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

Sean Cubitt scubitt at unimelb.edu.au
Thu Jun 25 03:52:50 UTC 2009

I read some stat in the dim past to the effect that 90% (or some equally
compelling number) of US citizens identify themselves aa middle class.

This wd suggest that class consciousness has also been colonised as a
hegemonic regime.

On the other hand, more explicitly class-conscious models can be divisive.
Debate raged in Socialist Worker circles in the 1980s (following the
establishment of the Party, as opposed to the looser group that existed
before) as to whether teachers and civil servants were working-class. Those
coming in from the 'workerist' perspective saw them as culturally different.
Those form the class-analysis perspective (Christian's 'objective') saw them
as lacking control over their means of production. Two interpretations: a)
keeping class solidarity (cultural, 'subjective') maintains the coherence of
a revolutionary / radical program b) excluding potential allies who share
the same objective conditions weakens the same program numerically.

In the case of internet, what exactly are the means of production? In the
case of computers, 'control' need not imply ownership. In the case of
networks, ditto (regarding distinctions between bandwidth providers, ISPs,
regulatory bodies etc). Here ownership is always elsewhere (as in the
protected zone sof  proprietary software), and control meticulously
displaced. Ergo there is an objective class structure.

The production of a class consciousness is precluded by the atomisation and
individuation of terminals. The language issue also raises itse;f: and
suggests that classic class analysis is premised on something very like a
national base, with solidarity at inter-national level- unlike our current
translocal condition. Ergo the networkers of the world constitute a class
without a consciousness.

 (Against my own argument: perhaps in a knowledge economy we also shd
include knowledge as means of production. The objective analysis becomes
difficult, and opens up on the perspective of 'general intellect' as an
organising principle in addition to traditional class analysis)

I really shd be marking . . .


On 25/06/09 11:20 AM, "Christian Fuchs" <christian.fuchs at sbg.ac.at> wrote:

> 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
> class-for-itself.
> 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
> easily...
> Best, Christian
>> best, Brian
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