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Full Access Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, Mark Fisher, Winchester: Zero Books, 2009

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Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, Mark Fisher, Winchester: Zero Books, 2009

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Abstract Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? is a provocative polemical analysis of the narrowing of political horizons that has occurred over the past couple of decades and of the powerful ideological grip that capitalism holds on the collective, social psyche, destroying our capacity to imagine political alternatives. Fisher seeks to illuminate the major cultural and social effects of a post-Cold War politico-ideological condition in which (according to Žižek’s well-known observation) ‘it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism’. Building on this analysis, Fisher identifies some key tensions and contradictions in the ideological armour of contemporary capitalism and extrapolates from this some tentative strategic propositions for the anticapitalist Left. This review-article argues that, while Fisher’s book provides valuable conceptual and strategic resources for the Left, it is hamstrung by several weaknesses – not the least of these a tendency to make unconvincing, sweeping claims about the novelty and distinctness of what Fisher terms ‘capitalist realism’ and a tendency to present a caricature of current left-wing thinking.

Affiliations: 1: Southampton University rooksby.ed@gmail.com

Abstract Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? is a provocative polemical analysis of the narrowing of political horizons that has occurred over the past couple of decades and of the powerful ideological grip that capitalism holds on the collective, social psyche, destroying our capacity to imagine political alternatives. Fisher seeks to illuminate the major cultural and social effects of a post-Cold War politico-ideological condition in which (according to Žižek’s well-known observation) ‘it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism’. Building on this analysis, Fisher identifies some key tensions and contradictions in the ideological armour of contemporary capitalism and extrapolates from this some tentative strategic propositions for the anticapitalist Left. This review-article argues that, while Fisher’s book provides valuable conceptual and strategic resources for the Left, it is hamstrung by several weaknesses – not the least of these a tendency to make unconvincing, sweeping claims about the novelty and distinctness of what Fisher terms ‘capitalist realism’ and a tendency to present a caricature of current left-wing thinking.

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1. Badiou Alain Macey David , Corcoran Steve The Communist Hypothesis 2010 London Verso
2. Eagleton Terry "‘A Shelter in the Tempest of History’" Red Pepper 2002 available at: < >.
3. Fisher Mark Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? 2009 Winchester Zero Books
4. Fukuyama Francis The End of History and the Last Man 1992 Harmondsworth Penguin Books
5. Fuller Matthew "‘Questioning Capitalist Realism: An Interview with Mark Fisher’" MR Zine 2009 available at: < >.
6. Hallward Peter "‘The Politics of Prescription’" South Atlantic Quarterly 2005 Vol 104 4 769 789 http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/00382876-104-4-769
7. Hallward Peter "‘The Will of the People: Notes Towards a Dialectical Voluntarism’" Radical Philosophy 2009 Vol 155 17 29
8. James Oliver Affluenza 2007 London Vermillion
9. James Oliver The Selfish Capitalist: Origins of Affluenza 2008 London Vermillion
10. Jameson Fredric Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism 1991 London Verso
11. The Invisible Committee The Coming Insurrection 2009 Los Angeles Semiotext(e)
12. Wilson Rowan "‘Mark Fisher’" 2010 available at: < >.
13. Žižek Slavoj The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology 1999 London Verso
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2012-01-01
2016-12-11

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