Cultural workers as organic intellectuals (2008)
DOI link for Cultural workers as organic intellectuals (2008)
Cultural workers as organic intellectuals (2008) book
Can artistic and cultural practices still play a critical role in societies in which every critical gesture is quickly recuperated and neutralized by the dominant powers? Such a question is increasingly raised, and there is no agreement about the answer. Many people argue that in our consumer societies aesthetics has triumphed in all realms and that the eﬀect of this triumph has been the creation of a hedonistic culture in which there is no longer any place for art to provide a truly subversive experience. The blurring of the lines between art and advertising is such that the possibility of critical public spaces has lost its meaning. We are now living in societies where even the public has become privatized. Indeed, reﬂecting on the growth of the global culture industry some theorists
claim that Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s worst nightmares have become true. The production of symbols is today a central goal of capitalism, and, through the development of the creative industries, individuals are now totally subjugated to the control of capital. Not just consumers but also cultural producers are prisoners of the culture industry dominated by media and entertainment corporations. They have been transformed into passive eﬀects of the capitalist system. Fortunately, this pessimistic diagnosis is not shared by everybody. For instance
there are theorists who claim that the analysis of Adorno and Horkheimer, based as it is on the Fordist model, no longer provides a useful guide to examine the new forms of production that have become dominant in the current post-Fordist mode of capitalist regulation. They see those new forms of production as creating new modes of resistance pointing towards a revitalization of an emancipatory project to which artistic practices could make a decisive contribution. Such a view is supported by insights from André Gorz, who has said:
When self-exploitation acquires a central role in the process of valorization, the production of subjectivity becomes a terrain of the central conﬂict …
social relations that elude the grasp of value, competitive individualism and market exchange make the latter appear by contrast in their political dimension, as extensions of the power of capital. A front of total resistance to this power is made possible which necessarily overﬂows the terrain of production of knowledge towards new practices of living, consuming and collective appropriation of common spaces and everyday culture.