A new commodity: intimacy
published in La Semilla Negra
Excerpts from Consequences of a misuse of electricity. On the experimental phase of capitalism of the spirit, José Manuel Rojo. Published in Salamandra 11-12 (Grupo Surrealista de Madrid)
“The commodities that the new technologies are putting in motion are, basically and precisely, thoughts, feelings, illusions and dreams, obsessions and desires, secrets and confessions of men and women. And for this huge auction of consciousness it is absolutely necessary that the people themselves are also put in motion, that they accept the conversion of that which formerly belonged exclusively to private life into raw material, such that, it was said, no one could seize dictatorship, that even in the concentration camp the prisoner could still feel free. Thus, nothing can be outside the empire of economy.
It is not only that all activities are different forms of work, the annihilation of leisure and even idleness, that is accountable for objectifying us by force into lucrative amenities. There is something else: everything, absolutely everything, has come to be raw material, everything is a potential commodity entered into the game of supply and demand, because in this empire there is no living space for shadows.
Nor does the spectacle move backward, and that which the screen displays lies among us forever, modifying our behavior like chemical agents corrupting the body, embedding in the genetic code the society to which one is forced to mutate like a radioactive contamination that has become hereditary. And just as there was not a casual coincidence between those ‘hidden camera’ shows which were popularized in the ’70s, and the installation of video cameras in banks and public agencies, we can also assume that Big Brother is not content to delimit areas of intimacy for its subsequent profitability, but that he is also preparing the invasion and definitive conquest of what is left of unscathed public space and, later, people’s private or domestic space. Technical means are not lacking. There is only to pave the way.
The naïveté became pathetic in some of us when, passing by a shop with a surveillance camera connected to a television, we stopped and displayed ourselves to its view to see ourselves caught on screen, which provoked neither disgust nor fear but rather a crazy joy. Neotelevision resurrects that crazy happiness and extends it through every home, and thus gropes at the signs of resistance, of scandal or fatigue.
It is understood that the current friendly capitalism and its alternative businesses no longer wish to do the dirty work: moving forward, it will be the workers themselves who, like a game show, eliminate each other, deciding who goes and who doesn’t when it pleases Capital to announce that there is a ‘crisis’. Maybe the customers also vote, the workers’ families or, why not, their neighbors. We will see very soon. For now, we are already getting accustomed to the idea, which is evidently fun and entertaining.”