Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Apparatus of Communication by Jacques Derrida

These apparatuses are doubtless complex, differential, conflictual, and over-determined. But whatever may be the conflicts, inequalities, or over-determinations among them, they communicate and cooperate at every moment towards producing the greatest force with which to assure the hegemony or the imperialism in question. They do so thanks to the mediation of what is called precisely the media in the broadest, most mobile, and considering the acceleration of technical advances, most technologically invasive sense of this term. As it has never done before to such a degree or in these forms, the politico-economic hegemony, like the intellectual or discursive domination, passes by way of techno-mediatic power – that is, by a power that at the same time, in a differentiated and contradictory fashion, conditions and endangers democracy.

Now this power, this differentiated set of powers cannot be analyzed or potentially combated, supported here, attacked there, without taking into account so many spectral effects:

The new speed of apparition (we understand this word in its ghostly sense) of the simulacrum, the synthetic or prosthetic image, and the virtual event, cyberspace and surveillance, the control, the appropriations, and the speculations that today deploy unheard of powers.

Have Marx and his heirs helped us to think and to treat this phenomena? If we say that the answer to this question is at once yes and no, yes in one respect, no in another, and that one must filter, select, differentiate, restructure the questions, it is only in order to announce, (in too preliminary a fashion) the tone and the general form of our conclusions: namely, that one must assume the inheritance of Marxism, assume its most “living” part, which is to say, paradoxically, that which continues to put back on the drawing board the question of life, spirit, or the spectral, of life-death beyond the opposition between life and death.

This inheritance must be reaffirmed by transforming it as radically as will be necessary. Such a reaffirmation would be both faithful to something that resonates in Marx’s appeal –let us say once again in the spirit of his injunction [to demand justice] – and in conformity with the concept of inheritance in general. . . Inheritance is never a given, it is always a task.

Conjuring-Marxism, UC Riverside, 1993

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