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Toni Prug: Leftist Intellectuals and Technology

Capitalist development resulted in technology becoming a pivotal force that subjugated labour and enabled explosive production of wealth. The socialist state projects also harnessed technology on a vast scale, with the left intellectuals actively involved. Once these projects failed, the left retreated, finding refuge in humanities and social science academic departments. Neoliberal capitalism embraced computing and networking technologies, enabling the logic of capital to flourish by accounting for anything that could be quantified and connected in the pursuit of surplus value. Artificial intelligence marks a further advancement in labour subjugation and the global integration process. In the absence of plausible and emancipatory visions for a post-capitalist social order that would supersede state socialist projects, leftist intellectuals fear the capitalist character of new technologies. The thesis put forward is that Marx’s form analysis is a methodological foundation by which technological advances can be freed from the shackles of capital. The starting move in this approach is to grasp theoretically and quantitatively the social and economic determinations of forms of wealth as they pass through their productive and allocative circuits, within and beyond the state borders.

Toni Prug is a former software and networks engineer studying egalitarian production of wealth under the dominance of the capitalist mode of production. He is currently an assistant professor at the Department of Cultural Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Rijeka. He is one of the founding members of the recently formed Platform for social equality (The Equality Factory), an informal association of NGOs, unions, academics, activists and researchers whose goal is to study, map and advocate production of equality of outcomes and opportunities through the establishment of high-quality, equally accessible public services, and through fairer and more efficient distribution of wealth. His recent writings are “Social Forms Beyond Value: Public Wealth and Its Contradictions” (2023, with M.Žitko) and “Globalne strukturalne zadatosti i proizvodnja jednakosti” (2023).

The lecture will take place at 19.00 at Participativna ljubljanska avtonomna cona (PLAC). The video of the lecture will be published later on the ILS YouTube channel. The event is organized in cooperation with Transform Europe.