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Finitude of capitalism and the perverse charm of denial

Feldner, Heiko ORCID: and Vighi, Fabio ORCID: 2018. Finitude of capitalism and the perverse charm of denial. Berlin Journal of Critical Theory 2 (2) , pp. 99-130.

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In this essay we adopt a dual lens approach to argue that we live in an epoch of generalised perversion, to be intended as a time dominated by a collective strategy of denial vis-à-vis the valorisation crisis of contemporary capitalism and the attendant loss of symbolic efficiency of the “work society”. Following Marx’s insights into the de-socialising character of the capitalist economy, and Lacan’s discussions of the epistemic alliance between the discourse of modern science and the discourse of capitalism, we argue that understanding the delusive lure of denial is particularly urgent today, when the crisis of our mode of production threatens the devastating implosion of social life. The historical paradox we emphasise is that denial functions more and more as a “spontaneous” psychic compromise aimed at negotiating the anxiety generated by the valorisation deadlock of contemporary capitalism. The absurdity of our condition is that, to a spiralling productive capacity facilitated by technological innovation, there corresponds a drastically decreased ability to generate wealth as value in capitalist terms, which dramatically weakens the socio-symbolic narrative in which we dwell. Our perspective advocates the necessity to establish a connection with the symptomatic character of the crisis rather than rely on the delusion that capitalism possesses the ability to renew itself eternally. While in the first part of the essay we examine, via Lacan, the role of denial in negotiating the historical un-folding of the capitalist discourse, in the second part we dissect, within broader debates on green capitalism, the symptomatic management of the eco-economic catastrophe as it unfolds before our eyes.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Additional Information: All articles published in the BJCT are published and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
ISSN: 2567-4048
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 March 2019
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2022 14:13

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