McKenzie Wark on 25 Feb 2001 05:55:07 -0000

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Re: <nettime> In Defence of Cultural Studies

I agree with Richard Barbrook that Birmingham-style
cultural studies lost something in its move away from
'economism'. Mind you, there has already been a partial
reaction to this in the form of cultural policy studies,
which does address institutional issues. But on the whole,
cultural studies has not been well equipped to deal with
the rise of new media technologies and the issue of
class and property that flow from the commodification
of digital information.

But I don't think the answer is (yet another) return to Marx.
The political economy aproach is equally unable to deal
with the vectoral form of media in its own terms. It is
always reduced to an epiphenomenon of an economic

In any case, one has to wake up to the fact that the cold war
is over, and the Marxist side lost. Whatever nuggets of
wisdom may still be there to be gleaned from Marx, the
project as a whole was a failure of monsterous proportions.

If one wants to understand the economy, one has to use all
of the theoretical tools available. Not just Marx but Keynes,
Marshall, and on into the late 20th century. Social democracy
has to get over its romantic nostalgia for failed revolutions.
And no matter how 'theoretically sophisticated' Debord may
be, its pretty sterile as an approach to political action. People
want results.


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