Capitalist Realism (almost) ten years on

  1. In the 1980s, when Jameson developed his analysis of postmodernism, there were still political alternatives to capitalism. Following the defeat of organised labour, the mid-2000s instead presented a pervasive end of exhaustion — an ending of something without it properly moving into something else.
  2. Postmodernism, in Fisher’s account, depends on a relationship to modernism that showed through in many facets of 1990s and 2000s culture, such as the regular presence of surrealist tropes in advertising. Capitalist realism, on the other hand, takes the death of modernism for granted.
  3. Capitalist realism is a term that is, in many ways, directed towards the generation of (then) young people brought up after the fall of the Berlin Wall. For these people, Fisher contends, the idea of precorporation fits their experience: ‘What we are dealing with now is not the incorporation of materials that previously seemed to possess subversive potentials, but instead… the pre-emptive formatting and shaping of desires, aspirations and hopes by capitalist culture.’ (P. 9.) Even cultural rebellion seems anticipated, pre-emptively emptied of truly subversive potential.

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George Hoare

George Hoare

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New book: 'The End of the End of History' (Zero, 2021). Other books include 'An Introduction to Antonio Gramsci ' (Bloomsbury).