Author: Richard Barbrook

Marx on the State

20th century Marxisms were a theology of state power with Marx’s anti-statist writings as holy texts. Social Democracy = parliamentary democracy and the welfare state. Bolshevism = totalitarian party and state planning. 19th century Marxism of Marx proposed two different concepts of state power: The Parasite State = “Strong government and heavy taxes are identical”. […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE MARXIST POLITICS OF KARL MARX

“The one thing of which I’m certain is that I’m not a Marxist.”- Karl Marx Post-Communist nostalgia for 1948 Cold War Marxisms. Social Democracy: parliamentary elections, welfare state and US imperialism. Bolshevism: totalitarian party, state planning and Russian imperialism. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were ’48ers: the young radicals of the 1848 European revolutions against […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

Imaginary Futures at the European Culture Congress

Dr. Richard Barbrook will be participating in the Cyberiad panel of the European Culture Congress at 12.30pm on 9th September 2011 at the Regional Centre for Business Tourism in Wroclaw, Poland. He has written The Davos Parallax which is a SF tale about the banking crisis to introduce this panel. Imaginary Futures is one of […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

Imaginary Futures at Virtual Futures 2.0’11

Dr Richard Barbrook will be talking about Imaginary Futures at the Virtual Futures 2.0’11 conference at the University of Warwick on Saturday 18th June at 6.00pm. Location: MS.02, University of Warwick, Kirby Corner Rd, Coventry, West Midlands CV4. Richard will also be introducing a screening and discussion of Class Wargames Presents Guy Debord’s The Game […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

Imaginary Futures at the Babylonia Festival

Dr Richard Barbrook will be talking about Imaginary Futures at the Babylonia Anti-Authoritarian Festival in Athens, Greece, on Thursday 26th May at 9.00pm. Location: School of Fine Arts, Peireos 256, 18233 Athens, Greece. metro: Kallithea Richard will also be introducing a screening and discussion of Class Wargames Presents Guy Debord’s The Game of War on […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

Internet Ideology

REFF: Most of the technologies which are arising in these years are about knowledge and information. Do you think that they are the most revolutionary technologies of the last centuries? What do you think about it? RB: The first thing I would say is that if you look at the last century, the key technologies […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

NJUJORŠKA PROROČANSTVA: ZAMIŠLJENA BUDUĆNOST VEŠTAČKE INTELIGENCIJE

Budućnost je ono što je i bila “Biološka inteligencija je nepromenljiva, zato što je u pitanju stara, zrela paradigma, dok nova paradigma nebiološkog ra?unarstva i inteligencije eksponencijalno raste. Prelaz će se odigrati 2020-ih a nakon toga, bar sa stanovišta hardvera, dominiraće nebiološko ra?unarstvo…“ Kurcvejl (Kurzweil), 2004, str. 3. Na po?etku 21. veka, san o vešta?koj […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

Imaginary Futures – Introduction to the Polish edition

I was sitting in a lecture theatre at University College London listening to the speakers at the final session of the Solidarity/solidarities conference on the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe. Jan Dzierzgowski had worked hard on this translation and I owed it to him to write a smart introduction for its Polish readers. Where better […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

ANARCHISM

The 1872 Hague Congress of the International Workingmen’s Association The split in the First International: British, German & Dutch Sections v. Swiss, Spanish & Italian Sections Socialism v. Anarchism Karl Marx v. Mikhail Bakunin mass party v. revolutionary conspiracy democratic republic v. local communes working class v. peasants, students & bandits organised labour v. spontaneous […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

Imaginary Futures Author at Creative Cities Symposium in Vienna

Dr Richard Barbrook will be giving a talk entitled ‘Creative Labour and Proletarian Playtime’ at the ORF Symposium on Creative Cities on the afternoon of Tuesday 31st March at RadioKulturhaus, Großer Sendesaal, Argentinierstraße 30a, 1040 Wien, Austria. For more details, check out the ORF website.

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Author: Richard Barbrook

imaginary futures at the Radiator Festival

Dr Richard Barbrook will speaking about Imaginary Futures at the 4th Radiator Festival – “Exploits in the Wireless City” – on Thursday afternoon on 15th March at the Broadway Media Centre, Nottingham, England. For further details, see the Radiator festival website.

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Author: Richard Barbrook

Imaginary Futures at St. Petersburg Art Academy

Dr. Richard Barbrook will speaking about Imaginary Futures as part of a Digital Artisans’ Evening at the ProArte Institute in the Peter & Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg on Wednesday 26th November. For further details, see the ProArte Institute’s website: http://www.proarte.ru

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Author: Richard Barbrook

imaginary Futures at Cold War Culture conference

Dr. Richard Barbrook will be appearing at the Cold War Culture conference which takes place at the Victoria & Albert museum in London on Friday 21st – Saturday 22nd November. This major conference brings together some of the most exciting thinkers on art, design and architecture in the post-1945 period to reflect on the ways […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

CREATIVE CITY THESES

1) We Must Invent New Futures The information society has arrived – and the McLuhanist prophecy of the network utopia has been disappointed. The critical analysis of the creative city provides an opportunity to devise new futures to guide our actions in the present. 2) The New Class of the New Like their forebears who […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

KAUTSKY IN CAMBRIDGE

“How was the conference?”, Simon Schaffer asked. “Very interesting”, I replied. “The Autonomists have finally come out of the closet as reformists!”At the opening session of the Immaterial Labour conference in Cambridge, Andrea Fumagalli had told us that Toni Negri and the other gurus of the movement now advocated a commendably pragmatic political programme: a […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

Imaginary Futures wins 2008 Marshall McLuhan Award

The Media Ecology Association (MEA) has selected Richard Barbrook’s Imaginary Futures: from thinking machines to the global village as the winner of the 2008 Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology. Past recipients of this award include Francis Fukuyama, Doug Rushkoff and Neil Postman. The official presentation of the award […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

World Ex-Position ’08

Fahim Amir has posted a review of the World Ex-Position ’08 which took place on 26th April-15th May 2008 in Vienna, Austria. He concludes his Mute article with this observation on Richard Barbrook’s talk about Imaginary Futures at the festival: “His politically apt and historically well informed argument presents a strong antidote to the euphoric […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

New reviews of Imaginary Futures

Two reviews of Imaginary Futures were published in December 2007: John Barker’s Up For Grabs in Science as Culture, Number 4, Volume 16, 2007, pages 481-488. “By giving us the history of intellectuals thriving on an ahistorical view of the world, and what this view leads to, [Barbrook] has given depth to the critique that […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

Author to Participate in performance of Guy Debord’s The Game of War – 23rd October 2007

CLASS WARGAMES PRESENTS GUY DEBORD’S THE GAME OF WAR Tuesday 23rd October 2007 at 6.00pm 01zero-one Westminster Kingsway College Soho Centre Peter Street London W1F 0HS (01zero-one’s main entrance is on Hopkins Street) Class Wargames The Game Class Wargames will play Guy Debord’s The Game of War using a replica of his original 1977 design […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

Cronopis Associats Interview

Andrés Lomeña of Cronopis Associats interviewed Richard Barbrook on 13th September 2007. Question 1 AL: Franco Bifo Berardi criticises your The Holy Fools. In his opinion, you simplify the rhizomatic thought of Deleuze and Guattari, making equal it to technonomadism and The Californian Ideology. Berardi argues that the state cannot solve the self-organisational structure of […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

NEW YORK PROPHECIES: THE IMAGINARY FUTURE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

The Future Is What It Used To Be ‘Biological intelligence is fixed, because it is an old, mature paradigm, but the new paradigm of non-biological computation and intelligence is growing exponentially. The crossover will be in the 2020s and after that, at least from a hardware perspective, non-biological computation will dominate…’ Kurzweil 2004, p. 3. […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

Virtual Dreams, Real Politics

‘What are we fighting Communism for? We are the most Communist people in world history.’ – Marshall McLuhan, 1969. In 1961, at its 22nd Congress, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union formally adopted the goal of spreading the benefits of computerisation across the whole economy. Over the next two decades, the information technologies being […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE HI-TECH GIFT ECONOMY by Richard Barbrook

Abstract During the Sixties, the New Left created a new form of radical politics: anarcho-communism. Above all, the Situationists and similar groups believed that the tribal gift economy proved that individuals could successfully live together without needing either the state or the market. From May 1968 to the late Nineties, this utopian vision of anarcho-communism […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE::CYBER.COM/MUNIST::MANIFESTO by Richard Barbrook

A spectre is haunting the Net: the spectre of communism. Whatever their professed political beliefs, every user dreams of the digital transcendence of capitalism. Yet, at the same time, even the most dedicated leftist can no longer truly believe in communism. The horrors of totalitarianism have discredited its promises of social emancipation. Seizing this opportunity, […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

CYBER-COMMUNISM by Richard Barbrook

HOW THE AMERICANS ARE SUPERSEDING CAPITALISM IN CYBERSPACE ‘…is the impact of the …information revolution on capitalism not the ultimate exemplification of… Marx’s thesis that: “at a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces come into conflict with the existing relations of production…”? …does the prospect of the… “global village” not signal the […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE REGULATION OF LIBERTY by Richard Barbrook

The State In Cyberspace The rapid expansion of e-commerce depends upon effective legal regulation of the Net. As in the rest of the economy, courts and police are needed to enforce the ‘rules of the game’ within on-line marketplaces. Theft remains theft even when committed with the latest technology. Since the Net encourages its own […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

CULTURAL BABBAGE BOOK REVIEW by Richard Barbrook

Cultural Babbage: Technology, Time and Invention edited by Francis Spufford and Jenny Uglow, Faber and Faber, London, pp 290. This book is a collection of essays inspired by Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine – a never-completed Victorian mechanical calculator which is often claimed as the ancestor of the modern PC. In London’s Science Museum, a working […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

HYPERMEDIA FREEDOM by Richard Barbrook

Turn On, Log In and Drop Out! As with any other law, the Telecommunications Reform Act will face the problem of enforcement. The ‘War on Drugs’ hasn’t stopped Americans from voraciously consuming billions of dollars of illegal chemicals every year. There must be similar doubts about the practicality of the censorship measures in the new […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE HOLY FOOLS (MUTE MIX) by Richard Barbrook

The Lost Utopia The Net is haunted by the disappointed hopes of the Sixties. Because this new technology symbolises another period of rapid change, many contemporary commentators look back to the stalled revolution of thirty years ago to explain what is happening now. Most famously, the founders of Wired appropriated New Left rhetoric to promote […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE HOLY FOOLS (LONG MIX) by Richard Barbrook

THE HOLY FOOLS a critique of the avant-garde in the age of the Net 1: The Lost Utopia The Net is haunted by the disappointed hopes of the Sixties. Because this new technology symbolises another period of rapid change, many contemporary commentators look back to the stalled revolution of thirty years ago to explain what […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE CONTRADICTIONS OF MEDIA FREEDOM by Richard Barbrook

Nowadays, almost everybody believes that the freedom of the media is an essential prerequisite of a modern democracy. Yet, at the same time, many people are also convinced that the media are turning democratic politics into a branch of show business. Instead of rational debate between rival ideas, contemporary politics have been trivialised into a […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

MEDIA FREEDOM: FROM GUTENBERG TO CYBERSPACE by Richard Barbrook

Introduction Nowadays, almost everybody believes that media freedom is an essential prerequisite of a modern democracy. When an authoritarian regime is overthrown, the first act of the new democratic government is usually the abandonment of direct controls by the state over the media. With the worldwide spread of political democracy, credible politicians can no longer […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: DIGITAL WORK by Richard Barbrook

* How does digital work differ from its analogue forms? Increasingly people would like to enjoy the dignity of artisan labour without losing the material benefits of Fordism. Over the past two centuries, industrialisation has slowly replaced skilled craft labour with repetitive factory and office work. In the Fordist factory, even the pace of working […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE NAPSTERISATION OF EVERYTHING by Richard Barbrook

Review of John Alderman, Sonic Boom: Napster, P2P and the battle for the future of music, Fourth Estate, London 2001. “They just don’t get it.” During the dotcom boom of the late-1990s, this catch phrase was a popular way of dismissing anyone who expressed doubts about the world-historical significance of the Net. How could someone […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

NEVER MIND THE CYBERBOLLOCKS… by Richard Barbrook

After the Wall  As this century draws to its close, the rapid development of the Net has rekindled a sense of optimism within the developed world. For almost two decades, we have been facing a failure of imagination and creativity. Despite the end of the Cold War, Western societies haven’t even been able to protect their […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

PINNOCHIO THEORY by Richard Barbrook

Review of Kevin Kelly’s Out of Control: the New Biology of Machines, social systems and the economic world. At the end of the twentieth century, the USA finds itself the winner of the Cold War, but the loser of the subsequent peace. On one side, America’s hundred year superiority in industrial manufacturing has been overturned […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

REVIEWING REWIRED by Richard Barbrook

Review of David Hudson in association with eLine Productions, Rewired: a brief (and opinionated) net history, Macmillan Technical Publishing, Indianapolis IA 1997, pp. 327, US$ 29.99. The publication of Rewired represents a new phenomenon: the book-of-the-web-site. Successful films and TV series have long been repackaged into books. Now, for the first time, popular web sites […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

GIVING IS RECEIVING by Richard Barbrook

One of the most striking features of the Net is the ubiquity of its hi-tech version of the gift economy. When you go on-line, most information is available for free. Other users are happy to share music, movies and software with you. People spend hours building websites which they don’t charge you for visiting. You […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE DIGITAL ECONOMY by Richard Barbrook

Commodities or Gifts? The Net is now the iconic technology of our age. From California, Wired magazine has achieved global notoriety through its claims that the Net will create the sort of free market capitalism until now only found in neo-classical economics textbooks. Everyone will be able to buy and sell in cyberspace without restrictions. […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

ELECTRONIC DEMOCRACY by Richard Barbrook

An Analysis of On-Line Representation The Limits of Representation At the end of the twentieth century, the advocates of liberal democracy are faced with a strange paradox. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, its ideological ascendancy across the world has never been more complete. Yet, at the same time, voters within the industrialised countries […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE SACRED CYBORG by Richard Barbrook

The Search for Meaning ‘Religion is a dream, in which our own conceptions and emotions appear to us as separate existences, beings out of ourselves.’ – Ludwig Feurbach, The Essence of Christianity. During the Cold War, we were told that we had a stark choice between two incompatible ideologies: liberal democracy or totalitarian socialism. However, […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE MEMESIS CRITIQUE by Richard Barbrook

A critique of the Memesis statement of Ars Electronica ’96 ASSERTION 1 >The human being, characterized by a remarkable ability to process information… In the first subclause of the opening sentence, the human ability to communicate complex thoughts to each other is elevated above all other aspects of our existence. Although expressed in computer jargon, […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

A REVIEW OF PIERRE LÉVY’S COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE by Richard Barbrook

A review of Pierre Lévy, Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace, Plenum, New York, $27.95, ISBN 0306456354. The Net has become our symbol for the future. Like clocks, steam engines and nuclear power for earlier generations, we use this icon of technology to imagine what will result from our current period of rapid social […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

MARXISM AND THE VISUAL ARTS by Richard Barbrook

It is the opening plenary of an academic conference on Marxism and the Visual Arts being held at a magnificent lecture theatre in University College London. After the organisers have had their say, the chair proudly announces: “…the next speaker is Nicos Hadjinicolaou – the author of The History of Art and the Class Struggle […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

CHOICE OR PARTICIPATION? by Richard Barbrook

An Analysis of British Radio in the 1990s Radio in the Recession In January 1991, the Bristol radio station For The People (FTP) was relaunched as Galaxy. Instead of a name promising community service, the Bristol station now shares the same trademark as a chocolate bar. This change in image symbolised the final stage in the corporate takeover […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

MISTRANSLATIONS: LIPIETZ IN LONDON AND PARIS by Richard Barbrook

Introduction The latest buzzword on the British Left [in 1990] is post-Fordism. This a theory which is being used to justify the ‘New Times’ politics promoted by Marxism Today. This article examines the origins of this concept in the French Regulation School of political economy. In particular, it looks at the work of one of […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

BROADCASTING AND NATIONAL IDENTITY IN IRELAND by Richard Barbrook

Broadcasting was Invented in Ireland On Tuesday, 25th April 1916, a transmitter from the School of Wireless Telegraphy in Dublin started sending messages across the airwaves. The morse code signals announced to the world that a combined force of armed nationalists and socialists were occupying central Dublin and had proclaimed an Irish Republic, independent from […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

DIGITAL RHYTHMS by Richard Barbrook

Amongst all the different forms of mass culture, music is the most personal and emotional. Almost everyone can identify certain songs with particular moments in their life. The rites of passage from childhood to adulthood usually involve joining a musical subculture. We fall in and out love to the accompaniment of the latest hits. In […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

AMERICAN THEORIES OF MEDIA DEREGULATION by Richard Barbrook

‘Television is nothing more than a toaster with pictures’ – Mark Fowler 1981 The mass media in contemporary Western Europe has been undergoing a period of profound transformation. For some, this involves a ‘paradigm shift’ from public service to free market broadcasting. (Hoffman‑Riem 1986: 126‑9) After the Second World War, most national broadcasting systems were […]

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Author: Richard Barbrook

THE POLICEMAN OF THE ETHER by Richard Barbrook

An Analysis of State Regulation and Intervention in American and British Radio Broadcasting in the 1920s and 1930s  Under the Thatcher government, the mass media has not been often at the centre of political debate. Despite lobbying from right‑wing think‑tanks and commercial interests, present policies are marked more by confusion and paralysis than by ‘the […]

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Within this MySpace version of the electronic agora, cybernetic communism was mainstream and unexceptional. What had once been a revolutionary dream was now an enjoyable part of everyday life.