The rhetorical power of postmodern capitalism is its capacity to translate its products into different discursive registers and achieve even a limited proliferation that opens markets for yet other acts of representation. In this context, the traditionally defined proletariat is defined less by the theft of its physical power [ala traditional Marxism]—labor power per se—than by its exclusion from the diverse media through which the economy produces its effects. The primary basis for formulating class interests and articulating class consciousness would thus have to begin with redefining what we mean by rights to the mass media and the technologies they embody. Such rights or competencies would have to be understood today as the political and economic refunctioning of the narrowly educational rights to cultural literacy.
I love the way Rowe manages to pack into one powerful punch—the debate around cultural literacy, the debate over theories of class, a reformulation of class theories, and a critique of mass/corporate media control. Rather than simply falling into the trap of seeing cultural literacy issues as purely social issues, Rowe ties them to the economic.
Today I ended up getting wrapped up in this article, and while I had difficulty getting through it, ended up taking almost three pages of notes. I didn't get to the other two scheduled article/essay. And I have to get ready for tonight's tennis match. Hopefully I'll have enough energy when I get home to cover the Bizzell piece.