Concepts of Transit Labour
In transit there is neither departure nor arrival. Transit gives the illusion of joining the past to the future. It elongates the present so that one lives within the passage of displacement. Transit is not without its special border devices and rules of movement. Nonetheless it can move history beyond the linear time of the state and progress. The resonance of transition multiplies the possibility of politics today.
Labour is not simply work. It is the name of subjectivity under the domination of the state and capital. Labour is living and thus animated by energy, unrest and movement. Ever more it inheres in bodily and cognitive relations. But it is also subject to processes of abstraction that seek to reduce it to temporal measure. The tension between abstract and living labour is constitutive of political struggle. This tension not only crosses human bodies and souls. It also shapes the heterogeneous domain of global space.
The circulation of bodies and brains comprises the space of politics today. Circuits do not necessarily lead back to where they began. As technologies of control and freedom, they maintain the movement of labour, life, finance and things. 'Circulation sweats money from every pore' (Marx). Contrary to the libertarian cult of openness and infinite freedom, circuits can trigger resistances with explosive potential. When time is captured by new logics of accumulation, the political task is to short-circuit capital.
Cognition and culture today subsist in the space of regions. Whether regulated through protocols of distributed knowledge production or integrated within national webs and trading blocs, regions are at once stubborn civilizational constructs and provisional assemblages of markets and states. Regions hold internal differentiations that refuse the logic of unification. Stretching across linguistic, temporal and territorial borders, their footprints shift with relays, compressions and traffic in cognition and culture.
Borders are instituted through social, technical and political practices. There are two sides to every border: connection and division. This tension underscores labour in transit. Far from the myth of a borderless world, globalization is characterized by a proliferation of borders. Not limited to marking the edge of territory, borders have moved 'into the middle of political space' (Balibar). They supply an analytical rubric through which to investigate the modulations of labour and capital across different geographical scales, affective registers and institutional settings.
Platforms organize. They bring bodies and brains into relation. While they require highly distributed formats of digital communication and translation, platforms must connect with off-line worlds. Platforms bring a strategic logic to network cultures that otherwise tend toward tactical short-termism. Practices of collaborative constitution hold a generative capacity that invent new institutional forms. When multiplied across time and space, platforms connect seemingly disparate events along circuits of experience and experimentation. The work of platforms at once tests and produces concepts. Platforms address contingency and movements as constitutive methods of analysis and organization.
Logistical methods of organization apply to contemporary production and patterns of mobility. The global logistics industry is key to understanding emerging configurations of the social as well as their implied technologies and labour regimes. The primary task of logistics is to manage the movement of people and things in the interests of communication, transport and economic efficiencies. Central to logistics is the question and scope of governance – both of labouring subjects and the treatment of objects or things. When connected to the multiplication of borders, the informatization of subjectivity and the capitilization of culture, logistics holds broader implications around the governance of transnational worlds.
Organized networks are best understood as new institutional forms whose social-technical dynamics are immanent to the culture of networks. Orgnets are partly conditioned by the crisis and, in many instances, failure of primary institutions of modernity (unions, firms, universities, the state) to address contemporary social, political and economic problems in a post-broadcast era of digital culture and society. They are characterized by practices of openness, sharing and project-based forms of activity. Networks become organized as a response to the challenges of governance and sustainability experienced in online environments prone to weak social ties and ephemeral relations between participants.