Globalization Technological Revolution and the Restructuring of Capitalism

Behind the genesis and ascendancy of the expansion of media spectacle, the rise of megaspectacle and of the new virtual spectacle of cyberspace and an emerging Virtual Reality (VR), are the twin phenomena of the global restructuring of capitalism and the technological revolution resulting from the explosion of new forms of media and communication technology, computer and information technology, and, on the horizon, biotechnology. In earlier writings, I introduced the concept of technocapitalism to describe a configuration of capitalist society in which technical and scientific knowledge, computerization, automation of labour and intelligent technology play a role in the process of production analogous to the function of human labour power and the mechanization of the labour process in an earlier era of capitalism (Kellner 1989). The technological revolution and global restructuring of capital continues to generate new modes of societal organization, polity, sovereignty, forms of culture and everyday life, and new types of contestation.

Thus, as developing countries move into the new millennium, their inhabitants, and others throughout the globe, find themselves in an ever-proliferating infotainment society, a globally networked economy, and an Internet technoculture. Contemporary theorists find themselves in a situation, I would suggest, parallel to the Frankfurt school in the 1930s which theorized the emergent configurations of economy, polity, society and culture brought about by the transition from market to state monopoly capitalism. In their now classical texts, they accordingly analyzed the novel forms of social and economic organization, technology, and culture, including the rise of giant corporations and cartels and the capitalist state in 'organized capitalism,' in both its fascist or 'democratic' state capitalist forms. _ They also engaged the culture industries and mass culture which served as new oc types of social control, novel forms of ideology and domination, and a potent j= configuration of culture and everyday life (Kellner 1989).

o In terms of political economy, the emerging postindustrial form of lè technocapitalism is characterized by a decline of the state and increased power of the market, accompanied by the growing strength of globalized transnational Ë corporations and governmental bodies and decreased force of the nation-state and m its institutions (Kellner 2002). To paraphrase Max Horkheimer, whoever wants to talk about capitalism, must talk about globalization, and it is impossible to theorize globalization without talking about the restructuring of capitalism.

Globalization involves the flow of goods, information, culture and entertainment, people, and capital across a new networked economy, society, and culture (see the documentation in Castells 1996, 1997, and 1998). Like the new technologies, it is a complex phenomenon which involves positive and negative features, costs and benefits, an upside and a downside. Yet, like theories of new technologies, most theories of globalization are either primarily negative, seeing it as a disaster for the human species, or as positive, bringing new products, ideas, and wealth to a global arena. As with technology, I propose a critical theory of globalization that would dialectically appraise its positive and negative features, its contradictions and ambiguities; a theory that is sharply critical of its negative effects, skeptical of legitimating ideological discourse, but that also recognizes the centrality of the phenomenon in the present and that affirms and develops its positive features (see Kellner 2002).

To conclude: developing countries and the globalized world are emerging into a culture of media spectacle that constitutes a novel configuration of economy, society, politics, and everyday life. It involves new cultural forms, social relations, and modes of experience. It is producing an ever-expanding spectacle culture with its proliferating media spectacle, megaspectacles, and interactive spectacles. Critical social theory thus faces compelling challenges in theoretically mapping and analyzing these emergent forms of culture and society and the ways that they may contain novel forms of domination and oppression as well as potential for democratization and social justice.

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