Is there a "post-industrial Marx"?
September 27, 2012 8:29 AM   Subscribe

Is there a "post-industrial Marx"?

Forgive me if this is a stupid question, I'm not up on my political & economic theory. If Marx was writing at the height of the industrial revolution about working conditions brought about by the shift in Western economic development from an agrarian to an industrial economy, is there a contemporary writer (or maybe not so contemporary at this point) who has written about the shift from an industrial economy to a post-industrial (high-tech and service-sector) economy? Specifically, one with an analogous influence and importance to Marx? What would be a good starting point for researching this topic?
posted by deathpanels to Religion & Philosophy (10 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The Frankfurt School might fulfil some parts of what you're looking for. Manuel Castells also.

However, nobody has the standing and importance that Marx does, not even Habermas, who might come nearest in late years.
posted by Jehan at 8:42 AM on September 27, 2012

I think it will be hard to find someone who has had "analogous influence and importance" as Marx. Antonio Negri has definitely written about post-industrial economies, permeability of nation/state boundaries and the sprawlly spread (and increasing vulnerability) of "empire".
posted by subtle-t at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2012

Immanuel Wallerstein may also be worth a look. Some of his work attempts the same sort of systemic analysis that Marx did.
posted by subtle-t at 8:53 AM on September 27, 2012

Douglas Coupland.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:57 AM on September 27, 2012

I would argue that Milton Friedman is the closest.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:57 AM on September 27, 2012

The short answer to this is yes. The long answer is holycrap this is a huge question that touches on a LOT of different threads.

You might find this essay interesting but please consider the source! This is not an unbiased account.

Clicking around on Wikipedia might be helpful (I agree you might want to check out Habermas) but I have a hard time synthesizing information from dozens of wikipedia articles, all of which leave stuff out. Daniel Bell is another important name here- he was one of the people who first described the "post-industrial society" although he was not coming from a Marxist perspective.

I've really been looking for a good summary/review of the literature on this subject more broadly, so I'll be following this thread with interest.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2012

I think you're talking about Marx's prediction regarding the subordination of direct labor power to mobilization of immaterial labor for value creation, described in Grundrisse.
posted by parmanparman at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2012

It occurs to me that another divison here is whether or not one believes that post-industrial will ever translate into post-capitalist.

Kim Stanley Robinson, for example, has explored post-capitalist/post-industrial economic and social concepts extensively in his fiction. Despite the sci-fi premise that a lot of "industrial" work must be done to colonize the solar system, most of it is done by robots, overseen by relatively few humans. KSR seems to predict a funneling of effort into the sciences and cultural pursuits and a sort of techno-utopian bottom-up Mondragon co-op economy. This is all fiction, not hard academic work, but Robinson is drawing on the work of real economists and social theorists. (For example some flavor of eco-economics shows up in his work.)
posted by Wretch729 at 9:18 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

You may want to check out Paolo Virno's work, though it would be hard to find someone as important or influential as Marx. Virno comes from the same school as thought as Negri (the Italian autonomists), mentioned above, and similarly works on the "multitude," a way of life that is not synonymous with the working class or anything like that.
posted by synecdoche at 9:31 AM on September 27, 2012

"For Baudrillard, it was consumption, rather than production, which was the main drive in capitalist society."
posted by mediated self at 1:32 AM on October 6, 2012

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