Cyber-Marx

Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High Technology Capitalism

Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High Technology Capitalism (1999) provides an analysis of information-age capitalism and the movements currently dissolving it. The text version is available from University of Illinois Press, and can be purchased from the UWO Bookstore or on-line book stores.

The book is online, each chapter in one pdf file. The opening is intriguing. Nick Dyer-Witheford (the author) refers to the sf book The Difference Engine by Gibson and Stirling. Babbage’s mechanical computer in this alternate history works – and is steam driven. Here is a quote from Chapter 1:

For in the world of The Difference Engine, Karl Marx is
alive and well. His employment by the New York Daily Tribune (for whom the actual
Marx worked during the 1850s as a foreign correspondent in the biggest `information
industry’ of his day) has clearly resulted in migration to the United States–a visit yielding momentous consequence. For, in a North America wracked by regional separatism and
civil war, revolutionaries have seized the “means of information and production” of the
largest city of the New World.2 And the Manhattan Communards now provide a nucleus for
an international ferment of dissidence which, combining re-emerged Luddites, renegade
clackers, anarcho-feminists, Blakean-situationist artists and immiserated proletarians,
boils beneath the surface of the bourgeois universe, waiting for the next calamity to burst
into revolt.

In what follows, I propose a Marxism for the Marx of The Difference Engine. That
is to say, I analyse how the information age, far from transcending the historic conflict
between capital and its labouring subjects, constitutes the latest battleground in their
encounter; how the new high technologies–computers, telecommunications, and genetic
engineering–are shaped and deployed as instruments of an unprecedented, world wide
order of general commodification; and how, paradoxically, arising out of this process
appear forces which could produce a different future based on the common sharing of
wealth–a twenty-first century communism.

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