[iDC] Periodizing cinematic production2

Dean, Jodi JDEAN at hws.edu
Mon Sep 7 19:45:06 UTC 2009

Jonathan Beller writes:

We would not want to miss out here in the fact that such crises are also opportunities. The current instability of the capitalist system has been manifest, but where was/is the Marxist alternative? Personally I was deeply disappointed in my own/our degree of preparedness during the financial bailout. For a moment capitalism was threatening to off itself, to crumble under the weight of its own contradictions, contradictions that no amount of imaginary inflation could any longer sustain. And yet our imaginations have been so throughly colonized that the best the collectivity could come up with was to mortgage our own future in order to preserve the fundamental hierarchies amenable to bankers, hierarchies that sustain themselves through the ruthless exploitation of this, "our," planet.

This real failure on the part of the people, the masses, the multitudes, this world-historical failure, is a question not only for economists, but for cultural theorists, social justice activists, and all of us who would have the audacity to speculate against capitalist speculators. I know from my own experience that film studies people think that these kinds of cinematic questions are way beyond the purview of the field. 

Where was/is the Marxist alternative? Perhaps one way to think about this problem is to think about the ways that critical theorists have participated in the attack on the state and on collective solutions/enterprises that enables neoliberalism. It seems to me that the supposition that individuals working alone can somehow network with one another and immanently produce a solution is pat of the problem. That is, the elision between Free Software and politics is the same as the elision between capitalism and democracy, an elision that brushes over antagonism (inequality/class struggle/exploitation). Analogous to this is the move to ethics, a move that similarly displaces attention to politics. It's as if current thought is stuck in the binary already diagnosed by Schmitt: liberalism replaces politics with ethics and economics.


Jodi Dean

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