The somewhat recent release of the Situationist iPhone app, which encourages nearby strangers to playfully interact, sparked a revisiting of Social Acupuncture by Darren O'Donnell. And there it is, on page 79, my first introduction to the Situationism movement. Here's the paragraph in question from Social Acupuncture: “Art's drift out of the field of representation and its move into relational forms, as well as the ever-increasing economic expediency of culture in the so-called creative economies described by [Richard] Florida and others, have created a proliferation of avenues through which to distribute artistry. The Situationists may have had some fantasies about the liberating potential of art as an everyday lived experience, where all moments of one's life become a creative opportunity; now we have the concomitant penetration of every moment by the potential to create, and in turn, to work. Hardt and Negri point out that capitalism is always innovating in response to resistance against it. The freeing of labour from the Fordist regime of the factory floor was imagined, at first, to be a positive movement, but capitalism easily incorporated these innovations. The idea of working from home was once an appealing notion, but now it brings with it the opportunity to never escape work, to field emails at all hours, to be lured to the humming for just another minute or two of labour.”
Doc Searls: “the Net is a marketplace. In fact, the Net is the largest, most open, most free and most productive marketplace the world has ever known. The fact that it's not physical doesn't make it one bit less real. In fact, the virtuality of the Net is what makes it stretch to worldwide dimensions while remaining local to every desktop, every point-of-sale device, every ATM machine. It is in this world-wide marketplace that free people, free enterprise, free cultures and free societies are just beginning to flourish. It is here that democratic governance is finally connected, efficiently, to the governed.”
James Surowiecki: “By insulating executives from some of the rigors of competition, though, excess cash actually makes failure more likely. It can subvert discipline and encourage waste, much as a trust fund spoils an aimless graduate. History suggests that, the more cash a company has, the more inclined it will be to misuse it. In the late seventies, oil companies found themselves flush with cash as a result of a big spike in oil prices. They dithered, then poured it into exploration projects and acquisitions that brought them headaches and red ink. Similarly, a study of companies that won big legal judgments found that, like gamblers playing with house money, most of them squandered the money on bad bets.”
Stephen Bainbridge reviews Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations by Christopher Lasch: “many of us on the right (especially social conservatives) agree with the quasi-populist/communitarian notion that democracy works best when all members of society can participate in a world of upward mobility and of achievable status. In such a world, members of society will perceive themselves as belonging to the same team and care about ensuring that that team succeeds. But how can society achieve this sort of mutual interdependence if its members are not part of a community of shared values? As Christopher Lasch explains: "[T]he new elites, the professional classes in particular, regard the masses with mingled scorn and apprehension." For too many of these elites, the values of "Middle America" - a/k/a "fly-over country" - are mindless patriotism, religious fundamentalism, racism, homophobia, and retrograde views of women. "Middle Americans, as they appear to the makers of educated opinion, are hopelessly shabby, unfashionable, and provincial, ill informed about changes in taste or intellectual trends, addicted to trashy novels of romance and adventure, and stupefied by prolonged exposure to television. They are at once absurd and vaguely menacing."”
Bainbridge recommends the book because it takes both conservatives in favour of capitalism and capitalism's critics to task.