[iDC] A primer on the Attention (Centered) Economy

David Golumbia dgolumbia at virginia.edu
Fri Oct 23 12:29:09 UTC 2009

This discussion seems, to me, to finally be getting somewhere.

Let me quote what I find the starkest and strangest sentence in MG's 
attack on JB:

"MG: By professing everything to be within the framework of capitalism, 
Beller and others seem to be saying the situation is hopeless."

This statement draws the following, absolutely incorrect conclusions:

MG1: the question of whether "everything" is "within the framework of 
capitalism" is one to be determined by whether or not it makes the 
"situation" look hopeless.

DG1: no, that question is determined by empirical observation. the 
notion that our society is thoroughly interpenetrated by capital is one 
that you appear uniquely to stand opposed to both Marxian and classical 
economists in denying. But I have yet to see even a shred of that actual 
argument. We do not determine correct theory by whether it makes us feel 
good or not.

MG2: "everything is within the framework of capitalism" means that there 
can be no culture or value that is not immediately expressed in monetary 

DG: no, JB and everyone else means that everything *economic* is within 
the framework of capitalism. So do Marx, Ricardo, Adam Smith, Keynes, 
Schumpeter, Hayek, Krugman, et al. Which one of those would ever deny 
that cultural functions and cultural "value" can be put into exchange 
relationships with capital? That is part of *why* Marx wrote about 
capital! And that's all your "attention economy" is--another twist on 
exchanging cultural production for money.

MG3: if "everything is within the framework of capitalism," the 
"situation is hopeless."

DG3: everything is within the framework of capitalism. and the situation 
is not hopeless. however, and i am going to be carefully catty as i can 
here, offering theories that have as much detail as the "underpants 
gnomes" do on /South Park/ for getting from here to there is not 
helpful, and suggesting that ephemeral, completely elastic and abstract 
notions like "attention" could do the work required to replace capital 
is just that--an underpants gnome theory.

DG4: I hope that like me, many people reading these exchanges also catch 
the very strong whiff of "interestedness" in MG's writing, in a way he 
seems not to see--and that gets worse the more he writes. He has 
something to prove that he knew long before he had any evidence that he 
was correct--in fact, I'd argue there is still no evidence he is 
correct, which is why I find the persistence of this exchange so 


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