Essay of the Day: The Recuperation of the Hacker Class by Capitalism

* Essay: Repurposing the hacker. Three temporalities of recuperation. By Delfanti, Alessandro, and Söderberg, Johan.

This essay describes the recuperation of hackerdom by capitalist society in three different stages.

When on of the the authors, Johan, sent me the as yet unpublished draft for commentary, I wrote the following:

“Two suggestions, one, I think there is a parallel to be made with the ‘hackers’ of the 19th cy, i.e. the crafts workers; on the one hand, they started in most places the union organizing, become the leaders of the emerging labor movement; but on the other, another fraction became engineers, and thus had a crucial role in designing systems that disempowered workers in the industrial process; question: is something similar envisageable today ?

Second suggestion: hackers may be interpreted as liberal ideology, radical liberalism, this is an approach that focuses only on rights, achieved through hacks, legal and technical; but it never looks at how these rights can be effectively carried out in inclusionary ways; hence, it hacks tend in the favour the already powerfu, unless truly emancipatory forces push the envelope to the societal conditions in which hacker advances can effectively be taken up. This is basically the positioning of the P2P Foundation in this space.

So a potential critique of your article could be, it is content to make the diagnosis of recuperation, but lacks any emancipatory suggestions on how to go beyond this recuperation; reminds me of last years congress of Historical Materialism, inquiring not on how to move towards post-capitalism, but instead on why capitalism persists ; probably has to do with the social position of academics that they want to spend their research time proving why things don’t move forward, instead of looking at how things could move forward ?”

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