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General Intellect or Collective Idiocy? Digital Mobs and Social Media Mobilization
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-26, 14:39 authored by Joss Hands
One of the most revisited concepts in critical and media theory is that of general intellect, as originally outlined by Karl Marx in his celebrated “Fragment on Machines.” The concept is often framed as containing a liberatory promise, that is, “empowerment” via the destruction of the value of labor power, and thus the capacity of capital to generate surplus value. The article will ask whether, in the context of neoliberalism and social media mobilizations, such intelligence is indeed “intelligent.” It explores the possibility that we are now closer to a general “idiocy” and that the likely decomposition of the common into a privatized neoliberal aggregation of individuals produces something closer to what Martin Heidegger refers to as the “they.” The concluding position is that the most likely route out of idiocy is the self-conscious cultivation of an “active” general intellect for the social media age.
Publication titlePopular Communication
PublisherTaylor & Francis