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

Brian Holmes brian.holmes at aliceadsl.fr
Sun Jun 21 22:19:29 UTC 2009

Hello Christian -

Thanks for your ideas. It is certain that audiences are now 
commodified by the many forms of corporate surveillance 
designed to provide information about their behavior and 
potential to buy things. The reason this can be said with 
certainty is that data-aggregating corporations such as 
ChoicePoint and Acxiom do, in fact, make a major business of 
selling such information, thereby turning the use values of 
the watching, listening and surfing audience into a 
commodity that can be priced and sold. In this respect, 
indeed, people are commodified, they are reified or 
"thingified," somewhat as labor is commodified when it is 
sold to a capitalist. So there are some grounds for 
extending the Marxist notion of class to audiences. But I 
have a question, for which you probably have an interesting 
answer. Is it possible to conceive a class as Marx did, 
without a notion of a potential class consciousness?

It seems to me that in Marx's way of thinking, the 
productivity of the working class was the key element that 
would allow this class to understand itself not just in 
itself, as a kind of naturally existing category of the 
human species, but instead for itself, as an active force. 
And it is also true that the worker, him- or herself, is the 
one who sells labor power to the capitalist. Is it important 
in your theory to understand the audience as, at least 
potentially, a class with a consciousness, a class for 
itself? If so, how would you -- or do you -- see such 
consciousness developing and expressing itself?

best, Brian

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