Grey Room

Cleverness and Drive, or the Cybernetic Fantasy of Value: R.S. Hunt’s “Two Kinds of Work”

Seb Franklin


In Border as Method Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson define the current socioeconomic conjuncture as one in which “property and property rights have become more and more immaterial and float elusively according to the dynamics of global financial markets.” This description follows the now familiar outline of what is variously called “post-Fordism,” “late capitalism,” “postindustrial society,” or “empire.” The increasing immateriality of “property”—which includes the labor power that dispossessed workers are “compelled to offer for sale as a commodity” in order to acquire their means of subsistence—represents, in Mezzadra and Neilson’s account, a shift from the seventeenth-century formulation of possessive individualism to a regime of “so-called new enclosures.”2 Where possessive individualism represented “a theory that imagined society as a web of commercial exchange relations between ‘a lot of free equal individuals related to each other as proprietors of their own capacities and of what they have acquired by their exercise,’” the accumulative logic of the present “becomes clear if one thinks of capital’s new frontiers, such as the knowledge economy and biocapital.”