Times of the Technoculture: From the Information Society to the Virtual Life

By Kevin Robins; Frank Webster | Go to book overview

5

THE CYBERNETIC IMAGINATION OF CAPITALISM

The new information and communications technologies are changing not just entertainment and leisure pursuits but, potentially, all spheres of society: work (robotics, office technology); political management; policing and military activities (electronic warfare); communication; education (distance learning); consumption (electronic funds transfer, new retailing technologies). If the combined, though disaggregated, forces of corporate capital and political interests succeed in the systematic introduction of these new technologies-from robotics and data banks to the Internet and virtual reality games, then social life will be transformed in almost all aspects. The strategic development of ICTs will, then, have reverberations throughout the social structures of advanced capitalist societies.


TECHNOLOGICAL MOBILISATION AND EVERYDAY LIFE

The real meaning and significance of this can be more fully grasped if we situate the so-called information revolution in its historical context. But in terms of what kind of history? The history of 'technological revolutions'? The economic history of 'long waves' in capitalist growth (as theorised by Kondratieff and Schumpeter)? Neither of these, in fact. We prefer to draw upon the work of Jean-Paul de Gaudemar, 1 who periodises capitalist development in terms of the ways in which capital uses labour power and how populations are 'mobilised'. Gaudemar refers to the early nineteenth century as the period of 'absolute mobilisation'. At this time the traditional way of life of rural populations was systematically undermined in order to create a factory workforce. This process involved disciplinary efforts, both within the factory and across the fabric of everyday life: on the one hand, the division of labour, waged employment, time-thrift, and the discipline of the 'factory-prison'; on the other hand, the undermining of traditional culture (fairs, sports, etc.), the control of social space, and the moralisation of the workforce through religion and schooling.

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Times of the Technoculture: From the Information Society to the Virtual Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Techno-Visions 11
  • 1 - Cultural History of Pandaemonium 13
  • 2 - Engaging with Luddism 39
  • 3 - The Hollowing of Progress 63
  • Part II - Genealogies of Information 87
  • 4 - The Long History of the Information Revolution 89
  • 5 - The Cybernetic Imagination of Capitalism 111
  • 6 - Propaganda 131
  • Part III - The Politics of Cyberspace 147
  • 7 - Cyberwars 149
  • 8 - Education as Knowledge and Discipline 168
  • 9 - Deconstructing the Academy 192
  • Part IV - Living in Virtual Space 219
  • 10 - Prospects a of Virtual Culture 221
  • 11 - The Virtual Pacification of Space 238
  • Notes 261
  • Index 307
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