The structure of communications, which Marx has already examined, is now at a very high level of global integration: the development of traffic and computer networks, the conservation of data in memories increasingly popular in society, the interactive processing of these data , in real or deferred time, therefore the achievement of a spatial and temporal indifference in the communication between men, all this is part of the maturation of that collective brain that tomorrow’s society will be able to use at its best for a new and unimaginable leap; and the result will be so powerful that it can be compared to that achieved by humanity with the transition from harvesting in nature to the conscious production of food and artifacts.
First of all social production
That of the social brain, of a collective body made up of all men, is an ancient idea. The pre-Socratic Greeks considered it normal and, even before, the original oriental philosophy merged the individual with the whole of nature and species.
The idea could only come from an actual condition that humanity has known. We know almost nothing about the social relationships of prehistory, but we know that at the end of that period some pre-civil human societies already had a complex organization even if they did not yet know some of the social categories that appeared later, such as slavery and forms developed by the political state. The urbanized groups of the late Middle Eastern Neolithic, the Egyptians of the early dynasties, the pre-Colombian populations, the pre-Greek Minoans or the inhabitants of the Indus Valley before the Aryan invasion, had not yet reached a proprietary social structure, and through the archaeological layers a type of life is revealed with residues of the primitive organic communism.
Today, thanks to technology, organization and science, the production and reproduction of the human species cannot take place except through methods that have nothing more than the ancient parcel activity of individuals or groups of individuals. Being the social productive force at a high degree of maturity, the idea is relegated to the history of philosophy and the material, practical demonstration takes shape, that man is returning to an organic social structure. Obviously capitalism exacerbates the alienation of the individual and leads to the maximum consequences the separation between man and his work, between social production and private appropriation, but, of all historical periods, this is the one that leads to the socialization of work at the highest level and therefore matures the conditions for a new society.
If the idea of a new society is sterile utopia, the conditions typical of future society instead already exist materially within capitalism, as Marx showed. There are conditions which capitalism itself undertakes to bring to extreme consequences and which entail all the potential necessary to overcome it. This, among other things, is the fundamental premise from which Marx and Engels start to write their criticism of German philosophy and lay the foundations of a science that surpasses all philosophies.
What are the conditions for overcoming capitalism? Within this society there cannot be situations that reproduce the future society in embryo, and seeing imaginary pieces of communism around us would be somewhat immediate and above all limiting compared to the power of the real forces that push for change and that certainly do not manifest themselves with such explicit business cards. No “practical” model of communism (political parties, specifically organized communities, particular phenomena hidden within society, etc.) can represent the power of total negation that arises from the way of being of this society.
An isolated communist community may, for example, do without property and relegate the law of value to the external environment, but this is very little compared to the denial of the law of value in general. In fact, the problem is not so much to identify a communist “object” as to identify communism at work on the very foundations of capitalist society as a whole.
Man can no longer produce as an individual but only as a social being, especially in symbiosis with an environment socialized to the fullest in all its aspects. The social structure interpenetrates with the productive structure and the potential inherent in the contradiction between production and market becomes explosive. Because production and distribution in a capitalist environment are already elements of naturedifferent. The contradictions between social production and private appropriation, between production plan and distributive anarchy, between alienated use value and realized exchange value, do not exist within the production system, where there is only activity aimed at a purpose and not exchanges of value: the entire capitalist society, having reached its maximum development, would need to function like the factory, to be regulated with a rational project, because this is in the nature of the development of the productive forces. But precisely this is denied by bourgeois society, because if everything worked as inside a factory there would be no more capitalism.
When capitalist development reaches the worldwide socialization of production, the most socialized work begins to overturn the very structure of society in a completely automatic and unaware process with respect to the traditions and ideology of the ruling class. Not only that, but the whole ideological superstructure proves powerless compared to the emergence of real forces, so much so that the bourgeoisie itself has to unconsciously admit some categories typical of Marxism within its economic and cultural schemes. As for example the acceptance of the theory of value in the calculation of the overall product or the adoption of unified models of knowledge. All of this has a lot to do with the development of the social brain.
How different this society is from animal society, that is, how close it is to potentially conscious life, the capitalist does not care. This does not mean that there are powerful forces that force the scientist to take note of a particular revolution compared to other eras. For this reason, in past meetings, we had taken Leroi-Gourhan’s book The gesture and the word as one of the possible reference points. In this text, in the second volume, at the peak of the interesting discussion on the transformation according to invariants in physiological forms up to the expression of mankind’s humanity through the conquest of outer space with the extension of the senses and strength, we find some passages on the manifestations communication that are at the basis of the existence and then of the functioning of the complex social and human material machine. Here the author cannot help but deal with information, that is, how the data underlying human knowledge are transmitted and which allow the enormously complex productive and reproductive machine to function. From this point on we must speak specifically of transmitting information no longer from a biological brain to another brain, but to the
Leroi-Gourhan, although already projected beyond the commonplaces dear to most scientists, obviously does not use “our” terms; and still makes use of all the traditional evolutionary terminology, even if it underlines the major contradiction of the current evolution of man, that is the enormous distance, the abyss that has formed between the evolution of the biological individual, the animal, and the evolution of its social being. The evolution of the brain no longer takes place inside the skull but is projected outside; it no longer uses the growth of cells and relationships between them but the growth of relationships between men and between things made by men, in an intelligent system, comparable to the brain but extremely more extensive and articulated. L’
Need for species memory
In the quoted text we find a chapter on the transmission of information as accumulated memory. Now, if we talk about accumulation, it means that it is necessary to identify ever greater memory capacities. A memory that accumulates in itself also needs an expansion of the potential of the hardware, just saying. It is true that the biological brain is enhanced above all with relationships between its elementary cells, but this has a limit in the number of cells and in the volume they occupy. The memory of the species contains much more than that of the individual, and individuals cannot transmit everything they memorize biologically. This aspect should not be underestimated: the biological transmission of memory, both genetic and social, presupposes mating, reproduction, breeding of offspring, teaching-learning, experience, all things that can be solved by an elementary relationship between individualswithin the primordial social nucleus represented by the family. Social transmission takes place in a much more complex network that includes not only isolated groups of individuals, but stable structures formed by them, and those who transmit can do so simultaneously against millions of their fellowmen, or by depositing data somewhere (library) and thus allowing access to memory in different times and spaces.
Following this thread it is natural to ask how man’s memory capacity can expand if the biological brain does not expand. It is clear at this point that the word “man” takes on the meaning of a species and that memory not only becomes a supra-individual fact, in the sense that it belongs to several individuals, but that in the course of evolution it detaches itself from individuals themselves to become something completely new with respect to the brain reservoir or collective recording and transmission capacity.
The evolving human brain has expanded in terms of cubic centimeters and probably of complexity. But if social relations progress, let’s say, in a geometric way, that is, with a visible and measurable progression in a few decades, and recently also in years, biological evolution instead progresses according to epochs related to thousands, hundreds of thousands of years. Yet the species has memorized its knowledge and its history, although the mass of our brain is roughly equivalent to that of the Neanderthal man. How is it possible to resolve the contradiction?
Fortunately, humanity did not need to bring the single brain to a volume of half a cubic meter: through social development (production and reproduction of the species) memory evolved by leaving the skull of biological individuals and becoming fixed in a complex of objects and relationships. Each living being develops on the basis of the genetic memory impressed on the reproductive cells and lives on the basis of the individual epigenetic memory, which allows it to adapt and deal with specific environmental conditions. Mammals, which represent the highest level in the evolutionary scale from the point of view of epigenetic memory, are able to accumulate individual experience and memorize it, but this experience disappears with the death of the subject. In order for it to merge with the memory of the species, biological times of evolution are needed, and it is not even clear through which mechanism the basic knowledge becomes innate or if it can be defined as such. However, one generation is not enough; and this shows the fusion of the individual with the species as regards the animal world.
Man apparently representsthe only exception to this rule, whereby the function of the individual is usually exalted by placing the species in the background. But this is completely arbitrary. It is precisely in man that the function of species is exalted at the very moment in which the individual seems to have become the essential element of society and “thought”. On the human evolutionary scale, individual actions and experiences very soon become memorable and transmissible relationships with the surrounding world, including the other man. Information is fixed and transmitted already during the life of the individual and not only to the surrounding individuals (family, clan) but to any number of individuals, moreover regardless of the distances in space; the activity of the individual merges more than ever in activity and collective experience of species. The experience of each individual no longer vanishes with his death and there is no longer any need to wait for a very long evolutionary period for it to become fixed in instinct. Therefore the process of externalizing memory is one with the loss of importance of the individual in favor of the power of the species. Or rather: the individual in human society takes on much more characterdifferentiated from the point of view of knowledge and action, but the effects of differentiation benefit evolution much more than in the animal kingdom, where the difference is understood above all in favor of the good reproductive result; in the human reproductive process the difference is an additional information factor for the benefit of the species not only from the sexual-biological point of view.
This process, being linked to the possibility of transmitting the experience by an individual, requires the presence of another individual capable of receiving an experience that has no (difference); there must be at least two individuals capable of understanding each other (as well as reproducing themselves), who both have different but shareable experiences, therefore a common language, a productive activity in which these qualities are manifested and used, an aim to be achieved collectively. In short, a social experience, which is a species experience. If at least two individuals of different sex are needed in the animal to represent the species (which in itself eliminates the idealistic concept of the individual at the root), in humans, thousands and thousands of differentiated individuals are needed which, taken in isolation,
Capitalism makes the individual schizophrenic because he inculcates his self-worship while massifying him as an appendage to the world of goods. It is not for nothing that the current dream of the American who has the boxes full of capitalism is isolation in the forest or desert, but with the technological house that takes energy from the sun and the computer that allows it to surf the Internet, that is to say do not die as a social being . Isolation with technology and information is nonsense, since technology and information are made exclusivelysocial. Each individual gesture, each individual experience is nothing other than a relationship with the surrounding world (including the other man) and therefore information which, in the end, merges into the gesture and collective experience. Here therefore the experience of every man can no longer vanish and die with the death of the individual.
Language and writing
All of Marx’s work is the study of relations between men within the political economy, that is, of the production and reproduction of the species which, with the capitalist system, reaches the maximum historical of technical efficiency. This system contains the memory of previous systems, is able to develop it, transform it and retransmit it. Over the millennia, our species has developed tools suitable for the purpose. The evolution of language, for example, has allowed oral transmission through more sophisticated cerebral mnemonic procedures, while the progressive introduction of writing has allowed the transmission of information through more rational and more efficient mnemonic procedures, deposited and coded outside the individual, it allowed the distribution of knowledge to several individuals, even distant in time and space. Language and writing, however, could not evolve without material production. The work of man, the tool used, the product that comes out through the use of the language that binds all these elements, represent the technique of a certain era. Each technique is collective memory and the elementary tool itself, the most ergonomic object there is, is nothing but externalization of human life in an inert object, the link between the social brain, local biological energy and production for others . the product that comes out through the use of the language that binds all these elements, represent the technique of a certain era. Each technique is collective memory and the elementary tool itself, the most ergonomic object there is, is nothing more than externalization of human life in an inert object, the link between the social brain, local biological energy and production for others . the product that comes out through the use of the language that binds all these elements, represent the technique of a certain era. Each technique is collective memory and the elementary tool itself, the most ergonomic object there is, is nothing but externalization of human life in an inert object, the link between the social brain, local biological energy and production for others .
The first forms of mnemonic technique are very ancient. In Czechoslovakia a bone dating back to 30,000 years was found with an engraved not too primitive system of account: 55 notches divided into two groups of 30 and 25, further divided into subgroups of 5. The archaeological finds and the layers in which they are found they are the proof of a memory: the “organized inorganic” material is the manageable legacy of man who interacts with nature producing artifacts, modifying it.
In primitive societies, until the introduction of the actual writing (not the invention , as some say, since from the notches of the bone mentioned to the alphabetic writing there are innumerable passages related to social maturity), the wealth of knowledge of a social group was transmitted orally. The language, the epic, the myth, handed down the unity of the group, were his memory, represented their specific characteristics. This type of transmission lasted longer than is usually believed, given that, until the late Renaissance and beyond, the guilds of arts and crafts transmitted the techniques to the boys without anything being written.
But connections between the various techniques were not possible, and therefore between the different memorized knowledge. Each remained independent, and the union of knowledge was achieved sporadically only through the rare aggregations of individuals who joined the shop and continued transmitting in a linear way, as before, that is, as in the biological cycle, of which society seems to be the copy so far . In this sense, in the local corporation there was cohesion between individuals as in the family there is parental cohesion, and in any case the artisan system tended to subdivision rather than union (in Paris, in the thirteenth century, out of 15,000 registered and taxable citizens there were well 5,000 craftsmen enrolled in 300 professions).
The transmission through writing is affirmed initially with an extension of the notches of the bone mentioned above, and the first characters are generally used for inventories or for movements of objects, animals, men, and for counting time. That is, there is a need to store data through the use of methods that fix them on matter and not only in the mind. A memorized story or myth can be repeated without any change, just as the gestures to build a flint amygdala or a bone thruster can be repeated. But the memorization of stocks, men or concepts that vary over time in quantity and quality, requires a common mnemonic technique and above all a fixed support, recognizable by everyone and producible by everyone. The Homeric aedo could memorize several poems and transmit them with admirable cohesion, but he could not have memorized the trend of social activities in which objects and men constantly change. For this reason “accounting” was born before “literature”. And even before the latter, scriptural techniques were used to fix codes, laws, myths, ingenious numeral systems, and above all history; to memorize, in short, everything that constitutes the heart of the social organization. The complete development of writing, this real mnemonic prosthesis, will occur with the alphabet, which will allow an easy and infinite composition of texts and therefore nonfiction and literature. Arguing with Herodotus, Thucydides points out:“Perhaps the absence of the fabulous will make the narrative less pleasant to the audience; but whoever wants to clearly know the reality of the events that have occurred and of the identical or similar events that may happen in accordance with the nature of man, will be enough for me to judge it useful. my story is a perennial possession , not a show for the audience of the moment “ ( The Peloponnesian War , I, 22).
We know that instead history is a transitory possessionof the classes that write it and that will be rewritten until the classes disappear. But the development of the writing tool still allows a great deal of knowledge to be transmitted to future generations regardless of the presence of the individual who transmits. With the invention of printing, unlimited multiplication of the memory transmission vehicle is possible. Two or three centuries later, humanity experienced a real qualitative leap: in the eighteenth century it reached its climax in recovering the memory of the species. Nowhere else in human history has such a quantity of knowledge accumulated over millennia been made available on a large scale in a short time. All the texts handed down from antiquity are printed, all the accumulated knowledge, literature, science, geography, philosophy, law, arts are translated into the main languages. Social memory adjusts to the need for social production which explodes together with demographic indices. The qualitative rationalization of classification and research is accomplished as quantitative production proceeds, through procedures concerning the structure of the writings, that is, with the introduction of references, the compilation of dictionaries that compare different languages, the collection of writings with thematic indices and so Street. Finally, the rationalization of knowledge of an entire era is achieved through the universalization of the encyclopedia, which summarizes different mnemonic tools. the arts. Social memory adjusts to the need for social production which explodes together with demographic indices. The qualitative rationalization of classification and research is accomplished as quantitative production proceeds, through procedures concerning the structure of the writings, that is, with the introduction of references, the compilation of dictionaries that compare different languages, the collection of writings with thematic indices and so Street. Finally, the rationalization of knowledge of an entire era is achieved through the universalization of the encyclopedia, which summarizes different mnemonic tools. the arts. Social memory adjusts to the need for social production which explodes together with demographic indices. The qualitative rationalization of classification and research is accomplished as quantitative production proceeds, through procedures concerning the structure of the writings, that is, with the introduction of references, the compilation of dictionaries that compare different languages, the collection of writings with thematic indices and so Street. Finally, the rationalization of knowledge of an entire era is achieved through the universalization of the encyclopedia, which summarizes different mnemonic tools. The qualitative rationalization of classification and research is accomplished as quantitative production proceeds, through procedures concerning the structure of the writings, that is, with the introduction of references, the compilation of dictionaries that compare different languages, the collection of writings with thematic indices and so Street. Finally, the rationalization of knowledge of an entire era is achieved through the universalization of the encyclopedia, which summarizes different mnemonic tools. The qualitative rationalization of classification and research is accomplished as quantitative production proceeds, through procedures concerning the structure of the writings, that is, with the introduction of references, the compilation of dictionaries that compare different languages, the collection of writings with thematic indices and so Street. Finally, the rationalization of knowledge of an entire era is achieved through the universalization of the encyclopedia, which summarizes different mnemonic tools.
Memories of machines and encyclopedias
Encyclopedias generally lead to a great leap forward as far as collective memory is concerned. The great encyclopedia of Diderot and D’Alembert is made up of a series of manuals that are in themselves exhaustive and incorporated in a dictionary whose entries, thanks to the organic nature of the whole, are related, and as a whole are already collective knowledge delivered to a social tool . An instrument that summarizes not only written knowledge (the Enlightenment encyclopedia was already interdisciplinary, as we would say today), but which, as has been noted, becomes a powerful artillery against the Ancien Régime .
At that time the art of documentation had evolved parallel to the art of mechanical animation, which was only later applied in industry. This fact is very important because it allows us to make a parallel – daring, but we are reckless – between the document storage technique, through printing, and the mechanical movement storage technique. Automatic machines were also known in antiquity (Qin Shiuangdi, the emperor of the Great Wall and the terracotta army, particularly loved automata), but only in the eighteenth century, thanks to the generalization of the use of a movement memorized in the material – be it wood, bronze or steel – the mechanical automaton was able to achieve such perfection as to allow rapid evolution of the instrument. L’ organetto memorizes the notes of a motif through pegs that vibrate predisposed foils: the sound is given by the machine and not by the person who turns the crank, it is memorized in the inert matter. Music will always be the same regardless of the operator, it is no longer in his head but in the machine outside of him.
The highest efficiency achieved in the manufacture of automata before cybernetics is therefore the animation of the organs by means of cams; they can be many and all moved together, so that each establishes a movement which is kept for each organ in a memory. In the latter, whether it is the Encyclopédie or the automaton, each isolated word-gear-cam contains a part of the total memory. Between the weapon-production of Vaucanson and the weapon-program of Diderot, which were born in the same period and with the same social assumptions, there is the same relationship that exists between the computer and the contents of its memory.
With the animation by means of a cam the infinite repetition of a certain movement is obtained, with the multiplication of the cams a complex animation. The movement imagined by man is thus memorized and transferred into an object capable of reproducing it outside of man and without him.
The encyclopedia also consists of a parceled memory, alphabetic instead of mechanical, organized in stratified and complex hierarchies. Each isolated element (the letters of the alphabet) represents a part of the total memory, but the sum of twenty or thirty letters always the same gives rise to a whole that cannot be compared at all to its components. It gives rise to an infinite series of combinations which serves to represent a virtually limitless knowledge. Anyone observing the mechanism of the eighteenth-century or ancient automaton can easily realize that it contains something universal: a gooseneck, a cam profile, a crank mechanism that reproduces movement memorized in some way. The weaving machine, the sewing machine, the remembered barrel organ, the mechanical calculators, automatic lathes and a large part of the existing mechanical devices still work on the same principle today. An elementary principle, which was a huge discovery for humanity.
The cam is a structure integral with a rotating shaft. It stores in its peripheral form a certain operation using the transformation of circular motion into rectilinear motion. All car owners should know that around the explosion of fuel in the combustion chamber there are a series of “services” entrusted to mechanisms similar to those of the old automata (transformation of the rectilinear alternating motion of the pistons into rotary motion, then again in alternating rectilinear motion in the closing and opening of the valves, in the operation of the petrol pump, in the opening and closing of the distributor system).
With a series of cams we can obtain a more complex memorization and we can also call this with the more bombastic name of “program”. The classic program of a washing machine or an embroidery machine is given by a simple package of cams. These programs produced the same results later obtained through the development of computers applied to production. This particular electronic instrument has ended up mistakenly attributing the exclusive ability to store data. But, as we have seen, any barrel organ stores music and mechanical calculators had considerable memory capacity, usable for complex operations.
In the 1700s Leibniz built one. In the following centuries, the “packages” of mechanisms put in series or in parallel provided more power to mechanical calculation, up to the programmable mechanical calculators, already recommended in the last century and then built in this. Adam Smith first sensed that the division of manufacturing labor into many elementary operations (the “parcels”) would bring, in a short time, formidable increases in productivity. La Riche de Prony applied this intuition to intellectual work: called by the French government to compile logarithmic and trigonometric tables with 14, 19 and 25 decimals, he thought it well to share the long and complicated calculation operations between several collaborators (other “packages”) , thus obtaining the desired result quickly and with minimal effort. Meditating on the fruitful solution of La Riche de Prony, Charles Babbage, in the middle of the last century, thought of making a machine for making the tables, since men made too many mistakes. The project expanded to the detailed design of a powerful universal calculating machine, but was not completed due to the extremely high costs and the necessary precision, not obtainable with the technologies of the time.
In the midst of an industrial revolution, when larger but less sophisticated projects found capital in abundance, the personal wealth of the designer or the financing of the Royal Society was not enough to complete the prototype of the “analytical machine”.
Babbage’s machine anticipated electronic calculators as functional logic. The memory was made in the shape and position of the individual pieces, while the speed had to be provided by the multiplication of the same. The principle of performing simple and rapid mathematical operations with mechanisms acting simultaneously in parallel (still “parcels”) remained valid and unchanged until the calculators in use still a few years ago. While the transition from mechanics to electronics was taking place, calculating machines were built without taking place, such as Olivetti’s Logos ; it was a monument to standard ingenuity and mechanical precision, it had a considerable amount of memory, but was defeated.
Genesis of the production automaton
These machines were therefore the extension of the ancient and eighteenth-century automata, which were not simply puppets that moved for the amusement of the ladies, but vanguards of capitalist production that was becoming a system of machines. The Cartesian mechanistic philosophy conceived biological bodies as perfect machines and Vaucanson became famous for its transposition of complex motion into humans and animals. He also built a mobile duck with over a thousand pieces. But this inventor, unlike the ancient manufacturers of “philosophical” machines, immediately underwent official recognition and was appointed inspector general of silk manufactures, where he reorganized production according to new criteria. Above all, he applied his knowledge in the invention of a new loom for weaving worked fabrics, on the principle of the perforated drum, which is nothing more than a complex cam. A little later Jacquard took advantage of the idea by transforming the drum into a belt of perforated cardboard,
Already at the beginning of the 19th century, therefore, we have a complex production and social system, equipped with collective historical memory (libraries) and operational memory (encyclopedia, automata, perforated ribbons), around which an increasingly extensive apparatus begins to move. exploitation of natural, thermal, human and social energy, a network made of roads, factories, railways, ships, telegraphs. Fully developed capitalism is based on this network, the one that passes from the formal subsumption of labor to Capital, to real subsumption.
The only way for us to define the so-called progress is not the intoxication from civilization, but the potential liberation of man from his slavery, the increase in the social power of work. It is understood that this process, which over the millennia does not follow biological but social evolution, and therefore leaps out of the individual’s skull, placing it as never before in the subordinate to the species, is a completely different phenomenon from what is at the base of the society of bees, ants or termites or even beavers who are quite advanced social mammals.
The press, the Encyclopaedia and the subsequent “electronic brain” do not represent the historical passage from the brain of an individual to that of several individuals, nor does it represent a generalization of the individual through his cells, as happens in the hive: the millennial passage the powerful collective brain present of the human species is the result of an ancient qualitative leap. The globalized world of today is not so much a “new” realization due to specific technologies, as some current scientific currents affirm, but the unstoppable development of the brain of species that, from the first tool manufactured in society to today, only uses tools always more powerful and complex.
Today more than ever there is perfect continuity in the use, by the last ruling class, the bourgeois class, of the growing potential of social work and therefore of social memory. The computer and everything around it, as the result of the historical accumulation of the economic, scientific and cultural heritage of society, has class content, determined by the same needs as the capitalist organization: quantification, automation, control, domination. However, it strengthens the social memory so much that it already represents an embryo of potential rupture of capitalist limits, if only for the fact that it accelerates all the processes in progress (accounting, production, scholarships, scientific calculation, etc.).
While in the animal world there is nothing but the sum of automatic movements dictated by instinct, that is, by a species plan recorded in the genetic patrimony and very little integrated by learning, human society is the result of stored information, related between them in a complex whole, and used to reproduce objects, systems, relationships and social relationships according to a model, a project. This type of memory detonates learning ability; it is no longer a biological phenomenon that needs millions of years to give results, but a social phenomenon that can change a man (and therefore all men) in a small fraction of his life. While the genetic mutation that underlies the
Learning merges with teaching, individual memory merges with collective memory, the neuronic network in the individual’s head merges with the collective network that makes use of the artifacts and communications that surround the globe. The widespread information and the network of relationships that it creates begins to laboriously reproduce the same neuronic network before man even knows exactly what this is. The memory of man, which has become one with collective intelligence, also connects the past with the present and both with the future: the past provides it with the accumulated patrimony, the present processes it, and this ability to reproduce in an elaborate way reverses the practice of nature, which proceeds by trial and error, while the characteristic of
It is with man that the world enters history. Certainly other living beings also have a history, but it is only with man that it begins to abandon the spontaneous terrain and to travel that of control (or will, according to idealists). Even if so far there is a colossal disproportion between the world of “natural” spontaneity and that which corresponds to predetermined purposes, as Engels writes, there is nevertheless a part of human activity which already corresponds to a project more or less coherent with the purposes.
Emerging structures of the new
Project means application of will to obtain a result known in advance, therefore it means prediction of that future result. It is what in the social field we have called reversal of praxis. Capitalist man manages to overturn praxis in his production of goods, but he cannot do so in his social life. We see the earth’s crust being covered, in addition to consumer bundle, also by ingenious works that are part of complex systems, but the latter are immersed in turn in an intrinsically anarchic, chaotic and uncontrollable general system, whose knowledge is therefore addressed with unscientific method. In this way, the system proves to be not only useless but also harmful to the harmony of species life. Darwin, Engels says, unknowingly described the capitalist human condition with bitter irony; other than human activity: free competition, the struggle for existence, the survival of the fittest, the balance of the jungle,they are nothing but the specific condition of the animal kingdom .
Reformism has always wanted to intervene to change the state of affairs with the pretense of being able to overturn the practice and make the world “better”. But all he can achieve is the change of the operator to the accordion, which will be able to give a more or less regular speed to the crank, but it will never be able to change music if the instrument does not change. In the early 1960s Nenni said that socialists had to participate in the government to count for something, to enter the system’s command room. It is typical of reformism not to understand that behind the “button framework” there is a wiring already done, according to a project already defined to obtain certain results. Pressing the buttons will succeed what the system is built for: it has memorized, so to speak, all its functions in a defined structure, perhaps more complex but of the same nature as that of the accordion or the cam that makes the automaton move. Functions are implicit in the form of the mechanism, so you need to change the mechanism to get something different.
The change already brought about by the revolution of the productive forces, a change already underway and which already represents one of the structures of the next society, is much more profound than a simple succession of specific mechanisms, that is, suitable for different functions. In new society, social intelligence will explode, making the various mechanisms a single articulated mechanism, capable of self-learning, of improving itself and of always establishing new connections between the elements that make up the whole. This intelligence is not to be created, is already in the capitalist world as it is, as it has transformed reaching its maximum maturity. Only now, long after Marx, some scientists are beginning to realize the vanity of the reformist hypothesis in a complex system such as the market economy. It is no longer a question of re-forming the old form, but of releasing the new one that is born on the basis of the system’s self-organizing capacity. In the chaos of this system, structures belonging to a new order begin and emerge; they escape the control of the specific organs of this mode of production and no longer correspond to them. These structures, like social production, are imprinted in the collective memory and will have the power to really move men to consequent actions. We deduce from this that the collective memory itself cannot fail to influence also the individuals who, for now without knowing it, begin to reason and move according to communist categories. In the Nennian control room the old wiring no longer corresponds to the new mechanism that forms behind the panel; men press the buttons but nothing happens and the car goes on its own. Until a collective conscience arises from all the social forces (and here we enter directly into the field of communist party theory). men press the buttons but nothing happens and the car goes on its own. Until a collective conscience arises from all the social forces (and here we enter directly into the field of communist party theory). men press the buttons but nothing happens and the car goes on its own. Until a collective conscience arises from all the social forces (and here we enter directly into the field of communist party theory).
To go deeper into the issue of self-regulation and, in the next step, self-learning of the system, let’s return for a moment to the simplest mechanism there is, our cam, bearing in mind that what we say about it applies to several others. mechanisms. We have seen that changing the cam, i.e. the profile that stores an action, changes the result, i.e. the type of action desired. It is possible to mechanically pack different memories and obtain more complex desired results, such as embroidery or the warp-weft combination of a fine fabric. It is possible to apply the movement to the whole through a steam machine. Finally, if we add a Watt valve, which by testing the momentum regulates the amount of steam to keep the system energy constant, here we have a cybernetic machine with a hint of intelligence. As primitive as you want, but already the nature of the one predicted in the 18th century by Diderot for his harpsichord that could play on his own and which, theoretically, could at some point self-reproduce in many harpsichords.
We are at the level of simple mechanics typical of the dawn of the industrial revolution and we already have the representation of a self-regulated system according to desired control parameters, which capitalism, in its multi-centennial historical span, has failed to achieve as far as society is concerned. . Marx’s assumption about the contradiction between the development of the productive forces and the mode of production that becomes a chain of it is already fully visible in an archaic early 19th century factory.
The exploitation of the energy of coal and water through the production of steam would have been problematic without the levers and pistons of the Greeks and the mechanisms of the eighteenth-century automata, but the regulation of energy through a feedback mechanism pushed the whole system towards forms of intelligence for the first time of non-animal origin. Energy tends to release itself in an uncontrolled and wild way, the fire can go out, the boilers can burst, the trees rotate too fast and seize or break the machines. The self-control of the system according to parameters designed in advance and imposed without the need for human presence represents a leap in the behavior of the entire production of species, contains the elements of the most modern technique, the potential of expansion of collective memory. It’s a real revolution, and it’s not over yet. We have the practical demonstration that the laws of nature still dominate capitalist man nailing him to an antihistoric mode of production, but above all we have the practical demonstration that man will be able to dominate the laws of nature by reversing natural practice and harmonizing his existence, the its production and reproduction with nature itself. In the specific characteristics of mature capitalism there is already all the potential of future society. but above all we have the practical demonstration that man can dominate the laws of nature by reversing natural practice and harmonizing his existence, his production and reproduction with nature itself. In the specific characteristics of mature capitalism there is already all the potential of future society. but above all we have the practical demonstration that man can dominate the laws of nature by reversing natural practice and harmonizing his existence, his production and reproduction with nature itself. In the specific characteristics of mature capitalism there is already all the potential of future society.
From the book to the computer
We have always been interested in the developments of modern technology, which go beyond the elementary human-machine relationship in the workshop and involve society as a whole, and in our work we have repeatedly mentioned the importance of the development of modern production techniques, and above all of that network of relationships within society represented by electronic money, increasingly developed telecommunications, by the real neuronic network that is the Internet. We were somewhat criticized as discoverers of unimportant things, therefore as supporters of somewhat esoteric theses. This is very curious. Esoteric is someone who deals with topics reserved for a select few, while we have dealt with things that the whole world now uses normally.
We do not agree with those who say that these aspects are not important and not even interesting. The fact that the bourgeoisie is schizophrenic on the subject, that is, it does not talk about it at all, limiting itself to using the new tools, or, conversely, it speaks in messianic tones through more or less improvised gurus or more or less aggressive computer pasdarans, does not influence us minimally. Our goal is to probe into the current society and find all its potential, considering with particular attention those already imposed by the emerging forces of the future society. One of the material manifestations, absolutely linked to the fact that, as Lenin said, imperialism is transitional capitalism, is the
The global structure of communication, the storage of data in extended memories, their processing in real or deferred time, the very disappearance of time and space in direct communication between men, all this is part of the maturation of that collective brain which – as we have already said – the society of tomorrow will find it ready for that leap comparable to that made by humanity in the transition from harvesting in nature to the production of food and artifacts.
After all, the new techniques only respond to a need that is always felt, and in doing so they expand the old possibilities beyond the threshold of quantity-quality change, as had happened, for example, in the transition from the ideogram or hieroglyph to the most powerful and versatile alphabetical writing. It was always about writing, but at the same time something far more complex and complex. It is not a paradox that organized complexity is a harbinger of simple things and that with thirty signs one can describe the universal knowledge.
The book, a means of communication which, during the eighteenth century, adopted all possible mnemonic tools related to language, summarizing the history of writing in its entirety, is the basis on which the subsequent process is triggered. Indices, numbered paragraphs with hypertext references, notes, marginal notes, introductions, significant dedications for the historical moment, summarized at the beginning of the chapter, bibliographies linking to other books, etc., are already a complex structure of knowledge, material support of a thought and a memory gone far beyond their natural container.
The structure of a modern computer program appears to users as a transformed set of the same needs felt by book users. But even within the program, even on the computer itself and, on the outside, on the computers connected to the network and interacting with the operators, a relationship very similar to that of men-books-men is reproduced. The attempt we will make is to demonstrate that the new relationships developed through the new technologies are invariant, in certain aspects, compared to those of the past, but, at the same time, they make a leap in quality to the complex of communication and collective memory.
The classic documentary material, that is the printed one, has remained substantially unchanged for two centuries, and the library has not changed much, apart from the superstructures, now computerized. But this is a significant change that cannot be ignored. Even in the traditional library the evolutionary thrust is projected outward, the memory comes out of the book and is constituted in a complex system between books, regulated by dynamic laws. The computerization of a modern library (at least on a potential level, because there are sometimes unsurpassed cost problems for capitalism) involves not only the files, the indexes, the subdivision by subjects, etc., but also and above all the unification of the individual texts with the whole,you learn while researching , that is, adding new information compared to what we had and which we were only trying to expand. Therefore, not only individual books are found, even if cataloged under coherent themes, but there are – between books and themes, between books and books, between themes and themes – relationships that simulate the behavior of the human brain.
It could not be otherwise. Collective memory has reached a quantity of accumulated knowledge such that it is now unthinkable to expect from a single brain, or even from groups of isolated brains, the ability to understand, let’s not say, the content of all libraries, but also only that of a particular branch of knowledge deposited in them. This means that knowledge is memorized, once and for all, outside of the men who produced it.
Capitalism cannot take advantage of this knowledge. Ancient texts forgotten in unsuitable deposits are hopelessly lost. Sometimes one realizes the existence of immense heritages of knowledge after floods, fires or earthquakes, when they are destroyed forever. Modern texts with important contributions can go unnoticed because nobody is able to follow hundreds of thousands of scientific works published every year. And yet, despite this, the knowledge printed on the paper brain, thus memorized and connected in the brain-library through simple and ingenious discoveries, is reorganizing itself through the adoption of new techniques. We say for ourselves with good reason because, as in the world of computers millions of enthusiasts lend their free work for the development of the programs that the software houses then sell with crazy profits, so in the social brain anonymous scholars dig by bringing to light lost treasures, they translate them and publish them at their expense, make them available on the Internet.
The external cerebral cortex
Avalanche capitals are found for a few minutes of idiotic advertising, but no funds are found to safeguard the memory of the species. So while the monsters of organization wanted by the states never work, like the sci-fi Mitterandian library in Paris, or they have gigantic problems, like the library of the Congress of Washington, the material subsoil founded by the productive forces works, and the spontaneous memory gives signs of self-organization, registers, copies, pirates enters the superprotected temples of the Capital, mocks copyright and secrets, produces programs that will never see the market. The inert knowledge contained in the collective book of humanity has become dynamic with tools that,
Collective computerized memory is the embryo of highest potential. It could be accessed from screens multiplied at will, and distributed wherever you want; the content of a certain branch of knowledge, indexed, cataloged, summarized, connected, referred to with a click to the originals and other infinite texts with which it dialogues, would become immediately available. This network is already made up of nodes that are capable of virtually infinite expansion and processing, so any construction and reconstruction of interactive documentary paths is possible. The vehicle incorporates the ancient tools such as indexes, catalogs, references in a completely natural way; maximizes relatively new ones like cards (recently introduced at the beginning of the century), makes the most of them by putting everything in relation, and in so doing it represents a real “externalized” cerebral cortex of man, however rudimentary and evolving. Rudimentary, because the real bark is much more complex than thatin a nutshell in human society marching towards its liberation from the realm of necessity. If indexes, filing cabinets and libraries are memories in every sense, they do not have the ability to memorize on their own, they always and only welcome what man enters. Now, it could be objected that, since we are far from realizing an artificial intelligence, this type of collective brain will always be the reflection of the society in which man lives, that is, in our case capitalist society. So goodbye social brain as an anticipation of future society.
This is true, but we would not be communists if we were not interested in the potential of the phenomenon. Since we are dealing with the social brain, and given that we start from the assumption that the new society will not be the fruit of divine creation but the consequence of forces accumulated in the old, we must investigate the phenomenon of the union between capitalist man and anticipated forms of this future society.
In the heritage to which we connect, there are already sufficient indications to define the field of research, we just have to enuclear them and take up the theme:
1) In the factory there is no production of goods exchangeable with equivalents; the transition from one phase to another takes place according to the requirements of the production plan, the process control is obtained by counting the physical pieces and is not value accounting; the product does not become a commodity until it is placed on the market and there is therefore a huge sector of society potentially removed from the laws of value (therefore those of capitalism).
2) The maturing of capitalism makes the capitalist superfluous, replaced in his original functions by salaried officials; at this point, once it has been shown that Capital’s need is to reproduce itself through the socialization of production, and not to enrich the capitalist, “the potential non-existence of capitalism” remains demonstrated .
3) The persistence of capitalism produces an immense waste of social labor, which would not be reduced by the mere distribution of capitalist profit to all; the social productive force would already be sufficient, at this stage of its development, to solve all the problems (immediate and otherwise) of humanity, therefore this society survives because of the only political question of power and not of tasks still to be carried out.
4) Having said that, within this society as it stands there must already be elements corresponding to the characteristics of the future society, otherwise any action to blow it up would be quixotic.
This situation, moreover just sketched with statements that other times we have supported and developed, and which will be dealt with in depth elsewhere, cannot fail to also produce the tools necessary for the proper functioning of future society, that is, an anticipation of that social brain which will be, with the extinction of the state, the classes and parties that represent them, the party of humanity of tomorrow.
Einstein, Marx and the social brain
Even though the manufacture of intelligent machines is still a long way off, the problem does not concern a simple curiosity of gravure. In fact, it is not a question of speculating a specific machine that has properties that can be defined according to human intelligence parameters, rather it is a question of establishing whether intelligence is the prerogative of an individual or of a machine or if there can be a system made up of individuals and interacting machines that can be called intelligent.
Since this is a problem that affects the evolution of our species and its intelligence, denying from this point of view the existence of a social brain is equivalent to denying that the australopithecus may have evolved into the subsequent forms and intelligences. It is equivalent to denying that the Homeric singer without writing may have evolved into a Thucydides.
It is therefore time for the individual to resign himself to the fact that his parcel biological intelligence is outdated, at least since man has become a social animal through the production necessary for his own reproduction . And his “private” brain must undergo the confrontation with the collective one of the species, just as his hand undergoes, without fuss, the confrontation with the strength of a fifty-ton caterpillar, or his gait on foot with the speed of a jet. We are so used to thinking that the brain is the cause of the success of our species, that we forget the true sequence of facts: the brain evolved afterthat the man has completed his skeleton and his body from the current anatomical point of view and has adopted the upright position. Especially after he learned to live and reproduce through social work, however rudimentary it was at the beginning. In fact, only in relatively recent times has the brain changed in complexity, parallel to the generalized manufacture of tools, the use of fire, the development of hunting techniques with improved weapons such as the slingshot, the thruster, the bow or the boomerang, that were already machines to project their action, therefore, in a certain sense, intelligence. It is the work that has made the brain, and it is the social work that is continuously doing the social brain.
It is here that he demonstrates how man, still tied to a way of behaving that is typical of natural societies, by persisting capitalism is a real living fossil. He has already produced the social brain, uses it for production in order to increase capital, sees it and analyzes it in his studies, but is unable to use it for the benefit of the species and its harmony with nature; and it would never be if a new society were not able to upset the way of thinking and the ideas forged by the ideology of the ruling class in the era of complete subsumption of work (i.e. man’s life) to Capital.
The individual brain, with its cortex and neurons, is certainly a wonderful organ, but it is now insufficient, as the hand, the tooth, the eye, the language itself are insufficient. The definitive detachment from the realm of necessity to enter that of freedom presupposes the defense of this freedom, not to regress, as happened to the ancient civilizations. Detachment and passage would not be possible if the social brain had not developed. On the other hand, if man remained as he is today, without developing a different society that allows him to fully use the benefits of the social brain, the latter would fatally take over as in science fiction novels. Marx at his time recorded the slavery of man increased by the capitalist machine, but it was a question of formal slavery, of increased exploitation. Today slavery is complete, real, because man is completely integrated into the cycle and cannot be subtracted from it, productive or maintained that he is, worker or capitalist, or even a member of a class that is not specifically capitalist, such as the parcel peasant. The fact that psychiatry today is forced to deal with pathological human-society-machine relationships is a significant indication of this worst slavery, given that man is seriously and definitively “freed” from work because of the machine; and in fact it is cut out of the production cycle as unemployed or fictitiously employed, mere grain in the pile of relative overpopulation. The externalized power of man has evolved, and if society does not change,
There is terrific evidence that the social brain is functioning and producing results. We have mentioned Vaucanson, Jacquard, Watt. We could still cite other great inventors and scientists, but only up to a certain point in history, roughly until Lenin also writes that social work has now taken over the world. From that point on, the individual definitively loses his function, even as an instrument of concentrated knowledge of others. There remains work linked to social production, research, invention, technological progress, increasingly anonymous and linked to industry. After the First World War, there is no longer any science that is not the fruit of the collective brain. The most notable example is that of Einstein, but it is not the only one:
The party, class and species organ
For example, nobody has “invented” the computer. It is the result of intuitions that arose in parallel in America, England and Russia, then applied to military research. Nobody has the authorship of his subsequent developments, of software, of the first rudimentary operating systems. No one can claim success for the birthright of particular “inventions” for himself, given that the matter in question stemmed directly from the collective work of thousands of men and that every partial realization was immediately made his own by as many thousands. Neither the precursors of the logic behind computers, nor the inventors of the microchip, nor the first Internet makers are known to the general public and, among other things, have not been enriched.
The evolution of the machine and its programs took place mostly outside the project offices, and is the result of millions of free working hours, of games, of a passion that at a certain point invested a huge amount of anonymous scholars involved in information technology outside each specific production cycle. For the first time in the history of capitalism, and in a massive way, the spontaneous unfolding of collective research on the basis of individual social cells scattered in space but connected by a common purpose, preceded the commodification of the technical and cognitive results of which the industry it then took over enhancing specific research and investing capital. IBM itself, the progenitor in the production of large computers, understood for example very late, last but not least, the potential of the “personal” computer and the same adjective demonstrates how far it was from imagining the explosive spread of this strange machine which simulates mental processes very badly and in terms of intelligence is less than one amoeba. On the other hand, the “personal” computer quickly became a nonsense in the age of maximum socialization and fast telecommunication: probably the future of this medium in full evolution will consist of a simple prosthesis of the human senses capable of connecting with the universal network of dynamic knowledge, without the need for explosive spread of this strange machine that simulates very badly mental processes and in terms of intelligence is less than an amoeba. On the other hand, the “personal” computer quickly became a nonsense in the age of maximum socialization and fast telecommunication: probably the future of this medium in full evolution will consist of a simple prosthesis of the human senses capable of connecting with the universal network of dynamic knowledge, without the need for explosive spread of this strange machine that simulates very badly mental processes and in terms of intelligence is less than an amoeba. On the other hand, the “personal” computer quickly became a nonsense in the age of maximum socialization and fast telecommunication: probably the future of this medium in full evolution will consist of a simple prosthesis of the human senses capable of connecting with the universal network of dynamic knowledge, without the need for “personal” hardware and software .
It is also interesting to note that this genuine product of the social brain is completely under-used in a society that all in all does not yet know what to do with it. Today, children play with computers much more powerful than those that made space travel possible, and most users don’t use them for more complicated processes than writing a letter every now and then, or lately, to chat over the Internet.
The significance of the development of relationships in an increasingly integrated world, among which the computer network with its very high potential stands out, deserves careful consideration starting from its productive and social premises, because the discussion on the expansion of the neuronal network of the the social brain, a discourse that we will have to develop, is closely linked to the primary function of the revolutionary party and to the development of its organization. ThisParty is not to be understood only as a specific organization that directs the struggle against the organizations of the adverse classes, but as the political organ of the last revolutionary class in history, the one that will have the task of putting an end to the succession of class societies. After its task, the revolutionary party will die out, just as the class state will die out. Unless we consider the specific future organ “party” to take shape on the basis of a social intelligence gained in the meantime and which will have the task of finally harmonizing man with the nature of which he belongs. It is in this sense that the party never dies: it is handed down over time according to invariants and transformations, always representing a collective memory,