22 November 2007

A rephrasing of the political part of the model

In the modern era, in the countries rich in capital and information, the biggest and most effective weapon in the armoury of social reaction is persuading the oppressed to culturally identify with their oppressors, and to experience other oppressed groups as culturally alien, incomprehensible and threatening. This is most effectively done through mass media which encourages the masses to experience the world around them from the point of view of the ruling classes - or, more precisely, from the point of view of the cultural-professional middle classes who work for the ruling classes (analagous to how the priest in the middle ages worked in the interests of the local lord, while of course having their own identity and interests).

This ideological effect is strongest among white-collar (communication/linguistic) workers, who generally come from a social and educational background very similar to those of the media priesthood. Case in point: the press releases from the striking writers in the United States emphasise that the writers are "middle class", that is, they are pledging allegiance to mainstream America - as communication workers, they know that that's necessary to win support from those who see the world entirely through the prism of the TV screen.

When media commentators talk about the underclass, they are not necessarily talking about an objective economic differentiation (since in many cases the physical-labour workers are better off financially than those in call centres and the like). They are talking about the gap between those fluent in the language, verbal and symbolic, of the oppressor classes, and those who aren't. The camera doesn't go into the homes of those workers who don't speak the dominant verbal or symbolic language because their experiences need to be interpreted for them to make sense to our rulers. So they are kind of left to fend for themselves, like Orwell's proles, except when they riot more than the police are prepared for.

The aim is twofold: (a) to build unity between the workers in language and information, and the workers in physical production and services; (b) to learn the skills of the media priesthood to create our own "worker's symbolic universe" or "proletarian noosphere", independent from bourgeois culture (but not rejecting it - instead, building something better on its foundation). A united and successful workers movement often causes splits in the media priesthood which encourages some defections, but that's a bit of a hard road to success for anywhere outside France or Venezuela right now.


  1. Interesting approach. It goes along with our times.

  2. Glad you appreciate. It's of course only by going through our times that we get to transcend them, although I hope my approach is not a temporary fashion that will look pretty stupid in ten years, like The Matrix meme. The enemy is nostalgia.

  3. You know, while your approach was still fresh in my mind, I came across with something else in the web, in an abstract of a publication of someone called Sally J. Goerner. Somehow I think there is a connection here though there is a difference in perspective. I will visit again to see what you think.