I just came across this interview (in Spanish) with Bifo and will post one section of an English translation I am doing over the next five days. Comments and corrections are, of course, welcome. I will also post a completed translation when I’m finished.
“A collective uprising is first of all a physical, affective, and erotic phenomenon”
An Interview with Bifo by Amador Fernández-Savater
It is a daily experience: work in the capitalist context is principally the means to an end (profit). An indifferent job, therefore: its essence is empty of meaning and determined primarily for money. Butter or missiles, it doesn’t matter, what is important is that the product-merchandise sells in the market. Marx called it “abstract labor” and from it he defined the capitalist mode of production and its destructive character.
According to Franco Berardi (Bifo) – Italian philosopher, theorist of communication media and the transformations of work, involved in political movements since the 1970s – two more levels of abstraction are added in our time to the abstraction of work: the government of finances (a power without any local ties) and the virtual networks of communication (a symbolic interchange without bodies). The financialization of life and the virtualization of contact generates, according to Bifo, new forms of social malaise, new pathologies, and new types of suffering.
Can that malaise be politicized? What forms of collective action can convert suffering into a transformative force? The Uprising (La Sublevacion, published by Artefakt in Spain and Hehkt in Argentina) collects a series of written texts by Bifo on the heat of the movements of the square (Arab Spring, 15M, Occupy…). Revolt, as it appears in the book, is first a place of lifting up explosive, stressed, depressed bodies: the first step in the reconstruction of the social body capable of challenging the domination of digital and financial hyper-abstraction.