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Gordon Hull
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By Gordon Hull It has seemed to me for a long time that one helpful theoretical lens through which to look at neoliberalism is to understand it as a phase (or perhaps a dispositive) of biopower. This is because neoliberalism does not generally rely on juridical rules (or tried to... Continue reading
By Gordon Hull Over at Larval Subjects, Levi Bryant has a nice post on how Marx’s distinction between C-M-C and M-C-M’ helps to explain an otherwise puzzling ideological construction. Marx’s distinction, arrived at in chapter 4 of Capital, is about how commodities circulate. In the C-M-C formula, we consider someone... Continue reading
By Gordon Hull I have been circling around the relation between Marx and Foucault for a while, and thinking in particular about the ways that they can be viewed as productively engaged, particularly at the intersection of primitive accumulation and subjectification (e.g., here, here and here) This of course flies... Continue reading
By Gordon Hull Facebook’s opaque advertising practices are in the news (again) because it was apparently the vehicle through which some of the Russian attempts to meddle in the 2016 election were routed. This piece by Sam Biddle on The Intercept is well worth the read, as it makes the... Continue reading
By Gordon Hull This sounds like a trick question, but it’s not. It’s also currently before the Supreme Court, about which more in a moment. First, however, let me summarize the case for why IP isn’t really “property” in the ordinary sense, even if we use the word. In a... Continue reading
By Gordon Hull As our tin-pot “President” continues his inexorable slide into narcissistic authoritarianism, it is worth noting recent events that establish beyond any residual doubt that radical white terrorism is now official policy. When historians look at the Trump presidency, assuming we all survive long enough for there to... Continue reading
By Gordon Hull Although they murdered one person, injured 19 others, and celebrated two governments, one of which systematically exterminated over 6 million people in the name of white supremacy, and another that systematically murdered and enslaved millions more, also in the name of white supremacy, members of the far... Continue reading
By Gordon Hull The expansion of the Internet of Things is going to provide a lot playspace for highly intensive and granular corporate surveillance – which is to say it’s going to be a catastrophe for privacy. Sure, sure, everything will come with a “click here to accept” or comparable... Continue reading
By Gordon Hull Last time, I introduced the exchange between Mark Lemley and Robert Merges on IP theory, and made the initial case that Lemley is essentially arguing for the theoretical primacy of neoliberal biopower in intellectual property. Merges, as will hopefully become evident below, is more interested in grounding... Continue reading
By Gordon Hull A couple of years ago, Mark Lemley, one of the most influential and prolific of intellectual property scholars, published his “Faith-Based Intellectual Property,” a manifesto against what he characterizes as non-utilitarian or non-empirical theories of intellectual property. In other words, “participants on both sides of the IP... Continue reading
By Gordon Hull Frank Pasquale and I have a new paper forthcoming in Biosocieties, "Toward a critical theory of corporate wellness." Here is the abstract: In the U.S., “employee wellness” programs are increasingly attached to employer-provided health insurance. These programs attempt to nudge employees, sometimes quite forcefully, into healthy behaviors... Continue reading
By Gordon Hull I have a new paper up on SSRN, "The Subject and Power of Bioethics," which was invited to a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Ethics, Medicine and Public Health. The abstract is: The present paper argues that late work of Michel Foucault is helpful in understanding... Continue reading
by Gordon Hull On Wednesday night, the Trump administration implemented as much of its long promised Muslim Ban as it thought the Supreme Court would allow. Travelers from a list of six countries who did not have a “bona fide” connection or “close familial relationship” to someone in the U.S.... Continue reading
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously today (well, an opinion and a concurrence) that a provision in the Lanham Act banning “disparaging” trademarks violated the First Amendment. In the case in question, an Asian-American musician named Simon Tam had attempted to register his band’s name, “The Slants,” in a clear effort... Continue reading
In another chapter of its ongoing battle with the Federal Circuit (and the second in a week), the Supreme Court (SCOTUS, I will refer to the Federal Circuit as the CAFC) ruled last Tuesday in Impression Products v. Lexmark International that the sale of a patented product “exhausts” the patent-holder’s... Continue reading
Patent law seems like an easy place to talk about biopower. After all, it has been possible to patent life forms for some time now, and large numbers of patents are issued for products that directly affect life, as in the case of pharmaceuticals and other medical innovations. Biopolitical implications... Continue reading
A recent paper by Ermanno Bencivenga in Philosophical Forum argues that it’s “time for philosophy to step into the conversation” (135) about big data, in particular to refute the thesis, which the article identifies in a 2008 piece in Wired, that big data will mean that we no longer need... Continue reading
Foucault reminds us that biopolitics is describes a kind of power structure according to which some will be compelled to live (or have their lives as members of a favored population optimized), while others will be allowed to die. As he puts it, “the ancient right to take life or... Continue reading
I know there’s a lot of material to pick from here, but the following two positions are hard to reconcile with a straight face. Since Trump’s and his surrogates’ big mouths have been used against him before in Court, perhaps some court will see this one. On the one hand,... Continue reading
Apparently Burger King ran an ad that attempted to trigger Google Home by having a Burger King employee say “OK, Google: What is the Whopper burger?” First the ad was up, then it was down, now BK says that it might come back. The ad was supposed to trigger Google... Continue reading
As you probably have heard, in a flurry of activity yesterday, the North Carolina legislature repealed and replaced its omnibus LGBT-hate law, HB 2. The state was clearly moved to act by an NCAA deadline (repeal by Thursday, or no championships until 22) and an AP report earlier in the... Continue reading
Brands are of increasing importance to capitalism. As an insightful book by Franck Cochoy argues, this is part of the logic of commodification, which generates a perpetual demand for product differentiation. At the point that a product becomes a commodity – i.e., at the point that it leaves the bazaar,... Continue reading
A recent paper by Hamid Ekbia presents an interesting Marxian theory of the relation between exploitation and computer networks. The paper is intended as an intervention in to discussions of the accumulation of value in what is now called cognitive capitalism (I’ve attempted to synthesize some of that literature here).... Continue reading
There is a running debate in critical theory circles about the applicability of Marxian analysis to big data specifically, and to an economy dominated by immaterial goods, more generally (I have blogged about this periodically, circling primarily around the concept of primitive accumulation: see here and here). As part of... Continue reading
One question surrounding big data – in addition to well-established worries about privacy and discrimination – that is starting to get attention is how it functions as a mode of capitalist accumulation. There is an emerging literature on capitalist value creation and big data, but a lot of that is... Continue reading