What is the political impact of networked communications technologies? I argue that as communicative capitalism they are profoundly depoliticizing. The argument, first, conceptualizes the current political-economic formation as one of communicative capitalism. It then moves to emphasize specific features of communicative capitalism in light of the fantasies animating them. The fantasy of abundance leads to a shift in the basic unit of communication from the message to the contribution. The fantasy of activity or participation is materialized through technology fetishism. The fantasy of wholeness relies on and produces a global both imaginary and Real. This fantasy prevents the emergence of a clear division between friend and enemy, resulting instead in the more dangerous and profound figuring of the other as a threat to be destroyed. My goal in providing this account of communicative capitalism is to explain why in an age celebrated for its communications there is no response.
Communicative Capitalism: Circulation and the Foreclosure of Politics
JODI DEAN IS A POLITICAL THEORIST TEACHING AND WRITING IN UPSTATE NEW YORK. HER MOST RECENT WORK INCLUDES PUBLICITY’S SECRET: HOW TECHNOCULTURE CAPITALIZES ON DEMOCRACY AND, CO-EDITED WITH PAUL A. PASSAVANT, EMPIRE’S NEW CLOTHES: READING HARDT AND NEGRI. SHE IS CURRENTLY WORKING ON A BOOK ON THE POLITICAL THEORY OF SLAVOJ ZIZEK.