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Issue No. 026

Vol. 26 - Dec 2017
Information Ethics from a Marxian Perspective
edited by Marco Schneider and Ricardo M. Pimenta

Marx is en vogue. That is a matter of fact - not (only) due to the 200th anniversary of his birthday in 2018. It's the issues Marx has dealt with (exploitation, alienation, inequalities etc.) that are (still) omnipresent and that keep his struggle with them modern over the years and years to come.

While Marx himself never finished his own elaborations on them he inspired many followers to do so (followers: what a modern term as well - Marx definitely would be a twitter star). That is both, a blessing and a curse. So many epigones claim Marxism for their (non-Marxian) purposes; they found a useful interpretation for their changing of the world to their own advantage (how ironic). On the other hand, so many scholars gained both: a strong motivation as well as an intellectual approach to ask the right questions and find the right answers to improve the conditions of the socially deprived and deal with injustice, poverty and overcoming social disadvantages.

As a philosopher, the best way to handle this area of tension is: "Forget about Marxism, read Marx!" If you look into the references in this issue that is what our authors have done and the insights they found on the interplay between the ideas of Marx and the issues of information ethics are both profound and inspiring themselves. But forget about this foreword, read the issue!

Sincerely yours,

the Editors.


Full Journal
pdf-fulltext (2.278 KB)

Introduction to Information Ethics from a Marxian Perspective
by Marco Schneider, Ricardo M. Pimenta
Language: English
pdf-fulltext (1.182 KB)

A Marxist Account of and Suggested Alternative to Capitalist Academic Publishing
by Wilhelm Peekhaus
Language: English
abstract:   This paper examines and situates theoretically from a Marxist political economic perspective the capitalist model of academic publishing using Marx’s concepts of ‘primitive accumulation’ and ‘alienation.’ Primitive accumulation, understood as a continuing historical process necessary for capital accumulation, offers a theoretical framework to make sense of contemporary erosions of the knowledge commons that result from various enclosing strategies employed by capitalist academic journal publishers. As a theoretical complement, the article further suggests that some of the elements of alienation Marx articulated in respect of capitalist-controlled production processes capture the estrangement experienced by the actual producers of academic publications. After offering a short assessment of the open-access movement as a remedial response to the enclosing and alienating effects inherent in the capitalist-controlled academic publishing industry, the article briefly outlines a suggested alternative model for academic publishing that, building on open-access projects, could radically subvert capitalist control.
pdf-fulltext (582 KB)

Polarization of information and knowledge: a dialectical approach
by Rodrigo Moreno Marques
Language: English
abstract:   This article discusses the polarization of information and knowledge, a phenomenon that is increasingly relevant in different spheres of the contemporary socioeconomic dynamics. According to this notion, founded mainly on the works of Karl Marx, information and knowledge are central elements in the contradictions between capital and labour, as well as in the internal contradictions of the working class. The idea of polarization of information and knowledge offers a critical point of view against the authors who, while trying to grasp the socioeconomic dynamics of our times, are captured by the enchantment of the techno-scientific progress. The article also adopts the Marxian concepts of universal labour and general intellect to argue that information, knowledge, and science are social constructions built collectively and should be treated as common goods. However, currently, the emancipatory perspective of the general intellect envisioned by Marx has been replaced by an opposite tendency: the private appropriation of the general intellect.
pdf-fulltext (578 KB)

Social Media and Algorithms: Configurations of the Lifeworld Colonization by New Media
by Carlos Figueiredo, César Bolaño
Language: English
abstract:    Social media is a pervasive part of everyday life. That is, new media occupies more and more spaces in individuals’ lives both in intimate and work sphere. In addition, due to convergence, new media brought together interpersonal and mass communications in the same environment. This fact has caused a wide range of changes in cultural industries. One of the main changes brought about by social media in relation to the mass media is the construction of a flow of content, advertising and propaganda customized for each individual, and constructed from surveillance and control of individuals’ interactions in digital networks. For so doing, one element is central: Algorithms. It is not only by means of contents produced by cultural workers or amateurs that social media guarantees the life world colonization by the system, but mainly through the tracking of user interactions. That is possible thanks to the data gathering performed by algorithms. Therefore, social networks colonize the life world in a more constant and pervasive way than mass media, facilitating surveillance and social control that are vital for both, the digital conglomerates economic power and the state capacity to watch individuals, either to strengthen the sales effort or to ensure citizen vigilance.
pdf-fulltext (600 KB)

Produção informacional na era do capitalismo neoliberal: uma crítica ética e dialética
by Bianca Rihan Pinheiro Amorim
Language: Portuguese
abstract:   This article discusses an ethical conception for informational production based on historical-dialectical materialism. Starting from the notion of ethics as a critical attitude towards hegemonic morality, we will make use of the categories of totality and historicity to formulate a critical argument for information submitted to the control of capital and as an instrument for the creation of a "morality" based on the values of the ruling class, both in the sphere of epistemological production, and in the economic and media spheres in times of neoliberal globalization. However, as a historical product, it also seems essential to present the information from the intervention of the human being in the world and, therefore, in permanent movement and dispute, being able to become an effective pillar for the ethical-political project of human emancipation, or the good in a universal sense of fact.
pdf-fulltext (564 KB)

Information ethics and information literacy: A material-historical study between capital and class struggle in the Marxian perspective
by Carla Viola
Language: English
abstract:   The present article analyzes ethics in Karl Marx perspectives, going through information ethics and information literacy that permeate individuation and class struggle in capitalist society. The objective is to approach critical reflection about dominated and dominant class’s ethics values proclaimed by author. In order to provide the desired research, I did literature review and digital documents consultation about the themes. Through this work, it is possible to identify that the author’s description of reality through historical materialism sought the dissemination of ethics through the ascertainment that individuals generate their stories, but these are not linked to their wills but directly linked to class formation and struggle as factors determining the circumstances under which the reality of society is constituted. It implies the search for mastery of language codes and information literacy to know, seize and disseminate information ethics aiming at the effective strategies elaboration to combat the ruling class hegemony.
pdf-fulltext (1.061 KB)

Walter Benjamin’s Concept of History and the plague of post-truth
by Marco Schneider; Ricardo M. Pimenta
Language: English
abstract:   Tomas Aquinas defined truth as the correspondence between things and understanding. Castro Alves paints the horror of the slave nautical traffic. In his essay On the Concept of History, Walter Benjamin reminds us: “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘emergency situation’ in which we live is the rule.” This ‘emergency situation’ was Fascism. Albert Camus defended his romance La Peste against the accusation of Roland Barthes that is was “dehors de l’histoire”, pointing out that it was not only about the recent historical phenomenon of Fascism, but also about the permanent risk of its rebirth. Agnes Heller associates faith with prejudice and alienation. The following article will explore the Thomist concept of truth, Benjamin’s concept of history, Camus’ allegory of the plague, Agnes Heller’s notion of faith and Castro Alves’ powerful denouncement of slave traffic, to better criticize the phenomenon of post-truth, a rebirth of fascist information practices.
pdf-fulltext (660 KB)

The Golem Allegories
by Ivan Capeller
Language: English
abstract:   This is the first piece of a three-part article about the allegorical aspects of the legend of the Golem and its epistemological, political and ethical implications in our Internet plugged-in connected times. There are three sets of Golem allegories that may refer to questions relating either to language and knowledge, work and technique, or life and existence. The Golem allegories will be read through three major narratives that are also clearly or potentially allegorical: Walter Benjamin’s allegory of the chess player at the very beginning of his theses On the Concept of History, William Shakespeare’s last play The Tempest and James Cameron’s movie The Terminator. Each one of these narratives is going to be considered as a key allegory for a determinate aspect of the Golem, following a three-movement reading of the Golem legend that structures this very text as its logical outcome.
pdf-fulltext (741 KB)

Trivium, arqui-segredos e pós-verdades
by Gustavo Silva Saldanha
Language: Portuguese
abstract:   The mode of making silence (the production of secrecy), as well as its distorted visibility (the production of post-truths) represents a set of informational practices of the historical forms of governing that come from the arcana misterii, or secrets of state. These secrets will be the basis for the development of discursive projections, which are consolidated by proliferation, defining, according to a critical interpretation of the linguistic-Marxian background, the daily post-truths in the big data era. This article puts into dialogue the relations between language, secret and post-truth in the contemporary scene. To this end, the reflection indicates the role of a certain cybernetic sophistics, founded on the confluence and application of the "liberal arts" of the trivium (rhetoric, logic and grammar), as the methodology for the construction of a Metainformational State, combining, from language, the relation between domination and defense from the elements of arch-secrets and post-truths.
pdf-fulltext (705 KB)

Contra o capital, em nome da humanidade: o sentido ético e político da luta pelo direito à informação
by Sylvia Debossan Moretzsohn
Language: Portuguese
abstract:   As the contradictions of capitalism push humanity to the brink of barbarism, the formulation of alternatives is an urgency that concerns the very survival of the species. But people need to know that these alternatives exist, to understand that it is worth fighting for them. Commanded by the great interests of capital, however, the infotelecommunications complex blocks these possibilities, while at the same time doing its systematic work of ideological dissemination. From this approach, and guided by the ethical perspective of human emancipation to which Marx dedicated his life, this article points out the ethical – and political – character of the struggle for the right to information and to public voice, and the priority of confronting the powerful infotelecommunication corporations. It shows the problems of this struggle in Brazilian society and its "culture of silence" tradition. It also discusses the recurring illusions of freedom in the face of new technologies. And it seeks to demonstrate why ethics is incompatible with a system that transforms people into commodities.
pdf-fulltext (617 KB)

Gainful game, set-up, cyberworld
by Michael Eldred
Language: English
abstract:   There is a critique of capitalist market economy that consists in claiming not only that capitalist social relations are uncaring and alienating, nor only exploitative of the working class, but that the process of capitalist economy as a whole is a way of living, today globalized, that has gotten out of hand. Its essential nature is unmasked as a senseless circular movement that, besides ruthlessly exploiting natural resources, demeans human being itself and alienates it from the historical alternative of a purportedly authentic mode of human being rooted in collective, solidaric subjectivity. The present article offers an alternative hermeneutic cast for understanding capitalism as the gainful game that can serve as philosophical orientation in fighting for a free and fair social interplay in which the powers and abilities of free individuals are appropriately and reciprocally estimated and esteemed. This requires, first and foremost, seeing through the fetishisms inherent in the valorization of reified value that the mature Marx identified in his critiques of political economy as the essential nature of capitalism. Such critical insight is necessary for orientation also in today’s predicament of the ever more encroaching and ensnaring cyberworld.
pdf-fulltext (336 KB)

Section with articles outside of the Marxian theme of this issue

Unchain my heart and set me free: A new civil society library model.
by Matthew Kelly
Language: English
abstract:   A new model of the public library is outlined that explicitly links it to its role in support of civil society. The model argues that the ongoing “chaining” of public libraries to direct government oversight and control is deleterious to their ability to actualize their potential. Collateral argument is made that that it is the civil society character rather than the simply free nature of these libraries which needs to be harnessed to help move the conceptualization of the sector away from a reactive model of client service toward a dynamic approach that integrates with the life experiences of clients.
pdf-fulltext (1.066 KB)

Inequalities in digital memory: ethical and geographical aspects of web archiving
by Moisés Rockembach
Language: English
abstract:   This paper approaches web archiving as preservation of digital memory and as a dynamic informational environment with complex problems of harvest, use, access and preservation. It uses a qualitative and exploratory-descriptive approach, identifying web archiving initiatives and promoting a reflection on the ways of defining web information collection, geographical gaps in web archiving and problems regarding uses and rights of this information. Whereas initiatives such as Internet Archive harvest a lot of information from across the web, an imbalance of digital memory exists where many countries do not possess their own web archiving initiatives, and therefore, coverage of information is unequally produced.
pdf-fulltext (301 KB)

Maria Bottis and Eugenia Alexandropoulou (eds.): Broadening the Horizons of Information Law and Ethics: A Time for Inclusion.
reviewed by the Herman T. Tavani
Language: English
pdf-fulltext (142 KB)

Philipp Otto and Eike Gräf (eds.): 3TH1CS: A Reinvention of Ethics in the Digital Age?
reviewed by Markus Haag
Language: English
pdf-fulltext (438 KB)

Michael Eldred: The Land of Matta
reviewed by Jared Bielby
Language: English
pdf-fulltext (369 KB)


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