The topos of the Intellectual in American mass media - German-accented psychoanalyst and professor interviewed on television. It's especially amusing to hear Erich Fromm in 1958 explaining as already rather obvious the practises Hardt and Negri describe as "immaterial labour" as if they were producing some remarkable "insight" into an unfamiliar phenomenon. But the differences in language, perspective and focus of concerns between contemporary versions of this point (a pretext for the production of clouds of empty jargon and displays of reification-juggling) and Fromm's-on-TV (deploying a rhetoric rooted in the concrete and comradely concern) are fascinating:
Mike Wallace: What do you mean by "the marketing orientation", Dr. Fromm?
Fromm: I mean by that our main way of relating ourselves to others is like things relate themselves to things on the market. We want to exchange our own personality, or as one says sometimes our personality package, for something. Now this is not so true for the manual worker. The manual worker does not have to sell his personality. He doesn't have to sell his smile. But what you might call the symbol-pushers, that is to say all the people who deal with figures, with paper, with men, who manipulate, to use a fitter, or nicer word, manupulate men and signs and words, all those today, have not only to sell their service but in the bargain they have to sell their personality. More or less, there are exceptions.
Wallace: So the sense of his own value must depend upon what the market in a sense is willing to pay for it.
Fromm: Exactly. Just as a handbag which cannot be sold because there is not enough demand is economically speaking useless, and if the handbag could think, it would have a terrific inferiority feeling, because not having been bought it would feel useless, so does a man who considers himself as a thing, and if he's not successful to sell himself he feels he is a failure.