It is necessary to promote an International Communications Current for Socialism.
Communication in its widest sense
In the minds of many there comes up repeatedly the need to deepen and update through a thousand debates, a thousand programmes and actions, the question of the private ownership of the means of production in Communications (cameras, microphones, TV stations, printing shops, telephones, railways, airplanes, ships...); the arbitrary "concessions" given by governments; the technological dependency on the means of production and distribution... and the alienating ethical and aesthetical horrors of the ideological formats that shape the "reception", "appreciation" and "consumption" of this hegemonic discourse. It is urgent to act and develop a revolutionary and organised position on the question of what is to be done with the means and methods of communication with a course set towards socialism... This is an urgent debate and struggle, as we are in an asymmetric war, where a small handful of people can direct their weapons of bourgeois ideological warfare against a population that is virtually defenceless.
In its current state such a debate cannot tolerate any longer the idea that in one way or another an individual can benefit from the resources and wealth that belong to all the people, including air space and radio waves, that are vital resources as much as water, land, the mines... The stage we are at in this debate is that the most advanced layers oppose the destruction, the squandering, the irresponsible approach and the permanent aggression carried out against the people daily by the few who control the radio waves. The debate as it stands today questions the concept of private property; it looks into its use and abuse, into the pros and cons; it inquires about socialism itself, about the future and encourages us to organise and agree on world programmes under workers' and peasants' control with the help and solidarity of the best "professionals". Nobody is left out. And it is necessary to speed up the process.
Capitalism is not only a system of commodity production; it is also a system that produces culture, ethical, moral and aesthetic values that are necessary to consolidate, defend and reproduce the material conditions of existence of the bourgeoisie, the private ownership of the means of production and the exploitation of the labour power of the working class.
For us the crucial debate, apart from the definitive abolition of the regime of private property of the "mass media", enters into the question of socialist creativity in the areas of the production of information and communication. For instance, what should we replace CNN with? Will we have "socialist soap operas" or radio-dramas, graphic novels? Should we imitate bourgeois formats...should we use them and, building up on them, openly study the way to improve them and surpass them? Should we invent new formats and very different, new "entertainment", different interviews, contests and debates? Can these be improved? What do we do: opinion polls, referendums, elections... to define themes, forms, coverage and time?
We should expand our discussion on the ideological heritage from the bourgeois; about how boring, repetitive, of poor taste and mediocre, are the programmes produced by the public and private media... but let us discuss it all in a different manner, by removing the influence of bourgeois values, without the criteria of the bourgeois about what is "mediocre", "vulgar", "boring"... let us discuss each and every one of these issues in public... in assemblies, congresses, workshops... let us discuss what kind of communication we want in a debate open to the world, without fear, nor censorship. Let us discuss about communications as the national wealth of the peoples, that is, without private property and with a project of production that is just and socialist: and which is also planned. This task is neither for "sects" nor for "bureaucrats". We already know what their limitations are.
Our debate is against scholarly prejudice and the vices of "empiro-criticism". It is about a struggle to analyse and make public what the bosses like and what we would like to see, to look carefully at the differences and the consequences that flow from both; to know what they are and why they are the way they are. It is necessary to discuss alienation; how far it goes and its costs. It is necessary to look into how the domination of the bourgeois media has created a single discourse for those who "consume" and up to what point the alienation we suffer prevents us from imagining a different type of communication... a collective one, our communication; a kind of communication that because it belongs to us, will not become cheap, worthless and negligible: a type of communication that is ours because it is a means of expressing ourselves and that we can identify ourselves with. It gives us an identity in the midst of the class struggle and in the transition towards socialism. Such a system of communication, because it is ours, would not be alien to us, it would inform, stimulate and strengthen us; a type of communication that would no longer make us passive and would push us into socialist activity par excellence, the aim of which is to create communication between equals; it would be communication... that puts everything under collective control.
Our debate is against every class enemy; against the alienating ideology of their mass media and against what they have inculcated into us... a debate against the manner in which the dominant ideology is produced, a debate against their forms of trade and distribution of mass media commodities; a debate against private property of the means of production in industry and in communication; a debate against all the cogs of the ideological capitalist machine. We need to debate and fight while creating genuinely new proposals, because our debate is also against all that would prevent us from imagining and producing such a deep and wide communications revolution that would sweep aside the most profound prejudices, even where our consciousness has been most heavily beaten down by the narcotic discourse of capitalism.
A transitional socialist programme for the transformation of communications must come to the aid of this debate. This programme must be born in the organised movements of the workers, peasants and peoples. This debate rejects all immutability of ideas and all authoritarianism in all its forms. The debate has enough strength to push forward a Socialist Revolution in Communications from its deepest roots. That would be magnificent but insufficient. Without a political programme of direct action towards Revolutionary Communications to radically transform the current situation of barbarism and misery, that is, to take the means of production of communications and put them under the control of workers and communities in their march towards socialism. Anything that does not include this is demagogy, reformism, bureaucracy or sectarianism. "Sovereignty" over the means of production means nothing without a plan (ideas, agreements, methods... praxis) of communication driving towards socialism, for instance, from the Popular Assemblies, Trade Unions, Communal Councils, occupied factories and land...
A Socialist Revolution for Communications must be propelled by the people's empowerment, by their economic power, ideological power, creative power... socialist power. To develop the discussion along these lines is an urgent task.
The importance of scientific socialism
The task of planning the contents and forms of the "mass media" marches hand in hand with a passionate commitment towards a multilateral scientific investigation of the relations of production, the meaning of Socialist Communications and its dialectical relationship with "un-alienated labour". To uncover the economic laws that reign over the "production of symbols" in a society as part of a revolutionary movement towards its definitive emancipation, to underline the scientific inevitability of the revolutionary replacement of capitalism by socialism, is the task.
To plan communication implies passionately investigating the laws that govern the transition from capitalism to socialism, the ways and means of establishing the socialist mode of production, the objective laws of socialism, the advances made in a dialectical way, the laws of formation and development of the socialist world system. The task of planning communications through the "mass media" must be a weapon in the struggle, a guide in action. Such a planning of "production of symbols" must unmask the essence of capitalism and support the fight against all sectarianism and bureaucratism. "Democratic" control of the means of communication from below is necessary, as is planning for the benefit of the workers and not the exploiters. This is unconceivable without workers' control, without the vigilance and work of workers always alert to the danger of betrayals, of which too many have already been seen.
It will be necessary to create planning committees, delegates' councils with grass roots social movements for a socialist communications system as a means of workers' control that can become an engine of the planned economy. We must be ready to take on the production of socialist communications. It is necessary to organise communication committees from very diverse branches of production... opening spaces to science for planning and programming which will develop quality projects to raise the quality of communications. In this way, workers' control will become an engine of the Permanent Revolution within the planned economy. This will be a fantastic achievement of socialism. We should not underestimate the task of educating ourselves in the best possible way. This is an urgent task.
The promoting committee of the Communications Current for Socialism (Corriente de la Comunicación hacia el Socialismo) is co-ordinated by Professor Fernando Buen Abad Domínquez.
Fernando Buen Abad Domínguez is Professor of Philosophy, member of the Frederick Engels Foundation and of the International Marxist Tendency. Born in Mexico, he is a specialist in the Philosophy of the Image, Philosophy of Communication and Cultural Critique. He has experience in the areas of film, television, radio and editorial production. He has taught and carried out research at universities in Mexico, Argentina and the United States, among other countries. He is chair of the Institute of Investigation into the Image, member of the World Association of Semiotic Studies, collaborator of Rebelión and other electronic reviews. He is also member of the International Documentary Makers' Movement and of the Advisory Council of TeleSur and Vice-Chancellor of the Open University of Mexico.