpaid surplus labor is pumped out of the direct producers determines the relationship between those who dominate and those who are in subjection" is cited in a multiplicity of forms to assert that domination "grows directly out of production itself and reacts upon it as a determining element in its turn."... "It is always the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the immediate producers -- a relation always naturally corresponding to a definite stage in the development of the nature and method of labor and consequently of its social productivity -- which reveals the innermost secret, the hidden foundation of the entire social structure and therefore of the political form of the relations of sovereignty dependency, in short, the corresponding specific form of the state."... The "direct relationship" between owners of the conditions of production and the producers can be periodized and the forms will vary, but the structure remains constant.

The quotes from Marx apparently come from Capital Vol. 3. I wondered how this applies to the growing predominance of free labor being extracted online through Web 2.0 applications. Is Web 2.0 then dictating who dominates and who is subjected? What is the nature of this relationship and how is it being ideologically obfuscated and to what end? What sort of state will emerge from this new relationship? Does this analysis predict a state that exists to defend net neutrality to the very end, or does it anticipate a state whose purpose is to prevent it and secure the interests of the corporations that control bandwidth and establish the terms of online behavior?

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