Lecture 9: The Post-Modernist Model of Media Freedom

Post-Modernist Model of Media Freedom video

Post-modernism = freedom from the media.

Cold War Marxism against Marx = ideology in command.
New social order of political propaganda + universal education + mass media + computers + cybernetics.
Marxist-Leninist theory: 19th century modernism = critique of political economy -> 20th century post-modernism = analysis of semiotic structuralism.
French Maoism: May ’68 = New Left cultural revolution v. bourgeois ideological domination.
1975 Khmer Rouge’s Year Zero in Cambodia = anti-modernist peasant revolution v. industrialisation road to proletarian communism.
1979 Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia -> exposure of Pol Pot’s genocide -> discrediting of French apologists of Khmer Rouge.
New Left Maoists -> Nouveaux Philosophes = social liberals -> Post-Modernists = old New Left post-Autonomists.
1950s-2010s European Left academic orthodoxy: Josef Stalin -> Louis Althusser -> Michel Foucault -> Gilles Deleuze -> Félix Guattari -> Toni Negri -> Slavoj Žižek.
‘Post-modernism is a substitute for the ’60s and a compensation for their failure.’ – Fredric Jameson.

Richard Wolin, The Wind from the East.
Philip Short, Pol Pot.
Bernard-Henri Lévy, Barbarism with a Human Face.
Michael Hardt and Toni Negri, Empire.

Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault’s ‘microphysics of power’: Panopticon = disciplinary societies of industrialism -> mass media = control societies of post-industrialism.
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s ‘schizo-politics’: territorialisation and deterritorialisation of semiotic desire = rhizomes of social movements v. arboreal power of state.
Rejection of mass party and trade unions -> domination of charismatic intellectuals -> ‘tyranny of structurelessness’ – Jo Freeman.
Post-modern individualist recuperation of New Left collectivist politics = cybernetic communism -> hi-tech social liberalism.
Jean-François Lyotard: 1976 McLuhanist report for Quebec local government into socio-economic impact of new information technologies.
Industrial factory = Taylorist discipline -> post-industrial workplace = autonomy and flexibility.
Post-modern society = emerging fusion of New Left electronic agora + New Right electronic marketplace.
Post-modern philosophy: rejection of grand narrative of modernity = Classical Liberalism and Marxism-Leninism -> celebration of difference and plurality.
Post-modern culture = ‘language games’ of diverse opinions and tastes.
Post-modern style = ‘playing with the pieces’ of mass media -> irony, pastiche and remixing.

Modernism/Post-Modernism diagram

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish.
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Thousand Plateaus.
Jean-François Lyotard, The Post-modern Condition.
Steve Best and Douglas Kellner, Postmodern Theory.

Post-modern politics: Michel Rocard and Second Left -> Bill Clinton and New Democrats -> Tony Blair and New Labour -> Gerhard Schröder and New Middle.
1976-2008 Third Way = pragmatic alternative to Stalinism and neo-liberalism.
Social liberalism = global cooperation + multicultural tolerance + market competition + media pluralism + information technologies.
New Times: Fordist factory = class politics -> post-industrial workplace = identity politics.
Network economy: hi-tech start-ups, creative quarters and public-private partnerships.
Media democracy = celebrity politicians, spin doctors and news management.
Big Brother: 1948 anti-Stalinist novel -> 2000 reality TV programme.

Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism: or the cultural logic of late capitalism.
Anthony Giddens, The Third Way.
Peter Oborne, Alastair Campbell: New Labour and the Rise of the Media Class.

Third Way = centre-Left apology for neo-liberal globalisation: political corruption; financial speculation; out-sourcing manufacturing; off-shore tax havens; welfare cuts; public service privatisation; wealth inequality; military imperialism.
Lyotard’s post-modern optimism -> Jean Baudrillard’s post-modern cynicism.
Baudrillard in May ’68 = revolutionary intellectual at Nanterre University.
New Left post-Marxist theory: commodity fetishism = class exploitation -> semiotic structuralism = status display.
Marxism-McLuhanism: use value -> exchange value -> sign value.
Hippie technological determinism: capitalism = media spectacle -> information society = electronic agora.

Jean Baudrillard, For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign.
Arthur Hirsch, The French Left.

Baudrillard in 1981 = French McLuhanist ‘master-thinker’ of global academia.
1970s defeat of New Left = ascendency of new information technologies.
Growing ownership of TVs, telephones, PCs and cable = imminent arrival of the Net -> new form of social domination.
3 levels of ‘cold seduction’ by media: representation -> facsimile -> simulation.
Reality -> hyper-reality = sign systems control everyday life.
Watching video screens = taking hallucinatory drugs: ‘more real than the real’.
Post modern economy: gold standard -> fiat currency -> financial derivatives.
Post-modern culture = ‘perpetual present’: community life -> TV soap operas; physical love -> media pornography; good food -> ugly obesity.
Post modern politics = ‘show business’: infotainment + opinion polls + media scandals + celebrity leaders.
Disneyland; Blade Runner; Ronald Reagan; The Matrix; Bob Geldof; Truman Show.

Baudrillard’s Reality/Hyper-Reality diagram

David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity.
Jean Baudrillard, Simulations.
Jean Baudrillard, America.
Gary Genosko, McLuhan and Baudrillard.

Baudrillard in 1991: science fiction social theory -> ‘the Gulf War didn’t take place’.
Old Left and New Left protests v. USA-Iraq conflict = ‘no blood for oil’ slogans.
Baudrillard’s Libération articles: Gulf War = war for exciting media imagery.
USA’s New World Order = everyone on planet watching CNN.
Virtual war: live TV reports from battlefield; smart bomb videos; military news conferences.
Saddam Hussein = post-1989 Hollywood baddie: fall of Berlin Wall -> new Arab/Muslim evil enemy of the West.
Dead Iraqi soldiers and civilians = expendable extras in Gulf War movie.
Post-modern globalisation = social control through collective media stupefaction.
2001 9/11 Al-Qaeda attacks = symbolic defeat of USA -> 2011 assassination of Osama Bin Laden = symbolic revenge by USA.
Virtualisation of politics = impossibility of smashing the spectacle.
Community media and the Net = more effective methods of wasting time.
Post-modern individuals = isolated terminals of networked hyper-reality.
Revenge of the Silent Majority = irony, apathy and inertia.
Switch off your TV and laptop -> hang out at local bobo bars and cafes.
Cynical indifference to politics and social causes -> retreat into private life and subcultural communities.
Generation X; Slackers; indie rock; fan conventions.
Baudrillard’s 1980s-2000s post-modernism = radical in the USA and conservative in Europe.

Douglas Kellner, Baudrillard: from Marxism to postmodernism and beyond.
Jean Baudrillard,The Gulf War Did Not Take Place.
Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool.

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