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

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at sbg.ac.at
Thu Jun 25 01:20:25 UTC 2009

Brian brought up an interesting question:

> Is it possible to conceive a class as Marx did, 
> without a notion of a potential class consciousness?
> 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?

I think you can conceive class in subjective terms based on class
consciousness and in objective terms based on the position in the
relations of production. In Hegelian Marxism, this distinction is based
in the distinction between being-in-itself, being-for-itself,
being-in-and-for-itself. Marx distinguished between class-in-itself and

For me, the fundamental aspect is the class-in-itself that exists even
if there is no class consciousness. The important political question is
how a class-in-itself becomes a class-in-and-for-itself. People like
Ulrich Beck have a purely subjective, idealistic notion of class, which
allows them to argue that a lack of class consciousness means that we
live in a post-class-age, a risk society that is not a class society,
etc. I think class is more important than ever, becaue the objective
class differences are so huge. My analysis is that objectively
(concerning the means of production) we are as close to communism as
never before, the means of production have a highly socialized and
co-operative character - the Internet is characteristic of it -, but
subjectively (concening class consciousness and ideology) we are so far
from communism as never before. This is a highly paradox situation. The
question therefore is how a class-in-itself can become a
class-in-and-for-itself. This can only be the result of a politcal
process, and there is no automatic transition to this state, it can only
be self-organized by human subjects. It is a question of political
strategy and of class struggle, to which there are no pre-given or
pre-defined answers. So the question boils down to: What are the
perspectives for class struggles today? And in respect to media: Which
role can ICTs besides their dominative character have constructively in
class struggles?

It is hard to generalize asusmptions about the class consciousness of
Internet users from theory - here empirical research is also needed in
order to identify potentials. For me it is rather hard to see and
identify radical class consciousness on the Internet, so I think these
are more objective potentials than subjective ones, which is to say that
there are more co-operative potentials in technology than critical
consciousness on the Internet. There are huge potentials for human
development, but they are not-yet realized, today they remain largely
unrealized. Many question are opening up here that cannot be answered

Best, Christian

> best, Brian
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- - -
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Christian Fuchs
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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