Mirowski & Neoliberal thought collective & faith

Let’s move the conversation beyond power. This is what Foucault was doing in his final seminars (see particularly 13/13 The Courage of Truth, 1983-84). As described by economic historian Philip Mirowski, the neoliberal thought collective, that is the Mont Pèlerin Society, is not about securing or maintaining élites in power, either in political power or in economic power, or in view of the field now addressed in terms of a political economy.

As Mirowski, following Foucault, makes clear, the agenda is truth. The conversation we might be having is not about power and its exercise within the political economy post-truth, given the bruited collapse of veridification, which has been for some time now the demesne of media–both sounding off on the collapse of knowledge and information, of knowledge into information and data, and therefore the levelling of information with disinformation (with which goes the task of the expert, the knowledge worker and scientist as a data gatherer, noncommentator, nonsyncretiser, empirically distanced and politically-economically disinterested), both this and under media control within the production of media as the producers in the knowledge market, of political economy. The conversation might now move to a post-power conception of truth, where knowledge is power.

Power-knowledge performs as its own supplement. It supplements itself. This is its production as fetish, a question both of currency and value. It is also the reason for the investment of the richest and most powerful corporations in what is called Big Data, since it is called Big Data to hide the fact that it is nonsummative: enumerable data, innumerable data, but not one big datum rather the prospect of infinite growth in the production of data. Knowledge in a post-power dispensation is an economic unit. So that thing called immaterial labour by Hardt and Negri is always for the sake of an idea, the truth not of capital itself–the labour theory of value is hardly sufficient here–but the capital of truth itself.

The truth and the lie of the immaterial labourer are equally available to media to be promulgated, published, fetishised, as they are, since it is the market that will make the ultimate selection for the sake of the idea of truth. The knowledge worker, the scientist, the expert researcher, all are freer than ever before. They are like artists and just as powerless, just as powerless as the powerful.

Who rises to challenge the market as the arbiter of truth post-power? …and it could be said it is in this sense that we are now postmodern: gone is the tortured, fractured and fragmented art of power; welcome the unified, global and free art of truth, a truth beyond the grasp of any individual, ineffable, belonging to the political economy, a belief secured and maintained on its idea.