In some of your writings, you, and some of your colleagues talked about how each mode of production, to borrow the Marxist terminology, tends to create a certain epistemology or way of looking at the world. Are there any other ideological trends commensurate with this economic change that are worth commenting on briefly?
Well, the most important one is the invasion of the commodity as an epistemological outlook into ways of thinking. This expresses itself in expressions such as “I’ll buy that idea,” “What is the bottom line?” or “I’d like some feedback.” These expressions are not to be viewed light-mindedly. They’re not just idiomatic attempts to conform with systems theory and cybernetics. They really reflect a business mentality and a cybernetic mentality that is very significant from an epistemological point of view.
The modern corporation is a system and the way it’s diagrammed on flowcharts is in terms of feedback and it’s not accidental that systems theory has now become almost imperialistically pervasive in our thinking. We use its language: feedback, input, output. We don’t have dialogue any more from the Greek word dialogos, logos meaning mind as well as speech. We use information in terms of data, not in terms of giving form to something. We think now in terms of typologies (according to the dictionary definition, the doctrine or study of types or symbols – ed.) instead of processes. So we develop flow diagrams and we lay out patterns which are philosophically at odds with the idea of a changing society. We think more in terms of a dynamic equilibrium of a given society than the dialectical concept of a changing, self-transforming and self destructive economy in which the seeds of self destruction are built into the society.
This type of logical and cybernetic mentality reveals an accommodation with the status quo. It’s considered a given that we’re going to have corporations — how are we going to make them more efficient or effective? And where they are destructive, how to make them more destructive; where they are pernicious, how to make them more pernicious. And that has profoundly affected not only our language but inasmuch as so many thoughts are formed by language, our very ability to think. We need a real cleansing of the language or else our revolutionary thinking is bound to be perverted by this mentality. Already, we have writers like Jürgen Habermas who uses typologies and flow diagrams. This man professes to be a Marxist, but he’s totally broken in my opinion with even the dialectical mentality of Marxism which is built around the idea of an immanent development in which decay is latent in any social order. The typological approach sees no decay, sees merely layout and here information is really the form, not only the data that is supplied in laying out a social structure. You assume the social structure to be static and, from that, the main thing is to examine the internal workings as though society were an engine. And all you have to do is talk about whether the parts are working efficiently or whether you can improve the parts, technologically, so that you live within the status quo as a matter of habit without ever knowing that you are doing so.