Franco “Bifo” Berardi – The Soul at Work

Franco Bifo Berardi

Semiotext(e), ISBN 978-1584350767, USA, 2009, English
The life of the Italian philosopher Franco Bifo Berardi has been often connected to contemporaneity. After his seminal gestures and exploits in the seventies, his fundamental writings in the nineties about communication technologies and social movements, and his pivotal contribution to the birth of telestreets in the two-thousands, 2009 brought with it a few changes. His radical new campaign for the major election in Bologna failed for various reasons, and the mailing list “rekombinant” that he co-founded and where he used to post most of his theory was closed down by general agreement. Now those seem like signs for a new start more than a debacle, as is evident from reading “The Soul at Work”. Here the usual dichotomy between Body and Soul defines two different historical periods in capitalist exploitation of the individual: during the industrial era the capitalist exploited the Body, in the digital era the capitalist exploits the “Soul”. Bifo defines “Soul” as the place for the expression of language, creativity and affects, that is mobilized for the capital benefit. The economy of attention is then expanded to the whole sphere of intellectual activities, literally revealing a new scenario. The capitalist trajectory to conquest our “soul” doesn’t even include a “sale” of it, but an updated version of alienation spiced by a good dose of precariousness. This book seems to be the summa of his remarkable work on the “cognitariat” (cognitive worker and proletarian) and the “semiokapital.” in a more than ever timely writing.