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The Laws of CoolKnowledge Work and the Culture of Information$
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Alan Liu

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226486987

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226487007.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 22 May 2022

The Tribe of Cool

The Tribe of Cool

(p.289) Chapter 9 The Tribe of Cool
The Laws of Cool

Alan Liu

University of Chicago Press

In his 1974 book Society against the State, the French anthropologist Pierre Clastres argues that there are societies without politics. Most Indian tribes of the Americas, Clastres says, “are headed by leaders and chiefs,” but “none of these caciques possesses any power.” The tribe of the cubicle, like the tribe of the forest, inhabits a sociality of mandatory disempowerment. The laws of this sociality—the post-industrial sociality of “neocorporatism” and informationalism—can be summarized as follows: the law of “nature,” the law of mobility, the law of modularity, the law of random access, the law of exchange, and the law of cool. These, or something very like these, are the laws of cool. These are the laws of knowledge work that now make it mandatory to be cool or at least—trained by cool consumer cultures that are really a lifelong, parallel education system teaching us how to live under the dominion of producer culture (the “corporate culture” of the new workplace)—to aspire to be cool.

Keywords:   Society against the State, Pierre Clastres, societies, politics, Indian tribes, cool, sociality, knowledge work, laws, producer culture

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