Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Theory?

By Prisoner 159753, Prison Overcrowding (2009)

“Prisoner 159753 text: Inmate Steve Milton, 38, looks out from an inmate shower stall converted into a temporary holding cell at CaliforniaState Prison-Los AngelesCounty in Lancaster, California, Friday, March 2, 2007.”

THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF SECRECY - a think-piece begun in 1975
By GLloyd Rowsey (about the author)

Information is power. In a society organized according to principles of rationality and justice, information will be universally available and widely diffused, permeating the social order with power. In a society organized according to capitalist principles, information will be concentrated in the hands of a ruling class and its agents, augmenting and even displacing the force required to maintain capitalist inequities.

The burden of the following essay is to argue that differences in information – information differentials – are intrinsic to the capitalist mode of production; and that under free market capitalism this mode of production is reproduced in the post-investment redistribution of profits among corporations, itself largely determined by information differentials; and finally, that in America the corporate sector as a whole maintains its hegemony only by concealing from the public the most basic features of domestic politics, foreign affairs, and the system of criminal justice. In short, information differentials both define and critically conceal the distribution and exercise of power throughout the American political economy.

(Photographs from Flickr – not surprisingly, there are exactly two “relevant” photographs at Flickr for “Corporate Secrecy” in the Commons, and both of them are irrelevant.)

Information and the Capitalist Mode of Production. According to Braverman the essence of the capitalist mode of production is its transformation of working humanity into an instrument of capital, a transformation achieved by the separation, within each labor process, of conception from execution. This separation has always characterized the capitalist mode of production and, with the advent of "Taylorism" or "Scientific Management" after 1890, was itself conceptualized and verbalized as a theory of management. Braverman describes the theory of "Scientific Management":

. . .the first principle (of Scientific Management) is the gathering and development of knowledge of labor processes(;) the second is the concentration of this knowledge as the exclusive province of management – together with its essential converse, the absence of such knowledge among workers – (;) the third is the use of this monopoly over knowledge to control each step of the labor process and its mode of execution.

"Scientific Management" is predicated on differences in knowledge about labor processes – information differentials. To the extent industries are managed "scientifically," the role of unemployment in the disciplining of the labor force is subordinated to that of "Scientific Management." And the scale and intensity of the exploitation of labor is increasingly determined by how effectively management monopolizes its "knowledge to control each step of the labor process and its mode of execution." (footnote 1) [source]

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War on Fatherhood?


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