Originally printed in the New Left Review, no. 64, , pp. Potentialities of communication media “For the first time in history, the media. Media do not produce objects which can be hoarded. Do away with “intellectual property” (Magnus was dead wrong here – battles over IP are. A Theory of the Media. [ Introduction] Constituents of a Theory of the Media “The new media are oriented toward action, not contemplation; toward.

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Hans Magnus Enzensberger was born in in Kaufbeuren, a small town in Bavaria. He was German author, poet, translator, and an editor. Many of his poems also feature themes of civil unrest over economic and class based issues. Though primarily a poet and essayist, he also made excursions into theater, film, opera, radio drama, reportage, translation, et al.

He has also written novels and several books for children. Through this essay, Hans Magnus Enzensberger calls for a much needed participatory model of communication and information exchange in opposition to the capitalist systems controlled by the bourgeoisie and influential class, who are, for reasons defined in the essay, inappropriate to handle the new media to its maximum. He is asking the new socialist left to rethink the use of media and define radical changes to encourage reciprocation of information across classes.

Being a classic Marxist thinker, you will find some marxists concepts pertinent in the essay.

In the Marxist theory, the human society consist of two essential parts: The base consists of forces and relations of production—the employer-employee working conditions, the technical division of labor, thdory property relations—into which people enter to produce the necessities of life.

Establishing a connection, the base determines the superstructure, not to forget that superstructures do influence the base but the base dominates. Remembering these two concepts is important as they are used in the essay and provides better perspective to the ideas presented by the author. The Consciousness Industry 3. It has developed at such a pace, and assumed such varied forms, that it has outgrown our understanding and our control. The current discussion of media also seems to suffer from theoretical limitations as we are failing to understand the phenomenon as a whole.

This cannot be constitjents by examining the machine as such. It is much wnzensberger. It reflects, more than the scope of the phenomenon itself, the social status of those who have tried to analyze it: In other words, they are certified harmless; they are suppose to think in terms of Kultur German civilization and culture sometimes used derogatorily to suggest elements of racism, authoritarianism, or militarism and not in terms of power.

Consciousness, however false, can be induced and reproduced by industrial means, but it cannot be industrially produced.

It is a social product made up by the people; its origin is the dialog. No industrial process can replace the persons who generate it. It is capable of determining the standards of the prevailing technologies. There are several forms of media which have com up in the past few years. When such universal systems are produces, the contradiction between the productive forces and the productive relationships also augments.

It refers to the combination of the means of labor with human labor power.

Constituents of a Theory of the Media

All those forces that are applied by people in the production processes are encompassed by this concept. To sum up, human knowledge can also be a productive force. Marx sought to define class as embedded in productive relationships rather than enzensbdrger status. Being attentive to all this is good, but not enough.

Constituents of a Theory of the Media | What’s new, new media? | FANDOM powered by Wikia

For the media to be productive, we need to exploit the emancipatory potential of the new media. This potential lies in the fact of opening up the mediw, encouraging reciprocity of information between the transmitter and the receiver, and encouraging feedback. All these thoughts leads us to the fact that it is important to mobilize the media, which in itself is an important concept. However, due to politics, this is not achieved, and thus the technical distinctions between the receiver and the transmitter always persists.


This clearly reflects the social division of the labor — the consumers and the producers, which in the consciousness industry becomes of political importance.

Typically, any feedback given by the masses is reduced to some indices, as part of some election agenda. Enzensberger quotes enzfnsberger Theory of Ot building on the thought presented above: Radio constituengs be the most wonderful means of communication imaginable in public life, a huge linked system—that is to say, it would be such if it were capable not only of transmitting but of receiving of allowing the listener not only to hear but to speak and did not isolate him but brought him into contact.

Unrealizable in this social system, reliable in another these proposals, which are after all, only the natural consequences of technical development help towards the propagation and shaping of that other system. The possibility of total control of such a system at a central point are the talks of past.

It postulates the high degree of internal stability If this precarious balance is upset, then the crisis measured on the statistical methods of control are useless. It needs to be recognized that societies in the late industrial era require a robust information exchange platform.

Any attempt to block this will result in a block in the entire system. All this will eventually result in death constutuents the system. It was quite evident that the Soviet had to pay price for such a repression. With this Enzensberger says that the problem of censorship is entering a new historical stage. The freedom of press and information has been, like mentioned in the essay earlier, is concentrated only with the bourgeoisie.

Slowly, one can see the transformation already in the form of the consciousness industry taking an upper hand. Cultural Archaism in the Left Critique. While we know that the consciousness industry is about to bring forth a radical change in the way media is perceived, it is important to discuss the concept of manipulation, which till now helped in self learning and development.

Unfortunately, the socialist left till now have not proven anything in terms of handling the media in the right direction. The theory of repressive tolerancewhich is in itself an important concept, has also permeated discussion of the media by the left.

This og has also become a vehicle of resignation among the left socialist. Electronic media, innately, is dirty. Enzensberger says that in structure, media is typically anti-sectarian, and this the reason why the left has not yet thought of a reform. Enzensberger says that it seems that because of their progressive potential, the media are seen to be a threat as they challenge the bourgeoisie culture and thereby the privileges of the intelligentsia.

He concludes by saying that the ability to harness the true potential of media is genuinely lacking. The counter reaction to this fear is the split that results among the political active groups and the subcultural groups. The only beneficiary of this antagonistic attitude of the Left towards the media is the capitalist.

We talked about manipulation as part of the cultural archaism.

Any form of media is required to be first manipulated and then produced even the live telecast of the sting operations that we see.

So, the bigger question is not the fact that media are manipulated, but who manipulates them? Such manipulation can be encountered only with the direct social control. Though there is no such example till now wherein a direct social interaction of media has mmedia made possible, but the capitalist knows that this is a possibility of the future and they thus fear the realization of the true potential of media is about to come through. To look at this in perspective with the current media order, such talks read and sound like fairy-tale.

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It is unimaginable for many to see a close world order like the one presented above. With internet burgeoning and media opening the public communication platform, we are, to a great extent, learning to harness the power the media as a medium for exchange of information. This brings us to an important point, which is also presented by Enzensberger that the new media is egalitarian in structure.

And this is proven well from the point above that tyeory now is participating in the process of information exchange and thereby learning themselves.

Properties of the New Media. Hence, it would be wrong to say that media equipments are mere means of consumption, they are transforming into means of production. Enzensberger provides an example of telephone and telegram to explain this further. Telegram is still in the hands of bureaucracy, telephone is accessible to everyone.

The former is till now, in the hands of the bureaucracy. Enzensberger says that the laws that regulate the transmission are antiquated and needs enzensbergeg be reformed in the foreseeable future. Even if the gap between the receiver and transmitter is closed, the prospect of anyone becoming a producer with the use of media will be limited to individual tinkering.

And this is what the bourgeoisie also aims at. Even if we hand over the media to individuals, it will more so become a site of mockery by the professional media producers as it will clearly show that the masses do not know how to use the media properly, thus proving them to be incapable to be able to articulate. Any socialist strategy for media firstly need to remove the isolation of the individuals from the learning and production process of the media itself.

The idea of having an open media is not just easy exchange of information but also instigating higher level of learning and involvement in the process. All this demands a higher and mature level of organization of the media.

Availability of the media is something Enzensberger questions in his constituent. It is like questioning, how good is good. In short, for the emancipatory use of media, we need to decentralize the system, mobilize the masses, and introduce a medis and feedback.

The Subversive Power of the New Media. Everyone in the international class struggle recognizes the underlying power of media. Through this statement, we come to know about the immense potential of media.

There are enormous political and cultural energies hidden in the masses. With their imagination and freedom, they can harness the opportunities offered by the new media. Enzensberger considers Walter Benjamin as the most prescient harbinger of the potential that new media encompass. He outlines the reciprocal correlation between the author and the masses: This is further proven in the understanding of media by Marshall McLuhan.

It tell us that the bourgeoisie does indeed have all possible means at its disposal to communicate, but the fact is it has nothing more left to say. Enzensberger says that it is ideologically sterile and incapable of making any appropriate use of media. The Achievement of Benjamin. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence and in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced.

These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of tradition which is the obverse of the contemporary crisis and renewal of mankind. Both processes are intimately connected with the contemporary mass movements. The most powerful agent is the film.