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<nettime> New Media and its Discontents
monica ross on Thu, 9 Oct 2003 20:51:05 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> New Media and its Discontents


Benjamin Greer wrote:
<It seems strange to characterise the American revolution as an effort to
eliminate the privileges of elites, since it was conducted by the
wealthiest men in the colonies.>

the " founding fathers" who replicated a system where power is invested in
the land owning class...

<In France, I think it's safe to say that high intellectual standards are
widely considered to be a key element of *republican* (i.e. democratic)
principles, and are strongly associated with the Englightenment
intellectuals who are seen as having inspired the 1789 revolution.>

intellectualism has had a dangerous reputation in the UK since Chartism,
John Stuart Mill, the Workers Educational Association etc since along with
" theory " or " political" there is a tendency to use the term as a synonym
for a left wing or radical, anti-status quo, position. Svetlana's mail
points out that this tendency is alive and well (Wed, 08 Oct 2003):

<So the discussion of "intellectuals" "is" about "left wing
intellectuals", or am I missing something?
So the right wing persons "are not" "intellectuals", or am I missing
something?">

 " intellectualism" was used in the uk as a demeaning criticism of Labour
Prime Minister, Michael Foot to position him (and socialism) as an " out of
date" thinker, and as a way to dismiss the activist thinker, cabinet
minister and mp Tony Benn. neither of whom could be said to have an
alienated relationship to the constituencies and causes they have
represented.
Eric Hobsbawns's History of the Twentieth Century gives a detailed analysis
of the development of free education across europe in the postwar period
and the role this played in the events of 1968. These briefly demonstrated
the potentials , as did the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, the
Soldarity movement in Poland and others,for the disruption of a status quo
by interaction across the divided knowledge economies of manual workers and
intellectuals - or professionals, the shifting of terms back toward an
economic analysis of the relations of power and knowledge suggested by
Svetlana.
The role of technological developments in communication and their
centrality to the formation and access to  knowledge is what " new media"
is heir to. As Lev Manovich has described " New Media" belongs within this
critical and technological continuum. Most of the commentary and analysis
of " new media" from the 1920's onwards addresses the seviceability of new
mass medias, and the dynamics of  popularisation, to Fascist ideologies.
This dynamic is not out of date. So it seems a dangerous moment to be
attacking intellectuals/ left wing/ radicals/ who are attempting to keep
the value of critical knowledges active in the contemporary frame.
mr

monica ross
http://www.justfornow.net
07970 450514
Monica.Ross {AT} ncl.ac.uk

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