Jonathan Crary’s 2013 book, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the End of Sleep, examines some of the destructive consequences of the uninterrupted process of capitalist expansion in the 21st century, with a particular study of sleeplessness How the coming of age has changed our sense and experience of time and blurred the distinction between repeatedly reinforced, ubiquitous consumerism and emerging strategies of control and surveillance. Markets now operate at every hour of the clock, pushing people into endless activity, eroding communities and forms of political expression, and breaking down the very fabric of everyday life.
Blurred lines between work and non-work time are undermining the notion of a workday. Some of the most affected workers have come to recognize that the ability to work online from anywhere, anytime, which at first appears to be a newfound freedom, turns out to be a mechanism of time slavery.
Clary describes the constant management of individual attention and the impairment of perception by the coercive programs of contemporary technological culture. At the same time, he argues forcefully that human sleep is inherently incompatible with 24/7 capitalism, in the hope that we can find a model of growth and accumulation that refuses to destroy the world.
At a critical time when we continue to understand the impact and consequences of “24/7 capitalism”, Clary brings us a new book “Scorched Earth Stories: From the Digital Age Beyond to the Post-Capitalist World” in 2022. This work debunks assumptions that social media can be a tool for radical change, arguing that the networks and platforms of multinational corporations are inherently incompatible with a habitable planet or the human interdependence required to build egalitarian post-capitalist forms of life .
The book is a scathing critique of the myriad digital landscapes created by the technological consumer culture and the Internet that prevail in the West. Taken together, Clary argues that a sustainable and viable future must reject the total control of transnational capitalism and humanity’s growing addiction to online simulations. His ideas are provocative in the urgency of collective intervention and shockingly accurate in his portrayal of the current global brink of catastrophe.
Today, few would argue that the current global trajectory of capitalism can be sustained without catastrophic and irreversible damage to civilization and the fragile biosphere that supports life. However, people like Clary – who outspokenly likens an always-on, day and night planet to “scorched earth” – make radical, shocking, uncompromising claims, calling for some form of “Ecosocialism or post-capitalism without growth” – that’s pretty rare.
Tales from the Scorched Earth is loosely organized in three untitled chapters, the first of which surveys the landscape of “the Internet complex.” It’s a new term Clary uses in the book to describe the vast array of digital platforms, protocols, and physical infrastructure that have become “connected to the vast, immeasurable scale of 24/7 capitalism.” The scope is inseparable”. In this installment, Clary attempts to deconstruct the ideological workings of the “Internet Complex” to show how it permeates nearly every corner of social reality, leaving individuals politically powerless and deprived of a sense of the time they live.
The Internet has turned individuals into digital consumers, and even efforts to bridge the “digital divide” are really just about expanding the pool of consumers who shop, play games, binge-watch TV shows, and other profligate and addictive activities.
To do this, he first provides a brief account of the history of the Internet. Beginning with its adoption as a tool by the military and later by institutionalized research organizations, Clary argues that the mass commercialization of the Internet in the mid-1990s was a phenomenon driven by the “reconfiguration of capitalism.” For him, this modified capitalist model is characterized by the widespread implementation of “informal, flexible and decentralized forms of labour”. Clary then connects the commercialization of the Internet to the emergence of neoliberal politics and the increasing economization of social institutions. Thus, the Internet as we know it today, with its myriad of products and financial services, was not born out of a desire to liberate individuals towards greater forms of autonomy or to create the conditions for collective agency, but simply to transform individuals into harnessing their own human capital. entrepreneurs.
The popular notion of the internet as an egalitarian and democratic digital platform is dismissed by Clary, who instead sees the ubiquitous network as a “global machine for the total disintegration of society”. To support his point of view, Clary made a lot of theoretical marks. Drawing from the likes of Marx, Debord, Arendt, Deleuze, and Guattari, Clary reconsiders the spread of social media platforms, which he argues have become “addictions, loneliness, false hopes, Cruelty, insanity, debt, waste of life, amnesia and social disintegration”. Part of the problem arises from our complete acceptance of the Internet’s entry into the deepest recesses of social existence, and in these deep fissures it endlessly proclaims its indispensability and the insignificance of any life not absorbed by its protocols .
According to Bernard Stiegler, the Internet and its supporting platforms are vehicles for the “mass production of behavior” that epitomizes an American-style pattern of technology consumption , the rest of the world has little resistance to this consumption pattern. Clary went on to point out that the Internet has turned individuals into digital consumers, and that even efforts to bridge the “digital divide” are really nothing more than an attempt to expand the appetite for shopping, gaming, binge-watching, and other profligate and addictive activities. Consumer groups.
Ludwig Binswanger (Ludwig Binswanger) described it in the 1950s: “Having an independent ego personality is abandoned, and the subject thus surrenders itself to those forces that are related to human existence, but these forces have nothing to do with I am out of place.” Today, we can say this: the subject handed himself over to the algorithm.
Technocapitalism: Human agency and creativity removed
Part II introduces a striking feature of technological capitalism. Here, Clary paints a picture of our changing, often subordinate relationship to digital technology. For him, the defining feature of technocratic capitalism is a world in which “human agency and creativity are removed.” As in Part I, Clary covers here a great deal of theory to show how scientific and technological innovation is driven by capitalist interests rather than serving human ends or needs. Artificial intelligence, 5G networks and IOT (Internet of Things) are used as case studies of how contemporary society is being transformed into a giant digital workplace that places the principles of speed, “connectivity” and shallow data flows in society Above any “deep” or meaningful interaction between groups or individuals. However, with the ever-increasing pace of capitalist production, consumption, and exchange, such a situation cannot continue forever. For Crary, the limits of capital arise when “human productivity is not merely enhanced by technology, but replaced by it.” While advances in technology have brought about new laws of labor and commodity production, it must be recognized that, regardless of technological capabilities, humans will always retain their intrinsic value relative to the capital system.