If you should think this is Utopian, then I would ask you to consider why it is Utopian.

Brecht: Theory of Radio

1. 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. It infiltrates into all other sectors of production, takes over more and more directional and control functions, and determines the standard of the prevailing technology.

(In lieu of normative definitions here is an incomplete list of new developments which have emerged in the last 20 years: news satellites, colour television, cable relay television, cassettes, videotape, videotape recorders, video-phones, stereophony, laser techniques, electrostatic reproduction processes, electronic high-speed printing, composing and learning machines, microfiches with electronic access, printing by radio, time-sharing computers, data banks. All these new forms of media are constantly forming new connections both with each other and with older media like printing, radio, film, television, telephone, teletype, radar and so on. They are clearly coming together to form a universal system.) footnote

The general contradiction between productive forces and productive relationships emerges most sharply, however, when they are most advanced. (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.)

Monopoly capitalism develops the consciousness-shaping industry more quickly and more extensively than other sectors of production; it must at the same time fetter it. A socialist media theory has to work at this contradiction. Demonstrate that it cannot be solved within the given productive relationships—rapidly increasing discrepancies—potential destructive forces. ‘Certain demands of a prognostic nature must be made’ of any such theory (Benjamin).

(A ‘critical’ inventory of the status quo is not enough. Danger of underestimating the growing conflicts in the media field, of neutralizing them, of interpreting them merely in terms of trade unionism or liberalism, on the lines of traditional labour struggles or as the clash of special interests (programme heads—executive producers, publishers—authors, monopolies—medium sized businesses, public corporations—private companies, etc.). An appreciation of this kind does not go far enough and remains bogged down in tactical arguments.)

So far there is no Marxist theory of the media. There is therefore no strategy one can apply in this area. Uncertainty, alternations between fear and surrender, mark the attitude of the socialist Left to the new productive forces of the media industry. The ambivalence of this attitude merely mirrors the ambivalence of the media themselves without mastering it. It could only be overcome by releasing the emancipatory potential which is inherent in the new productive forces—a potential which capitalism must sabotage just as surely as Soviet revisionism, because it would endanger the rule of both systems.