UC Berkeley Comparative Literature Undergraduate Journal

A Premier Humanities Research Journal at the University of California, Berkeley

Late Capitalism and Participatory Narratives

Michael Ruby

This paper takes the narrative structure of the digital hypertext and understands it generally as a something called a participatory narrative, or any narrative in which the reader/listener/user is granted some degree of agency in determining its arrangement. Examples can be found anywhere from the literary theory of Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault to the narrative structure of first-person video games. My main intent is to situate this phenomenon historically, suggesting that this narrative paradigm shift has a particular correspondence with the economic and social organization of late capitalism—namely, the narrative shift corresponds in its logic to the movement of capital into financial speculation and the experience of “reading” these narratives mimics the immaterial labor characteristic of post-industrial societies.

In 2000, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt published Empire and sparked a discussion with regard to the organization of global capitalism at the advent of the new millennium and its relation to the former preeminence of nation-state sovereignties. The book advances its theory of a reticulate and loosely organized world system of global dominance in place at the turn of the millennium called “Empire” (in which the United States holds a privileged place), an amalgamation of economic and political power.

Hardt and Negri’s account of how Empire developed out of the early-twentieth century model of nation-state sovereignty, colonialism, and strictly hierarchical power arrangements relies principally on an account of capitalism’s innate need for expansion first established in Marx’s Capital. Hardt and Negri paraphrase Marx:

Marx analyzes capital’s constant need for expansion first by focusing on the process of realization and thus on the unequal quantitative relationship between the worker as producer and the worker as consumer of commodities…The wage of the worker (corresponding to necessary labor) must be less than the total value produced by the worker. This surplus value, however, must find an adequate market in order to be realized. (222)

Capital—as an inherently expansionist phenomenon—constantly reproduces itself and conditions its own need for an “outside,” a space into which to expand its realm. As such—and as Marxist critics have noted since its outset—the imperialism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries appears historically to Hardt and Negri as the privileged stratagem of capitalism to expand its markets and resources in an inexorable progression towards the contemporary world market. And as capital expands into new realms, so it has carried along with it the machinery of production and manufacturing. In the setting of this new globalized economy, societies of the first world and the global north have compensated for the departure of their productive moment in two principal ways: the ascendance of speculative capital and the migration of labor from a manufacturing to a service-oriented paradigm. These changes have resulted in a transition to a new social order that Gilles Deleuze termed the society of control (evolving out of Foucault’s disciplinary society)—that society in which subjects have effectively internalized control mechanisms such that disciplinary institutions lose their preeminent function and control becomes free-floating.

This essay seeks to point out what could be considered a parallel cultural phenomenon alongside these economic changes, specifically in the realm of narrative and the relationship between narrative and community. This essay also takes for granted that narrative and its transmission play a privileged role in the shaping of subjectivity in any given society and thus that critical transformations in the economic structure or social organization of a society (that precipitate attendant changes in subjectivity) should also be accompanied by formal modifications in narrative and the experience of narrative.

In the context of late capitalism, the narrative development I will be analyzing and proposing as a parallel cultural development to the transformed economic landscape is the participatory narrative—that is, any narrative in which the reader (viewer, listener, or user) of the narrative is granted a degree of agency in its development and in his or her experience of it. This is a broader term than Espen J. Aerseth’s “ergodic literature”—defined as any literature in which “nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text”—or N. Katherine Hayles’s “interactive fiction” insofar as participatory narratives exist often outside the realm of literature as generalized phenomena and include narratives that accord users influence in the narrative development and arrangement itself, not merely its transversal.

Still, perhaps the most perfect realization of the participatory narrative is the hypertext—a digital narrative which takes advantage of cybernetic technologies in various ways to afford the reader certain freedoms of navigation; however, this same construct can be located outside the supposed literary realm in the narrative experience of many first-person video games, reality television shows that afford the viewer a putative “vote” in the show’s outcome, and social media sites offering to assemble the photographic and textual artifacts of one’s own life into a narrative arrangement that can then be experienced and disseminated. Interestingly, a near-perfect formulation of the participatory narrative is also available in Roland Barthes’s texte scriptable—or that text which challenges the reader to re-enact the actions of the author in engaging with the text—although Barthes did not of course have in mind digital narratives that formalize this capacity into their very narrative structure. Insofar as Barthes’s post-structuralist, reader-oriented hermeneutics has become something of a new dominant critical mode in the recent decades, we might even understand this participatory attitude to be at work even when the text itself does not overtly legitimize such re-creation.

To summarize,far from being an isolated cultural oddity, I want to suggest that the narrative arrangement available in the participatory narrative enacts a new paradigm, formalizes a general ethic of participation, and helps fashion a certain subjectivity particular to late capitalism. 

The Logic of Inversion

To avoid the appearance of relying upon an unexamined Marxist presumption of a direct correlation between the cultural and the economic, I want to first substantiate my argument by tracing a parallel logic across three spheres of the social totality. This is the logic of inversion and it appears in the economic, the technological, and the cultural realm (or, narrative itself).

To begin with the economic, one of the most salient characteristics of late capitalism is the ascendance of speculation as a profit-generating enterprise, marked by a movement away from fundamental value in favor of price fluctuation (or the dance of capital). Fredric Jameson, in his essay “Culture and Finance Capital,” theorizes financial speculation as a reaction by the capitalist system to the saturation of local markets and capital’s incessant need for expansion:

Speculation, the withdrawal of profits from the home industries, the increasingly feverish search for new markets (these are also saturated) as for the new kind of profits available in financial transactions themselves and as such—these are the ways in which capitalism now reacts to and compensates for the closing of its productive moment. Capital itself becomes free-floating. (142)

This amounts to an inversion in the sense that capital—having expanded its realm and created the world market—can only now revert to formerly colonized terrain and derive profits from its own functioning, financial transactions. This inversion of capital—the derivation of profit from profit-making itself—needs to be understood as a sort of secondary abstraction of money: already an abstract concept, money reaches a second degree once its initial abstraction becomes itself a commodity for buying, selling, and trading. Speculative capital has no material referent beyond pure money itself.

As such, this second abstraction of money precipitates what Jameson further calls a “deterritorialization” (borrowing the term from Deleuze)—that is, as capital becomes a “free-floating” entity, it leaves behind local and geographic particularities to exist everywhere all at once in the newly globalized market (propelled by cybernetic technologies making constant and instantaneous transactions). The concreteness and specificity of place belong to an older productive moment—the friction-less cyberspace (a non-place) belongs to the new non-productive capitalist moment. Cyberspace is thus not some abstract “other” realm existing above or beyond the concrete and real—it coincides rather with Deleuze’s concept of the “virtual” as not altogether opposed to the real, but retaining some of the real within it. Strictly speaking, it is the merely idealized and perfectly realized form and projection of the world (the global city) which has already become abstract.

We can see this in the work of William Gibson who first coined the term “cyberspace” in his science fiction short story “Burning Chrome” in 1981. Gibson’s first six novels—the Sprawl trilogy (initiated by his best-known work Neuromancer) and the Bridge trilogy—all take place in grim, noir settings and project the effects of cybernetic technologies and late capitalism on near-future societies. Through these works, Gibson obtained his reputation for cultural prescience and is credited with anticipating many aspects of Internet culture and helping develop its peculiar iconography. In his third and most recent trilogy, however, starting with Pattern Recognition in 2003, Gibson has chosen to situate his narratives in the present—a present so fragile that he cannot ignore it. As Gibson’s character Hubertus Bigend comments in Pattern Recognition:

Fully imagined cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which ‘now’ was of some greater duration. For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents’ have insufficient ‘now’ to stand on. We have no future because our present is too volatile. (57)

The present has in this sense come to evince cyberspace’s dissolution of linear time—the present moment is expanded, filled with such violent potentialities that at the same time render it precarious. Rather than a retreat from the arena of cyberspace and its social implications, Gibson’s move to the present thus indicates that the “now”—as a result of Jameson and Deleuze’s deterritorialization—displays enough of the sociospatial abstractness of cyberspace in its fabric to continue Gibson’s thematic exploration.

Now that we have established the theoretical connection between speculative capital’s deterritorialization and Gibson’s cyberspace, we can return to the logic of inversion by turning to the computer itself. In his recent book, The Interface Effect, Alexander Galloway has argued that prior theorizations of the computer (particularly those of media theorists Lev Manovich and Janet Murray) did not fully comprehend its function and erroneously understood it in terms of metaphysics and ontology—a concept Galloway associates most closely with cinema. Cinema mediates the world and attempts to create a perfect imitation of it—for this reason, Bazin understood it as a type of realism. Conversely, Galloway argues, the computer simulates this metaphysical arrangement and, as such, remediates metaphysics itself:

[S]ince the cinema is, in general, an ontology (in particular it is a phenomenology), it seems logical to assume that other media are ontological in the same way. The computer however, is not of an ontological condition, it is on that condition. It does not facilitate or make reference to an arrangement of being, it remediates the very conditions of being itself. (21)

The computer—arriving after cinema had captured the twentieth century’s imagination and transcribed the world into an imagistic form—takes this very metaphysical arrangement as its object and initiates a second-degree abstraction in the exact way that capital (by way of speculation) re-colonizes (or simulates) its own financial transactions. As speculative capital commodifies these financial transactions, so the computer re-mediates cinema’s ontology. A direct parallel then becomes evident between speculative capital’s “deterritorialization” and the computer’s creation of cyberspace in the coincidence of their logics of inversion.[1]

Capitalism - first diagram

This logic of inversion then finds its final manifestation in the participatory narratives themselves. Just as the computer emerges out of a cinematic tradition, so these new narratives emerge from a tradition of literary realism arguably dominant since the emergence of the novel out of the historical moment of industrial capitalism. Realism, as Lukács argued, attempts to grasp the objective reality as it contrasts with subjective perception. And insofar as realism foreclosed upon the narrativizing of reality, the only avenue left for development was an inversion to the narrativization of narrative itself. Such is the mechanism of the participatory narrative—including within it the elements and logic of realism but extending (or inverting) its domain to simulate its own inscription. To once again revert to a parallel with the economic, just as speculative capital takes financial transactions as its object, so the participatory narrative takes the narrative itself as its object. In Galloway’s terminology, the participatory narrative simulates the metaphysical arrangement of realism—it simulates the creation of narrative itself.

It should follow then that the space or the plane of the participatory narrative should also coincide with the abstract nature characterizing deterritorialization and cyberspace. Such is the case with Ron Broglio and Eric Sonstroem’s “immersive electronic environment,” a participatory narrative space that they call FrankenMOO, derived from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The MOO (“Multi-User Dimension, Object Oriented”) creates a digital space and an interactive online community and puts users in dialogue with a predetermined text, in this case Frankenstein. Sonstreom describes the specific act of interaction with the MOO:

[O]f course FrankenMOO is different from Frankenstein, just as MOOing is ultimately different from reading. There is a performative dimension and a real-time active involvement that can be both goal-oriented and open-ended.For example, users can find themselves in the forest outside Ingolstadt, in the textual/geographic location that the newly-created monster found himself when he fled from Frankenstein’s laboratory…The user is also confronted with two objects, called “Things” and “Fire.” If the user is curious, she or he can click on either of these, or type a textual command such as “look things” or “examine fire.” (152-153)

Interaction with the FrankenMOO differs from reading in the act of (re-)creation on the part of the reader, or the partial role in constructing the action and the navigation of the narrative. Moreover, the creation of the experience of the FrankenMOO appears as a communal enterprise divorced from a novelistic author-function—indeed, Sonstroem writes of his and Broglio’s creation of the FrankenMOO, “We hoped to create a monster that was beyond our control” (151).

We can see again, manifested clearly in the “environment” of this participatory narrative, the “free-floating” or abstract nature of speculative capital and cyberspace insofar as these entities act also as “monsters beyond our control.” Although, unlike speculative capital and cyberspace, the participatory narrative has not freed itself from a material or real-world referent, but rather from a legitimating author-function. In other words, the author-function that forecloses upon the disruptive potentialities of the text and legitimates what is to be considered the proper “work” itself has been dispensed with in favor of fostering these potentialities and the reader’s re-working of the text. This brings us once again to the logic of inversion—with realism having thoroughly ontologized reality (or rendered reality unto narrative), participatory narratives must revert to the experience of narrative-creation itself as its object.

Capitalism - second diagram

Immaterial and Service-Oriented Labor

To return to the description of the economic context, an overview of the effects of this inversion of capital on labor specifically and subjectivity generally appears necessary. The expansion of capital locates us currently—according to various chronologists of capitalism[2]—in a third stage of capitalism, following the initial two stages of industrial accumulation and subsequent imperialist expansion. Currently, as manufacturing and traditional material labor have been exported to “underdeveloped” third-world countries, the first world and the global north have experienced the ascent of what Hardt and Negri call “immaterial labor.” This involves a migration of the economy from industrial jobs to service jobs, as well as a general qualitative assimilation of the remaining industrial jobs to a service-oriented paradigm—Hardt and Negri understand this transition generally as one from Fordism to Toyotism:

The Fordist model constructed a relatively “mute” relationship between production and consumption. The mass production of standardized commodities in the Fordist era could count on an adequate demand and thus had little need to “listen” to the market…Toyotism is based on an inversion of the Fordist structure of communication between production and consumption. Ideally, according to this model, production planning will communicate with markets constantly and immediately. (290)

As such, the Toyotist model concedes more influence to the market and consumer desire. (No longer can Henry Ford’s famous proclamation stand that the Model T comes in any color so long as it’s black; the current production paradigm mandates that the consumer design the coloring of the car, handpick its features, have it built and delivered just in time.) Furthermore, with regard to properly immaterial labor—or “labor that produces an immaterial good, such as a service, a cultural product, knowledge, or communication” (290)—it increasingly involves working directly with a computer, or if not, at least fulfilling a computational role of manipulating symbols and information to disseminate via communication networks. And as Hardt and Negri point out, “[e]ven the most rudimentary forms of artificial intelligence allow the computer to expand and perfect its operation based on its interaction with its user and its environment” (291). It appears then that the computer, with its interactive capacity, has come to predominate symbolically even beyond its technological realm insofar as the market of production itself (Toyotism) has come to evince a parallel interactive mechanism.

And so the functioning of immaterial labor as well as productive labor (insofar as it has taken on immaterial characteristics) have come to demonstrate a certain allocation of influence to their respective “outsides”—that is, following the model of the computer which always affords influence to the objects it formalizes and manipulates (its environment, user, etc.), the avenue has likewise opened for the consumer to influence and often dictate commodity production. (One is even tempted to say that the phenomenon extends beyond the consumer to characterize the relation between the producer and the commodity itself, in the sense that, in late capitalism, a producer does not so much make a product as the product itself asks to be made.) In order to jump to a generalized understanding then, we could perhaps conceive of all the above relations as those of a formerly simple subject-object formulation which has, under the current conditions, become renegotiated and muddled to the point where it no longer stands clear which is the producer and consumer.

To further this point, we can turn to the work of Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello in their book The New Spirit of Capitalism, in which they survey corporate managerial literature from the 1990’s and contrast it to that of the 1960’s in an attempt to discern the salient ideologies of the global market. The managerial literature of the 1990’s, they claim, displays a certain continuation of the anti-hierarchical rhetoric that began in the literature of the 1960’s. It describes the new corporate firm as a network with coordinators in place of bosses, and where the ultimate employer is the customer. Employees are encouraged to work on projects where they are afforded an unprecedented degree of autonomy. The higher-ups no longer evaluate the managers on the basis of their transmission of hierarchical dictates from the top to the bottom, so to speak; rather, they are evaluated on how well they accomplish certain established objectives according to their own devising. Nonetheless, this new relation between the employee and the administration precipitates another problem for the modern corporation, as they must now find a way to control independently acting employees. Boltanski and Chiapello address this:

[T]he only solution is for people to control themselves, which involves transferring constraints from external organizational mechanisms to people’s internal dispositions…This explains the importance given to such notions as ‘workforce participation’ or ‘intrinsic motivations.’ (81)

In other words, the control mechanisms of the administrations of modern corporations have been increasingly internalized in their work force precisely through this amplification of autonomy, participation, and cooperation.

If we understand this notion of the cooperative functioning and structure of the modern corporation together with Hardt and Negri’s conclusions about the new consumer-based nature of manufacturing and immaterial labor, we can deduce that perhaps the most salient characteristics of the contemporary stage of capitalism from top to bottom are a qualitative integration of the ideas of participation and interactivity into labor and production as well as a general ideological eschewal of strictly hierarchical power arrangements in favor of a network of (self-)control.

Such functions are immediately accessible in the concept of the participatory narrative—such a narrative is essentially defined and distinguished by its capacity to afford its reader or user a degree of agency or influence in its own development. As the subject-object formulation becomes muddled with regard to the relation between the producer and the consumer, so the relations between author and reader are similarly renegotiated. The two assume a more collaborative relationship (redolent of the “collaborative” relationship between corporate coordinators and team members) as the authoritative space of the author has been effectively vacated. As electronic literature scholar N Katherine Hayles writes, “Such fundamental questions as ‘What is an author?,’ ‘What is a text?,’ and ‘What is a reader?’ are asked with fresh urgency and answered in new ways in light of these technologies” (573).

The participatory narrative eschews the traditional author-function as that entity which legitimates and forecloses upon the multiplicity of the narrative; instead, the participatory narrative embraces the multiplicity and de-centers the authorial function through an extension of agency to the “reader.” Indeed, one of the preeminent theorists of the hypertext, George Landow, has remarked that these new narratives enact and formalize the theories of postmodern literary critics such as Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault insofar as they assimilate the reader’s freedom of interpretation into a freedom of narrative determination.

Transcoding this discourse back into the realm of the economic and the social, the death of the author comes to resemble the more general death of the primacy of the authority figure in late capitalism—the factory foreman, the Oedipal father, God. But this power cannot be entirely erased—surely the freedom within a participatory narrative is always illusory just as the late capitalist corporation must maintain control over its employees even while granting unprecedented autonomy. Power is, as it were, simply scattered and enacted in new arrangements—manifested in the society of control.

Society of Control

Gilles Deleuze first defined the society of control as that which supersedes the Foucaldian disciplinary society and replaces its hierarchical power arrangements and institutions with a more insidious and horizontal arrangement of control. As Deleuze points out, many of the social institutions whose power dynamics Foucault demystified so successfully (school, factory, family, prison, hospital, barracks) are currently in crisis, which initiates the new task of delineating how power functions when these institutions no longer fulfill such a critical and conforming role in society. As we saw earlier, Boltanksi and Chiapello suggest that the delegation of some autonomy and influence to the corporate workforce harbors some insidious implications—namely, the internalization of previously external control mechanisms, or a transition from control to self-control. In other words, as the anti-hierarchical spirit of the new capitalism forces the organization of modern institutions to restructure (or sometimes just re-name positions, e.g. “manager” to “coordinator”), the hierarchy is nonetheless preserved insofar as it becomes a function in the mind of the employee. This is also Deleuze’s idea with the society of control—the disciplinary mechanisms of the formerly powerful social institutions now permeate the minds of social subjects and inscribe themselves on their very bodies, making an actual physically constrictive structure or edifice is no longer necessary. The recent revelations of the NSA surveillance programs lend credence to this very assertion: surveillance has now passed beyond the walls of the social institution and come to manifest itself everywhere in society via technology and communication networks.

In Empire, Hardt and Negri further Deleuze’s definition of the control society, focusing specifically on control’s inscription on the body:

The relationship of power in control society is open, qualitative, and affective. Society, subsumed within a power that reaches down to the ganglia of the social structure and its processes of development, reacts like a single body. Power is thus expressed as a control that extends throughout the depths of the consciousnesses and bodies of the population–and at the same time across the entirety of social relations.

Interestingly, the first articulation of this omnipresent surveillance came out of feminist scholarship—Sandra Bartky talks of the woman’s internalized panopticon in her 1990 critique of Foucault entitled “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power,” suggesting the internal control mechanisms (inscribed upon the body) that women have long exercised to avoid to castigation from patriarchal rule have now come to proliferate as more generalized phenomena.

The question then arises whether or not “ideology” remains an adequate term to describe the imaginary relations of the individual to the social totality due to the fact that, as Hardt and Negri describe, this power has permeated the consciousness to extend through to the very body of the subject. Perhaps we can attribute the decline of critical discussion of ideology since its heyday in the Althusserianism of the 1970’s to the fact that the word “ideology”—an apparently cognitive process of conforming to a social mold—no longer feels accurate in an era where disciplinary and conforming ideological projects appear to have completed themselves. Subjects are hence free (even encouraged) to subvert norms and, as a result, heterogeneity has paradoxically come to prevail in postmodernity as the new norm. As Hardt and Negri claim, capitalism has effectively appropriated the anti-foundationalism and anti-essentialism of postmodern and post-colonial theory: “Power has evacuated the bastion [postmodern theorists] are attacking and has circled around to their rear to join them in the assault in the name of difference. These theorists thus find themselves pushing against an open door” (138). The term “post-ideological” in this light comes to take on a new and interesting meaning insofar as it suggests not the end of ideology but the transcendence of ideology into a corporeal realm.

Catherine Belsey, in her book Critical Practice, argues that literary realism played a critical ideological role in the development of industrial capitalism and that, for this reason, the historical co-evolution of the two is something more than coincidental. She relies heavily on Althusser’s theorization of ideology in his classic essay “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” to argue that literary realism constructs a reality in which the reader (mis)recognizes his or herself and thus (re)enacts his or her constitution as a subject within the industrial capitalist mode. Insofar as subjectivity is linguistically and discursively constructed, literary realism, according to Belsey, effectively numbered as one of many ideological conforming mechanisms necessary in a society based on a productive or industrial economic paradigm:

The reader is invited to perceive and judge the ‘truth’ of the text, the coherent, non-contradictory interpretation of the world as it is perceived by an author whose autonomy is the source and evidence of the truth of the interpretation…In this way classic realism constitutes an ideological practice in addressing itself to readers as subjects, interpellating them in order that they may freely accept their subjectivity and subjection. (69)

Two crucial points emerge from this passage: firstly, the classic realist text participates ideologically in the reader’s (the subject’s) assimilation to a non-contradictory and intelligible worldview; secondly, this ideological function is somehow associated with and enabled by the autonomy of the author as a legitimating force.

Similarly, two main points about participatory narratives were outlined earlier: they contain within them the logic of realism and simulate its ontological function, and they dispel the author-function as a legitimating force foreclosing upon the potentialities of the text. The participatory narrative, in this light, then appears as that narrative development which carries literary realism onto the reader’s body and propels it onto a new post-ideological condition. The reader now retains the autonomy and performs the legitimating role of the author, creating the “truth” of the text in place of merely “perceiving” it. Belsey writes that in literary realism the events appear to narrate themselves—the locus of power emerges from the omniscient narration that can be sometimes difficult to detect and occasionally decentered, but always unilateral in its enactment and relationship with the reader. In the participatory narrative, however, the subject is called upon to narrate, inscribe, and create the events of narrative, and in doing so narrates itself, articulates itself as a subject, a productive force.

Remembering the discussion of autonomy with regard to the corporate workplace in Boltanski and Chiapello, such an appropriation of authorial autonomy by the reader in the participatory narrative should similarly give us pause. Is this not always already a conditional autonomy? It appears that the displacement of the author as the “authoritative” figure with regard to the text and the narrative comes merely as a consequence of the internalization of such a regulating and foreclosing mechanism in the mind and body of the reader-subject. And further, that this movement beyond the author-function to a “free-floating” narrative appears at the same historical moment that capital itself becomes “free-floating,” something Marx anticipated in The Communist Manifesto: “In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.” As such, participation does not necessitate real autonomy; rather it represents a society that, as Hardt and Negri say, “reacts like a single body.” Each individual limb of the body retains the ability to move freely without obstruction—but together, there remains a harmony, a functionality, a pattern to the disparate movements.

Works Cited

Aarseth, Espen J. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997. Print.

Belsey, Catherine. Critical Practice. London: Methuen, 1980. Print.

Boltanski, Luc, and Eve Chiapello. The New Spirit of Capitalism. London: Verso, 2005. Print.

Galloway, Alexander R. The Interface Effect. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2012. Print.

Gibson, William. Pattern Recognition. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2003. Print.

Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2000. Print.

Hayles, Katherine. “Interactive Fiction.” The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature. By Joe Bray, Alison Gibbons, and Brian McHale. London: Routledge, 2012. N. pag. Print.

Hayles, Katherine. “Situating Narrative in an Ecology of New Media.” Modern Fiction Studies 43.3 (1997): 573-76. Web.

Jameson, Fredric. “Finance Capital and Culture.” The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-1998. London: Verso, 1998. N. pag. Print.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967. Print.

Soenstroem, Eric. “Do You Really Want a Revolution?” College Literature 33 (2006): 148-70. Web.



[1] Slavoj Zizek’s comments on this parallel in his review of Hardt and Negri’s Empire from Rethinking Marxism vol. 13: “It effectively seems that the gap between my fascinating screen persona and the miserable flesh that is ‘me’ off-screen translates into immediate experience in the gap between the Real of the speculative circulation of capital and the drab reality of impoverished masses.”


[2] See the work of Ernst Mandel, Fredric Jameson (following Mandel), Manuel Castells, and Giovanni Arrighi