Wolfgang Sützl on Tue, 14 May 2013 20:13:50 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Jaron lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class

The middle class is of course a construct. It seems to me what is happening in the disappearance of that class is that we simply can no longer pretend it has an existence beyond a political will to work with this construct. And did the idea of the middle class not result from a desire to make a system of economic exchange--never pure, always "haunted" by symbolic exchange, as Baudrillard reminds us, by the sovereign word--politically legitimate by stating that most of us, i.e.the "middle" class, are actually protected from the inevitable cruelty of such a system? That this cruelty does not concern us? That it is truly only the very poor and the very rich who are affected by the negation of social time generated by economic exchange, that is is they who live on borrowed time, either worrying about how to buy the next meal, or about how not to lose their riches and stay out of prison?

In my view, the reason that this fiction is crumbling, and with it the power of all those politicians who present themselves as advocates of the middle class (cf. the rise of the right in EU and the US, return to socialism in South America)  does indeed have to do with digital technology because of its inherent difficulty of representing scarcity. And without scarcity, we may not need a global system economic exchange, and no sovereign intervening in it because you share, and that is something completely different. Perhaps we understand more about the disappearance of the middle class if we look at the economy from a point of view of excess and abundance. Bataille's idea that the most fundamental problem of humankind is not necessity, but luxury, may provide an entry point to this kind of discussion. 



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