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ABSTRACT: This paper provides a synoptic view of ‘cybernetic capitalism’ – a term that attempts to capture the leading sector developments within modern capitalism and to profile the leading accounts of these developments. ‘Cybernetic capitalism’ is a term used in this paper in order to distinguish a group of theories, or, better, positions, on the Left that attempt to theorize the nature of the new capitalism. ‘Third capitalism’ (after mercantilism and industrialism) now relies on a systems architecture that draws on cybernetics and modern supercomputing that connects five aspects of cybernetic capitalism: informational capitalism, cultural capitalism, cognitive capitalism, finance capitalism and biocapitalism. The paper examines two of these groups, namely informational capitalism and cognitive capitalism and their differences and similarities. Among the different positions thinking about the nature of modern capitalism, there are strong overlapping characteristics which coalesce around aesthetization, design and immateriality. Value creation is still central to contemporary capitalism. That is, the universal contradiction, which might manifest itself differently in different localities, between capital and labor is still there and has been diffused to every sphere of our lives. Cybernetic capitalism implies forms of accumulation at the core of the productive process of the most relevant sectors of economy at times implying antithetical stances with the ways that capital accumulation and production is conceived by industrial capitalist economies and cultures. This implies a radical change in the dominant paradigm of organization and production generating different sets of social dilemmas for human beings and societies, sets of contradictions and overlapping tendencies in relation to other capitalisms. (pp. 11–40)

MICHAEL A. PETERS
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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
RODRIGO BRITEZ
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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
ERGIN BULUT
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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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