A Hacker Manifesto is the Big Picture of not only where we are in the “information age,” but where we’re going as well. Adopting the epigrammic style of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, as well as updating its ideas, Ken Wark establishes so-called “knowledge workers” as an unrecognized social class: “the hacker class.” Wark also updates Marx and Engels, Deleuze and Guattari, Nietzsche, and a host of others:
There can be no one book, no one thinker for these times. What is called for is a practice of combining heterogeneous modes of perception, thought and feeling, different styles of researching and writing, different kinds of connection to different readers, proliferation of information across different media, all practiced within a gift economy, expressing and elaborating differences, rather than broadcasting a dogma, a slogan, a critique or a line.
Wark also eloborates on what he has called “the vectoral class.” That is, the owners of the vectors that control the flow of information. They need and use the hacker class to turn information into commodity through ownership and scarcity. Derrida argued against the “informatization of language, which transforms language and culture from a safe preserve into a resource that can be exploited for extrinsic purposes.” Control of this resource is where the tension between the hacker class and the vectoral class plays out.
Far from just being the story of “us versus them” class struggles, Ken Wark’s book is far more complex: It tackles many issues, historical, emergent, and emerging. Opening up new discursive spaces where none existed before, A Hacker Manifesto might well turn out to be one of the most important books of the new century.
I marshal the middle between Mathers and McLuhan.
Editor of Boogie Down Predictions (Strange Attractor, 2022), author of Escape Philosophy (punctum, 2022) and Dead Precedents (Repeater, 2019).