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On Capitalism's impossibility....

Slavoj Zizek is a very important influence on my thinking and academic work, because he takes it step further, viz., by not compromising with liberal-democracy, than most critical theorists are wiling to go today. One of his  ingenious insights is on how capitalism's own impossibility and inherent contradiction, its own lack of totality is, simultaneously, it's structuring condition. The following passage is a quote from his book and will certainly influence my academic work:

  • Recall the classical Marxist account of the overcoming of capitalism: capitalism unleashed the breathtaking dynamics of self-enhancing productivity—in capitalism, "all that is solid melts into air," capitalism is the greatest revolutionizer in the history of humanity; on the other hand, this capitalist dynamic is propelled by its own inner obstacle or antagonism—the ultimate limit of capitalism (of capitalist self-propelling productivity) is Capital itself, that is, capitalism's incessant development and revolutionizing of its own material conditions, the mad dance of its unconditional spiral of productivity, is ultimately nothing but a desperate fuite en avant to escape its own debilitating inherent contradictions . . . Marx's fundamental mistake was here to conclude, from these insights, that a new, higher social order (communism) was possible, an order that would not only maintain, but even raise to a higher degree and fully release the potential of the upward spiral of productivity without it being thwarted by socially destructive economic crises. In short, what Marx overlooked is that, to put it in standard Derridean terms, this inherent obstacle/antagonism as the "condition of impossibility" of the full deployment of the productive forces is simultaneously its "condition of possibility": if we abolish the obstacle, the inherent contradiction of capitalism, we do not get the fully unleashed drive finally freed from its shackles, but rather we lose precisely this very productivity that seemed to be simultaneously generated and stifled by capitalism, for it simply dissipates . . . And it is as if this logic of the "obstacle as a positive condition" which underlay the failure of socialist attempts to overcome capitalism, is now returning with a vengeance in capitalism itself: capitalism can fully thrive not in the unencumbered reign of the market, but only when an obstacle (from minimal welfare-state intervention, up to and including the direct political rule of the Communist Party, as in the case of China) constrains its unimpeded rampage (190).

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