Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Of Marx and Media: The Current Paroxysms Taking Place in the Trade Media Industry Were Actually Foretold by Karl Marx 150 Years Ago

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Of Marx and Media: The Current Paroxysms Taking Place in the Trade Media Industry Were Actually Foretold by Karl Marx 150 Years Ago

Article excerpt

MARXIST DOCTRINE has it that socioeconomic change is driven by technological improvements in the means of production. As the technology in use becomes increasingly advanced, it triggers schisms in the structure of society, which eventually manifest as a revolution--resulting in a new means of production under new ownership.

Applied to our own trade media industry, the parallels are clear: Traditional media businesses (print, events, video) have been massively disrupted by the advent of the internet, which completely blew up the traditional "means of production" by allowing users to not only find the information they need--for free--on the web, but also to self-publish through social media and other channels.

The resulting revolution was supposed to free end users from the shackles of exploitation and oppression imposed by 20th century publishers, creating a 21st century egalitarian "knowledge society," one defined by collective ownership of web-based information.

But it is at this point that Marxist theory goes awry, just as it did when put into practice by communist states around the world.

Communism didn't work because it assumed that the members of society would be happy to participate in a system where all shared equally. Turns out, humans are an unpleasant and grasping species, predisposed to always wanting more than the next fellow (and quite comfortable treading on their faces to climb to the top of the pile and get at it).

Similarly, and from the perspective of consumers of B2B news and analysis, the internet doesn't work because 99 percent of the content on it is unfiltered, unedited, unreliable, and, well, a bit shit, really (and finding the 1 percent of quality out of the whole is almost impossible). …

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