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Marxisms

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Jeff Copus

on 26 September 2013

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Transcript of Marxisms

Marxisms
Louis Althusser:
Ideological State Apparatuses
Antonio Gramsci:
Hegemony,
Intellectuals
and the State
Geert Lovink:
Treatise on
Comment Culture
“In fact,
interpretation
is a means in itself to become master of something.”
–Friedrich Nietzsche
"Where does information come from? There is only one source and that is the living human. I turn a message that I receive into information by
interpreting
it.
Interpretation
is the effort that needs to be expended to change a message, a chain of signals or pleas into information."
Joseph Weizenbaum
ideology
Why is comment culture important?
Internet
Web 1.0
Web 2.0
Social Media
Power Law

Talking Back to the Web
Most of us, pleasantly blinded by techno-optimism, believe that the sheer availability of open-reply functionalities will result in animated discussions and lead to a deeper, higher, and richer understanding of the topic. But writers, editors, and moderators play a vital role in establishing a culture of frequent commenting. (52)
The Good
The Bad
Users attempt to go as low as possible, often in the name of briefness. (52)
The Ugly
Comments are a software feature … ultimately related to revenue streams of the internet service providers. (52)
S(t)imulates traffic
http://onion.com/1feLJEk
http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/26/showbiz/music/miley-cyrus-mtv-vmas-gaga/
http://variety.com/2013/digital/news/why-the-onion-is-wrong-about-cnn-and-miley-cyrus-1200589821/
http://www.mediaite.com/online/cnn-editor-responds-to-the-onions-brutal-miley-cyrus-themed-take-down/
An Archaeology of Commentary
Texts vs. Comments
Texts = finished
Commentary = oral, informal, fast, and fluid
“Seen from the current chaotic situation, codifiers who pick and choose the best comments and then take these to the next level of the discourse … are creators of some distant future.” (56)
Beyond Taming the Commentators
"Comment Culture" as an ISA
“Its aim is an amoral form of participation, designed to with the intention of checking what citizens are up to and to what subjects they respond”. (57)
“Its textual flows are designed and built
by new authorities, the engineers,
not by teachers or priests.” (57)
Beyond the Comment
“Content is no longer judged in a vacuum but automatically read within the political, cultural, and media context in which it operates.” (57)
“it is the media system of texts, moving images, and lived media experiences that is
being stored and reproduced through re-use and re-mixing
.”(57)
Designing Mass Hermeneutics
“In every society the production of discourse is at once controlled, selected, organized and redistributed by certain number of procedures whose role is to ward off its powers and dangers, to gain mastery over its chance events, to evade its ponderous, formidable materiality.” (59)
Michel Foucault
Understanding/Fighting Power
Strauss… persecution writing “truth about all crucial things is presented exclusively between the lines.” (59)
“There is freedom of interpretation that builds on the ambiguity of meaning.” (59)
“It is no longer the majority that is silent but its supposed spiritual leaders and intellectual cadres that are incapable of speaking out when confronted with sudden changes in society.” (60)
“The danger of politicians, corporations, and taste police interfering on the internet with the aim of shutting down websites is all too real. Freedom is an absolute value and should not be negotiated on a case by case basis.” (62)
Early Work (1946—1960)
Relatively little critical attention paid to Althusser's writing prior to 1960
Works resemble Marxist Humanists and Stalinists of which he is later critical
Share contradictions and themes with his classic texts—early works introduce these recurring themes of Althusser
Hegemony
...defined by theorist Antonio Gramsci as the social, cultural, ideological or economic influence exerted by a dominant group.

'Domination' and 'intellectual and moral leadership'.

'Condition in process'

Balanced combination of force and consent

Force appears to be based on the consent of the majority—through organs of public opinions: media.

When moral/intellectual leadership isn't enough, in steps the RSAs.
Classic Work (1961—1966)
Majority of published and unpublished work during this period concerns itself with how to read Marx, the definition of Marxist philosophy, and how to understand and apply Marxian concepts.
Uses Marxism to examine issues in metaphysics, philosophy of science, historiography and political philosophy.
A "compromise equilibrium."
...on a 'universal' plane — through dominance of a fundamental social group over a series of subordinate groups.


Intellectuals
All men are intellectuals, but not all have the functions of intellectuals.

Formed primarily with the dominant social group.

Collective organic intellectuals = ISAs
THE STATE
"Government with the consent of the governed."

State as Educator

CONFLICT maintained through "negotiation"
Resistance and Incorporation
Popular Culture
Active consumption of texts and practices of cultural industries

"Bricolage" - to appropriate material for own purposes and meanings and take on "oppositional" meanings as resistance.

ex: "Fan Fiction" and "Occupy" imagery
Negotiated mix of above and below, commercial and authentic, and a balance between resistance and incorporation—
a
compromise equilibrium
.
Subordinate groups appear to support and subscribe to ideals, objectives, cultural and political meanings that bind them to the prevailing power structure.
Examples
You need examples? Really?
The "Occupy Wall Street" Movement

Popular opinion on Gay Marriage
CONFLICT
"Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" (1970)
Draws on ideas of Marx and Gramsci, but also Freud's psychoanalytical concepts and Lacan's mirror-phase
Establishes Althusser's concept of ideology and describes the structures and systems that enable the concept of the self
Ideology
is a representation of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence.
Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy—Mosaic (c. 526)
Emperor Justinian and Retinue at San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy—Mosaic (c. 546)
Function of Ideology
Ideology
interpellates individuals as subjects
State Apparatus (Repressive)
the Government
the Administration
the Army
the Police
the Courts
the Prisons
etc.
Ideological State Appartatuses
Religious institutions (system of different churches)
Educational (system of public and private schools)
Family
Legal
Political
Trade-Union
Communications (press, radio, tv, etc.)
Cultural (literature, arts, sports, etc.)

RSAs vs. ISAs?
Repressive
Ideological
"An ideology always exists in an apparatus, and its practice, or practices. This existence is material."
"No practice except by and in an ideology"
"No ideology except by the subject and for subjects"

Superstructural 'Levels'
Civil Society
'Private'

Maintained by dominant group
Political Society
'The State'

Exercises 'direct domination'
Intellectuals are dominant groups' "deputies."
1. The 'spontaneous' consent given by the great masses of the population to the general direction imposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group; this consent is 'historically' caused by the prestige (and consequent confidence) which the dominant group enjoys because of its position and function in the world of production.

2. The apparatus of state coercive power which 'legally' enforces discipline on those groups who do not 'consent' either actively or passively. This apparatus is, however, constituted for the whole of society in anticipation of moments of crisis of command and direction when spontaneous consent has failed.
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