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September 23, 2010


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Thank you for posting this. Not being familiar with the work you are responding to, it is difficult to comment. But a few things jump out at me: Consistent with your larger project, you take the common as somehow having displaced or expropriated the commons, or what we understood that to be. This seems both irrefutable and profoundly disheartening.

Also, the theme that the internet and social networking in particular take up our attention, energy and time. This displaces and absorbs the radical potentialities that may otherwise emerge out of the present. It takes time to post and respond, link and react, read and discuss (just as I am doing so right now in the comfort of my den). The cost is immeasurable.

I take it from your tone (if not exactly what you say) that you are not convinced of Agamben's view that the spectacle contains the potential for its own overcoming? For what its worth I agree with that suspicion. So as always, we are left to wander in the shadows of capitalism's long "twilight struggle" with itself. Our generation and perhaps even our children's generation will pay a heavy price for our inability to confront this self imposed monster.

Jodi Dean

Alain--thanks for giving me your time in reading and responding. This does fit with my 'larger project' (I wonder if people unfamiliar with it would pick up on my argument and tone vis a vis the last bit on Agamben). Although this is just a 'response' (for the conference), I started to think of it as an opportunity to make some elements of communicative explicit (as a theory of contemporary capitalism). And I thought that I hadn't been really explicit yet about expropriation and exploitation (because it relies on a surplus value different from labor time) and thinking about the common helped that. I hope that the audience will find my treatment of the common irrefutable--I'll let you know! have a good weekend (though, my god, that sounds so trite--especially given the insane all-out war the Republicans have just declared: eliminate the new health care plan, eliminate regulations, make the Bush tax cuts permanent, eliminate the stimulus package (whatever that means). Their 'mainstream' is extreme.


I am sure you will be well received. One more comment accured to me - I really like the comments you make about user content being expropriated for value. Particularly disturbing, as you point out, Google makes money by tracking individual use of their search engine. By selling this information someone else can exploit it for more precise marketing. Kind of like Amazon sending you an email about all the cool, leftist books that people who order Zizek books, also like. I think this could be a very rich area of research.

And do not worry about "sounding trite" - we ought not stop being human beings in response to the general inhumanity that surrounds us. Take Care.

C. DiDiodato


thank you for posting your analyses of Casarino and Agamben(of the two I'm more familiar with the latter through his literary writings).

I've found here a very compelling list of the ways in which "networked communications" can turn into tools of exploitation & appropriation vis-a-vis a discussion of the views of philosopher Cesare Casarino. I'd agree with most of it except that, in the Web 2.0 world, the enemy is not the traditional "owners of the means of production" but rather the workers themselves.

The presence of what I'd call the digital 'other'( a general term to refer to the almost inseparability and so complete meshing of network-user & network) has almost made the Marxist critique outdated. I think the network-user, rather than Internet corporate villains (such as the ones identified in Casarino's analysis) is the sole cause of the "self-reproducing excess" of the capitalist system, not the other way around: communication networks comprising of software, cell phones, laptops, etc cannot be seen as the generators of "surplus value" and those who use them as dupes. They've become the same thing.

I've termed the expression 'digital other' as a result of some of my own musings on whether reading in the Internet age has made it into completely different from the traditional view. I'm wondering if the 'new reader'(of either traditional or e-book) in a digital environment hasn't brought about the same sort of global class of people with a penchant for privacy & exclusivity that Zizek talks about in "First as Tragedy, then as Farce".

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