The question is how we react to this great prejudice against women. The rule of law and social activism certainly are crucial. But no matter how...”
One of the curious things about our educational system, I would note, is that the better trained you are in a discipline, the less used to dialectical method you’re likely to be. In fact, young children are very dialectical; they see everything in motion, in contradictions and transformations. We have to put an immense effort into training kids out of being good dialectitians. Marx wants to recover the intuitive power of the dialectical method and put it to work in understanding how everything is in process, everything is in motion. He doesn’t simply talk about labor; he talks about the labor process. Capital is not a thing, but rather a process that exists only in motion. When circulation stops, value disappears and the whole system comes tumbling down.
[W]hat Marx seeks out in Capital is a conceptual apparatus, a deep structure, that explains the way in which motion is actually instantiated within a capitalist mode of production. Consequently, many of his concepts are formulated around relations rather than stand-alone principles; they are about transformative activity.
“When home ownership became endemic, two things happened. First, the banks, highly monopolistic institutions with a profound lack of understanding of money, as they recently demonstrated, commoditised and monetised the most basic human need for shelter: our homes. But then those of us who managed to buy a home and hold on to it finally had a stake in the capitalist system. This was economically novel. It had never happened before.
The Domesday Book of 1873 records the beginning of private home ownership in the UK - in effect, the beginning of popular participation in the capitalist market system. No economist, not even Karl Marx, who was still alive when the second Domesday was published, foresaw the transformation that this would bring about. Marx thought that capitalism would always be confined to a minority, and that the majority would be a rent-paying proletariat. A superficial look at the second Domesday would have confirmed this. That is how it was then, but it’s not how it is now. The transformation is fundamental to both capitalism and democracy.
Private home ownership destroys the notion of rent as a significant element of the overall economic equation. The estate agent Savills recently demonstrated what this means. The national debt, which we are supposed to lie awake at night worrying about, is roughly £1trn. The total value of the privately owned national housing stock is over £3trn. The ratio of debt to equity in the housing stock is about 1:4. In other words, for every £1 of mortgage debt, there is £3 of free asset value.”
I’m not sure [Frederic] Jameson would say that he is more imaginative than [Steve] Jobs. One of the best aspects of Jameson - and Zizek for that matter - is that he has never given up on what for me is the crucial Marxist idea that an authentic anti-capitalism must develop out of capitalism at its most modern and modernizing. There are some rousing passages in both First As Tragedy, Then As Farce and Valences Of The Dialectic which reiterate this commitment. And Jameson’s essay on “Wal-Mart as Utopia” (also in Valences) is a tremendous attempt to think in this way, against the moralizing and agragrian tendencies in certain stripes of anti-capitalism. Anti-capitalism has to struggle over modernization, not reject it.
The problem with any attempt to posit an anti-capitalism opposed to IPhones and IPods is not only that it invites accusations of inconsistency - here we all are, fermenting anti-capitalist discontent on the internet - but that it surrenders the inorganic - and therefore also libido - to capitalism. For me, the crucial discovery of modernist theory and art is that libido is inorganic: as everyone from Freud through to Eistenstein and Burroughs have recognised, libido montages, it cuts and pastes, it’s no respecter of organic wholeness.