Westworld and Marxism: When Violent Delights Meet Revolutionary Ends

Thomas, Matthew and McCandless, Trevor 2021, Westworld and Marxism: When Violent Delights Meet Revolutionary Ends. In Barnes, N and Bedford, A (ed), Unlocking Social Theory with Popular Culture : Remixing Theoretical Influencers, Springer, Berlin, Germany, pp.9-20, doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-77011-2_2.

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Title Westworld and Marxism: When Violent Delights Meet Revolutionary Ends
Author(s) Thomas, Matthew
McCandless, Trevor
Title of book Unlocking Social Theory with Popular Culture : Remixing Theoretical Influencers
Editor(s) Barnes, N
Bedford, A
Publication date 2021
Series Critical Studies of Education
Chapter number 2
Total chapters 16
Start page 9
End page 20
Total pages 11
Publisher Springer
Place of Publication Berlin, Germany
Keyword(s) Capitalism
Class
Education
Fetish
Ideology
Learning
Marx
Popular Culture
Robots
Technology
Westworld
Summary This chapter explores four key tropes of Marxism that are often misinterpreted, to arrive at an understanding of Westworld as an example of commodity fetishism. We demonstrate that while Westworld serves as an apt metaphor for understanding Marxism, it nevertheless confuses the form of social revolution Marx identified with the fantasy of a robot rebellion. The pop cultural Westworld is shown to be a site of struggle and is explored to help understand alienated labour, false consciousness and how the fetishisation of commodities is realised. The breathtaking cruelty the host robots are subjected to seem to make them obvious candidates for revolution. However, while Marx might have seen Westworld as a metaphor for being schooled in forms of capitalist exploitation he was repulsed by– he believed that for social revolution to be viable it would need to create an economic system more productive than capitalism. While the hosts are clearly exploited, they do not inhabit a real society. Rather they are commodities within a larger society—something produced to be purchased. As such, they are incapable of providing an economically viable future society, regardless of the extremity of their exploitation. The fact these robots are all-too-human in appearance increases our fetish towards them, misdirecting our attention away from what Marx would see as the real revolutionary force capable of ending exploitation. This chapter looks deeper at what Marx saw as the driving forces compelling social revolution and why the revolts of the host robots would remain for him something of a side-show.
ISBN 9783030770105
ISSN 2543-0467
Language eng
DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-77011-2_2
Field of Research 160809 Sociology of Education
Socio Economic Objective 930104 Moral and Social Development (incl. Affect)
HERDC Research category B1 Book chapter
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30154971

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