We are all witnessing the effects of capitalism over our present times in the forms of abstraction of work, the disembodiment of the conscience, and the dematerialization of the commodities. The Italian Marxist Franco “Bifo” Berardi attributes the origin of this great transformation through abstraction to the development of finance:
Finance is the most abstract level of economic symbolization. It is the culmination of a process of progressive abstraction that started with capitalist industrialization. Marx speaks of abstract labor in the sense of an increased distancing of human activity from its concrete usefulness. In his words, capitalism is the application of human skills as a means to obtain a more abstract goal: the accumulation of value[i].
On this particular situation he states that the most important changes in societies due to the dematerialization and the general abstraction of the economic rules and procedures are the disembodiment of the “general intelligence”, a concept he uses sometimes in terms of a representation of the cognitive group of workers whose labor is now exploited; the deterritorialization of labor and productivity, that ignited a process of pulverization and precarization of work and worker; the end of growth as a concept related to the “increase of social happiness and satisfaction of the basic needs of people”, but instead the expansion of financial profits and the expansion of the global volume of exchange value. He talks about “the new alienation” occurring in the cognitive worker by precarization and the acceleration of the information flow and productivity. All of these transformations are symptoms of the general intelligence as disembodied, taken away from its own social and erotic body.