[iDC] Class and the Internet, New Capitalism, and (True New) Socialism for the 21st Century

Saul Ostrow sostrow at cia.edu
Sun Jun 21 21:36:49 UTC 2009

Wealth and power though often going hand in hand are not the same thing- The for instance the alliance of working and middle classes held great power in the post -World War two period - it was this allieance that conservativism and now the neo cons continue to work to dismantle - the last line of resists of the middle classes now seems to be neo-liberalism - consequently the popularity of Obama and Clinton before. Consequently,  I am as less concerned in the moment with the appropriation of wealth as I am with that of social  and cultural capital since the 50s  - as you well know the struggle over the modeling of everyday life has been a crucial one - one that the left has significantly lost -since it began to confuse its sustained cultural offensive with that of a political one - if one reads Daniel Bell's books from the 60s (the end of Ideology, the Cultural Contradictions of Capital) one is well aware that the neo-con strategy was to sever the link between cultural politics and social politics  - a significant part of this disconnect had to do the re-alignment of class terms - in relation to social position as opposed to economic/ production relations - consequently the wage laborer could be middle class - a position once identified with the petite bourgeois (managerial class of the self employed, intellectuals, and small scale producers) - what seems to be the significant difference in terms our of our present situation is that in the global economy the contradiction between national and international capital has resolved itself in corporate capital which is more interested in realizing its profits in the management of the market having divested itself inn the main of its role in production (this began with the post war practice of sub-contracting - and now out sourcing and therefore  entering into a period in which capital produced capital rather than products.)  It is this latter state that allowed corporations and their political representatives to declare on the middle classes, first by relinquishing  to them the cultural sphere (the personal is political, identity politics, and virtual communities of alike opinions) and then economically threatening their privilege consequently weakening their link to the working classes. It is in this context that I am interested in the internet(and technology AS THEY RELATE TO PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION OF SOCIAL POWER,) the re-visioning of socialism and the potential for Fascism (cartel economics, and the managerial state)

On 6/21/09 4:47 PM, "Christian Fuchs" <christian.fuchs at sbg.ac.at> wrote:

dear saul,

for me appropriation is one element of class: 1. a relation is
established in which one group or more groups are forced to produce in
order to survive and wealth is generated through this production, 2.
conditions are created that secure a privileged access to resources for
certain groups and exclude others from this access, 3. appropriation:
the produced goods are appropriated by the privileged group that
controls the privileged access to resources and expropriates the
producers of these resources. all three elements can be found in marx's
notions of class and surplus value and exploitation requires all three

class is also an international phenomenon, especially concerning the
overexploitation of labour in developing countries. i agree with you
that concerning the global "digital divide" and the "digital divide" in
general, it would be a mistake to reduce this issue to class. class is
one dimension of inequality besides several others of this divide. of
course you can discuss which weight each of these elements carries. the
digital divide is mainly in issue of exclusion, not exploitation, that
is indirectly structured by issues of class. so we cannot explain all
problems with the concept of class, but my claim is that all problems of
contemporary society have an aspect of class, which makes it a very
important mechanism, but class relations are not all-determining
structuring structures, only important elements within a complex field
of forces of inequality of capitalism that all interact.

one should also not overvalue internet usage and other "information
society" issues. this is one aspect of many of global society, and as
you say most people are excluded from it or it is not important for
them. we do not live in an "information society", informatization is
just one of many levels of global capitalism. class is an issue that not
only concerns the internet, it is a much larger issue. there is no
outside to capital today, capital is everywhere. so there are numerous
producation processes in developing countries that are directly and
indirectly exploited by capital. indirectly the commons of these people
are exploited in numerous ways.

best, christian

Saul Ostrow schrieb:
> Christian
> I need two points of clarification from you - so as to continue this
> exchange - seemingly you make no differentiation between exploitation
> and appropriation can you explain to me how this advances your notion
> of class
> And secondly can you give me your view on class as an international
> phenomena in the context that only 12-15 percent of the world is wired
> - I ask this only because it is my understanding that the the
> condition of the middle classes should never be taken as norm and that
> wage labor is the norm for the majority of the worlds peoples and as
> you must know from classic Marxist theroies of class - the super
> profits taken from imperialist exploitation are used to bribe the
> middle classes


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