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ABOUT The World ...  

Par Claude Chastagner, professeur d'anglais à l'Université Paul Valéry à Montpellier.

   Fan Power Battling for power on the Internet 

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This turns fans, too, into unreliable rebels. 

Now that the battles are waged for the right to consume, that consumption has become the ultimate link between people: no true political contests remain. As a matter of fact, all the rebellious movements of the last forty years have served the interests of global capitalism. What was advocated (and still is) as the necessary condition to free the individual from the shackles of capitalism and conservative, bourgeois regimes was the abolition of taboos and prescriptions, religion and customs.

Still, all these restrictions represented a check to the spread of capitalism. Capitalism thrives on the destruction of the past; it requires the free, mobile, fast-going, isolated consumer, contemptuous of traditions, the new wo/man brought about by the portable phone, the lap-top computer, and commercial TV and radio; the files-sharing individual. 

There is no contradiction in being a vocal, committed supporter of Napster or Comic Relief while consuming media products; both attitudes are complementary. The structure (and not necessarily the contents) of popular culture may have once been subversive, but those days are gone.

  If capitalism has become both the enemy to slay and the instrument with which to slay it, if consumption has become the weapon to fight consumer society, is there any means of subversion left?

  How is it possible to be at the same time in and out, to rebel without seceding, to subvert without renouncing, to enjoy without giving up or selling out? Lyotard once suggested that science and technology, whose capacity for change and taste for the unknown challenge conformity and authority, could be such means. But capitalism thrives on the dynamic of change and innovation, too. Would then a dystopian conclusion be fitting, should we concur with Lyotard that the monopoly of information has stifled the revolutionary, disalienating power of technology, that the individual has been manufactured in such a way that any rebellion is unconceivable?

The way young America will grow should tell us, once more, the way the worlds will grow.

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° Rubrique About The World