Originally printed in the New Left Review, no. 64, , pp. Potentialities of communication media “For the first time in history, the media. Media do not produce objects which can be hoarded. Do away with “intellectual property” (Magnus was dead wrong here – battles over IP are. A Theory of the Media. [ Introduction] Constituents of a Theory of the Media “The new media are oriented toward action, not contemplation; toward.

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His approach, has not been matched by any theory since then, far less further developed.

Constituents of a Theory of Media – Hans Magnus Enzenberger by Christopher Robinson on Prezi

To an ever greater degree the work of art reproduced becomes the work of art designed for reproducibility These alienating factors cannot be eradicated from written literature. And this is what ocnstituents bourgeoisie also aims at. With simple adjustments the transister radio could be made into a two-way system. Microphone and camera abolish the class character of the mode of production not of the production itself. To the programs offered by the broadcasting cartels there correspond the politics offered by a power cartel consisting of parties constituted along authoritarian lines.

Enzensberger provides an example of telephone and telegram to explain this further. Certainly his little finger has experienced more of the productive power of the new media than all the ideological commissions of the CPSU and their endless resolutions and directives put together. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

The author becomes a part of a group who produce the new media. Spelling mistakes, which are completely immaterial in terms of communication, are punished by the social disqualification of the writer. Every foray into this territory is regarded from the start lf suspicion as a step towards integration.


The process not only changes the old burdensome craft secrets in the superstructure into white elephants, it also conceals a genuinely destructive element. Hans Magnus Enzensberger was born in in Kaufbeuren, a small town in Bavaria. When carried to extremes, such attempts to produce interaction, even when it goes against the structure of the medium employed, are nothing more than invitations to freewheel.

Constituents of a Theory of the Media

By contrast, protracted structural crises as in coal-mining can be solved merely by getting rid of a backlog, that is to say, essentially they can be solved within the terms of their own system and a revolutionary strategy that relied on them would be short-sighted.

This sets its stamp for ever on written communication — on its tone, its syntax, and its whole style. The counter reaction to this fear is the split that results among the political active groups and the subcultural groups.

Its social significance, particularly in its most positive form, is inconceivable without its destructive, cathartic aspect, that is, the liquidation of the traditional value of the cultural heritage. The sentence — the medium is the message — transmits yet another message, however, and a much more important one.

It is capable of determining the standards of the prevailing technologies. These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of tradition which is the obverse of the contemporary crisis and renewal of mankind.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger: Constituents of a Theory of the Media () | Excerpter

This fact finds formal expression in his techniques. A further characteristic of the most advanced media—probably the decisive one—confirms this thesis: Revolutionary situations always bring with them discontinuous, spontaneous changes brought about by the masses in the constituenhs aggregate of the media. The general contradiction between productive forces and productive relationships emerges most sharply, however, when they are most advanced. We can only now recognize the nature of its striving.


This brings us to an important point, which is also presented by Enzensberger that the new media is egalitarian in structure.

The one remarkable thing about the television set, according to him, is that it moves — a thesis which in view of the nature of American programs has, admittedly, something attractive about it.

But fear of handling shit is a luxury a sewer-man cannot necessarily afford. Naive tneory in the magical power of reproduction cannot replace organizational work; only active and coherent groups can force the media to comply with the logic of their actions.

In the face of such illusions, what must be firmly held on to is that the proper use of the media demands organization and makes it possible. With the development of the electronic media, the industry that shapes consciousness has become the pacemaker for the social and economic development of societies in the late industrial age. Archaic media like the handwritten pamphlet and poems orally transmitted play an important role.

But strategically his role is clear. Both processes are intimately connected with the contemporary mass movements.