The Internet And Capitalism's Anarchy Of Production

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Red Hughs
The Internet And Capitalism's Anarchy Of Production
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I have been thinking quite a bit about the Internet and its strange position in modern capitalist society.

Internet communication is becoming dominant as the medium for communication and distributing ideas. It is still felt to be weird, alienating and unpleasant by most it's users.

This is not surprising since the whole of Internet infrastructure has been built haphazardly.

I could compare the entire Internet to a vast city built completely randomly. If capital had the ability to build houses whose materials cost nothing, it would celebrate by firing all the architects and leave each person to build their own huge, horrid contraption.

But even that misses how computer communication is an entire new field of social relations and the economy has thrown us into it as quickly as possible with only the barest after-the-studies of the qualities of the psychology of email and web-forums.

The physical infrastructure of earlier societies was incrementally created following a slow interaction of history and convenience and was naturally an integral part of the "social fabric". Now, capitalist society has the power to upend this fabric and does it in the horrid way you would imagine.

But anyway, that's a stab at an outline of the general situation. We revolutionaries attempting to use the Internet are like everyone else reduced to the status of "users," making haphazard choices concerning haphazardly constructed technologies.

I have worked, off and on, as a computer programmer during this period of the rise of the Internet. One thing that stands out is that I believed that because I understood how to construct programs, I understood the implications of web technology. I think I now understand how many social implications are wrapped up in them. Websites are like houses and cafe, and magazines and other socially shared artifacts. The interaction formats we have now come from the technology and the history of these things (and unpleasant for the ill-thought-out-ness of all this stuff).

Now realizing the weaknesses of all, how can we revolutionaries do Internet relations in a way that is not dysfunctional? (I suppose Libcom is the bad example of website for these discussions).

I could say more (and edit what I've written more) but I just want to throw the door open for this discussion.

Alf
As it happens...

As it happens we have just been discussing producing an article on the internet, so your contribution is very timely. More later. 

jk1921
I think in some ways the

I think in some ways the Internet is both a symptom and a cause of the crisis of the law of value in captialism. It reflects captialism's increasing difficulty in valorizing the products of social labour. How much is Facebook worth?? Nobody really knows what is a fair price for its stock.Its not even clear what it produces exactly. In some ways it reflects the total commodification of social life at the same time it is a testament to capitalism's growing problems in valorizing things. We have Al Gore to thank for all of this.......

Marin Jensen
Internet, railways, and debate

This is an interesting subject (though I don't profess to know Internet technology in depth). I do find it interesting that scientists trying to model the growth of the Internet have had to fall back on mathematical models similar to those used to model neuronal connections, or the development of plants - there is a sense that the growth of the Internet becomes a productive force independent of capitalism itself, up to a certain point of course, and indeed in contradiction with it.

Red Hughs wrote:

The physical infrastructure of earlier societies was incrementally created following a slow interaction of history and convenience and was naturally an integral part of the "social fabric". Now, capitalist society has the power to upend this fabric and does it in the horrid way you would imagine.

Does the Internet bring anything qualitatively new here? Remember these words of the Manifesto: "The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation".

Personally, I like to compare the Internet to the railways (see the quote at the beginning of the article on WR going bi-monthly). It is in the nature of capitalism to bring into being forces which go beyond its own purposes - including the proletariat, its potential gravedigger.

Red Hughs wrote:

Now realizing the weaknesses of all, how can we revolutionaries do Internet relations in a way that is not dysfunctional? (I suppose Libcom is the bad example of website for these discussions).

This is a very real question - but is it specific to the Internet? Have you seen this article on what we have called "the culture of debate"? Does it relate to what you are thinking?

Red Hughs
Newness

 

I hope I wasn't pushing the idea of the Internet as "absolute newness". In many ways, I think I've realized that the point is that the Internet isn't some incomprehensible new phenomena but just particular ways of rearranging social relations.

I think the question does relate a lot to the topic of the culture of debate. The internet is in many ways an infrastructure of debate or an infrastructure of information sharing. It is simply one whose parameter are very poorly thought-out. It is as if once it was hard to rent a hall to hold a public presentation. Now it is "easy", it is simply that all the halls are random-shaped and have loud, blaring music on all the time.

So the question becomes something like how will we set up the infrastructure when capitalist society no longer has the slightest impetus to teach the skill of "creating a meeting hall" - or rather, it wants to create sales booths.

One example is that there is considerable confusion about what an internet forum is. I mean, people aren't clear whether an ongoing forum is like a common publication, a cafe where debate happens, a democratic assembly or something different.

This confusion has real effects. Confusion over the authorship of an anonymous website has been a factor in a significant split in Occupy Oakland recently.

Yes, this relates very much to the question of the principles of open, principled debate. It is not just that have trouble even knowing what would be involved in this in the present conditions.

Anyway, those are issues that "come up"

jk1921
I think the proliferation of

I think the proliferation of Internet discussion forums, comments sections, etc. also leads to a certain breakdown in authority. Not authority in the sense of repression, but in the sense of making an authoritative statement on an issue, of attmepting to explain a complicated issue through a method. There is a certain bleeding going on whereby the comments often drown out the original article. Its a form of false democratism--made much easier by the anonymity of the Internet where the worst anti-intellectual instincts can run rampant without suffering any real consequences.

Red Hughs
Agreed, JK The Internet can

Agreed, JK

The Internet can propagate something like "the democracy of the commodity" where both logic and the useful parts of "traditional authority" break down.

But it can propagate dualistic and "hermaneutic" reasoning. When one is arguing about a complicated position, simplistic argument that "cut through" the complexity can seem to "win". But also, an authoritative quote, even taken out of context, also can falsely seem to settle an argument.

Much more can be said...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fred
I see the Internet as

I see the Internet as providing the chance for an improved democratic participation by the usually dumb (like me) and I'm sure this could be a reason why the bourgeoisie must resent and regret it's existence. As LoneLondoner says, for the bourgeoisie the Internet is like the sorcerer's apprentice: it was supposed to just work and make money, but it has also let a sometimes manic but potentially democratic genie out of the bottle. If this democratic genie is anti-authority at times, then this is good. Authorities are there to be questioned - even those claiming communist forbears - and if challenging the "traditional authority" of bourgeois democracy (totally phony!) and the whole system of wage labour (obnoxiously exploitative) is one of the results...then what could be better?

And simplistic arguments that can cut through complexities and "win" aren't necessarily bad, wrong, or even "simplistic", they may even be right and are thus to be encouraged. The bourgeoisie, and specially its leftist tendencies, love complications and mystifications as part of their ideological attack on the working class and as a great contributor to their repression of communist clarity and consciousness. The bourgeoisie, in debt, have no clothes and depend on us not noticing.

As to the "anti-intellectual" instincts which the Internet encourages according to him, and which is so dreaded by jk: well you have a right of reply, and doesn't this afford a wonderful chance to engage in educational processes? This opportunity is a thing completely new in the history of humanity.

The anti-intellectual instinct I fear most is that of the bourgeoisie, who did have a curiosity about science and the social world in the 19th century, but have now abandoned it in the face of the crisis; preferring the dumbing down pursuits of austerity and war. What could be less intelligent than that!

I don't know why Red Hughes sees the Internet as "dysfunctional" - isn't everything so in bourgeois society - but it must surely be the best thing that's happened, for education, communication, and, yes, the growth of communist awareness - since the invention of the printing press.

Red Hughs
Hi Fred, You make good

Hi Fred,

You make good arguments.

I hope my points above don't read as dismissing the Internet. I simply see some portion of Internet communication as ill-thought-out - not as coherent as it could be. 

Since it is this vast thing, one can think about the Internet as a wide variety of things. As you say, bourgeois society writ large. That may seem obvious but I find it somewhat enlightening simply because I've dealt with so many questions about the Internet as simply technical questions.

trench ant
Place of the internet in history

 

Is the internet like a city? Is it like the railways? Is what seemed almost miraculous a few years ago already being taken for granted? The internet has a short history, but are we already in a position to judge its significance? In the history of printing it took maybe a century of development for the earliest incunabula to become something in a form that we would recognise as a book today, with all its conventions. Where are we in the history of the internet?

The history of the internet has shown that the ingenuity and creativity of humanity has not been crushed by the dead weight of capitalism. If you go from the development of the protocol that allowed computers to communicate with each other, to computers on different networks communicating, to the development of the Web, to the development of better web browsers and more effective search engines, to the advent of Amazon, Wikipedia, MySpace, Skype, iTunes, Facebook, podcasts, Youtube, Twitter, the Kindle, Spotify ... internet services have shown the inventiveness of inventors, and the flexibility of consumers in the face of each new internet phenomenon.

But the question still remains. Where are we in the history of the internet? In 1990 there were 3 million internet users, mostly in the US. In 2012 it’s a third of the world’s population. Consider the move from desktops to laptops to smart phones and other small internet-enabled devices … what does the future hold? In some senses we live in exciting times because of the rapidity of technological development. But presumably we will reach a stage where it all goes without a thought. In many parts of the world we have taken electricity, gas, water, phone, automobiles as basic essential utilities for a long time. They were once miracles too.

The history of printing gives us some good comparisons. It is said that the development of printing lead to the Reformation and the modern nation state. In reality, it was a rising bourgeoisie (that was able to use printing among many other things) that was the real agent of change – not a particular technology. With the internet we see something with its origins in the US Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, but which has diversified enormously. In capitalism it’s becoming a basic utility, but voluntary collaborative projects like Wikipedia show what energies exist to be channelled in who knows what direction.

Plato wasn’t keen on the development of writing. It was a remedy for reminding, not remembering... with the appearance but not the reality of wisdom …writings are silent; they cannot speak, answer questions, or come to their own defense.”  He thought that the technology of writing would undermine civilised society. We’re now in a position to give a welcome to writing … but know it can be used in very many different ways.

Marin Jensen
Internet - technology or politics?

Maybe not a good title for this comment though. Personally, I like the comparison with railways because the actual thing itself is neutral: its technology, and can be used in many different ways. One needs to steer clear of the kind of libertarian rubbish about the Internet being a "place of freedom" (trench ant rightly reminds us that DARPA originated the Internet, with the aim of creating a military network resistant to nuclear attack), and of course remember that the Internet is controlled.

But one of the things about the technology developing even under decadent capitalism is that everything about it completely contradicts the capitalist way of working. The Internet, for example is inherently international and public, whereas capitalism is national and private. Like Red Hughs I've worked in IT tech most of my life and I remember thinking long before the Internet that one of the insanities of capitalism is the amount of money and resources it spends preventing the spread of knowledge and techniques. The productive forces engendered by capitalism are increasingly at odds with the private, national mode of appropriation of the fruits of those productive forces.

Capitalism is bursting at the seams. The question is which way will it go: towards a revolutionary overthrow of the existing order, or towards the common ruin of the contending classes?

jk1921
I can't agree that

I can't agree that technology is always neutral or that the Internet is like the railways. I just can't do it.

I do agree though that the Internet (and computerization) is running afoul of captialist property relationships-- exploding value relationships and making it more difficult for captialism to valorize things--but I still don't think it is some neutral tool for the cooks of the future.

Red Hughs
The internet has a short

The internet has a short history, but are we already in a position to judge its significance? In the history of printing it took maybe a century of development for the earliest incunabula to become something in a form that we would recognise as a book today, with all its conventions. Where are we in the history of the internet?

 

Well, one further quandry is that while we may not be in the position to judge the Internet's implication in the way that we can judge the impact of printing, we still are impelled to make some kind of judgement because the change is impacting our lives. Further, information technology hasn't settled down to let society digest its rather, rather it's process of change is accelerating even as we reach a situation a large part of all work and leisure today is directly or indirectly related to some form of information technology.

 

 

jk1921
If you want to get a sense

If you want to get a sense how the Internet (information technology) is not neutral, just ask librarians--an entire job category that IT is making redundant. But it is doubtful that the kind of logic that undergirds these technologies represents some kind of "advance" over traditional librarianship. On the contrary, there is a growing literature on how internet search technology reflects the underlying value assumptions and point of view of its creators: the military industrial complex, the libertarian captialism of Sillicon Valley types, etc.

One perverse effect of this as I alluded to earlier, is the general breakdown in intellectual authority which leads to the proliferation of a kind of solipsistic egoism (another expression of the libertarian  captialism of ITs creators). Today, doctors have a joke about the patient who comes to them for a second opinion having gotten the original diagnosis on Google. The fundamental ethos is one of Thoreauian self-reliance, libertarian monadism--the antithesis of solidarity. What do we need big social institutions like librairies and medical clinics for anymore--all the information one needs is on the Internet for any self-reliant individual to find and make use of on their own.The political consequence for us is what seems to be a frequent attitude of the younger generations: "the digital natives." What do we need a revolutionary organization for?, its all on the Internet--and indeed it is, if the "it" you are looking for is abstract "information." The political question of course is what to do with the information once you find it. What does it motivate you to do?

 

Marin Jensen
You've hit the nail on the head jk...

jk1921 wrote:

If you want to get a sense how the Internet (information technology) is not neutral, just ask librarians--an entire job category that IT is making redundant. But it is doubtful that the kind of logic that undergirds these technologies represents some kind of "advance" over traditional librarianship. On the contrary, there is a growing literature on how internet search technology reflects the underlying value assumptions and point of view of its creators: the military industrial complex, the libertarian captialism of Sillicon Valley types, etc.

Bit of a misunderstanding here: we need to be clear about what we mean by the Internet. It's not just another term for IT (which predates the Internet considerably). To be strict, the Internet is no more than the transport technology (the Internet Protocol and its associated layers), and I would argue that, like a railway, this is perfectly neutral. The World Wide Web was built on top of the Internet and was originally intended to facilitate the sharing of scientific documents (it came out of the CERN). I also think the redundancy of librarians is rather beside the point - ALL technology displaces workers, indeed that is its purpose!

However, I agree with you that how the Internet is used is anything but neutral, and I think your point about search engines is very interesting - I've read some stuff about this but any links would be appreciated. Again, it's like a railway: where the tracks get built is not neutral at all, though the technology itself is.

jk1921 wrote:

One perverse effect of this as I alluded to earlier, is the general breakdown in intellectual authority which leads to the proliferation of a kind of solipsistic egoism (another expression of the libertarian  captialism of ITs creators).

I missed this point in my previous posts, but I think this is really important, and IMHO you've really hit the nail on the head there. The tendency to think that "everything that went before is useless" and that I can have an opinion on anything without actually taking the trouble to study and understand. However, I'm less sure that the Internet is responsible for this - isn't it rather a symptom of a much more deep-seated malaise due to the general decomposition of social existence: atomisation in effect?

jk1921
Neutrality?

LoneLondoner wrote:

jk1921 wrote:

If you want to get a sense how the Internet (information technology) is not neutral, just ask librarians--an entire job category that IT is making redundant. But it is doubtful that the kind of logic that undergirds these technologies represents some kind of "advance" over traditional librarianship. On the contrary, there is a growing literature on how internet search technology reflects the underlying value assumptions and point of view of its creators: the military industrial complex, the libertarian captialism of Sillicon Valley types, etc.

Bit of a misunderstanding here: we need to be clear about what we mean by the Internet. It's not just another term for IT (which predates the Internet considerably). To be strict, the Internet is no more than the transport technology (the Internet Protocol and its associated layers), and I would argue that, like a railway, this is perfectly neutral. The World Wide Web was built on top of the Internet and was originally intended to facilitate the sharing of scientific documents (it came out of the CERN). I also think the redundancy of librarians is rather beside the point - ALL technology displaces workers, indeed that is its purpose!

However, I agree with you that how the Internet is used is anything but neutral, and I think your point about search engines is very interesting - I've read some stuff about this but any links would be appreciated. Again, it's like a railway: where the tracks get built is not neutral at all, though the technology itself is.

jk1921 wrote:

One perverse effect of this as I alluded to earlier, is the general breakdown in intellectual authority which leads to the proliferation of a kind of solipsistic egoism (another expression of the libertarian  captialism of ITs creators).

I missed this point in my previous posts, but I think this is really important, and IMHO you've really hit the nail on the head there. The tendency to think that "everything that went before is useless" and that I can have an opinion on anything without actually taking the trouble to study and understand. However, I'm less sure that the Internet is responsible for this - isn't it rather a symptom of a much more deep-seated malaise due to the general decomposition of social existence: atomisation in effect?

 

I think perhaps we are getting hung-up on the definition of "neutral." Its always hard to assign causality, but yes, I do think the Internet itself promotes the atomisation you talk about. I'll look for some literature, but I think part of it also is that the Internet promotes a certain "mode of thinking" that reflects the libertarian viewpoint of Sillicon Valley. Can it be rescued from this by a change in the overall social relationships in society? That of course is the big question. But it does seem to me like the Internet is becomming more and more inseperable from those "overall social relationships." Maybe liberating humanity from captialist exploitation also involves liberating it from the modes of thinking embedded in the Internet? Just asking questions at this point.

On librarians: I don't think we can easily equate the displacement of librarians with other workers. Closing a library (or a hospital) is not the same as closing a steel plant. Libraries are social insitutions that are far more than just a place for someone to work and someone else to make a profit. They perform (or used to perform) numerous social functions beyond simply being places to get information. In the inner city, libraries are often default social service providers, day care centers, etc. But beyond that they are a point of cultural and social reference, a place where a sense of connectedness can be built, that the atomized experience of the interent search simply can't replace. Something changes when libraries are closed or are tranformed into a places where people go to sit in front of screen.

I am not sure I am making this case adequately. Maybe I am talking about what the sociologists call "social captial" (an unfortuante term!) or maybe I am taking about how the self is constructed or the development of critical thinking skils? Social skills more generally? Something to do with collective labour?

Fred
jk1921 wrote: Maybe

jk1921 wrote:
Maybe liberating humanity from captialist exploitation also involves liberating it from the modes of thinking embedded in the Internet? Just asking questions at this point.

Is there a mode of thinking embedded in the Internet; or in a book; or a film; or in a sonata or painting; or in a railway system? Is the medium the message? Can you please explain jk?

Maybe liberating humanity from capitalist exploitation also involves liberating it from the modes of thinking embedded in, and generated by, capitalist relations of production.

jk1921
Yes, I think there is

Yes, I think there is Fred--its the mode of thinking of the disembodied, reifed self. Its an unmoored egoism buttressed by the consumerist ethic of electicism and "freedom of choice." The internet promotes this approach to the world, even if it didn't invent it. Technology is not always socially neutral; it often reflects the value judgements of its creators. Whether it can be freed from these value presuppositions or is inseparable from them, I don't know, but I think it is clear that the Internet promotes a form of subjectivity that does not mesh easily with the communist values of solidarity and collective work.

I think LoneLondoner's approach reflects a more traditional Marxist approach to technology, while what I am considering is a point of view that comes from the Frankfrut School's more pessimistic evaluation of capitalist modernity. Its true that put to the right uses, the Internet can be a valuable tool in the fight for the communist future (the way we are using it right now!), but I think the point is that we are going against the current. The rest of society won't be able to do that easily.

Fred
long live the Internet

I think you agree with me jk. The methods of thinking generated by the capitalist mode of production, and the social relations that accompany it, are disembodied and reified as you say. This way of thinking - the dominant ideological way of thinking - is fragmented and broken, tends not to see the connections between things, and, put crudely, doesn't ever tend or even want to connect the dots. It certainly isn't "holistic" - I don't know whether this word is a respectable word or not these days - but I would have thought proletarian thought, Marxist thought, did move in the direction of holism, if only as an antidote to the divisiveness and compartmentalization of bourgeois thought. The internet is only one example of this fragmentation, but isn't that because it functions mainly as a sort of giant dictionary or encyclopedia; technologies invented by the bourgeoisie in its heyday. I don't think it's the fault of the internet's technology, but the fault of the bourgeoisie under whose general auspices it now functions. It reflects their way of thinking, and they can't of course consider any alternative. Just as they can't conceive of an alternative to capitalism. But there are more things in heaven and earth than are entertained in their meagre ideology. We will liberate the internet by freeing society of the now idiotic chains of bourgeois society.
For the sake of argument, I would say the internet fosters only a very phony and rubbishy kind of subjectivity, based on freakish notions of individualism and one-up-manship; "virtues" the bourgeoisie exults in. But this is hardly the fault of the technology is it? It's more the fault of the education system - in so far as there is one - and the way we're all isolated and atomized: privatized you might say. We're all very PRIVATE now aren't we? But long live the Internet; it's already an invaluable tool for us.

Fred
The bourgeoisie invented the

The bourgeoisie invented the dictionary and the encyclopedia. But even more significant for us today, they also invent "news," and the "newspaper" and the overall commodification of news. Witness the now almost overpowering dissemination of news - that is to say bourgeois ideology in a strong form - on tv 24/7. The NEWS has grown around it a whole plethora of commentators, analysts, specialists, and opinion spreaders and makers. Could it be the latter who have contributed to the Internet, the idea that everyone now is entitled to and has an opinion, informed or other wise, intelligible or not, on everything under the sun, and that all opinions are of equal value? Note the stunning growth of tweeting, blogging, text messaging, forums and so on, and with it the emergence of the clever dick mentality whereby the staggeringly overpowering one-liner - even found on such illustrious sites as red-marx and lib com - served up as "a response" to something, no matter what, is expected unequivocally to carry the day. All very disappointing.

There is another side to all this nonsense though, and that's when the cell phone is put to use as transmitter of potentially useful information in the struggle against the bourgeoisie. We can look forward to more developments in this direction. Unless of course the bourgeoisie intend to take control of such information exchanges and block them. But in that case we'll just have to take charge. We'll have to do that sooner or later, anyway.

Fred
The bourgeoisie invented the

The bourgeoisie invented the dictionary and the encyclopedia. But even more significant for us today, they also invent "news," and the "newspaper" and the overall commodification of news. Witness the now almost overpowering dissemination of news - that is to say bourgeois ideology in a strong form - on tv 24/7. The NEWS has grown around it a whole plethora of commentators, analysts, specialists, and opinion spreaders and makers. Could it be the latter who have contributed to the Internet, the idea that everyone now is entitled to and has an opinion, informed or other wise, intelligible or not, on everything under the sun, and that all opinions are of equal value? Note the stunning growth of tweeting, blogging, text messaging, forums and so on, and with it the emergence of the clever dick mentality whereby the staggeringly overpowering one-liner - even found on such illustrious sites as red-marx and lib com - served up as "a response" to something, no matter what, is expected unequivocally to carry the day. All very disappointing.

There is another side to all this nonsense though, and that's when the cell phone is put to use as transmitter of potentially useful information in the struggle against the bourgeoisie. We can look forward to more developments in this direction. Unless of course the bourgeoisie intend to take control of such information exchanges and block them. But in that case we'll just have to take charge. We'll have to do that sooner or later, anyway.

jk1921
Anarchy?

Fred wrote:
Could it be the latter who have contributed to the Internet, the idea that everyone now is entitled to and has an opinion, informed or other wise, intelligible or not, on everything under the sun, and that all opinions are of equal value? Note the stunning growth of tweeting, blogging, text messaging, forums and so on, and with it the emergence of the clever dick mentality whereby the staggeringly overpowering one-liner - even found on such illustrious sites as red-marx and lib com - served up as "a response" to something, no matter what, is expected unequivocally to carry the day. All very disappointing.

I couldn't have described the situation better myself Fred. It all of course raises the question of the "culture of debate," or maybe better "culture of discussion." The predominat culture today seems to be that of a lack of any method, an anarchy that belies the decomposition of the system. Could it be that the Internet--or to be more precise, the cutlure of Internet communication--is a function of decomposition?

Fred
Has there ever been a

Has there ever been a "culture of debate" or "culture of discussion" other than under bourgeois rules as in the house of commons in London or at the older universities in England - maybe elsewhere too? The Senate in the states? Etc. But, in the 20th century these "debates" are like formalities gone through as an exercise; they don't get anywhere do they; and, in so far as there is an "outcome" is it of any real consequence? I think not. It's all bourgeois phony democracy. So when the ICC talk about the "culture of debate" they must be meaning something other than that. But maybe we don't have this new, alternative, proletarian mode of interaction up and running properly anywhere yet either. It's something we aim for. Or have to regain. Maybe they had it in eg.Russia in 1917? So I think this could be where the internet and all the cell phone text messaging stuff that youth seem so crazy about INTERNATIONALLY could actually prove helpful, given time. It's still in it's early days as yet. It isn't as if we've lost a Golden Age of human communications working for the good of all. The folk on the web who can so irritate jk and me these days....well it isn't as if they used to be okay in the old-fashioned media, but now they've gone to pieces with the new technologies. It's only since the invention of tbe new technologies that the majority of people on the planet are able to say anything at all. They've found their voices. They've been enabled and the bourgeoisie isn't overjoyed about it anywhere much, and increasingly seeks to control what's going on, or even stop it.

And not all the stuff we're complaining about jk is rubbish. Some of it is interesting. Be patient! As to decomposition - well who are what exactly is it that's decomposing here? The bourgeoisie wanting to control modern communication systems is probably a function of their decomposition. But then everything about them is stinking. People posting smart- arse one-liners might be thought to be the unhappy products of decomposing education systems, but maybe they'll improve soon and move on to three-liners. Better educated people, and communist militants, may overcome their distaste for the current state of decomposition on the web and elsewhere, and work within it for the betterment of all as yeast leavens the bread. (Is that terminology a bit religious?). Some ICC and ICT militants already do this, and it isn't all a failure though maybe heavy going at times. So, finally jk, it could be a mistake to categorize the whole of "internet culture" (whatever that is?) as being "a function of decomposition" as we have to cling to some aspect of hope.

radicalchains
We are all constrained by the

We are all constrained by the dominant ideology, the way life is organised under our current society but I think there are different modes or ways of debating, discussing and so on. If there is a form or mode that is particular to the working class or an exploited classes historically then I see no problem with that being given a particular name. The way the bourgeoisie acts is manipulative, deceitful, competitive and aggressive etc. I think the working class should and needs to be pretty much the opposite of all these things. Therefore, I think discussion and debate takes a completely different form. It should be open, honest, sincere etc I think the search for clarity which is often sighted is an example of this.

In the middle of a discussion with an SPGB comrade he said the following:"

I've come here to be challenged, I like to have my mind changed"

To which I replied:

I never take that attitude on any forum or discussion. Instead I look for comradely discussion and debate to enhance my own and others understandings and seek clarification above all else. Not to win, lose or defend anything. I think that is the most productive attitude to take.

I'm not sure this is necessarily a proletarian attitude in the sense that it is required for the negation of capitalism but I think it helps in general. Our ideas and attitudes of course should be challenged otherwise we do not progress. But personal challenges in discussion or to beat a line being "defended" i.e to win a comrade over to your line seems erroneous to me and I think this is what was being discussed recently on this forum. There is only so much you can change in mental perspective through discussion, changing of "lines" and so on. The key is to be "won over" through the result of practical struggle, the failings of different forms and tactics etc. The problem today as I see it are lessons are not learnt through practice. The same shit just continues without a break. Why? Well in part, the discipline and control of unions and the existing left. Not because the working class is completely atomized or some other such idea. The left does not offer communism in a practical sense to the working class only in the realm of ideas if at all. So communism does not become in any way a realistic hope or demand. It's a fantasy, basically something unattainable. And therefore the 'realism' of critically supporting Labour, fighting the union bureacrats etc merry-go-round.