Tag Archives: Superstructure

Base and Superstructure, 2.0

Resisting all puns and correlations between cargo cults and our own somewhat moribund British attitude to production I was struck by Oliver Marks’ piece on Enterprise 2.0 and those fetishistic religions: Strategic Thinking before Operational Actions: The Enterprise 2.0 Tool Cargo Cult Problem. Oliver makes an interesting remark that, “Enterprise 2.0 is essentially the superstructure, to use a sailing ship analogy.” And he continues,

The superstructure is the part of a ship above the main deck, where sailors climb up and down the rigging and do the busy work of propelling the ship along. The people directing the destination of the ship at the wheel had better have mapped out their route or there will have been a lot of hoisting the mainsail and tying of nautical knots for nought.

This reminded me of my days studying Critical Theory and the once cherished theoretical chestnut of a little understood German philosopher called Karl Marx. The old boy once remarked that:

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter Into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely [the] relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure, and to which correspond definite forms of consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political, and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or — this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms — with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces, these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead, sooner or later, to the transformation of the whole, immense, superstructure. In studying such transformations, it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic, or philosophic — in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.

Presuming he’s right, whither would one put 2.0 in this dialectic? As a starter, here’s Zizek on this topic of base and superstructure and in usual fine form!