Marazzi om Googlemodellen

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Sidorna 54- 57 i The violence of financial capitalism.

The relationship between accumulation, profits and financialization should be reinterpreted on the basis of the salient characteristics of post-Fordist production processes. The increase in profits fueling financialization was possible because, in biocapitalism, the very concept of accumulation of capital was transformed. It no longer consists, as in the Fordist period, of investment in constant and variable capital (wage), but rather of investment in apparatuses of producing and capturing value produced outside directly productive processes.

As Tiziana Terranova writes with regard to these new company strategies, "it is a question of attracting and individuating not just this 'free labor,' but also in some way various forms of possible surplus-value that can capitalize on the diffused desires of sociality, expression, and relation. In this model, the production of profit by companies would take place over and against the individuation and capture of a 'lateral' surplus-value (the sale of publicity, and the sale of data produced by the activity of users, the capacity to attract financial investments on the basis of visibility and the prestige of new global brands like Google and Facebook). In many cases, surplus-value resides in the saving of costs of this very labor, since the latter becomes 'externalized' to users (the externalization of analysis and beta testing of videogames or technical support to users)."

These crowdsourcing technologies, based on what Alexander Galloway called "protocological control," represent the new organic composition of capital, i.e., the relationship between constant capital (as the totality of "linguistic machines") dispersed in society and variable capital (as the totality of sociality, emotions, desires, relational capacity, and… "free labor") deterritorialized, despatialized, dispersed in the sphere of reproduction, consumption, forms of life and individual and collective imagination. New constant capital, differently from the system of (physical) machines typical of the Fordist age, is constituted, beyond information and communication technology )ICT), by a totality of immaterial organizational systems that suck surplus-value by pursuing citizen-laborers in every moment of their lives, with the result that the working day, the time of living labor, is excessively lengthened and intensified (Stephen Baker, "The Next. Companies May Soon Know Where Customers are Likely to be Every Minute of the Day," Business Week, March 9, 2009).

The "Google model," like the "Toyota model" 30 years ago, should be properly understood as a new mode of producing goods and services in the age of biocapitalism. It is a model of company organization that, having assumed the form of internet services in the sector, i.e., in the age of the new economy in the course of the second half of the 1990s, has been gradually asserted in all sectors of the economy, be they producers of immaterial services or material goods. In other words, it is not the nature of the product that determined the productive organization (or paradigm), but rather the relationship between the spheres of production and circulation, between production and consumption, that shapes the modalities of producing goods and services. The "Google model" is today proposed as a company strategy in order to save the American automobile industry, the industry that made the history of the twentieth century beginning with Henry Ford's revolution and that today is in the gravest of crises from every point of view (Laurent Carrou'e, "Le coeur de l'automobile américaine a cessé de battre," Le monde diplomatique, February, 2009).

Jeff Davis' book What Would Google Do?, of which Business Week published an excerpt (February 9, 2009), is significant in this regard because it shows how the possibility of overcoming this crisis depends on the capacity of the car industry to reestablish a direct, transparent, participatory, creative, emotive, and expressive relationship with automobile consumer-users. The creation of networks, or, as they are called in the internet world, communities of consumers, who coproduce innovation, diversification, and identification with the brand, on the basis of open source, shows how the "Google model" is being asserted outside the virtual universe, even in the hyper-material world of the automobile. It adds that this managerial revolution began 30 years ago, indeed beginning with the crisis of the Fordist model, a crisis overcome by applying productive strategies that are ever more present in the sphere of circulation and reproduction, i.e., in the sphere of bios, of life.

Moreover, the studies of cognitive capitalism, in addition to highlighting the centrality of cognitive/immaterial labor, of cooperation between brains beyond the public and private spheres, between individuals and organization in the creation of added value, show the increasing loss of strategic importance of fixed capital (physical instrumental goods) and the transfer of a series of productive-instrumental functions to the living body of the workforce (Christian Marazzi, Capitalismo digitale e modello antropogenetico del lavoro. L'ammortamento del corpo macchina, in J.L. Laville, C. Marazzi, ed. M. La Rosa, F. Chicchi, Reinventare il lavoro, Sapere 2000, Rome, 2005).

"The economy of knowledge harbors a curious paradox. The prototype of each new good is costly for the companies because, in order to start producing and commercializing it, huge investments in research are necessary. But the next units cost little because it is simply a question of replicating the original and it is possible to do this inexpensively thanks to the advantages derived from delocalized production, from available technologies and digitalization processes. It follows that companies will concentrate their efforts and resources on the production of ideas, having to confront, however, the progressive tendency of the increase in costs" (Codeluppi, op. cit., p. 24).

One of the main characteristics of cognitive capitalism is, in fact, the chasm between initially very high costs (particularly due to the investments in Research and Development, marketing, etc) necessary for continued invention/innovation of products and marginal costs of additional units of products introduced to the market, the costs tending toward zero. In fact, being able to be replicated at decreasing costs lies in fact in the very nature of products of high technological content and cognitive labor (on this subject, see the fundamental work by E. Rullani, Economia della conoscenza. Creatività e valore nel capitalismo della reti, Carocci, Roma, 2004. Also important is the work L'età del capitalismo cognitivo. Innovazione, proprietà e cooperazione delle moltitudini, ed. by Yann Moulier Boutang, Ombre Corte, Verona, 2002).

This characteristic of cognitive capitalism refers to the theory of growing earnings, i.e., to the increase in profits originating in the drastic reduction of reproduction costs of goods. The theory of growing earnings, particularly relevant in an economy that has turned knowledge into a highly productive and competitive factor of production (endogenous, i.e., an integral part of the normal activity of companies), was masterly examined by David Warsh in his Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations: a Story of Economic Discovery (W. W. Norton, New York, 2006).