25 September 2009

Video killed the socialist movement?

The Marxist critique of capitalism would not have been able to spread, it seems, had industrial capitalism already annexed the sphere of symbolic goods. Marx profited from the backwardness of cultural circuits in relation to those of market production. A hundred years later, he would have missed his chance. All things being equal on other fronts, within the logic of image and markets (literary talkshows, weekly top-tens), Das Kapital would have remained what it was when it first appeared: a scholarly extravagance for book-lovers, not the source of a mass political current.

Old-school Guevarist Régis Debray argues that the shift from print culture to audiovisual culture has pretty much wrecked the way in which socialist memes used to grow and be reproduced. He seems pessimistic about whether socialism has a future in digital-Internet culture, for that reason. Your thoughts?


  1. Without the internet I probably wouldn't have come to the conclusions I have about the nature of reality. If we're talking about consumer culture in isolation, socialism can't and has never lived there. I wouldn't say the internet has damned socialism. But your iPod isn't gonna buy you your liberation.

    "it's a bourgeois shangri-la"

  2. for some reason, the link isn't working for me. i don't think it's audiovisual culture per se although the modes of distribution may create problems.

    would marx have written das kapital using the same kind of language had he written it one hundred years later? i mean, if we're going to start creating hypothetical situations...