Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative? (Zero Books)

Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative? (Zero Books)

Mark Fisher

Language: English

Pages: 81

ISBN: 1846943175

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


After 1989, capitalism has successfully presented itself as the only realistic political-economic system - a situation that the bank crisis of 2008, far from ending, actually compounded. The book analyses the development and principal features of this capitalist realism as a lived ideological framework. Using examples from politics, films, fiction, work and education, it argues that capitalist realism colours all areas of contemporary experience. But it will also show that, because of a number of inconsistencies and glitches internal to the capitalist reality program capitalism in fact is anything but realistic.

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in which even the Nomenklatura themselves –including Stalin and Molotov – were engaged in interpreting a complex series of social semiotic signals. No-one knew what was required; instead, individuals could only guess what particular gestures or directives meant. What happens in late capitalism, when there is no possibility of appealing, even in principle, to a final authority which can offer the definitive official version, is a massive intensification of that ambiguity. As an example of this

happening as far as business was concerned’. He was, indeed he had always been, one of them. The only problem is that it was not true. As his mother subsequently admitted, she would never have called herself ‘a business woman’: she had only ever done some ‘light administrative duties’ for ‘a small family firm’ and had given up the job when she married, three years before young Gordon was even born. While there have been Labor politicians who have tried to invent working class backgrounds for

is not a paradox. As Adam Curtis’s remarks above make clear, the affects that predominate in late capitalism are fear and cynicism. These emotions do not inspire bold thinking or entrepreneurial leaps, they breed conformity and the cult of the minimal variation, the turning out of products which very closely resemble those that are already successful. Meanwhile, films such as the aforementioned Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Stalker -plundered by Hollywood since as far back as Alien and Blade Runner –

precisely the one that Jameson described: like postmodern culture in general, Cobain found himself in ‘a world in which stylistic innovation is no longer possible, [where] all that is left is to imitate dead styles, to speak through the masks and with the voices of the styles in the imaginary museum’. Here, even success meant failure, since to succeed would only mean that you were the new meat on which the system could feed. But the high existential angst of Nirvana and Cobain belongs to an older

installed through the imposition of rigid body postures. During lessons at our college, however, students will be found slumped on desk, talking almost constantly, snacking incessantly (or even, on occasions, eating full meals). The old disciplinary segmentation of time is breaking down. The carceral regime of discipline is being eroded by the technologies of control, with their systems of perpetual consumption and continuous development. The system by which the college is funded means that it

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