The idealized market was supposed to deliver ‘friction free’ exchanges, in which the desires of consumers would be met directly, without the need for intervention or mediation by regulatory agencies. Yet the drive to assess the performance of workers and to measure forms of labor which, by their nature, are resistant to quantification, has inevitably required additional layers of management and bureaucracy. What we have is not a direct comparison of workers’ performance or output, but a comparison between the audited representation of that performance and output. Inevitably, a short-circuiting occurs and work becomes geared towards the generation and massaging of representations rather than to the official goals of the work itself. Indeed, an anthropological study of local government in Britain argues that ‘More effort goes into ensuring that a local authority’s services are represented correctly than goes into actually improving those services’. This reversal of priorities is one of the hallmarks of a system which can be characterized without hyperbole as ‘market Stalinism’. What late capitalism repeats from Stalinism is just this valuing of symbols of achievement over actual achievement.[…]It would be a mistake to regard this market Stalinism as some deviation from the ‘true spirit’ of capitalism. On the contrary, it would be better to say that an essential dimension of Stalinism was inhibited by its association with a social project like socialism and can only emerge in a late capitalist culture in which images acquire an autonomous force. The way value is generated on the stock exchange depends of course less on what a company ‘really does’ and more on perceptions of and beliefs about, its (future) performance. In capitalism, that is to say, all that is solid melts into PR and late capitalism is defined at least as much by this ubiquitous tendency towards PR-production as it is by the imposition of market mechanisms.?
Mark Fisher
She had been unable to stand the people at the inn. The company had disgusted her. For an instant, but that instant was now long gone, she had thought of returning to her home, to Persia. Or to Greece, where she had friends, but she had dropped the ideaagain. From me she had expected salvation, but I too had disappointed her. I was, much as she was, a lost and ultimately ruinous person, even though I did not admit that to her, she could feel it, she knew it. No salvation could come from such a person. On the contrary, such a person only pushed one even deeper into despair and hopelessness. Schumann, Schopenhauer, these were the two words she said after a prolonged silence and I had the impression that she was smiling as she said them and then nothing again for a long time. She had had everything, heard and seen everything, that was enough. She did not wish to hear from anyone any more. People were utterly distasteful to her, the whole of human society had profoundly disappointed her and abandoned her in her disappointment. There would have been no point in saying anything and so I just listened and said nothing. I had, she said, on our second walk in the larch-wood, been the first person to explain to her the concept of anarchy in such a clear and decisive manner. Anarchy she said and no more, after that she was again silent. An anarchist, I had said to her in the larch-wood, was only a person who practised anarchy, she now reminded me. Everything in an intellectual mind is anarchy, she said, repeating another of my quotations. Society, no matter what society, must always be turned upside down and abolished, she said and what she said were again my words. Everything that is is a lot more terrible and horrible than described by you, she said. You were right, she said, these people here are malicious and violent and this country is a dangerous and an inhuman country. You are lost, she said, just as I am lost. You may escape to wherever you choose. Your science is an absurd science, as is every science. Can you hear yourself? she asked. All these things you yourself said. Schumann and Schopenhauer, they no longer give you anything, you have got to admit it. Whatever you have done in your life, which you are always so fond of describing asexistence, you have, naturally enough, failed. You are an absurd person. I listened to her for a while, then I could bear it no longer and took my leave.
Thomas Bernhard