Few people argue with the fact that we are witnessing the decline of the “Belle Époque”, with the exception of an insignificant group concentrated, oddly enough, in Moscow. Earlier in London there were turbo enthusiasts of globalization, but in connection with the latest coronavirus events, somehow everyone went somewhere. They say, partly also to Moscow. There remains, of course, the main apologist of liberal globalism, Neil Ferguson, proclaiming the start of a new consumer boom in 2021 and a quick and painless recovery of the global economy and an almost dock-like model of socio-economic development. But for some reason this does not look as convincing as it did five years ago, when The Square and the Tower was written, and even more so ten years ago, when Civilization thundered.
Of course, in the conditions of expectation of "real chaos" in the heads of various people who were considered thinkers in "developed globalization", a lot of curious things come, starting from the statement that for the victory of the "brave new world" it is necessary to destroy the identities that Francis Fukuyama gave out himself, apparently , not suspecting the voiced element of the "world revolution" concept. Soon, apparently, the time will come for the theory of the "glass of water", about which the leading Western philosopher, probably, did not hear either. Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes talk about “the light that deceived hopes” (they are about democracy), criticizing the “imitation of democratic institutions”, although it is precisely this - when the form, institutional embodiment, was more important than the essence - the collective West imposed, including with “fire and by the sword ”, in the last 30 years.
Of course, one cannot ignore the almost fundamental creation of the ideologues of the “Davos Consensus” Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret “COVID-19: The Great Reset”. In anticipation of the emergence of mankind from pandemic restrictions, the authors tried to return to circulation the concept of “human neurophysiology” in a new wrapper, with the inscription “must, Fedya, must….”. It is worth, of course, to think about how much of this book is from the 82-year-old turbo-globalist, a native of Ravensbrück Schwab, how much from the futurist Mallere, ultra-left, but somehow very kind to the globalists (by the way, this is now also mainstream), and how much is the opinion "Collective leadership". But the book itself is indicative, because, on the one hand, it kind of sums up the development of the world according to the model proclaimed uncontested in 1990-1991, and on the other hand, it suggests going back to the origins and trying to do everything in a new way because “ there is no alternative ”.
And this, alas, is the general mood. Realizing the decline of a beautiful era, we strive to return back, being confident that this time everything will be fine and we will not make past mistakes. And this idea can be traced in most attempts to comprehend the present and the future. There is probably some sense in the simple idea that the capitalist world, and this is, in fact, the whole world, even China and Vietnam, where - no need to dissemble - there are simply versions of capitalism with national and ideological specifics, has gone through the most comfortable period of its development, an analogue of the “Brezhnev” “golden autumn of socialism”, and further perestroika, skirmish and roll call will follow, possibly ending with “getting up from his knees,” but this is not certain. By the way, notice how Western futurists diligently avoid the term "perestroika", although looking at what is happening in the United States, in France, and partly even in Germany, it comes to mind.
What did we want? Humanity, looking at two world wars, Victorian and Stalinist industrial modernization (both from a humanistic point of view - monstrous, although in completely different ways, but “historically progressive”), the “Great Depression” and post-war economic turbulence, wanted capitalism-light, well please get capitalism, where the biological load (expenditure of biological, muscular, if you like, human energy) is minimized, moreover, a person has a lot of free time. It can be called unemployment, or it can not be called, coming up with various beautiful and incomprehensible terms: "creative class", "politicum", "precariat" and so on. What a strange contradiction, however, we have observed in recent years: the relief of the burden of each individual, but the emergence of "tired" communities (for example, bank workers who were en masse in psychiatric hospitals from overwork), societies and entire countries. Institutional chronic fatigue syndrome. Probably, it was a natural payment for the external comfort of the increasingly virtual world. Having already finished work on this article, I came across a collection of essays by Kirill Kobrin (a man more than a liberal) "Ghosts of Tired Capitalism" and realized that I was not the only one with similar feelings.
But is it possible to “go back to basics” and do it right this time? The answer to this question is not as simple as it seems. And, for a start, it is worth understanding what was the systemic essence of that model of economic development, of that capitalism that is trying to revive by shaking off the coronavirus.
It would be correct to name a version of capitalism
, which is the basis for "mature" globalization, "cognitive capitalism".
For reference, without complicating it, from Wiktionary:
• (philosophical, psychol.) Cognition or cognition related by meaning to a noun ◆ The structure of cognitive experience includes ways of coding information, conceptual mental structures, “archetypal” and semantic structures. (VN Druzhinin, “The Psychology of General Abilities”, 2007)
• (special) studying cognition - the process by which information is processed by our consciousness, based on the concept of cognition ◆ In cognitive linguistics, cognitive structures and processes in human consciousness act as model constructs.
More from the "Philosophical Dictionary" of 1983: (from Lat. Cognitio - knowledge, knowledge), cognizable, corresponding to cognition.
It is complicated and confusing, of course, but it gives a general idea of the term. “Cognitive” is something that is given to us at the level of sensations, something unknowable, irrational. Let us agree that to comprehend the present world it is not economists that are needed, and the military is not yet needed. Now is the time for philosophers and poets. And economists will have to accept “economic agnosticism” as the only correct approach to the analysis of modern capitalism and continue to juggle terms that everyone understands differently. Or does not understand at all, but simply uses it because it is "supposed".
In “cognitive capitalism,” we pay for what we consider valuable, without really understanding how much it all really costs or whether it is worth anything. It turns out that modern capitalism, post-industrial capitalism of the times of inhibiting globalization, exists only in our head, being the perfect product of subjective idealism. “No,” an ordinary person will say, others will frown, starting to suspect the author of perverting the theories of the penultimate great philosopher of socialism E. Ilyenkov.
But take your time.
Let's ask a simple question: how much does a “Pokemon” or “premium tank” cost in a computer game? Right! Actually, nothing, but we are ready to give a lot of money for them, simply because we want it so much, our emotions prompted us. Even simpler: “feelings”, as it turned out, could be “spread on bread”, although not for long. Question: how long? It turned out that for a long time, although cognitive capitalism, which lasted for 20 years, certainly does not pull for a full-fledged economic era (50 years).
Karl Marx Pikachu
Collage and editing by Alexander Voronin | Fitzroy Magazine
Do we understand that not only the computer games industry, but the entire economic model of late globalization was built on the Pokemonization of consumption and development? And not only personal, but also corporate. The notorious “responsible corporate citizenship”, about which volumes of smart and not so smart books and articles, paid with billions of banknotes, have been written, is exactly the same part of the “sensation economy” as a Pokemon or some kind of “hero”. It's just more expensive. Only you will have to pay constantly.
By the tenth year of our century, by the era of "color revolutions", democracy had turned into a kind of "Pokemon", although it was necessary to pay for it not only with money, but also with sovereignty.
Pokémonization of the economy has been a strategic development path for cognitive capitalism. And the question is not even that this process has been going on for the past 20 years. The question is that those whom we call “globalists” want to continue it forever. Although this already looks like complete madness, the main madness is different: the "globalists", in any case, the most radical part of them (the same Neil Ferguson, about whom the Nobel laureate Paul Krugman aptly said that his main thing is a sonorous phrase, but the essence almost not - well, what is not a characteristic of the essence of cognitive capitalism?), considers it possible to simply go back, ignoring, or rather, simply forgetting everything that happened to our world not even in 2020, but in 2015. And this is the meaning of cognitive capitalism, a manifestation of its Pokemonization - you can always press the "reset" button, and lives can be replenished as even the unsuccessful passage of the "level". You just need to find the box with the inscription "Biden" in time. Joke. It's no joke that “cognitive capitalism” is the world of the eternal “today”, when even the immediate past should be forgotten, as if it never existed. And there should be only endless consumption ahead, from an instrument of economic growth turning into the essence of socio-economic and economic-technological development as such.
The problem was that the consumption race under the conditions of cognitive capitalism would inevitably become overgrown with social contradictions, the simplest - and, in principle, the most easily solvable of which was the equalization of quantitative consumption. And the most difficult one was catching up with social modernization, which implied a whole complex of indicators of social well-being, among which “civilizational features” so hated by the ideologists of globalization inevitably appeared. Cognitive capitalism could never exist without an ideology designed to expose
for each individual person (no longer even for social groups - the social atomization of conventionally “developed” societies made it unnecessary) behavioral frameworks that are forbidden for crossing under pain of excommunication from the “mainstream”, that is, from the benefits of the information society and tied to it social systems.
Simple, classical liberalism was clearly not enough here, therefore it was replaced by tolerance at the beginning of the tenth years, which, by the way, few people noticed, because a relatively wide range of actions was cut off from a person of the “civilized world” on the finger, replacing the lost freedoms - not too critical for the majority of “consumers”, which are qualified, which are not very, a certain set of new sensations. I must say that the “Unknown Fathers” of cognitive capitalism not only mastered the favorite technique of Sergei Eisenstein - “assembling attractions”, but also creatively rethought it in relation to the conditions and possibilities (believe me, these are very different things) of integrated communications. And how can one fail to recall that at the moment when “progressive humanity” in the person of its best intellectuals chewed in mournful silence the book of the leading Western sociologist Anthony Giddens “The Escaping World”, from which it became clear that it was time for capitalism to change and in general a period of “democratization democracies ”, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 took place, occupying the restless heads in time for a good 10 years. This effect of “hammering” the unpleasant essence with “white noise” later could not be surpassed even by anti-Russian sanctions.
By the way, the idea that the coronavirus pandemic, inflated in the spring of 2020 to the scale of a universal catastrophe, was also an attempt by “white noise” to cover up the reformatting of the socio-economic system, at least in the segment called “democracy”, is not devoid of rationality. But “something went wrong,” and the exhausted economic base of cognitive capitalism was unable to ensure the proper level of control over social processes. In other words, the blow fell not on the “superfluous” (population, old people, traditions, way of life) in cognitive capitalism, but on social institutions that turned out to be critical for globalization. First of all, according to the idea of linearity of being, determined by the constantly growing needs for consumption and by the feeling of absolute protection of the “civilized world” from the external environment. Actually, systemic crises begin like this - something that is self-evident and therefore invisible collapses, but then it turns out that without this “invisible” it is simply impossible to live on.
Digital cucumbers on the information field
But we got distracted.
As it took root, the ideology of tolerance was not just radicalized (this is by itself), but was built on with elements that regulated not only long-term, but also current social behavior. Either by responsible environmentally friendly consumption, now by the need to donate the fight against poverty in Africa and the protection of whales, now by a healthy lifestyle, now by the new ecology of the name of Greta Thunberg, now by gender or racial quotas for hiring…. And each time the space for consumption was somewhat narrowed, and this was done often under the favorite slogan of the Soviet party committees “it should be done”. What do you want? There is no unlimited consumption in general, and especially in that economic system where the main product was "air", albeit informational.
Investing in virtuality, the production of capital from capital through communications, turned out to be extremely attractive, since it brought capitalism into a space where, as it seemed then, it controls all risks. Indeed, in the information space, especially if you control the information society - the interface between a person and the information space - there are no revolutions or social contradictions, it is gender neutral. Because there are no people in the information space, but there are only “profiles”, “avatars” and selected, including skillfully configured algorithms, news feeds, where more and more advertising. And, if some “full moon partisans” start up, using the terminology of Boris Grebenshchikov, then they can completely turn off the connection, which began to happen with the Russian conditionally “patriotic” and “statist” digital communication channels in the notorious 2020 - more before the total information sweep in post-election America.
But again, nuances appeared. Even two.
The first nuance is quite obvious. The information society is too changeable for capitalism, which is already accustomed to considering itself unchangeable, and has abandoned even the concept of convergence, just in case. It, however, was also initially deduced from the emergence of the information society. In the information society, everything is fluid and indefinite, including the concept of “property” which is system-forming for capitalism. Which, as we remember, is “sacred”, but can the imperceptible be sacred? One Russian oligarch from the 1990s commented that a shareholder must prove his right to be a shareholder every day. An unthinkable phrase by the standards of a classic
capitalism, which very accurately reflected the essence of the then Russian capitalism and, at the same time, quite accurately, albeit roughly, described the essence of ownership in cognitive capitalism: you are the owner, as long as you have the right to use a virtualized asset - Pokemon, cryptocurrencies, entries in the electronic register of shares and even your own a social media account, as Donald Trump recently found out. If you do not have access to the asset, your ownership is fiction. And therefore, the main property right in the world of cognitive capitalism has become the right to own the channels of access to the information space, the right to own the tools of the information society. All other property rights are secondary, derivatives in relation to him. But it, this right, just so happened, could only be non-public, unrecorded in some kind of registers and ledgers. Because “freedom of speech”. And this is the key contradiction of cognitive capitalism, which has both political and economic significance. For such a right, the right of ownership to the basic structure of the global economic system grants more than just power. This bestows absolute power.
Collage and editing by Alexander Voronin | Fitzroy Magazine
The second nuance was less obvious. And the point here is not so much in capitalism as in the “collective West” that privatized it and turned it from an economic model into an ideology. The “collective West”, led by the United States, was firmly convinced that it would be able to control the information society system, that only it would have the switch. On this understanding, the entire system of development of the Internet was built, as well as, to an even greater extent, the system of platforms for broadcasting video content. But the system turned out to be too large, and instead of individual “partisans”, whole large social systems and even states appeared, which began to challenge the owners of the information society, for the most part - shadow, the right to govern this very society. And digital communication technologies have become so cheap and constructively simplified that they have become more than available both for states and for corporate structures that have a political task and the political will to solve it - to create an alternative to global giants, contrary to the main criterion of the economy of cognitive capitalism: user convenience. In addition, new players, as a rule, do not have the question “when will all this pay off”. And the more the US demonstrates its “right of the knife” in digital communications, the more such players will appear. Everyone thought that the gravedigger of the universality of the digital information society would come from the outside, that it would be the countries of the "axis of evil", "hackers", authoritarian states joining the "Chinese Internet". And the gravedigger grew up inside, and in strict accordance with the logic of this very information society. Hence, by the way, the beginning of the struggle between the American state and the formally “American” media transnational companies, which are no longer American.
But the right to manage the information society is also the right to receive “rent” for the right to use the interface. And most importantly - I have to say, and who, in fact, is the real owner of the version of capitalism in which we live? And I didn’t want to talk, and I don’t want to, because then it would be necessary to formalize not only property rights, but also the “rules of the game”. In the meantime, “everything around is collective farm, everything around me ...” the information space can be controlled depending on political expediency. But the system of global digital communications is the circulatory system of the global system of cognitive capitalism. And if it stops working, then there will simply be no endless trade in “Pokemon”.
Of course, there was a third nuance ... Well, as a nuance - a problem that capitalism has not taken into account. Cognitive capitalism has become boring even for a “qualified consumer” capable of minimal social reflection, not to mention an unskilled one who, with understandable surprise, compared the promised by the ideologists of globalization and his own consumer reality. It's like comparing the received package from an online store with an advertising photo. It seems similar, but "not that" and you will not understand that "not that" - either a figure, or light in the room, or the product itself. And while consumption was based on goods and services, due to which economic growth was carried out, it was not so bad. But the moment the consumption was based on “feelings”, the problems began. It became boring, because virtual sensations are not exactly sensations, but non-virtual sensations require money. The capitalism of sensations, which was replacing the capitalism of goods, itself pushed some consumers out of the information society.
Choosing between red and blue pill
Note that according to very many sociological studies, only a relatively small part of society, even in developed countries, agreed with the proposed model of “chl
fuck and spectacle ”, which embodied the concept of“ minimum guaranteed income ”popular in 2013–2019. In a number of countries, for example, in Germany and Switzerland, they even conducted social experiments and referendums. In Russia, also at this time (2016–2018), the government of innovators-monetarists also seriously played with the idea of a minimum guaranteed income, though mainly emphasizing the aspect of its “minimum”. But the results were more than controversial. For example, in a survey conducted in October 2016, when the idea was just starting to roll around (the peak, including the propaganda one, fell on 2018), 64% of the respondents supported the idea, but only 4% agreed not to work after that. And these are the results achieved in the peaceful pre-pandemic years, when trust in the state and the social system in the West was very high. In other words, the population of quite developed countries agreed to “play socialism,” and the “minimum guaranteed income” was almost socialism, not excluding such attributes as aunts with funny hairstyles sitting in meaningless offices, and idlers who while away the time in different ways. offices, but in relation to a developed consumer society. Everything is the same, only the hairstyles have changed, the reading of the Strugatskys has replaced crawling on social networks, and the office is now called "investment" or "non-governmental". However, the latter is not at all important. It is important that the overwhelming part of even completely corrupted by credit consumption of Europe's society was not ready to completely and voluntarily exclude itself from the “socio-economic turnover”, was not ready to limit its consumer ambitions to “what they give”. But this was precisely the meaning of the guaranteed minimum income. It, if you look at it, being a kind of analogue of the "pension from the moment of birth," was intended to become a new reference point for the further development of cognitive capitalism. Here you can be ironic, saying that this version would be called “real cognitive capitalism”, and it would be followed by “developed”.
But these are, as it were, “peaceful inhabitants”, they were somehow dealt with, if not by propaganda, then by repression. It was possible, however, to impose not long ago the Christian societies of Europe, in fact, neo-pagan radical tolerance. And they were able to socially “encapsulate” several million migrants of the last and penultimate wave. So nothing is impossible and, I think, the propaganda of “socially necessary idleness” in five-seven-ten years would have done its job, just by the time (2025) of a full-fledged new wave of industrial robotization and the introduction of breakthrough technologies for algorithmic services.
But there were other people as well.
Have you ever wondered if there is something in common in such different phenomena as the Columbines, a new surge of radical Islamist organizations and the massive emergence of PMCs in the late stages of globalization? When the globalization of the consumption standard took place and the question of a new qualitative level of human involvement in the global world came up on the agenda (the notorious “human neurophication”, at least at the “first step,” was about this - out of people batteries, as in The Matrix ”, No one was going to do). A significant part of potentially socially active people did not see themselves in the world of not just cognitive capitalism, but in the world of algorithmic capitalism, where every step you take is evaluated by the machine and gives you points. And you shouldn't blame China here. The Chinese simply, with their characteristic spontaneity and self-confidence, brought to the public what has long existed in the "countries of the developed capitalist world" - but only behind the scenes, at the level of corporate systems.