In reference to the insatiable thrust of Capital running rampant over livelihoods, and of the political directorates continued subservience to financial interests (in this case the European Union, but just as well America or Canada) the Italian philosopher and media theorist Franco “Bifo” Berardi has this to say:
“Peaceful demonstrations will not suffice to change the course of things and violent explosions will be too easily exploited by racists and criminals. A deep change in social perception and social lifestyle will compel a growing part of society to withdraw from the economic field, from the game of work and consumption. These people will abandon individual consumption to create new, enhanced forms of co-habitation, a village economy within the metropolis.”
Bifo charts the devastating strain of overwork, particularly in its more cognitive forms under late capitalism or as he likes to put it “semiocapitalism,” not only on the individual psyches of capitalism’s cognitive employees – those workers engaged in the constant accessing and organizing of the seemingly endless pieces of information – but also on the “social brain”, that is, the space of collective consciousness where all these bits of information interact creating the symbolic backdrop for our lives together as human organisms.
The result of this immense emotional and cognitive strain, suggests Bifo, is the increasing potential of exhaustion as a, not so much revolutionary, force that nonetheless engenders an incredible passivity (beyond passivity?) that points the way forward past the impasse of liberalism.
While Bifo’s thought on this last point is slightly weak, it is not entirely clear how exhaustion can provide an organizing force for a different type of life, there is still some incredibly poignant insights into the nature of the farce we sometime call “reality.” To suggest that we need a radical re-envisioning and restructuring of the ways in which we produce, consume, and just generally organize ourselves as humans in communities and in the world is no more than needs to be said.
One final note: Can we not find, in Bifo’s imagery of the village economy within the city, a powerful restatement of the Christian parish? A gathering of people, not disparate in place from others who participate in games of power and the incessant feeding of the flesh, and yet a people who are peculiar in the way they perceive the world, in how they live and how they consume. It is instructive that the people in Bifo’s village in the city withdraw not from society but from the economic field, which is to say, that they have found a God to serve other than Mammon.