Paolo Virno om postfordism
20 januari 2006
Post-Fordism certainly cannot be reduced to a set of particular professional figures characterized by intellectual refinement or ”creative” gifts. It is obvious that workers in the media, researchers, engineers, ecological operators, and so on, are and will be only a minority. By ”post-Fordism,” I mean instead a set of characteristics that are related to the entire contemporary workforce, including fruit pickers and the poorest of immigrants. Here are some of them: the ability to react in a timely manner to the continual innovations in techniques and organizational models, a remarkable ”opportunism” in negotiating among the different possibilities offered by the job market, familiarity with what is possible and unforeseeable, that minimal entrepreneurial attitude that makes it possible to decide what is the ”right thing” to do within a nonlinear productive fluctuation, a certain familiarity with the web of communications and information. As one can see, these are generically human gifts, not the result of ”specialization.”Utan att köpa hela Virnos ideologiska paket går det ändå att hitta en del passager där han visar en fruktbar förmåga att koppla filosofin till högst konkreta samtidsförlopp. Högst relaterade begreppet kontrollsamhället från Gilles Deleuze nämns också. Virno gör bedömningen att vi befinner oss i ett liknande skifte som skedde på 1700-talet, i vilket då etablerade begrepp om suveränitet, legitimitet och stat har börjat läcka. Sen glider det in på hur John Cage dissade inspelad musik, medan Glenn Gould intog motsatt position.
What I hold true is that post-Fordism mobilizes all the faculties that characterize our species: language, abstract thinking, disposition toward learning, plasticity, the habit of not having solid habits. When I speak of a ”mass intellectuality,” I am certainly not referring to biologists, artists, mathematicians, and so on, but to the human intellect in general, to the fact that it has been put to work as never before. If we look carefully, post-Fordism takes advantage of abilities learned before and independently of entrance into the workplace: abilities brought forth by the uncertainty of metropolitan life, by uprootedness, by the preceptual shocks of technological mutations, even by video games and the use of cellular phones. All this is at the base of post-Fordist ”flexibility.” These experiences outside the workplace become afterward, in the production system known as ”just in time,” authentic and proper professional requirements.
Great European thought, from Nietzsche to Heidegger, described the ”nihilism” that characterizes the forms of life outside the stringent rationality of the productive process: instability, disenchantment, anonymity, and so on. Well, with post-Fordism, the nihilistic mentality enters into production, constitutes in fact one of its precious ingredients. To work profitably in offices and factories, what is necessary today is a great familiarity with the situation and the fragility of every state of things.
Och så bjuder intervjun bjuder på ett filosofiskt projektförslag:
I maintain that today what is possible and should be written is a contemporary version of Benjamin’s essay on technical reproduction, assuming one has the background from which it is possible to appreciate all that is singular and unrepeatable in every human existence. If reproduction once suppressed the aura linked to the uniqueness of the work, today it is necessary to think the link between the technical reproduction of every aspect of experience and the emergence of a uniqueness without aura. Moreover, in the epoch of the intellectual work of the masses, it seems to me important to reread (and, certainly, to develop) the analysis of Alfred Sohn-Rethel, an outsider of the Frankfurt School (to whom, however, Adorno owes a great debt), in the book Intellectual and Manual Labour.