[Marxism] New Left Review - Rob Lucas: Xanadu as Phalanstery
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 14 17:51:24 MDT 2014
[Jaron] Lanier’s shadow-boxing partner throughout all this is a vision
of Marxism or socialism that would befit a hard-bitten Cold Warrior.
This is the necessary dark alternative to his utopian techno-capitalism,
the future that we risk if we don’t find a solution to the problem of
the threatened ‘middle class’. Again, he isn’t alone in having such
concerns: Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee feel a need in their
latest book, The Second Machine Age, to define their own prescriptions
for similar maladies against projections of non-capitalist alternatives.
But anti-communism is a peculiarly persistent theme in Lanier’s writing.
Given the general absence, for the duration of his literary career so
far, of any significant social agent that might actually put such an
alternative on the agenda, this would appear an odd ideological
tic—perhaps the residue of an old polarization between a ‘new communist
movement’ and the hippy new communalists who first peopled the
electronic frontier. But its presence here might be read more
interestingly as a function of Lanier’s own concern with speculative
utopias, and with the secular trajectory of capitalism—concerns which
cause his thinking to repeatedly run up against a nightmarish Marxist
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