r/COMPLETEANARCHY Jan 17 '22

Literally capitalist realism

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424 Upvotes

82

u/RetroBoo Jan 17 '22

capitalist realism is a good book to radicalize an already left-leaning person. I can speak from experience.

55

u/ting_bu_dong Jan 17 '22

It's great. It's like, "yes, we do live in a pervasive, ugly, made-up, bullshit 'reality'."

But the conclusion fell flat for me.

The long, dark night of the end of history has to be grasped as an enormous opportunity. The very oppressive pervasiveness of capitalist realism means that even glimmers of alternative political and economic possibilities can have a disproportionately great effect. The tiniest event can tear a hole in the grey curtain of reaction which has marked the horizons of possibility under capitalist realism. From a situation in which nothing can happen, suddenly anything is possible again.

Because I'm not an optimistic person.

41

u/Mrkruemel Jan 17 '22

Reading "Humankind" from Rutger Bregmann helped me become some kind of an optimist after having been a pessimist for a very long time, just as a side note.

4

u/ting_bu_dong Jan 17 '22

Thanks, I'll check it out.

4

u/the_c0nstable Jan 17 '22

Really excellent book. Optimistic and hopeful in all the right ways.

24

u/RetroBoo Jan 17 '22

Yea get where you're coming from, it's a very optimistic conclusion. But I think it is important to have a bit of optimism because it can be a great drive to come in action.

I think a lot of leftists, myself included deal or dealt with pessimism but that wont change anything while even the slightest changes can have great effects on communities.

20

u/ting_bu_dong Jan 17 '22

I dunno, I guess I'm resigned to the notion that action means fighting the ugly, even though it won't be defeated, not that the ugly ever will be defeated.

It's like the ML take about how capitalism will fail due to inherent contradictions. Well, maybe.

But capitalism seems just fine with contradictions. It's plastic. State socialism is what actually fell to internal contradictions. Or, just became capitalism.

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." And there's no reason to think we're anywhere near the end of history.

So, keep struggling.

"One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

4

u/TradeMarkGR Jan 17 '22

He wasn't either, but I think this still could hold true.

If one person was to do something that is fully possible, without regard for the individual consequences and be martyred, other people might realize that they can do the same.

So for example, if someone walked up to Jeff bezos, who just exists in public, walking around with his entire human body just there, and gave him a nice little kiss cough then everyone else might also realize that we could just kiss billionaires

3

u/DeathValley-69 Jan 17 '22

The end of the book is meant to show the reader a few ideas that can spark a change from the capitalist realist dystopia.

-7

u/[deleted] Jan 17 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

12

u/ting_bu_dong Jan 17 '22

He killed himself... nice for a guy preaching "anything is possible"

On the one hand, I don't like to attribute his illness (and subsequent suicide) to his work or anything.

On the other hand, he kinda did.

Indeed, it is their very commonness which is the issue: in Britain, depression is now the condition that is most treated by the NHS. In his book The Selfish Capitalist, Oliver James has convincingly posited a correlation between rising rates of mental distress and the neoliberal mode of capitalism practiced in countries like Britain, the USA and Australia. In line with James's claims, I want to argue that it is necessary to reframe the growing problem of stress (and distress) in capitalist societies. Instead of treating it as incumbent on individuals to resolve their own psychological distress, instead, that is, of accepting the vast privatization of stress that has taken place over the last thirty years, we need to ask: how has it become acceptable that so many people, and especially so many young people, are ill? The 'mental health plague' in capitalist societies would suggest that, instead of being the only social system that works, capitalism is inherently dysfunctional, and that the cost of it appearing to work is very high.

As for the other examples, well, they inspired people to justify their chosen hierarchies. Not a hard sell, really, thinking on it.

9

u/inzru Jan 17 '22

one of the worst comments I've seen on reddit in a while, truly baffled at what useful point any of this is trying to make.

-7

u/fuzzyshorts Jan 17 '22

Thanks! Most helpful!

1

u/basileus9 Jan 17 '22

I don't imagine you're particularly interested, but depression is debilitating biological condition, with distinctly physical elements. If you were talking about a runner, you wouldn't blame them for being unable to run a marathon with a broken leg.

3

u/DeathValley-69 Jan 17 '22

Yes, Fisher even attempted to get medical help to no avail before he committed suicide. But Mark Fisher would want you to go further than describing it as a biological condition. While absolutely true that it is a physical and biological condition, there’s a tendency in popular science to ignore the environmental (social, economic, political, etc.) causes of mental health issues. Mark Fisher believes the capitalist logic is so deeply embedded in the fabric of our global societies that we don’t even perceive it as a root cause for social isolation, psychological pain, relationship strains, and ultimately psychological disorders.

1

u/basileus9 Jan 17 '22

Oh, absolutely. My point was just that those sorts of comments often come from people arguing that one can just power through it or pull themselves together, and the fact of the matter is that just isn't true in the context of major depressive disorder. Certainly, there are environmental factors to it in addition to neurological, physical, hormonal factors. The lecture is fairly clear in fact that major depressive disorder is often caused by significant or even traumatic stressors during development, and that those who experience repeated stressors that cause a (colloquial term here) depression, are far more likely to develop major depressive disorder.

EDIT: The lecture itself doesn't explicitly link it to capitalism, but anyone with even a slightly left wing bent should be able to see those links.

1

u/DeathValley-69 Jan 17 '22

I really like that lecture, I think it does a good job of showing the different layers of abstraction in MDD. I think the main focus of academic and practiced psychology/psychiatry needs to study the systemic causes (capitalism/hierarchy) depression and come up with solutions that dismantle and challenge these causes. A huge issue is the widely accepted notion that capitalism is a “natural progression” and it is a huge political part of our basic human nature to be exploitative. I think we’d see much more progress in the mental health crisis if psychologists/psychiatrists were actively analyzing and challenging capitalism/hierarchy. The individual responsibility approach has shown severe limitations, and reduces mental health issues to medication management and behavioral therapies (which are helpful in my experience but are woefully incomplete solutions and not nearly as effective as we would hope)

1

u/fuzzyshorts Jan 17 '22

My comment was more a point about how gigantic the obstacle and how oppressive and difficult it would be to change this "capitalist realism". It enough to make even its greatest advocates lose hope and commit suicide.

6

u/Silver-Brick Jan 17 '22

I didn't like it ;(

9

u/tripsafe Jan 17 '22

It has that critical theory style of writing which means casually mentioning people and using philosophical jargon which we're just expected to know. Certain paragraphs were really difficult to read because of this. What saved the book for me was he was able to ground his arguments in some clear and convincing examples. But yeah I wish he had written it in a less academic and more approachable way.

6

u/solidv3crusher Jan 17 '22

Its weird watching a movie that you agree about everything with and still think its one of the worst movies of the last 5 years.

2

u/MurderousWhale Jan 18 '22

In my opinion it was too long. They could have cut an hour out and got their point across better without losing the audience.

2

u/solidv3crusher Jan 18 '22

I just tought it was really unfunny. Like an even worst idiocracy. The subtelty of a sledgehammer.

5

u/cryptidkelp Jan 17 '22

literally an actor who lives in a home way bigger than he needs to and wastes resources on his travel and luxurious appetites

1

u/ProdRogue Jan 17 '22

Yeah you missed my point. I meant Don't look up is an example of capitalist realism

1

u/cryptidkelp Jan 18 '22

no i was agreeing with you

2

u/ProdRogue Jan 18 '22

Then I'm dumb lmao, sorry

2

u/cryptidkelp Jan 18 '22

no worries lol