Digitaler Salon: Florian Rötzer in conversation with Joseph Vogl

Digital society, information capitalism and communication technology

Digital society, information capitalism and communication technology
Digital society, information capitalism and communication technology

Florian Rötzer talks to literature and cultural studies scholar Joseph Vogl about the financial-economic and technical foundations of digital society, about information capitalism and communication technology.

Joseph Vogl is Professor of Literature, Cultural Studies and Media at the Institute for German Literature at Humboldt University in Berlin. Previously, he was Professor of History and Theory of Artificial Worlds at the Faculty of Media at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. From this it is already apparent that Vogl's thinking does not move along pre-set paths, but off the track. Vogl has also demonstrated this in his numerous conversations with Alexander Kluge.

Coming from literary studies, for example with his doctorate on Kafka and the reception of French philosophers, above all Gilles Deleuze, Vogl has increasingly become a political and, since the financial crisis at the latest, a political-economic thinker who seeks to understand and critically question the capitalist system and contemporary society. Already in his 2008 book »Das Gespenst des Kapitals« he exposes the myths of the financial markets and the propagated invisible hand of the free market as secularized religion. With the book »Der Souveränitätseffekt« (2015), Vogl shows how financial capitalism is developing as a global structure and its political and economic elites are gradually eroding democratic control.

In his recent book, »Kapital und Ressentiment« Vogl makes clear that the triumph of finance capitalism is directly related to information technology and is reinforced by digitalization and the accompanying privatization of infrastructures. For him, Internet platforms continue to drive the process of capitalizing information as a commodity and financializing the economy into all areas of life and taking over state functions, while the control of the behavior of market actors is constantly refined. The understanding of theories and truth is also changing in the spirit of neoliberalism and through the information concept. Speculation literally prevails, prices are formed by options, facts by expectations: »Not what was and is, but what may, possibly or probably will occur, determines the course of events.«

Florian Rötzer will talk with Joseph Vogl about whether the intellectual who wants to be on the cutting edge has to deal with the financial-economic and technical foundations of the digital society. Above all, it will be a question of which societies emerge from information capitalism through the amalgamation of the financial market and digital information and communication technology. Vogl notes not only the decline of democracy, but also the fragmentation of societies, in which resentment against other fragmented groups is released and exploited under the conditions of market-based competition. Is there a way out?

(The Event was held in German)