Homo Datum and Socialized Cybernetics: Emerging Contours of the Latest Phase of Capitalism

Arto Artinian
Pages 157-166| Published online: 05 Feb 2023

Artinian, Arto. 2023. “Homo Datum and Socialized Cybernetics: Emerging Contours of the Latest Phase of Capitalism.” Marxism & Sciences 2(1): 157–166. 


What are the implications of the current fundamental transformations in capitalist society? Above all, there is the emergence of a new form of political subjectivity. The dominant forms of liberal subjectivity are being replaced by the emerging subjectivity of digital social objects (DSOs). What are consequences of this? Succinctly, there is a shift from neo (or, ordo) liberalism to socialized cybernetics as the new ideological grounding of current capitalist society. The imposition of socialized cybernetics is transforming generalized proletarianization, leading to the further radical impoverishment and reduction of human life, and its transformation into new political categories. This new phase of capitalism (or perhaps, a moment where capitalism is approaching its systemic limits?) is centered on biological beings with human capacities, rather than human beings, a condition of stunted, dependent subjectivity more accurately described as Homo Datum. Capitalism is moving into a condition, where human beings are collapsed, reduced to, and made interchangeable with cybernetic digital social objects. The political is now the pseudo-political, having been incorporated into the positivist (non-dialectical) logic of the capitalist economic structures. Homo Datum denotes the now-nominally human, biological being with human capacities, which for the purposes of the capitalist economy functions as a particular instance of a digital social object. Crucially, social relations are now not necessarily human-to human relations (even in their alienated forms) but are approached by capitalist economic structures and their subservient political forms, as particular cybernetic (mathematical) functions “adapted” in their application to social life: as datum. What are the consequences of this for  political struggle? One approach centered on Soviet Marxists like Evald Ilyenkov suggest we must think of politics through the fundamental political question: what does it mean to be human? Centering our thinking about the political through this question, and from within this Ilyenkovian approach, can help in our struggle against the ideological structures that make sense of Homo Datum pseudo-subjectivity, and the related society of digital social objects under capitalist class control.

KEYWORDS: Marxism, Soviet Marxism, Evald Ilyenkov, capitalism, alienation, political subjectivity, Homo Datum, Digital Social Objects, socialized cybernetics, biological beings with human capacities.


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