Daily Archives: October 12, 2012

Review 2 (HUM415)

If we return to the first week of class we’ll encounter a number of efforts to understand the character of capitalism, from Marx and Engels’s thumbnail sketch of the rise of the bourgeoisie to Adamovsky’s graphic book on anti-capitalism. Of particular significance is the manner in which capitalism is defined not only as a form of socio-economic organization but as the basis of what has been called “a whole way of life.” Contrary to the highly ideological view that capitalism is a “natural” order which pits people against one another in a struggle for survival red in tooth and claw, capitalism is a historical phenomenon catapulted forward by the colonization of the Americas, the transAtlantic slave trade, and the coercion of nations such as China into the emerging global market. The social changes created by the advent and proliferation of capitalism were highly destabilizing and dynamic. In the words of the Manifesto, “all that is solid melts into air.” For Marx, the ascent of capitalism marks entry into modernity itself and all of the social relations that we have come to accept as inevitable. We might consider the concept of periodization in this context, both the larger period of modernity and the narrower field of our own inquiry, “the contemporary,” or what we might even call the neoliberal era.

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