## …ums Ganze! Conference #4
**Digital capitalism and the communist wager**
24-11-2016 – 26-11-2016 Hamburg
In collaboration with _Gruppe für den organisierten Widerspruch_ (GROW)
Two things can be said for certain: Firstly, with the exhaustion of fordism and the rise of financial capitalism and neoliberalism as well as the microelectronic revolution in the early 1970s “something has happened“. An event in the strong sense has taken place, a fundamental transformation, but _within_ capitalism. It is a transformation whose scale is not yet determined and which is therefore marked by “post” as a variable: post-fordism, post-democracy, post-modernism. Concepts like digitalization or industry 4.0. are attempts to come up with positive notions of the contemporary predicament. Still, the meaning of this transformation remains controversial. It entails both new forms of power and of resistance, of productive forces and of crisis – and therefore also new forms of politics of crisis. Secondly, since the financial crisis of 2007 and again from 2011 onwards, as we were witnessing the “return of the political“ with the occupation of squares around the world, there developed the feeling that these were symptoms of yet another upheaval/transformation, even if the hopes towards an emancipatory end which were harboured by many have consequently been disappointed. In any case, financial capitalism remains in a constant state of crisis, neo-liberalism seems delegitimized. Nonetheless both continue at full speed. We live in a strange state of frantic stagnation.
There is a concept that captures the decline of the classic industrial age as well as the expansion of new forms of economy and politics. This is the concept of technique. Technique is to be understood in an extensive sense: There are new techniques of economy (financialised capitalism, derivatives etc.) with new forms of labour. There are new techniques of politics (techniques of the self, post-democracy, austerity), even with regards to the radical left (especially the invocation of the political itself: non-representational forms of community and
democracy). There are also new techniques in a narrow sense: The universal computational machine, as well as the digitalisation of the whole world, with all its consequences for the economical and the political, for the social and the cultural, for the subject and for gender issues. In short: the world is neither reproduced in the image of the steam engine, nor the production line, but in the image of the universal computing machine, of data processing and networks.
To us digitalisation seems to be the dominant element of these current changes. With »the digital« we refer to all technologies of the digital. They enable unprecedented automation and allow, as a meta-technology, the recombination of existing technologies into new technological systems. Crucially, these technologies are not neutral. Technique is always social, which in turn also holds for the digital. That is why we need to start by critically determining this social character. This critique has to show the credentials of a radical critique of political economy in light of the digital. Moreover, it has to show that the capitalist form of production is itself a technique. It is a technique of releasing productive forces and their intensification, a technique of production, valorisation, and exploitation, a technique of domination and appropriation.
The reproduction of capitalism, but especially the actualization and expansion of its reproduction through all areas belonging to this reproduction today is enforced by digital technologies. Thus, familiar opposing positions within the critique of capitalism seem to re-emerge: Do we have to free technology from capitalist relations and the purposes of its application to be able to use its potential for building a different, a liberated society? Or is technology in itself a form of power that needs to be destroyed accordingly? As capitalism is reconstituting and further reproducing itself through these new, digital technologies – can we merely refresh our critiques as well? The conference will also have to address this compulsion to repeat.
Previous conferences of _…ums Ganze! – communist alliance_