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Theorising Media

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Theorising Media

Karl Marx is the father of communism. Before Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels authored and published the Communist Manifesto, the world economic system was based on capitalism. In capitalism, businesses and all commercial ventures are owned individually. The private owners make decisions about their businesses without interference from the government. Also, free competition is a primary rule of capitalism. Besides, the capitalist system is based on supply and demand, whereby the demand determines the price of items in the market. Karl Marx pointed out that capitalism only served to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. Since the government did not control private owners, they exploited the poor and mistreated the workers. According to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, communism would bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. In communism, private ownership is non-existent, and the government exercises control on behalf of the people. Marxism forms the basis of communism whereby social classes do not exist, and the government controls all resources to ensure equality. The “All I Need” music video by Radiohead is a classical display of the effect of capitalism. The historical conditions of the production of the “All I Need” music video can be reflected by utilizing the Marxist concept.

Base is the social relations between people who create and produce materials that are later sold. Base also includes all the materials and resources involved in creating products needed in society. The “All I Need” music video, displays children as the base of the production. However, the effect of capitalism is visible from the music video. The economic gap between the children in the music video displays the full impact of capitalism. The children on the right side of the video have a poor relationship with their employers. Under capitalism, workers are exploited by their employers. Since the government is not involved in the production, there are no regulations which protect workers against exploitation and mistreatment (Haslett, 2000). On the left side of the video, the child relates well with his teachers. When the government controls all resources, there is equality in society.

Superstructure refers to all other aspects of society. Ideally, superstructure grows out of base, and it reflects the interests of the prominent class. In the music video, the children on the right are controlled by the prominent class. The importance of the prominent class is to produce shoes, which are needed in the market. The music video is aimed at showing how superstructure affects the poor in capitalism. Media practices can replace an older notion with a different culture that affects society either positively or negatively (Couldry, 2004). Therefore, the music video can replace capitalism with Marxism. The children on the right side also require the privileges accorded to the children on the left side of the video. People in top social classes should not get their interests at the expenses of the poor. Therefore, the government should equalize social levels by controlling all social resources.

Ideology is a false consciousness of a prominent class that imposes their beliefs to the rest of the world. Ideally, when one is in a position of power, the opinions and ideas they possess can influence their followers. The ideologies posed by the prominent class are used as tools to achieve hidden political and economic goals (Boyer, 1998). In the music video, the children on the right follow the ideologies of their bosses. Although the children have a right to education, food, shelter, and clothing, the doctrines of their employer is to exploit them for economic gains. The society on the right side of the video is built upon ideologies that justify child labor. Since the ruling class controls the means of production, cheap child labor is an ideology pursued to achieve maximum profit. However, the left side of the video portrays the effect of Marxism. When the government takes control of all resources, the dominating ideologies do not have any hidden political or economic agendas. Under Marxism fairness in society can be achieved by equitable distribution of resources.

Economic determinism states that financial status determines all social arrangements. The economic status of a person determines all the societal arrangements accorded to them. However, in capitalism, the poor become poorer since all their work is meant to enrich the rich. The products created in the factory were sold for more than the value of the labor itself (Marx et al., 1992). The capitalist bourgeoisie exploited the proletariat because their wealth empowered them. On the music video, whereas the children on the left enjoy all their basic needs, the children on the right get exploited because they are poor. In capitalism, the effects of economic determinism are adverse because they go as far as child labor, as evident in the music video. However, in Marxism, where the government takes control of all resources, the rich cannot exploit the poor for their monetary gains.

In conclusion, the “All I Need” video shows the different worlds in communism and capitalism. The children on the left side of the video live in a communist society where the government controls resources. Therefore, class struggles and economic determinism do not exist. However, the children on the right live in a capitalist world where resources are privately owned. In the capitalist world, children are exploited for monetary gains. The music video has a powerful message that clearly shows the impact of Marxism and capitalism on society.







Boyer, G. R. (1998). The historical background of the Communist Manifesto. Journal of Economic Perspectives12(4), 151-174.

Communist Manifesto, [1848] London and New York: OUP

Couldry, N. (2004). Theorising media as practice. Social semiotics14(2), 115-132.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1992) ‘Bourgeois and Proletarians’, in The

Moyra Haslett (2000) from ‘Culture and Society’; and ‘Culture and Ideology’, Marxist and Cultural Theories, Basingstoke: MacMillan


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