Rush Limbaugh explains Douglas Rushkoff to his listeners

Rush Limbaugh explains who our pal Doug Rushkoff is to his dittoheads:
Screen Shot 2011-09-09 At 9.15.14 Am Okay, now, I found out who this Douglas Rushkoff guy is. He’s a “media theorist,” a media theorist, “the author of Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, and also Life, Inc.: How Corporatism Conquered the World and How We Can Take it Back.” That’s who has written the piece at, “Are Jobs Obsolete?” He’s a “media theorist.” What the hell is a “media theorist”? Now, he’s got a Wikipedia entry, but everybody has a Wikipedia entry, just like everybody has a radio show. It says he was born in 1961, so he’s 50. He’s “an American media theorist, writer, columnist, lecturer, graphic novelist, and documentarian best known for his association with the early cyberpunk culture and his advocacy of open source solutions to social problems.”

So he’s a “media theorist” who writes comic books. So it’s quite understandable here that CNN would give him a soapbox.

Via Dangerous Minds: Rush Limbaugh explains Douglas Rushkoff to his listeners


  1. I’d rather hear Rushkoff explain Limbaugh, because I can’t figure that cranky old bastard out for the life of me.

    1. I believe the great philosopher Al Franken explained Limbaugh best when he said “Rush Limbaugh is a big, fat idiot.”

    2. You know how in every single movie he’s ever made, Jason Statham plays an action movie badass?  Same thing with Limbaugh, just a different role.  And just as Statham’s a pretty tough guy in real life (but not nearly as tough as he is in his movies), I think Limbaugh is probably a right-winger in real life (but not nearly as far right as he is on the radio). 

      The reason I think this is that Statham is cartoonishly tough in movies, and Limbaugh is cartoonishly right-wing on the radio.

    3. Brainspore “I’d rather hear Rushkoff explain Limbaugh, because I can’t figure that cranky old bastard out for the life of me.”
      Limbaugh keeps white males angry while they drive to lunch. That’s his niche. And he’s good at it. He’s committed. I mean, he’d have to be to fill three hours a day with the modern equivalent of “N*****, n*****, n*****.”

  2. I read that essay when it first came up on CNN, and wondered how BB would direct readers to it; gotta say, this is a clever way to do that!

    DR’s essay itself brought back memories of promises in childhood that technology was going to make life so much easier for all, and yes, we’d all be working a lot less too. Funny how and why that didn’t happen. Which is my biggest complaint about DR’s article–it doesn’t get into that how and why much at all. In that way, it’s about as Pie in the Sky as those elementary school films about the future were.

  3. He’s a “media theorist” who writes comic books as explained by a dropout DJ drug addict. Aren’t fallacies fun, kids?

  4. Wow, getting put down by the likes of Rush Limbaugh would be quite an accomplishment. I think I would be horribly offended if he said something positive about me or my work. It was bad enough when I found out that he used Macs.

  5. So he’s a “media theorist” who writes comic books. So it’s quite understandable here that CNN would give him a soapbox.

    As opposed to a drug addicted, thrice-divorced, college dropout, whom everyone wants to hear from.

    1. As opposed to a drug addicted, thrice-divorced, college dropout…

      To me the term “dropout” implies he chose to leave college prior to completing a degree. In reality he flunked out.

  6. Wait, so if I read that last paragraph right, Rush Limbaugh thinks we’re on a path to “shelter, feed, educate, and even provide health care for its entire population”…and that’s a BAD thing.  The HORROR!

    1. The two lines are:

      1) It’s not fair to pay for the poor off the work of the rich.
      2) If we take care of everyone, no one will have any reason to work.

      Because no one loves their work, you see, and it’s better to watch a man die in the gutter than undermine our “fair” society.

      1. “If we take care of everyone, no one will have any reason to work.”

        I agree, that’s been demonstrated false, but Rushkoff’s essay seemed to repeat that premise without questioning it much: “The communist answer to this question was just to distribute everything evenly. But that sapped motivation and never quite worked as advertised.”

        Has it sapped motivation like capitalist critics claim, in any societies where it has been implemented? (Has it ever been widely implemented anywhere?)

        1. Communism has worked well on very small scales, such as in communes, where there are other mechanisms in place to keep people on the up and up (primarily, it’s harder to leech off people you know by name because you can see them working and they can see you slacking). 

          That said, there are also plenty of cases of it NOT working on that scale, and the same could be said of pretty much any form of government outside of tyranny.  Just imagine how much better Democracy would work if every politician personally knew every single constituent, and every constituent could speak directly to all of their politicians, face to face.

  7. It’s so cute when those of limited intelligence try to survey those a few dozen IQ points ahead of them. I’d like to lock Rush and his ilk in a round room with nothing but a shelf of critical theory books to amuse themselves and watch them go all 2001 ape-shit over them. Who ya gonna tackle next, Rush, Jean Baudrillard??

  8. I loved this essay, and with decreasing cost in replication tech (rep rap et al.) I think it can be possible. However, I must confess that it took a long while for me to feel any respect for Rushkoff. Why?
    Because of this:

    I completely hated the book. It was a painful mix of metaphors and pseudoscience. A lot of talk about drugs and morphogenetic fields, etc. Complete new age babble. And I liked the subject, I really was interested on it, that’s why I got it!. But everything I have seen lately from him is very smart and is at least thought provoking. 

  9. Imagine a world where Douglas Rushkoff was more influential than Rush Limbaugh…

    I have “Coercion”, it is great.

    1. That would certainly be an improvement, but I don’t agree with his thesis in this essay.

      People like to work. It’s not just a matter of figuring out who deserves the stuff, people should have a pastime to keep them from going crazy. Idle hands, it ain’t just an expression.

      1. I don’t think Rushkoff was saying no one wants to work. He was trying to make a distinction between work that people want to do versus jobs that people are stuck doing.

        Presumably people would still work on things they enjoy without the motivation of money (or the motivation of starving if they don’t earn enough money), but which they wouldn’t necessarily be able to monetize. Most days I come home from ten hours of cubicle drudgery  and spend an hour or two crocheting in front of the tv. I can’t make a living from crocheting, but I do it even though no one pays me, or the few items I do sell pay me 50 cents an hour or less. It’s work, but not a job. There are practical and valuable things that people would do without being paid, and some already do without being paid, but some of them are dismissed just because no one is paying for them. People have made Wikipedia what it is without being paid to do it. Imagine how many more people might be able to contribute to that or similar projects if they didn’t have to spend time on wasteful but monetized work?

    2. > I have “Coercion”, it is great.

      Yeah, that was my first Rushkoff, really dug it.  It’s still on my bookshelves, toward the top of one of the piles.

      (As a real book, in case anyone missed the reference.  Gotta get that ‘I Heart Paper’ plug in there.)

  10. Rush Limbaugh is one of many idiots loose in our society, but did you really need to refer to his listeners as “dittoheads”, in an article that criticizes him for making rash generalizations about our good friend Douglas Rushkoff?  Why stoop to his level?

    1. …did you really need to refer to his listeners as “dittoheads”…

      Believe it or not “ditto-heads” is a term that Limbaugh loyalists coined FOR THEMSELVES. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

      1. And really, if his listeners’ skin is that thin, maybe they shouldn’t listen to a guy who is constantly insulting everyone who is even slightly unlike him in no uncertain terms.

  11. And here I thought ‘dittohead’ was someone who huffed spirit-duplicator fluid. I suppose I date myself.

  12. It just warms my dark little heart, the way that Limbaugh manages to present a small pile of publicly available(hell, probably actively disseminated by his publisher, if not himself) biographical data on a public figure as though he was some sort of hardcore intel dude, digging up the dirt on the liberal underground…

    The overwhelming majority of authors, academics, and intellectuals may not be particularly high impact; but you can usually grab their entire CV off their website, with 2 seconds of google work. Not exactly spook stuff.

  13. I grew up listening to Rush because my mom loves him.  At one time I believe the he really cared about politics and believed a lot of what he said on the radio.  And as time went on, and the pay checks got bigger, his comments grew more extreme.  At this point he is an entertainer…sadly one is who playing into the fears of his audience, but I can’t honestly believe that he really believes in what he says anymore.

    And why should he?  It’s not like he is one of the average people anymore.  He runs a media empire and is worth boatloads of money…other than living in the same country as the people that listen to him, he has very little in common with them.  It’s like saying Oprah has to worry about paying the bills…

    Left, right, whatever.  The vast majority of people that make their money “reporting” or telling others how their side is right and the other is pure evil are in it for the money.  Greed it’s the #1 constant in politics (and much of business).

  14. Its sad to live in a day and age when the “Hey look at him, hes different; lets get him!” argument still works on the masses so easily. Considering Rush is in the business of getting ratings for his radio show, I think hes doing a perfect job of whipping the public into mindless fervor.

    1. It is sad, but I’m not really sure how much of a fervor he personally creates.  I’m sure most of his listeners tune in to be entertained.  Sure if you start talking politics with them things could quickly get heated, but how many of them actually go out and shoot themselves a librul, or even attend a protest?

      1. Sure, his listeners don’t go out shoot liberals, burning buildings, etc… but I think the fervor ends up effecting his listeners politics to the point that they only will believe their point of view regardless of what truths are staring them in the face. Those beliefs are reflected in the polls when a new election comes around, skewing their vote towards a lie; it doesn’t matter what good a liberal does, or how many jobs a new bill created; if Rush says its bad, they (his listeners) all agree.

      2. I know plenty of his loyal listeners who seem to get ALL their opinions from him.  In fact, it sometimes seems like if they didn’t listen everyday they wouldn’t know what to think about any particular issue. 

    2. I think hes doing a perfect job of whipping the public into mindless fervor.

      Nah, just limited, targeted (though relatively empowered) sectors of the public:

      Male (76%)
      Over Age Age 35 (87%)…with the majority of that being over age 50
      White (97%)
      Earns More Than $60k/Year (80%)


  15. Rushkoff’s whole point is that technology has made global-scope collaboration very cheap and easy, resulting in projects that completely blow away old-school, industrial-economy expectations of volunteer efforts. Rushkoff doesn’t mention Wikipedia, but it’s probably the most natural current example.

    Limbaugh apparently looked Rushkoff up in Wikipedia. What a researcher! What would we ever do without him?

    So Limbaugh is a beneficiary of the very ideals and efforts he mocks as “crackpot.”

    I don’t think I could invent that kind of irony on my own. Good thing there’s an international computer network to help me out.

  16. I really am not Rush Limbaugh’s target audience, because that description would make me more inclined to read someone’s work. Since when does writing fiction make someone’s views on policy less credible?

  17. ‘Well, not ‘everybody’, Rush.  I don’t have a Wiki entry, I checked, or a radio show.  You mean everybody who’s somebody to you, or that you would like to criticize on your show.’

  18. The recession proves Rushkoff right. 58.1% of adults in the US are working. Has anyone noticed any severe shortages or rationing? Clearly we do not need the entire population to work at full-time to produce the things we need. At the same time, capital demands an ever-increasing amount of labor-time to valorize itself. A good old-fashioned Marxist contradiction.

    1. 58.1% of adults in the US are working, and we’re not noticing severe shortages of anything … except road repairs, bridge repairs, water treatment plant repairs, sewage treatment plant repairs, or power-grid interconnections. And we only have enough doctors, nurses, dentists, and other medical supplies to provide them to about 3/4ths of the population, but I’m sure the other 25% barely notice any shortage. And the people in tornado-ravaged Missouri and flood-ravaged Vermont have all of their material needs met, so there’s no reason to employ anyone to produce things for them, either.

      It just hurts my brain when allegedly serious people make the argument that there’s nothing terribly wrong with our unemployment rate because THEY aren’t suffering any lack. Privilege: you’re soaking in it.

  19. Yeah, I should have made it clearer that we have great reasons to work besides getting our hands on artificially scarce food. I think most people enjoy making a contribution, creating value, and so on. There’s plenty of cognitive and physical surplus available to do great stuff (beyond making video games for one another). I just wanted to show how digital technology doesn’t just create the problem but also provides part of the solution for how to express creativity or participate in a marketplace without necessarily making more physical industrial age stuff. 

  20. Regarding the claims that email killed the USPS, here’s another view of that I coincidentally read earlier today:

    The big lie seems to be working. Most Americans now believe that the U.S. Postal Service is
    on the verge of a financial collapse.  The explanation seems logical: email, too many post offices, unnecessary six-day delivery, overpaid and underproductive workers.  Unfortunately, these are half-truths, misinformation or outright lies. 

    It is true that the nature of mail has changed because of the Internet but it is also true that three biggest years in volume in the 236-year history of the Postal Service were 2005, 2006 and 2007, well into the Internet era.  The bigger impact upon the Postal Service was the financial collapse of 2008.
    But the root cause of the financial distress that the Postal Service is going through is overwhelmingly caused by Congressional mandates that were imposed upon the Postal Service. Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which was signed into law by President G.W. Bush on December 20, 2006. Under the guise of modernizing the Postal Service for the 21st Century, it actually doomed the Postal Service. If not for the PAEA, the
    Postal Service would be functioning fine even with the impact of email and the financial collapse of 2008.

    piece goes on to explain some of the unusual burdens placed on the USPS.

    Destroying the Postal Service in Order to Save It?

    1. I have often wondered about this idea that email is killing the postal service– because it’s pretty clear ebay is helping it.  I used to send letters years ago, but nowhere near as many packages as I ship now.  In fact when I go to the PO there is invariably a long line of people shipping boxes, as well as buying packing supplies like tape and padded envelopes. 

  21. I have nothing agasint dropouts or drug-addicts. I have no opinions on other people’s sexual vices, and even my wife has been divorced once. Draft dodger? That’s between the person and their ethics and is no concern of mine.

    But I still think Limbaugh is a unintelligent dweeb.

    1. Those traits aren’t the ones which make him a bad person, they’re what make him a hypocrite of the highest order.

    2. Draft dodger? That’s between the person and their ethics and is no concern of mine.

      I think that ends when the dodger is pushing hawkish policy and extreme nationalism on one of the biggest media outlets in the country.  Same with all the other various peccadilloes.  You know, practice what you preach and all that.

      1. Yes, we’ve already established that he’s a hypocrite. But he’s a hypocrite in addition to these other things, not because of them.

        I think hypocrisy is a much more valid criticism of a person than, say, “drug addict” or “sex tourist” is.

        1. I believe we we’re simply joking considering Limbaugh’s repeated mocking of “media theorist”, rather than being srs bsns. I don’t really feel sorry for it either, he is all those things.

  22. The best part is here:
    ““The opposite, libertarian answer (and the way we seem to be going right
    now) would be to let those who can’t capitalize on the bounty simply
    suffer. Cut social services along with their jobs, and hope they fade
    into the distance.” Is that what we’re doing? That’s what we’re doing
    now, we’re just cutting loose people and letting them suffer out there?
    We’re cutting social services along with their jobs? I’ll tell you what,
    I think Obama is putting this crackpot theory to the test. Having a
    small number of people working to support the rest of the country is
    exactly what Obama’s doing. This crackpot’s theory is in process here of
    being implemented!”

    Rushkoff is basically critiquing the Republican strategy of screwing poor people and somehow Limbaugh turns it around and makes it a critique of Obama.

    If I wasn’t afraid of some of my students claiming I was “pushing my political agenda” I would assign them to listen to an hour of Limbaugh’s show and write up all the logical fallacies they heard. I’ve never been able to go more than 10 minutes without hearing one so egregious I had to turn him off.

    1. If I wasn’t afraid of some of my students claiming I was “pushing my
      political agenda” I would assign them to listen to an hour of Limbaugh’s
      show and write up all the logical fallacies they heard. I’ve never been
      able to go more than 10 minutes without hearing one so egregious I had
      to turn him off.

      You’ve never personally lasted through more than ten minutes of the old windbag, yet you’d force a full hour on your students?

      Let me suggest you complete the assignment yourself first, gauge your own suffering, and then consider whether you want to inflict it on your students, some of whom are probably even more sensitive to deliberate obtuseness than you.  Binge drinking is already a problem in a lot of universities, there’s no sense in avoidably driving your own students to drink.

  23. Wait, Limbaugh is mocking Rushkoff for the idea of people starting their own businesses, “making games, writing books, solving problems, educating and inspiring each other”?  I had no idea Limbaugh hated capitalism so much!

    What exactly does Limbaugh do?  Oh, he talks all day, then repackages it as books . . .  sounds exactly like what Rushkoff is talking about.

  24. I would love it if Rushkoff challenged Limbaugh to a debate.  I mean as one commenter at Dangerous Minds says: 

    “Funny too because Limburger doesn’t actually make anything himself: He’s a “radio personality”. He does EXACTLY what Rushkoff says more of us could be doing.”

    It annoys me to no end that Rush sits around mocking democratic policy without ever providing a counter argument, or citing counter sources.  But I guess that’s just GOP rhetoric, these days.

    1. I would love it if Rushkoff challenged Limbaugh to a debate.

      Limbaugh doesn’t debate, he makes proclamations. He has (by his own admission) one of the most heavily screened call-in shows on radio because he doesn’t even want to risk getting into an argument with his own listeners.

        1. Man, you seem to know an awful lot about Limbaugh.

          Every couple of years or so I challenge myself to see how many minutes I can stand listening to him on the car radio while driving through an FM dead zone. I think of it as a self-disciplinary exercise.

  25. Limbaugh, according to his wikipedia page (which everyone has) “left the school after two semesters and one summer. According to his mother, “he flunked everything”” Also it says he is a “political commentator, and an opinion leader in American conservatism. 

    So Limbaugh is a self declared “Opinion Leader” what the hell is an opinion leader, He dropped out of college with no real political education what so ever. So Limbaugh is an Opinion Leader with no higher education in politics.

  26. Well, I had never heard of him before, but his perception of European economics (the part about the middle ages & the Renaissance & the rise of corporations) is laughably simplistic and naive.

    1. Douglas says it’s perfectly natural for you to go back to your WoW session now.
      Rush will make fun of you for doing so, while surreptitiously  playing while you’re not looking.

  27. Ironically, Rushkoff is pretty much Limbaugh for geeks, catering to an assumption that his readers are on top of the food chain, and that anyone outside their circle is irrelevant. In this case, Rushkoff arguing on CNN that we can get rid of traditional definitions of work, since we can all do cool neato work online. Which elides the fact that 2/3rds of the world is not even on the Internet.

  28. The fact that Limbaugh continues to work in spite of the fact that he has no need of a paycheck does a most excellent job of disproving his own point, does it not?

  29. I’ve been arguing the same thing for a long time. Simply put, most of our jobs are unnecessary makework, and have been for some time. Much of what we do is useless paper shuffling, or is actually deliterious (advertising, personal injury lawyers, etc.). The fact is, we invent work just to give people something to do, rather fulfilling nay sort of pressing needs.

    I like Rushkoff’s work and think he adds valueable viewpoint on a lot of topics, but reading Life Inc., I realized he’s a bit shaky on economics (e.g. corporations were actually started to unify disparate trading companies so as to maximize national advantage in the age of mecantalism, not out of some fear of industrious common folk.) My problem with Rushkoff is his techno-optimism. He seems to think the internet is a magical solution for everything. Who is going to buy all this content we create without any money? Are we going to eat digital food? As one commenter pointed out 2/3rds of the world is not even online. What about the millions of uprooted Chinese
    peasants? Will they create online content when factories close because the incomes to buy their output have dried up? What about the millions of unemployed and unoccupied youth who fomented revolution in the Middle East? What will they do now? Write apps? Marx’s surplus labor pool is now a tidal wave. There is simply not enough work in the world today to employ everybody, and the sooner we realize this, the better off we will be. Workers around the world must compete with each other in a global labor pool that numbers in the billions in an age of industrialism and
    automation. The Technocrats realized as far back as the 1930’s that our extraordinary productivity meant that fewer
    workers would be needed. They also realized that as our industrial output increases, the purchasing power to buy that output is destroyed. This is chronicled very well in Jeremy Rifkin’s seminal The End of Work. Since the world rebuilt after the war, we’ve fooled ourselves with consumerism, cheap trinkets, bubbles, inflated valuations and cheap credit.  None of these are sustainibale solutions. This problem has been festering for eighty years. No wonder people are starting to ask if Marx was right, and capitalism is doomed?

    There are solutions. The logical solution is to take advantage of our extraordinary productivity and work less. I’ve seen statistics that if we traded in all the productivity gains since the 1950s for time instead of money (all of which went to the richest 10 percent for the last 20 years anyway), we would be working an average of FIFTEEN HOURS A WEEK!. I mean it’s an obvious solution – if everyone worked less, we could share the work more evenly. Even lousy jobs are bearable with plenty of time off. This will never happen in America because of our outdated Calvinist notions of work as sacred and our elevating Libertarian corporate capitalism to the status of a religion.
    Without government intervention, corporations will strive towards maximum efficiency (i.e. squeezing blood from a stone), and extracting the maximum amount of surplus value from each worker, without bounds. Unemployment and overwork will continue side-by-side. Meanwhile, the system will fall apart as jobs fail to materialize and provide the purchasing power required to consume goods, real OR virtual. If you read descriptions of the future from the 1950’s through the late 1800’s, they all assumed we would be working only a few hours a week (including John Maynard Keynes). Ideas like this are what terrify Limbaugh and other corporate shills.

    BTW, The idea that we need wages to coerce us to work is absurd. People spend coutless hours volunterring, that is, working FOR FREE on things that they love and find meaningful. People do everything from plant gardens to rebuild houses to tutoring children to writing software FOR FREE without any compensation whatsoever. The “lazy worker” is just a myth that capitalists use so that they can preserve artificial scarcity, which preserves their power and forces us into the meaningless, alienating, mind-numbing drudgery that no one wants to do today so they can get ever richer, which we waste away the precious gift of life.

    At the risk of tooting my own horn, I have written extensively about this here.

    1. I was with you up to the “there are solutions” part.

      Honestly, I think we’re doomed. Not in any big, dramatic way. Just the banality of a slide…

      1. There are solutions – but notice I said they had no chance of getting implemented. The current thinking is that more education will magically cause jobs to appear. We already have very highly educated unemployed people. The other is to reduce taxes even though the government is supposedly broke,  to “stimulate” demand. Actually, what is needed is for workers to keep more of the value they produce, but, once again, that will not happen either, as long as coprorations effectively control the elections process and “globalism” continues unabated.

        I think such ideas may have a chance outside of the United States, where politicians have some level of accountability and cannot simply ignore the plight of the unemployed by mollifying them with promises of “a long slow recovery” that never arrives, celebrity gossip and spectator sports. As far as the US goes – I think we’re in for  long slow deterioration to a standard of living leaving America looking like a cross between Mexico and post-collapse Russia.

  30. I don’t care what Rush says. Douglas Rushkoff played an important role in helping me recognize who I was as a teenager. Cyberia helped me to fully embrace cyberpunk culture knowing that I was not alone out there. (grew up in a town of 1200 and was the only person with internet) And his book Playing the Future actually convinced my parents NOT to put me on Ritalin.

    That said. I think that Doug has a case of missing the good old days and is increasingly having trouble coping with the direction people and corporations have taken the internet and where it might be going.

  31. I didn’t not mean to imply that “there’s nothing terribly wrong with our unemployment rate,” or that there aren’t areas where additional labor is needed, or that the working class and the unemployed are not suffering “lack.” My point is that this that capitalism – rather than scarcity of labor –  causes the suffering you point to.

  32. One answer would be to find an equivalent show in the other political direction, and have them do it for both.

  33. Douglas Rushkoff is awesome, I listened to all of his radio shows.  I never read his books but if Rush Limbaugh took time to trash talk him that is the best endorsement I can think of.  I just bought three of his books on Amazon and shared Doug’s article on G+.

  34. It exemplifies Rush and Rush’s audience. By now, most people don’t just note the Wikipedia article, they read it. at least half the folks who read the BB entry up yonder with interest automatically did a search in the next window.

    Rush pretends to be socked in the time before the internet and wonders, aloud, who and what Rushkoff is. That’s what passes for entertainment to his listeners, who also do not just type in the name and get a search result. They won’t look up “media theorist.”

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