[iDC] The New Socialism

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at sbg.ac.at
Sun Jun 21 12:00:15 UTC 2009

Dear all,

Thank you for your interesting comments on Kelly and Lessig, allow me to 
add a few aspects:

It is really ridiculous that Kevin Kelly puts in his timeline of 
socialism: 1848 Communist Manifesto (...) 1917 Russian Revolution (...) 
1959 Cuban Revolution 1998 Rise of socialism of the 21st century in 
Venezuela 2005 Amazon's Mechanical Turk (!) 2008 Facebook 2009 YouTube.

I agree with Jodi that Kelly is a neoliberal, as his books such as "New 
Rules for the New Economy" or "Out of Control" have shown. What he is 
interested in is not socialism, but a new form of neoliberalism or 
"socialism for the rich". He has got a wrong notion of socialism.

Lawrence Lessig - "At the core of socialism is coercion": Oh my god, he 
has also got it wrong about socialism, even more than Kelly.

Maybe Lessig and Kelly should start to read Marx once in their lifetime 
in order to find out what is really meant by socialism and that Marx had 
democratic socialism in mind. So Marx wrote for example that socialism 
means the "battle for democracy", Engels wrote that it is the 
"establishment of a democratic constitution", Marx described communism 
as being being based on the democratic principle "from each according to 
his ability, to each according to his needs!" - no coercion involved 
here. Similarly no coercion involved in Marx's notion of the 
all-rounded/well-rounded individual, which stands for pure freedom.

Lessig and Kelly could also simply start by reading Albert Einstein's 
essay "Why Socialism?", which has just been re-published in the latest 
issue of Monthly Review. Einstein argues that true socialism is not 
coercion, but a form of democracy. Einstein: "the real purpose of 
socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory 
phase of human development", " socialism is directed toward a 
social-ethical end", "Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a 
planned economy is not yet socialism".

In my opinion it is important to re-actualize Marx today by discussing 
what he had to say about media, Internet, knowledge, etc and to use the 
terms socialism and communism in their actual meaning in this respect. 
This was the task of my book "Internet and Society: Social Theory in the 
Information Age" (http://fuchs.icts.sbg.ac.at/i&s.html) and of other of 
my recent works (Some Theoretical Foundations of Critical Media Studies: 
Reflections on Karl Marx and the Media: 
http://ijoc.org/ojs/index.php/ijoc/article/view/336, paper in current 
issue of Rethinking Marxism: 
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g912316157 )

I think people should stop unbiased, uninformed views of Marx and 
socialism and start reading and discussing Marx before talking about him.

Best, Christian

- - -
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Christian Fuchs
Associate Professor
Unified Theory of Information Research Group
University of Salzburg
Sigmund Haffner Gasse 18
5020 Salzburg
christian.fuchs at sbg.ac.at
Phone +43 662 8044 4823
Editor of 
tripleC - Cognition, Communication, Co-Operation | Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society
Fuchs, Christian. 2008. Internet and Society: Social Theory in the Information Age. New York: Routledge. 

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