Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets

Hardcover | September 20, 2016

byTodd McGowan

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Despite creating vast inequalities and propping up reactionary world regimes, capitalism has many passionate defenders-but not because of what it withholds from some and gives to others. Capitalism dominates, Todd McGowan argues, because it mimics the structure of our desire while hiding the trauma that the system inflicts upon it. People from all backgrounds enjoy what capitalism provides, but at the same time are told more and better is yet to come. Capitalism traps us through an incomplete satisfaction that compels us after the new, the better, and the more.

Capitalism's parasitic relationship to our desires gives it the illusion of corresponding to our natural impulses, which is how capitalism's defenders characterize it. By understanding this psychic strategy, McGowan hopes to divest us of our addiction to capitalist enrichment and help us rediscover enjoyment as we actually experienced it. By locating it in the present, McGowan frees us from our attachment to a better future and the belief that capitalism is an essential outgrowth of human nature. From this perspective, our economic, social, and political worlds open up to real political change. Eloquent and enlivened by examples from film, television, consumer culture, and everyday life, Capitalism and Desire brings a new, psychoanalytically grounded approach to political and social theory.

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From the Publisher

Despite creating vast inequalities and propping up reactionary world regimes, capitalism has many passionate defenders-but not because of what it withholds from some and gives to others. Capitalism dominates, Todd McGowan argues, because it mimics the structure of our desire while hiding the trauma that the system inflicts upon it. Pe...

Todd McGowan is associate professor of film studies at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Enjoying What We Don't Have: The Political Project of Psychoanalysis (2013) and The Impossible David Lynch (Columbia, 2007), among other books.

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Out of Time: Desire in Atemporal Cinema
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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:September 20, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231178727

ISBN - 13:9780231178723

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: After Injustice and Repression1. The Subject of Desire and the Subject of Capitalism2. The Psychic Constitution of Private Space3. Shielding Our Eyes from the Gaze4. The Persistence of Sacrifice After Its Obsolescence5. A God We Can Believe In6. A More Tolerable Infinity7. The Ends of Capitalism8. Exchanging Love for Romance9. Abundance and Scarcity10. The Market's Fetishistic SublimeConclusion: Enjoy, Don't AccumulateNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

The immense satisfaction of McGowan's latest and most ambitious book is achieved, appropriately enough, by putting capitalism to the test of a suitably profound (and paradoxical) conception of satisfaction. Astonishingly far-ranging in its references yet written in perfectly limpid prose, Capitalism and Desire sets a new high-water mark in contemporary social and political philosophy. A dazzling work of theory.