The World Computer

Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism

The World Computer

Thought in the Act

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Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: Published: February 2021

Author: Jonathan Beller

Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Marxism

In The World Computer Jonathan Beller forcefully demonstrates that the history of commodification generates information itself. Out of the omnipresent calculus imposed by commodification, information emerges historically as a new money form. Investigating its subsequent financialization of daily life and colonization of semiotics, Beller situates the development of myriad systems for quantifying the value of people, objects, and affects as endemic to racial capitalism and computation. Built on oppression and genocide, capital and its technical result as computation manifest as racial formations, as do the machines and software of social mediation that feed racial capitalism and run on social difference. Algorithms, derived from for-profit management strategies, conscript all forms of expression—language, image, music, communication—into the calculus of capital such that even protest may turn a profit. Computational media function for the purpose of extraction rather than ameliorating global crises, and financialize every expressive act, converting each utterance into a wager. Repairing this ecology of exploitation, Beller contends, requires decolonizing information and money, and the scripting of futures wagered by the cultural legacies and claims of those in struggle.



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Jonathan Beller is Professor in the Department of Humanities and Media Studies at the Pratt Institute and author of The Message is Murder: Substrates of Computational Capital and The Cinematic Mode of Production: Attention Economy and the Society of the Spectacle.

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Table of Contents Forthcoming
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1116-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1013-5