Draft review notes #2

Author: joe

Wednesday, 02 September, 2009 - 21:45

[Some contextual notes for my PhD, regarding the status of participatory media in academia and industry]

So much for the pressure to conserve industry interests: capital ensures 'quality' and disseminates self-perpetuating ideological discourses, while the vernacular and the demotic voices are marginalised and reminded of their powerlessness. It isn't novel to diagnose the manipulative and ideological nature of the propaganda mechanisms which capital-oriented discourses mobilise, nor to articulate the ugly underlying fact that the economic capital base underlies and mutually reinforces the ideological superstructure of the persuasive agenda. Much of the substance of those liberal-arts-based media studies degrees which are chastised by the industry for being frivolous and out of touch (because they aren't authentically in touch with industry 'practice'), or misleading and duplicitous (because they hypocritically sell themselves as routes into industry), are often built around reworkings of these Chomskian or Marxist critiques of society, industry, and government.

Even so, Lenin's tantalising question 'what is to be done' is seldom asked in any kind of forceful way since the money follows political neutrality and technocracy. Discourses of academic detachment and objectivity are put in the service of the advancement of natural sciences or technological innovation, which not only have the convenient habit of disclaiming political interest or historical contingency, but of knowing full well that committing to an overtly apolitical or compliant agenda will both attract and perpetuate future funding.

It has always seemed to me that the grand tasks of 'fighting the superstructure' or 'fighting the base' are far too nebulous and mountainous tasks for the individual to countenance - I absolutely identify with Ulrich Beck's description of modern life as tragic in the sense that the world seems to be too big for any one of us to change it. How might one become a revolutionary? What could that possibly mean at a time when I barely have time to charge my laptop let alone charge my political consciousness? It is one thing to make the argument when the opportunity arises: it is another to be a revolutionary.

That question that so dogs Marxists: why does the common man and woman not rise up and take back what has been confiscated from them? Perhaps the thought that they must, later on today, go home and cook dinner; or that the freedom one has to buy contentment in the form of a iPhone or a hairdo might not be wholly delusional after all; perhaps the simple graspable facts of living are more immediate and more real than the abstract ideals to which revolutionaries must sacrifice their lives. What are these poor addled consumers to do?

Categories: Chomsky, Marx, media, politics, propaganda, ideology, academia, revolution, what-is-to-be-done,
Comments: 2


Common man does not rise up because he is rendered impotent an non-orgasmic by societal and religious dogma, doctrine, practice and enforced conformity.

The Eagle's wings are clipped, talons trimmed. Those that do manage to "take back" are either in prison or stinking rich.

Consumerism is cocaine of the masses combined with Religion the opiate of the masses and society is on a speedball to oblivion.

You cannot have revolution if the masses are too doped up to feel any pain.

What are the poor addled consumers to do? Answer: stop buying stuff. The system would crumble and fall. But would we be any better off? I guess that depends where you are in the pile right now - near the top or near the bottom.

Author: Rich Sent: 2009-09-04 11:12:44

I don't think I agree with you there Rich. I'm exhausted with arguments which revolve around how the common masses are duped and fooled and impotent and addled and doped and powerless. My next post addresses this issue: http://www.menticulture.com/archives/135.

I should point out that when I ask 'what are the poor addled consumers to do?' I'm really caricaturing the elitist Marxist attitude (as exemplified by the Frankfurt school, for instance). I actually don't believe in consumers - I think there is no such thing; or rather, perhaps, a 'consumer' is merely one adumbration amongst a potentially infinite plenitude of other adumbrations of an actual person's existence, and the critique of people as consumers is a diminution of their potential to change the world.

I prefered your comment on Facebook which I'll re-print here because I like it:

"Actually, only a single one of us can change our own worlds...and without that nothing else will change. Ripples spread. Dramatic / revolutionary change is rare. But change occurs constantly and therefore we all continually and constantly change not only our own worlds but also the world around us..."

Author: joe Sent: 2009-09-12 18:06:57

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