Capitalist realism

Jan 4, 2023  │  m. Jul 29, 2023 by manuhortet  │  #mark   #fisher  

Learning → 🔖 | Reference → 🔗 | Idea → 💡


  1. It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism

    • 🔖 Capitalism, attaching monetary value (a position in the same scale) to everything, consumes the essence behind it and transform it into a mere aesthetic artifact.
    • The childish joy of imagining around items is overwritten by their monetary value
    • 🔖 A rebellious spirit is easily commodified.
    • 🔗 Movie: Children of men, Alfonso Cuaron
    • 🔗 Author: T.S Eliot
    • 🔗 Concept: The end of history, Francis Fukuyama
    • 🔗 Book: Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Fredric Jameson.
  2. What if you held a protest and everyone came?

    • 🔖 Products criticizing capitalism allow for consumption with impunity, commodifying anti-capitalist rhetoric.
    • 🔖 Capitalism does not depend on making an ideological case, but on presenting itself as the inevitable form of organization. Moral critiques are not effective.
    • 🔖 “Protests have formed a kind of carnivalesque background noise to capitalist realism”
    • 💡 The problem with protests may be their lack of formal, definitive purpose. The focus seems to be more expression (or even amusement) than change. But ignoring that, I feel there’s value in their execution, as:
      • It proposes confrontation against what is given, established
      • While doing so, it creates communion
    • 💡 Protests must be understood as an end on themselves, never as a firelighter for public opinion. This is because the media will sell whatever narrative they want about the protest, potentially not the one the protest presented.
    • 🔖 “What needs to be kept in mind is both that capitalism is a hyper-abstract impersonal structure and that it would be nothing without our co-operation.”
  3. Capitalism and the Real

    • 🔖 Capitalist realism is the pervasive atmosphere constraining thought and action against the current status quo.
    • 🔖 Capitalism is not threatened by moral critiques on its negative effects, but by pointing out its inconsistencies.
    • 🔖 Capitalism does not repress the Green issues, but incorporate them in advertising and marketing. This showcases the dependency of it on the fantasy of resources being unlimited (climate change is never a critical condition but a temporal discomfort the system will apparently fix later).
    • 🔖 Mental health is another field where one can notice the huge cost of capitalism, but which is still less incorporated into capitalist realism.
    • 💡It is time to pay extra attention to any systematic attempt at commodifying mental health. Clear links to be developed here to the r/antiwork happening (proposing the reason of your anxiety is your boss being an asshole, instead the system inviting for asshole bosses, bringing your work home, reduced salaries…).
  4. Reflexive impotence, immobilization and liberal communism

    • 🔖 The lack of protest comes more from reflexive impotence than from cynicism or agreement with what is given. But this may be more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than a right observation of the state of affairs.
    • 🔗 Essay: Postcript on Societies of Control, Deleuze
    • 🔖 “The consequence of being hooked into the entertainment matrix is twitchy, agitated interpassivity, an inability to concentrate. Cyberspace capital operates by addicting its users”
    • 💡 How does this entertainment matrix impact democracy? Fake news, echo chambers, cancel culture, viral quick changes in narrative, poorer self-esteem, inability to concentrate.
    • 💡 What could a politically sanitized entertainment matrix look like? Agora-like online spaces, organized around experts, valuing extensive debate over quicker content
    • 🔖 “If the figure of discipline was the worker-prisoner, the figure of control is the debtor-addict”
    • 🔖 “Harvey argues that neoliberalization is best conceived of as a ‘political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites’.”
    • 🔗 Book: A Brief History of Neoliberalism, David Harvey
  5. October 6, 1979: “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything”

    • 🔗 Fordism, post-fordism
    • 🔖 Capitalism needs the concept of family post-fordism is undermining.
    • 🔖 Post-fordism also means the fall of the barriers that used to separate work and private life. Capital can now better permeate your complete life.
    • 🔗 Book: The corrosion of character: the personal consequences of work in new capitalism, Richard Sennett
  6. All that is solid melts into PR: market Stalinism and bureaucratic anti-production

    • 🔖 Post-modernism can be construed as the name of the complex of crisis that the disbelief in the big Other has triggered (incredulity towards metanarratives).
    • 🔗 Author: Nick Land. Cybernetics, complex theory, cyberpunk fiction and neoliberalism.
    • 💡 The big Other could be considered to be the front of the hivemind we need to interpret and defer to. If so, it must be hugely affected by the new mediums: how is modern Reddit exposing and redesigning the big Other?
    • 🔖 Bureaucracy brings in the grading paradox; symbols of achievement are valued over achievements, which effectively alters functionality as the symbols are now the end goals
    • 💡If grading, you can only grade bureaucratic diligence.
    • 🔖 The auditing post Fordism proposes can be conceived as a mix of internal PR and bureaucracy.
  7. “…if you can watch the overlap of one reality with another”: capitalist realism as dreamwork and memory disorder

    • 🔖 It is precisely worker’s subjective disinvestment from bureaucracy what enables the perpetuity of it.
    • 🔖 If the Real is unbearable any reality we construct must be inconsistent.
    • 🔗 Book: American nightmare: neoconservatism, neoliberalism and de-democratization, Wendy Brown
    • 🔖 How do neoliberalism and neoconservatism intersect/cooperate, when based on opposite premises? (empty the world of meaning vs build from the enforcement of meanings) Apparently because of a shared object of abomination: the Nanny State.
  8. There’s no central exchange

    • 🔖 When the government gives power to private companies and these screw up, the people blame the government.
    • 🔖 Most of the problems presented are systemic, diffuse, but individuals end up being held accountable ethically. It is because there’s no other place responsibility can fall on; is this the critical missing piece of capitalism?