[iDC] Michael Jackson and the death of macrofame

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at sbg.ac.at
Mon Jul 6 19:52:39 UTC 2009

Dean, Jodi schrieb:
> Didn't Kevin Kelly talk about the winner take all society? or the change in market practices such that there are a very few big winners and a large number of 
> losers (80/20 rule?)? I think I recall as well sociological analyses (Sassen?) exploring the way that former divisions between occupations/professions are now
> divisions within them--so, there are high-powered lawyers and then lawyers who are basically piece-workers as well as those who are just mini-cogs in law
> factories. The same holds in academia--tenured full professors at one end, adjuncts struggling to teach 6-7 courses in order to make a living at the other end.

I think you are right, Jodi, in saying what I would formulate as the
class structure becoming more complex, antagonistic, and internally
divided. Another example are those migrant workers who are extremly
exploited and underpaid (Marx's notion of extra surplus value could be
employed here) and whose racist exploitation is partly ideologically
supported by workers (for example in Austria, the shameful
post-Nazi-country I come from, the two right-wing extremist parties BZOE
and FPOE (both formerly headed by Haider) are the number 1 working class
parties, which shows that today many workers have fascist
consciousness). So those workers are exploited by capital, but at the
same time support the super-exploitation of migrants because they hope
they will be better off materially at the expense of migrants. So you
could say that here we have a super-exploitative class relation with
capitalists and racist workers (and other racists) as the exploiting
class and poor migrant workers (the few well-off migrant workers not
included) as the exploited class. The same with houseworkers, etc. What
I want to say is the contemporary capitalist class structure is a space
of overlapping class divisions. But you can still argue that all
exploited groups together form a super-subject-in-itself (not
for-itself) that could still be termed proletariat or super-proletariat. 
In my opinion class is the most important category for analyzing 
contemporary society.

> Does it make sense today to speak of right-wing or bourgeois consciousness? What about ideology and ideological practices in which we all persist (I know, but
> nevertheles...ala Zizek rather than the older notion that implies a division between ideology and science or true and false consciousness)? 
Why should it not make sense to speak of right-wing consciousness, false
consciousness, bourgeois consciousness today? True, left-wing
consciousness, proletarian consciousness, etc is today a minority
consciousness. But only thinkers of the likes of Ulrich Beck or Giddens
infer in an ideological move that this means that we are witnessing the
end of class and the end of class consciousness. The capitalist class is
very conscious of its status and very afraid of loosing this status and
therefore defends its interests by all means necessary (supported mainly
by the monopoly of violence of the state that is an today an
economically very active state, the state of capital), as the new
economic crisis shows very clearly. I do not see why we should have
moved "beyond left and right" - we have only done so because the right
has used its power to destroy the left, which included the ideological
myth that there is no longer a difference between left and right. This
difference is so clear today, you can watch it on the street by
observing poverty, precariousness, unemployment, etc.

Max Horkheimer once wrote in this context: " “It is possible for the
consciousness of every social stratum today to be limited and corrupted
by ideology, however much, for its circumstances, it may be bent on
truth. For all its insight into the individual steps in social change
and for all the agreement of its elements with the most advanced
traditional theories, the critical theory has no specific influence on
its side, except concern for the abolition of social injustice”. In
order to argue that counsciousness is right-wing, bourgeois, etc, we do
not need the existence of mass true consciousness, although such
conditions are advantageous. One can respond that Horkheimer and Adorno
advanced an elitist theory, but what else than elitist should critical
theory be in an elitist class theory (that culture or theory or whatever
else can be democratic within capitalism in my opinion is an ideological
myth advanced by cultural studies that thereby becomes uncritical
theory). Even if all people have false consciousness and no political
left is left, a critical theory is still possible and important and does
not need a conscious revolutionary mass for the argument that the
masses' consciousness is false or right-wing. Think of Nazi-Germany as
an example.

Cheers, Christian

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