Bifo on Semiocapital

I was alerted to the first of three great essays on the implications of semiocapitalism for embodied communication from Franco Berardi (Bifo) by Mark Fisher in a piece from New Left Project called “The Privatisation of Stress” (7 Sep. 2011):

  1. I Want to Think: POST-U,” E-Flux 24 (Apr. 2011) [pdf];
  2. Cognitarian Subjectivation,” E-Flux 20 (Nov. 2010) [pdf];
  3. Biopolitics and Connective Mutation,” trans. Tiziana Terranova and Melinda Cooper, Culture Machine 7 (2005).

From “Cognitarian Subjectivation”:

Semiocapital puts neuro-psychic energies to work, submitting them to mechanistic speed, compelling cognitive activity to follow the rhythm of networked productivity [a.k.a. automatism — or the digital reprogramming of sensibility]. As a result, the emotional sphere linked with cognition is stressed to its limit. Cyberspace overloads cybertime, because cyberspace is an unbounded sphere whose speed can accelerate without limits, while cybertime (the organic time of attention, memory, imagination) cannot be sped up beyond a certain point — or it cracks. And it actually is cracking, collapsing under the stress of hyper-productivity. An epidemic of panic and depression is now spreading throughout the circuits of the social brain. The current crisis in the global economy has much to do with this nervous breakdown.

For a useful review of Bifo on such matters, see Michael Goddard’s review.

For the implications of semiocapitalism (“automatism”) for labour relations (“autonomy”), see Bifo’s essays

  1. Info-Labour and Precarisation,” trans. Erik Empson, Generation Online (10 Feb. 2009), and
  2. Welfare State and Democracy: Getting Free from Illusions,” . . . ment 1 (2011): 6-12.


Franco Berardi Bifo is a contemporary writer, media-theorist and media-activist. He founded the magazine A/traverso (1975-1981) and was part of the staff of Radio Alice, the first free pirate radio station in Italy (1976-1978). Like others involved in the political movement of Autonomia in Italy during the 1970s, he fled to Paris, where he worked with Felix Guattari in the field of schizoanalysis. During the 1980s he contributed to the magazines Semiotexte (New York), Chimerees (Paris), Metropoli (Rome) and Musica 80 (Milan). In the 1990s he published Mutazione e Ciberpunk (Genoa, 1993), Cibernauti (Rome, 1994), and Felix (Rome, 2001). He is currently collaborating on the magazine Derive Approdi as well as teaching social history of communication at the Accademia di belle Arti in Milan. He is the co-founder of the e-zine and the telestreet phenomenon [of pirate mini-TV stations].

See the Wiki also.

For more essays, see Generation Online. His most recent book in English is Precarious Rhapsody: Semocapitalism & the Pathologies of Post-Alpha Generation, ed. Erik Empson & Stevphen Shukaitis; trans. Arianna Bove et al. (London: Minor Compositions, 2009; New York: AK Press, 2011) [pdf].