Tag Archives: Mark Fisher

Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism

At Chisenhale Gallery 17/11/2010

Hi guys went to this tonight. Was really good, if you get chance to see him talk, do! Here are some notes from it, maybe this is a good idea for other lectures we all go to, maybe not. I’ll amble through some of his main points and occasionally link in others.

He starts with trying to relate the talk to Hito Steyerl’s film on at Chisenhale currently Crash.

This idea of a crash (post 9/11 and 2008, has left us with ideological junk.

He describes the crash as a failure of a reality system

In speaking of this reality system, that of capitalism and what constitutes it he uses the term hyperstitia – that the reality of capitalism is in essence the reality of a belief system. It is a system of beliefs about beliefs, all knitted together with an impenetrable confidence (although one that is fundamentally never defined.)

(Zachary Formwalt speaks of capital being invisible – it has no discernable substance.)

As such we are victims of an audacious confidence trick ie. the current co-illation use illocutionary force in order to sustain that. They say that ‘the current financial crisis was caused by over investment in the private sector’, we all know that this is bullshit, it was the bankers but the more they repeat this, the more that it becomes a truism. The media produces a disjunct. We experience cognitively the everyday, but the media reports something else. Therefore, people have, for example, no agent for the anger that we all feel about the bank bailout. That anger has no agent when 60% of broadsheets are produced by PR and the Unions are also to close to business.

He speaks of capitalism, after the crash (although he refutes the ‘after’ we have entered the crash but are still very much within) as existing more aggressively now than ever before. This is a shock doctrine upon a shock doctrine.

He discusses the idea of crash to tie into Hito Steyerls show but he prefers the imagery of where in Disney cartoons the character runs off a cliff and then remains in the air. Now, we have no ground beneath our feet and we should fall, but the nature of capitalism (persisting) and the nature of this innate confidence being something that holds us in the air.

Fisher says that he thinks also that Anti-capitalist movements have to be brought much closer to work. So many people attend protests on a Saturday and then return to jobs which may compromise that. How do we revive politics about work?

Of now he speaks positively. To imagine that in 1975 it would have been absolutely unthinkable that a decade later, the UK’s national industries would be privatised etc etc etc. Within a decade something went from unthinkable to inevitable. So what will we make inevitable?

These cuts are an opportunity. Compared to neo-liberalism and ideology where reality was dictated, where people knew exactly what they were doing because they were led to believe that the capitalist system was reality, without it we now know nothing. There has been no dominant ideology since modernity, especially post-modernity and definitely now when even neo-liberal ideology has shown itself to be fundamentally corrupt. Now we are in a stage of knowing nothing, and that the time of not knowing is the time for politics, for strategic optimism and hope.

Badiou and many others speak of retaining a certain sentiment of communism (aside of what it became and what it still could be) a communism of resource or a communism of autonomous sentiment. Badiou speaks of Art as an anticipation of the political event. He speaks of three things that we should work towards in order to begin to start to substantiate this new communism.

  1. Be in concrete relationship with local political activity (not party political). Practical political experiments in the locality because in the locality we experience a heightened sense of politics, personally, that we cannot affect anywhere else.
  2. B e creatively active in assuming contemporary notions of communal activity. Producing, nurturing, with others a creative intellectual space which is free of the hands of the state and of the market.
  3. Participate in the invention of new forms of presentation.
  4. TO SYNTHESIZE 1,2, AND 3.

I put the Badiou bits in whilst I was doing this, the rest is Mark Fisher!