richard barbrook on 21 Feb 2001 02:28:09 -0000

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

Re: <nettime> In Defence of Cultural Studies


As someone who was educated by fans of the Birmingham School in the
late-1970s, my feelings about these pioneers of Cultural Studies are quite
ambivalent. At the time, it was very exciting to read people who didn't
just regurgitate the tired analyses of the Stalinist and Trotskyist sects.
Okay, they never matched the theoretical wonders of Guy Debord, but at
least they did talk about the new possibilities being opened up as England
was transformed by popular culture, social movements, immigration and
labour unrest. However, this enthusiasm to ditch the supposed "economism"
of the previous generation soon seemed like a big mistake after the defeat
of the Labour government in 1979. While we were happily ignoring the dismal
science, the Right had been revitalising its own morbid form of
"economism". So, when the Thatcher monster claimed that "there is no
alternative" to her neo-liberal economic policies, large chunks of the Left
intelligentsia were incapable of arguing against this absurd assertion
because they hadn't even read 'Das Kapital' - let alone thought about how
to remix its insights for the particular conditions of the 1980s. The later
collapse into post-modern nihilism and/or corporate cheer-leading was only
the culmination of this fatal error...



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


+44 (0)20 7911 5000 x 4590

"While there is irony, we are still living in the prehistoric age. And we
are not out of it yet..." - Henri Lefebvre

The HRC is involved in running regular cybersalons at the ICA in London. If
you would like to be informed about forthcoming events, you can subscribe
to a listserver on our website: <>.

#  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: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: