I was quite surprised the other week to see that the "Beller Meme" had somehow leapt the syntactic grid from Qlipoth to K-Punk abstractdynamics:
If, to use Jonathan Beller's phrase, "to look is to labour" - if, that is to say, attention is a commodity - then aren't we all "contributing", whether we like it or not?
is this true? The public's attention isn't fulfilling any useful function of itself for the advertiser. The advertiser wants the attention of the public only to achieve higher profits, by selling more or selling at a higher price. But that profit has to be realised from total social production, which is diminished by resources being allocated from production to advertising*. The advertiser's gain is the social product he's able to arrogate to himself. The advertising he commissions does not form part of this product, or anyone else's final product or make active means of production more productive. As a social phenomenon the advertiser makes a deduction from the total social product in order to privately appropriate a larger share, in absolute terms, of that product.
The use of advertising tends to diminish society's privately realised surplus product. Consequently, it tends to diminish the rate of profit on revenue. If Daffy Duck's image rights increase in value through advertising, this doesn't mean that society's total surplus product has increased. The point of advertising is the redistribution of the surplus product, not its creation. In any case, capital values in monopoly capitalism tend to be related to profit values by artificially low rates of discount**.
I don't expect anyone will be convinced by this, but really, looking at ads isn't labouring, and we aren't contributing by doing it.
*leaving aside the unlikely possibility of redistribution improving productivity beyond the deadweight advertising cost that engendered it. Index number problems come up with distribution changes, but one can hardly justify calling advertising productive on account of index number problems.
** i.e. lower than the technically determined rate of profit on the commodity value of active means of production.