Afterlives of the California Ideology| “Polemic Becomes Canon”: An Interview With Richard Barbrook on the Californian Ideology

Nathan Schneider


In this interview, Richard Barbrook shares his perspective on the essay “The Californian Ideology,” which he published in 1995 and 1996 with Andy Cameron, who died in 2012. Richard Barbrook lays out the essay’s genesis, explores the inspiration offered by Marx and Engels’ The German Ideology, discusses his ambivalent but not simply dismissive relationship to California and the United States, and provides insight into the thinking around the masters program in hypermedia at the University of Westminster, United Kingdom, that he and Cameron were setting up at the time of the essay’s publication. In the essay they wanted to impart a different approach to digital technologies than was prevalent in the Californian computer industry at the time. Overall, the interview makes it apparent how “The Californian Ideology” should be seen in its temporal context—as well as how the basic questions the essay raises continue to shape the discussion about digital media and infrastructures today. 


Californian Ideology, liberalism, Marxism, Silicon Valley, pioneer community

Full Text: