A Political Economy of the Senses: Neoliberalism, by Anita Chari

By Anita Chari

Anita Chari revives the most important suggestion of reification from Marx and the Frankfurt university to focus on the resistance to neoliberal capitalism now forming on the point of political financial system and the extra sensate, experiential point of subjective transformation. studying paintings by way of Oliver Ressler, Zanny Begg, Claire Fontaine, Jason Lazarus, and Mika Rottenberg, in addition to the politics of Occupy Wall highway, Chari identifies practices by which artists and activists have challenged neoliberalism's social and political logics. via positioning the topic in uncomfortable or very unlikely destinations of hope, sensible orientation, and commentary, such practices disclose neoliberal capitalism's inherent tensions and contradictions.

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Extra info for A Political Economy of the Senses: Neoliberalism, Reification, Critique (New Directions in Critical Theory)

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Yet I would argue that many influential strands of contemporary political theory are indebted to critical procedures that are insufficiently attentive to the shifting boundary 34 N EO LI B ER AL SY M P TO M S between economics and politics that generates neoliberal depoliticization. A crucial dimension of this problem has to do with the ways in which forms of critique generated in light of earlier phases of capitalism have been resignified in neoliberal context. ”50 Yet I would argue, slightly in contrast to Offe, that the most insidious problem neoliberalism presents for critical theory is not that it operates without a shred of justification but that the normative justification for neoliberalism is ultimately retained from liberalism, even as the relationship between economics and politics in neoliberalism is inverted.

To comprehend the resignification of critical discourse in neoliberal context, I make use of Nancy Fraser’s and Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello’s analyses of the neoliberal resignification of critique. The key point I take from Fraser and Boltanski and Chiapello is the fundamental importance of the historicity of forms of critique and the complex dynamics that can render discourses that were critical in one period a source of legitimation for capitalist domination in the midst of subtle transformations of the dynamics of capital in another period.

To name neoliberalism as depoliticizing, then, is not to argue that we are somehow in a “postpolitical” condition in neoliberalism. Undoubtedly, forms of politics are alive and well in the contemporary moment. My goal, however, is to displace existing understandings of the political, in order to push beyond the limits that the neoliberal configuration of the economy-politics relation tends to impose. As Dean perceptively argues in her critique of communicative capitalism, we are confronted with a surplus, rather than a surfeit of so-called democratic communication, but the forms of communication we are bound to utilize in the hypertechnologized public sphere have little critical effect.

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