This essay takes up the work of Bernard Stiegler to evaluate and critique his take up of Marx and Engels’ notion of proletarianization in the context of new media, television, education and activism. The impact of technology and the notion of the general intellect is measured against Stiegler’s worry about a ‘short circuit’ that threatens humanity and requires a ‘new critique’. Talk of an ‘attention economy’ might be better understood if we took up a wider Marxist notion of proletarianization in relation to class consciousness and struggle. Rather than a forlorn complaint about the ‘conspiracy of imbeciles’ and the ‘ruin’ of public education, a more careful reading of Marx offers proletarianization as a resource in a struggle that is - also but not only - a ‘battle for intelligence’.
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