Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (2009)ALSO RECOMMENDED: The Privatisation of Stress (Mark Fisher)
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“The role of capitalist ideology is not to make an explicit case for something in the way that propaganda does, but to conceal the fact that the operations of capital do not depend on any sort of subjectively assumed belief. It is impossible to conceive of fascism or Stalinism without propaganda – but capitalism can proceed perfectly well, in some ways better, without anyone making a case for it.
It is not an exaggeration to say that being a teenager in late capitalist Britain is now close to being reclassified as a sickness. This pathologization already forecloses any possibility of politicization. By privatizing these problems—treating them as if they were caused only be chemical imbalances in the individual’s neurology and/or by their family background—any question of social systemic causation is ruled out…Ask students to read for more than a couple of sentences and many—and these are A-level students mind you—will protest that they can’t do it. The most frequent complaint teachers hear is that it’s boring. It is not so much the content of the written material that is at issue here; it is the act of reading itself that is deemed to be ‘boring’. What we are facing here is not just time-honored teenage torpor, but the mismatch between a post-literate ‘New Flesh’ that is ‘too wired to concentrate’ and the confining, concentrational logics of decaying disciplinary systems. To be bored simply means to be removed from the communicative sensation-stimulus matrix of texting, YouTube and fast food; to be denied, for a moment, the constant flow of sugary gratification on demand. Some students want Nietzsche in the same way that they want a hamburger; they fail to grasp—and the logic of the consumer system encourages this misapprehension—that the indigestibility, the difficulty isNietzsche….If, then, something like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a pathology, it is a pathology of late capitalism—a consequence of being wired into the entertainment-control circuits of hypermediated consumer culture. Similarly, what is called dyslexia may in many cases amount to a post-lexia….Teachers are now put under intolerable pressure to mediate between the post-literate subjectivity of the late capitalist consumer and the demands of the disciplinary regime (to pass examinations, etc). This is one way in which education, far from being in some ivory tower safely inured from the ‘real world’, is the engine room of the reproduction of social reality, directly confronting the inconsistencies of the capitalist social field.
Like Sennett, Marazzi recognizes that the new conditions both required and emerged from an increased cybernetization of the working environment. The Fordist factory was crudely divided into blue and white collar work, with the different types of labor physically elimited by the structure of the building itself. Laboring in noisy environments, watched over by managers and supervisors, workers had access to language only in their breaks, in the toilet, at the end of the working day, or when they were engaged in sabotage, because communication interrupted production. But in post-Fordism, when the assembly line becomes a ‘flux of information’, people work by communicating. As Norbert Wiener taught, communication and control entail one another.
Work and life become inseparable. Capital follows you where you dream. Time ceases to be linear, becomes chaotic, broken down into punctiform divisions. As production and distribution are restructured, so are nervous systems. To function effectively as a component of just-in-time production you must develop a capacity to respond to unforeseen events, you must learn to live in conditions of total instability, or ‘precarity’, as the ugly neologism has it. Periods of work alternate with periods of unemployment. Typically, you find yourself employed in a series of short-term jobs, unable to plan for the future.”