Brian Holmes on Thu, 30 May 2013 04:49:15 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> Driverless cars, pilotless planes -- will there be jobs left fo...

On 05/27/2013 07:19 AM, wrote:

> Sorry if I missed this in your earlier writing!  What you are promoting
> is *not* the "working class" (production) or the "managerial class"
> (neoliberals) but rather the "intellectual class" -- your CLASS . . . !!

Mark, you got it! That's exactly the point!

> Why do you think that this "class" or, if you will, those who fancy
> themselves to be the "post-modern priests" (as reflected by much of the
> conversation on this list over the past 15+ years) could possibly help
> provide "social order"?
> Aren't they also deeply confused?  Don't they largely find themselves
> absorbed in repetitious discussions where the fundamental issues of
> culture and civilization are deliberately avoided?

Well, the first thing to say is that "they" are "us," Mark. And so instead of taking the comfortable, distanced position of the cultural critic who objectifies the so-called useless fools of the pseudo-intellectual middle classes, I always try to open a discussion among "us" - and if possible, beyond "us" - about the problems with contemporary society and what we could do about them.

Interestingly, this is an ethos which arose to much greater prominence along with the massification of the Internet. It already informed the second generation of autonomous Marxism in the 1990s, which addressed itself to "knowledge workers," which was a new way of talking about organic intellectuals. I was also very intrigued to find out that this focus on the so-called "professional-managerial classes" was one (but only one, mind you) of the most important results of the 1968 cycle of struggles in the United States:

While traveling in Spain, I was glad to realize that this attitude has been adopted massively by the Indignado (or more precisely, 15-M) generation, which is a political generation, ie a consciousness and not an age-bracket. Economic conditions have forced a large percentage of the Spanish middle and lower-middle (or precarious) classes to realize that they are both the agents and the targets of the same kinds of violence and abuse that have long been directed at the poor and excluded sectors of society. They - but also we, because this was the case for much of the Occupy movement in the US - have realized that we have to change our own positions and functions within society, because we are helping to produce its abusive and deadly outcomes. We do this, for example, by believing in the two-party system, by accepting to participate in financial credit speculation, by teaching people spurious neoliberal ideologies of competition and predation, etc. There is finally a broad trend to refuse these things. Just saying that people are confused is too easy, or maybe too arrogant. Despite their justified fears, many people are thinking right now.

For those interested in Spain, check this out:

> Current technology trends are pointing towards 50% unemployment in the
> developed economies.  Meanwhile, you seem to be worried about your own
> "job."  Somehow, while understandable, that doesn't seem like a very
> useful approach to the crisis faced by a *billion* other people -- most
> of whom have no interest in being "educated" by "ideological artists"!

Everyone who doesn't have a job or some kind of income is worried by that, Mark. The difference with me - and a few million other peers - is that we have been advocating the same things publicly for the past fifteen years or more. I am not particularly threatened by unemployment right now but I do think it's useful to worry about your own situation when you finally realize that you are in the same boat with so many others. As for the "ideology" part: the point is that everyone who uses a keyboard produces and relays ideology, artists, designers, advertising consultants such as yourself, university-educated intellectuals such as both of us, computer programmers, engineers, etc. Neoliberalism is an operational ideology: it helps us articulate, perform and tolerate what we actually do. So when we realize we are actually hurting ourselves by saying and doing those things, maybe we begin to change them. Again, self-interest is OK, and even better if it helps you understand the plight of others.

One more thing. You claim that fundamental issues are avoided, but most of the people who have written back in this thread say the current unemployment problem is not produced by any technological destiny. It is produced by the way technology is developed in an abusive capitalist society. That's a fundamental issue, it's called technopolitics. I'd like to see larger and larger numbers of people - organic intellectuals of all kinds - get on board and say, I am going to start producing another kind of society. And then do it with their actions. That's the kind of education that interests me, not just by artists, not just by literati, by everyone who wants to stop reproducing this form of society.

Anyway, nice conversation as usual, and best to all,


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info:
#  archive: contact: