“In fact, of course, this ‘productive’ worker cares as much about this crappy shit he has to make as does the capitalist himself who employs him, and who also couldn’t give a damn for the junk.” (Marx, 273)

While smart phones litter the streets, the human costs and environmental consequences of over-production are there for all to see, as more and more pollutants are dumped around the world as a consequence of an ever-expanding demand for telecommunications gadgetry. Like the tradition of examining faeces to determine the organism’s health, the economy’s health can be judged by its management of waste. As Roberto Saviano confirms:

Waste grounds are the most concrete emblems of every economic cycle.

Dominique Laporte’s History of Shit (first published in French in 1978) verifies that modern power is founded on the aesthetics of the public sphere and in the agency of its citizen-subjects but that these are conditions of the management of human waste. He insists that in parallel to the cleansing of the streets of Paris from shit, the French language was similarly cleansed of Latin words to establish official French without “foreign leanings” (according to an edict of 1539). Thus he contends that language was purged of its “lingering stink” to become purer and invested with authority, “elevating it to the divine place of power freed from odor.” (18)

The place where one does one’s business is also the place where waste accumulates.

The desire for clean language, as well as clean streets, sublimates shit and demonstrates an expression of new biopolitical forms of control over subjectivity (indicated by the bodily functions of speaking and shitting) and one where the market becomes sovereign (rather than the State). The same can be said of the technologies that are now found on the streets (installed in mobile devices and such-like) that are purged of their stink. The move towards service-based platforms (so-called ‘cloud computing’) provides a further example of purified forms and the privatisation of collective speech-acts. This is the Apple paradigm of software development with specially conceived proprietary “apps” (for iPhones and iPads) that close off users from the underlying impurities (‘stink’) of code.

Think Different.

Such developments are crucial for a fuller understanding of the suppression of political expression in the public realm and the ways in which the voice is becoming promoted through ever more privatised forms. The most important commodity of late capitalism, the mobile phone, is the instrument for this, producing “network dependency” and social potential is stolen from the public realm and commodified (Berardi). If the health of the body politic can be detected in its shit, the current mismanagement of this is clear for all to see in its vile products.

Works cited:
Berardi, Franco “Bifo”. The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009.
Laporte, Dominique. History of Shit. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000.
Marx, Karl. The Grundrisse (1858).
Saviano, Roberto. Gomorrah. Milan: Mondadori, 2006.

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