Monday, June 1, 2009
In Marxian economics, the sole source of profit in capitalist production is the exploitation of workers - taking the surplus value of their unpaid surplus labor. Exploitation exists because of the unequal distribution of property in society. A small minority in society, the capitalists, are in possession of the majority of capital, hence the means of production (the subjects of labor, such as raw materials; and instruments of labor, such as tools and machines). The non-property-owners (the workers, proletarians) cannot survive without selling their labor-power to the capitalists (in other words, without being employed as wage laborers).
In the world of architecture, what do you need as means of production to start your own office? Very few basic instruments: a computer, some model-making tools, maybe a printer - that's it. You can probably just do it from home. But the subjects of labor is the key. You need projects to work on. But it seems right now the majority of good projects are in the hands of a minority of starchitects. It's not wealth that determines who gets the project (some interns may come from a much more loaded family than the bosses). It's fame that draws in the projects. The non-famous cannot survive without selling their labor-power to the stars. That's why the low employees have to follow the game and endure exploitation.
Fame represents the non-monetary side of power. It's the practice of control and a monopolization of decision-making. The saddest fact is, power increases with the exploitation of the workers. Just as exploitation maximizes profit in capitalism, the hard work of the lower majority expedite the growth of fame of the few in the architectural practice of fameism.