Despite the divergence between the accounts given by Stanley Aronowitz and Fredric Jameson of the origins of the name Social Text, it is worth exploring the use of the phrase in the work of Henri Lefebvre. Even if it is ultimately a false cognate, the chapter titled “The Social Text” in the second volume of his Critique of Everyday Life (1961) is an intriguing intertext for the journal, especially given the importance of the category of the “everyday” in its early issues. The occasional invocation of the title phrase in Social Text articles over the years might be described as heuristic rather than categorical: an ongoing, dialogic effort to limn an arena of investigation, rather than the attempt to define once and for all an aspect of a broader social field.
Alondra Nelson revisits “The New Right and Media,” an article from Social Text's inaugural issue that explored how “media politics” and forms of mediated, networked communication were used by conservative countermovements to advance their ideological agendas. The idea of “social textronics” is taken up from this article, revised and expanded in order to suggest how new technologies and mediated communication are—borrowing from Fredric Jameson—“a symbolic vehicle” for, and an object of, progressive critique.
Tavia Nyong'o considers how the image of the Internet as a creative commons is belied by Marx's insight into the dominating logic of machinic over human intelligence. Fortunately, technology also gives rise to a social brain, whose virtuosity both Marx and Paolo Virno see as crucial to the emancipation of species-being.