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Bifo, 'Social Entropy and Recombination"

hydrarchist writes "This article was published in the Make World Magazine.

The resurgent question of the intellectuals hides the contemporary
problem of "what is to be done?", the problem of the auto-organisation
of cognitive labour. Space has re-emerged for the question
of the intellectuals, in the discussion of the Italian left. But the
question is badly posed, and the word itself (intellectual) elaborates
extremely badly the contemporary socio-mental geography.

Social entropy and

Franco Bifo Berardi

Lenin related to the figure of the intellectual
the problem of what to do, in the political
direction of the collective action. The intellectuals
are not a social class, they do not have
specific social interests to sustain. They are generally
the expression of parasitical income, they
can make "purely intellectual" choices, making
themselves out to be the means of revolutionary
consciousness. In this sense they are what is
most similar to the pure becoming of the spirit, in
the Hegelian development of self-consciousness.
On the other hand, the workers whilst being the
bearers of a homogenous social interest, can not
pass from the purely economic state (the Hegelian
in itself) to the politically conscious state
(the for itself of self consciousness) only through
the political form of the party which embodies
and hands down the philosophical heritage (the
proletariat as heirs of classical German philosophy)

In Gramsci the reflection on the intellectuals is
more articulated, and it comes closer to a materialist
formulation of the organic character of the
relation between the intellectual and working
class. However, the party is conceived in the entire
communist tradition as the collective intellectual.
The intellectual of the modern tradition
(who has not yet been put to work by the digital
web) can only have access to the collective dimension
through the party. The break produced
by Italian Operaismo (which I prefer to call composition,
for the emphasis that is given to the
question of class composition) is founded on an
abandonment of the Leninist notion of the party
as collective intellectual, and of the notion itself
of intellectuals that gets substituted with that of
the general intellect (Marxian but neither Engelsian
nor Leninist). It does not seems to me that
a satisfactory reflection on the overcoming of the
Leninist notion of party and of the Gramscian notion
of intellectual has been accomplished. If we
want to define today a what is to be done for our
times, we must concentrate our attention on the
relation between the cognitive function of socially
complex labour and movements that organise
forms of productive and communicative autonomy.
The book of Hardt and Negri (consciously) lacks
a theory of action, and this is not one of its limits.
The notion of 'multitude' does not have, (IMHO)
an active and organising power, even less so a
'subjectifying' function. The notion of the multitude
describes a dissolutionary tendency, the entropy
that is diffused in every social system, and
which rends impossible ('asintotico', infinite, in-terminable)
the labour of power, but also the labour
of political organisation. We need to individuate
a recombinative function, and this we
find in the cognitive function that traverses all of
social production. Intellectual work does not exist
anymore as a social function separate from total
social labour, but becomes transversal function,
creation of techno-linguistic interfaces to which
is given the fluidity of a social process, and there-fore
recombinative power (where to recombine
does not mean to subvert, to overthrow, to authenticate
and reveal, but it signifies much more
concretely to assemble elements of knowledge
according to a different design from that of profit
and capital.

The answer to the present what is to be done is
political in a very particular sense. In fact it does
not exist in the creation of a party, of an organisation
external to the social capable of leading it
or governing it. The answer consists in giving
shape to the specific knowledge practice according
to autonomous epistemic models, according
to ethical epistemic models that interweave that
specific level of knowledge. The programmer
must be a programmer, the doctor must be a doctor,
the bio-engineer must be a bio-engineer, and
the architect must be an architect, whilst in the
Leninist view each one had to be a professional
revolutionary, and this meant to bring revolutionary
consciousness to the worker from the outside.
But the programmer, the engineer, the doctor and
the architect must in the first place reorient ate
their own knowledge action., modifying the function
and structure of their own specific field of
knowledge and their own specific field of productive
action. It seems to me that we have put together
a great quantity of useful elements for the
elaboration of a "manifesto of knowledge workers
(which should not be called that)", but the hesitation
that frustrates us regards the method it-self.

We don't want a manifesto "declared", because
this reminds us too much of Leninist voluntarism,
a declaration that appeals to something external
to what is said. We want, on the contrary, a manifesto
that is like software, or like a genetic code.
A declaration that is paradigm, that is contagious
and at the same time a recombinative enunciative
chain. Have we exaggerated our expectations
requirements and intentions? Perhaps yes,
but its worth it because, the intentions are not
just intentions, in themselves, but dispositions to


URL: http://www.rekombinant.org/arti-cle.

Translated by Erik Empson and Arianna Bove"