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On the cultural industry

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Soviet cogitations: 237
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 28 Jul 2014, 17:55
Usual interpretation of the concept of ideology teaches us that ideology is the pure and simple set of organizing ideas generated by the ruling elite, as if, in the momment of generating ideology, the burgeoise class was able to unite themselves as a single voice. This would make ideology the result of a public aparattus of non-contradicting theory, almost like a parallel science (This can be partially true in a police state, but no one ever reaches total control over culture). Ideology, being just a legitimizing discourse and not a true search for the truth (in the sense of a scientifical discourse) must adapt first to political interests of the one who speaks, his on personal prejudices, his standpoint as member of a social class, his standpoint as a historical man, from a certain country, from a certain era etc. So, in the light of the aforementionated biases, man - as the creator of culture - imprints his own set of views in the art and leisure it creates. On the other side, on those who are receptors of the culture, its consumers, a certain set of deeply held beliefs and prejudices work as to modulate the culture he is interacting with. For the proletariat, partially unconscious about their own class interests, and so lacking something that would protect it from the ideological unslaught, this means accepting a burgeoise discourse as if it was his own. Culture is not a monolithic structure created top-to-bottom, but a live group of ideas (and so people) that constantly interacts with each other, destroying culture, recreating culture etc.

For one, when hollywood produces a movie about a terrorist attack on an airplane, they do so embeddeding into it a set of interpretations for the motivations of the terrorists (not as if they simple decided to defend oficial version, but because the oficial version of history is their only source of explanations for the events), they do so from a point of view of a certain subset of the rulling class of USA. If this same movie becomes an international sucess, reaching audiences from all over the world, this results in an effect where the culture (and so the interests) of a specific class of USA groups becomes common sense in the minds of the people from other countries.

If scientifically we might connect terrorist activity with the belligerant thought of islam, fundamentalism as a defense against imperialism, a certain patriarcal masoquistic attitude to life (were commiting the uttmost act against ones own body - death - is seen as - simbolically - better than feed its own eartly desires) and other factors that can very well escape scientifical thought, ideology comes to create a simplistic set of ideas that can explain the reasons behind terrorist activity without touching the core historical problems that can explain the events in much more depth.

But this is not only because ideology is simpler. In politics we must resort to plans and programs, that are the necessary result of a set of problems being faced by a historical group as a whole. To put it in another way, if USA has problems with terrorism, the whole country needs a answer to it, a group of ideas (a project) that must be implemented to solve said problem. But, if the problem is faced by almost the whole country, the solutions are not necessarely in the interests of this whole country. So, the thinkers of each class develop ideas to form their own programs on how to solve this collective problem. This is a class program.

So, when hollywood produces a movie about terrorists, it must chose a discourse to permeate this movie and explain the motivations of said terrorists. Hollywood being a private venture, working on a profit basis, cannot chose a discourse that goes against his own interests. So they use the discourses (and the ruling class is not necessarely united in a single discourse) that best fit their interests or that at least dont put their interests at risk. This were the class program, being propagated by powerfull media entities, becomes a national program (gains cultural hegemony). The result is that other groups (a class is made of not only individuals but groups too) accept the political program of a group or class as if it was their own political program. Culture of the more powerfull reaches hegemony and becomes the national program on how to deal with terrorism (for one). So instead of dealing with the root problems that generates terrorism, USA goes on to apply military pressure on islamic countries (becouse the burgeoise of USA cannot solve that another way), wich can - for some time - solve the terrorism problem, but cannot preventing it from reappearing another day. This can be applied to various questions that USA are dealing today, and not only to the terrorism problem.
Soviet cogitations: 1128
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 28 Jul 2014, 18:54
I think the key issue here that we need to remember is that culture - or rather, objects of culture - are circulated as commodities in bourgeois society. This by no means guarantees they will circulate however. The market needs its demands to be satisfied in order to consume the commodity and cultural commodities are no different. People will only pay to see a film about anti-terrorism if the bourgeois cultural message of anti-terrorism has already been embedded in society as part of an ideology. Yet it is precisely through things like films that such an ideology can be embedded in the first place. Therefore we end up with a whole chicken and egg scenario: does the bourgeoisie create the market's demands or is the bourgeoisie merely responding to (and simultaneously perpetuating) the market's a-priori demands?

I suppose the answer lies somewhere in the middle. The fact that the bourgeoisie is able to get its message across in all forms of cultural medias is because it owns them and has a monopoly on this ownership. Films, books, magazines, tv, sports, etc. are all privately owned by the bourgeoisie and circulated as valorised commodities. Considering the previous market (i.e. pre-capitalist market) was still one based around private property, the market itself was prepared right from its bourgeois inception to accept cultural commodities which appealed to an ideology which expounded private property. In this way the bourgeoisie always had a platform upon which it could impose its own particular form of private property as an ideology to its cultural commodity consumers (the market).

This presents a challenge today when trying to break this cycle of market-feeds-bourgeoisie - bourgeoisie-determines-market (i.e. the market determines its own ideology with the role of bourgeoisie as mediator and guarantor). If a non-bourgeois firm (i.e. a co-operative) tries to culturally influence a bourgeois market through selling "socialist" cultural commodities, it is forced to adapt its operations completely to fit the bourgeois market and its ideology. If it produces a cultural commodity that doesn't suit the ideology of the market, it won't sell and the market will remain largely unaffected. If it does suit the ideological market then it will only serve to perpetuate this market ideology. I suppose the main solution to this would be to target such publications at a time of general crisis whereby the material conditions of the market economy have broken down somewhat so that they become at odds with the ideology of the bourgeois narrative. When the material market no longer fits its ideology, suggest a new ideology to the market!
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 237
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 28 Jul 2014, 21:12
Well, i agree that after a cultural product does a first time treatment on a certain subject, this makes the masses more inclined to, later, accept similar treatments done on follow on titles. Because we usually stay with what is already known. Even such first timers are not totally new, they usually reorganize older elements into a new interpretation, without total rupture.

So we must ask ourselves why most works done in a theme that is new, is usually done by the burgeoise class, and so they set the tone and expectations of the consumers. I believe this is because when a theme is new, it is uncertain if it will generate revenue, then only those groups who acumulated enought capital, so as to be able to risk it in a gamble, are the ones who can explore it. So a movie can be at the same time quite progressive in its themes and use of technology and at the same time regressive in its discourse.
Soviet cogitations: 1128
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 28 Jul 2014, 22:53
Work in new themes is done by the bourgeoisie because they are the owners and controllers of production in society. A worker can write the most radical novel ever, but he can't get it published unless he finds a bourgeois-owned publishing house to publish it. At this point the bourgeois publishers may well decide (quite rightly) that this novel would not sell enough copies on the market to justify the initial expense of having it published. Therefore the novel would not see the light of day.

Most new cultural themes remain underground and spread largely by word of mouth until their popularity (i.e. market compatibility) is assured. Take punk rock. The early punks never got paid more than the bare minimum and their music remained largely underground and hidden until the bourgeois music industry realised the scene was popular enough to invest in. It was only then that it took off and became "mainstream". You will also notice that many music fans feel that certain genres of music lose a lot of their "soul/essence" etc. once they become produced by the bourgeoisie for the mass market. At this point the music tends to become less experimental, less cutting-edge and far more safe as the bourgeois publishers simply want it to stick to a formula that is guaranteed to sell. We have seen it with pop, punk, hip-hop and many other genres. They start off as cool underground scenes and then become bland parodies of themselves once they are mass produced for the market by the bourgeoisie.

So while some bourgeoisie may gamble on a new theme, it is often only after it has been road-tested by a sizeable portion of the market already.
Soviet cogitations: 12389
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
Ideology: None
Philosophized
Post 29 Jul 2014, 21:26
gRed Britain wrote:
Work in new themes is done by the bourgeoisie because they are the owners and controllers of production in society. A worker can write the most radical novel ever, but he can't get it published unless he finds a bourgeois-owned publishing house to publish it. At this point the bourgeois publishers may well decide (quite rightly) that this novel would not sell enough copies on the market to justify the initial expense of having it published. Therefore the novel would not see the light of day.


To some extent, this is changing, thanks to social media. For example, the opportunity to self-publish via shared e-book platforms such as the one hosted by Amazon is giving writers a whole new license to publish all sorts of gems, nonsense, and trivia. You can publish an e-book on the platform, then build a website and get FB and Twitter accounts to self-promote your work with.

Naturally, this won't translate instantly into mega-sales unless you're producing something that strikes a chord with the audience, which is why 90% of these works will most likely remains ephemeral vanity productions. Nonetheless, the Internet is giving new writers the opportunity to produce works without having to please fickle editors or adapt to the slavish standards of "political correctness", etc.
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
Soviet cogitations: 1128
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 29 Jul 2014, 23:32
Yes the internet does provide this format, but as you say, not many people are likely to encounter any work which differs from the established consumption habits of the market. Remember that new music, books, art, films etc. are advertised by big bourgeois publishing agencies (which obviously costs a lot of money). This is how they bring their commodities to the consciousness of the market. If I were to publish my own book on my own little website, I would hardly get any readers unless I heavily advertised it. The only people who would find it would be the people who deliberately searched it out.
Soviet cogitations: 1
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Apr 2018, 09:17
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 23 Apr 2018, 03:26
Thank you for the information presented.
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