November 24, 2010

Closer to communism As Badiou reminds us, the communist hypothesis is that a different collective organization is practicable, one that will eliminate the inequality of wealth. It seems today that the inequality of wealth is one of the last--if not the last--vestiges of capitalism. Vestige isn't the best word, although its kinship with vestigial points to capitalism's degeneracy from some of its original functions (commodity production as opposed to financialism). What would be a vestige that holds everything else together, forming or systematizing a dispersion of attributes? I have in mind something like a quilting point. Fetish is probably the closest term insofar as there is no illusion or fantasy involved but rather an attachment to something completely nonsensical. Inequality as fetish, then, would be the inequality manifest in celebrity as well as in the rewarding of CEOs and traders who lose millions of dollars and the promotion of idiots (as in the head of BP moving on to demolish education in the UK). We know that none of these people deserves their position, esteem, rewards, nevertheless they get it all anyway. It's almost like the Nietzschean superman, justifying the existence of the mass, the mediocre rest of us. Unleashed from the constraints of norms, civility, morality, these exemplars hold together a capitalist formation whose production of destruction (visible most clearly with climate change) outweighs its production of items of use. Let me be clear: I'm not denying the material dimension of inequality or the way this material dimension is backed up by...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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