Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets

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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.

Also by Todd McGowan:
Psychoanalytic Film Theory and The Rules of the Game, offers a concise introduction to psychoanalytic film theory in jargon-free language and shows how this theory can be deployed to interpret Jean Renoir's classic film. It traces the development of psychoanalytic film theory through its foundation in the thought of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan through its contemporary manifestation in the work of theorists like Slavoj Zizek and Joan Copjec. This history will help students and scholars who are eager to learn more about this important area of film theory and bring the concepts of psychoanalytic film theory into practice through a detailed interpretation of the film.

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Bartleby, the Scrivener: “I would prefer not to.
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