richard barbrook on 28 Feb 2001 23:56:49 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> In Defence of Cultural Studies


I've been amused that all the recent contributions seem to assume that Marx
was opposed social democracy. Wrong!  Marx was (literally) the founding
father of this movement. One daughter helped to set up the British Labour
party, another was involved in the precursor of the French Socialist party
and his closest comrades created the German Social Democratic party. In the
introduction to volume 1 of 'Das Kapital', Marx explains that his critique
of political economy is inspired by the introduction of the Factory Acts,
i.e. the reform of capitalism in the interests of the proletariat. Not
surprisingly, until the 1917 Russian revolution - and even up to the
outbreak of the Cold War, Marxism was widely recognised as *the* theory of
the mass parliamentary socialist parties. Now the evil empire has
collapsed, there is no longer any reason to pretend otherwise.

Yet, I guess that we should expect that Leninists and Autonomists will
carry on ignoring the politics of their theoretical guru. But what is
really funny is when a self-proclaimed 'card carrying social democrat'
appears to be completely unaware of the history of his own movement!
Certainly, Marx's work can't provide us with the answers to everything.
However, our founding father did work very hard to create a theoretical
tool-box for the analysis of really-existing capitalism, especially in its
liberal variants. As a card carrying social democrat myself, it seems
perverse not to build upon Marx's legacy. Compared to the tedious tomes of
the 'Third Way' gurus, his writings are still a much better starting-point
for the analysis of the dynamics of really-existing capitalism. Marx might
not have owned a TV set or had a Net connection, but he did live in the
most advanced industrial society of his time. And his jokes are much
funnier too!



Dr. Richard Barbrook
Hypermedia Research Centre
School of Communications and Creative Industries
University of Westminster
Watford Road
Northwick Park


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