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Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative? (Zero Books) Paperback

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Product Details

  • Series: Zero Books
  • Paperback: 81 pages
  • Publisher: Zero Books (December 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846943175
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846943171
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Let's not beat around the bush: Fisher's compulsively readable book is simply the best diagnosis of our predicament that we have! Through examples from daily life and popular culture, but without sacrificing theoretical stringency, he provides a ruthless portrait of our ideological misery. Although the book is written from a radically Left perspective, Fisher offers no easy solutions. Capitalist Realism is a sobering call for patient theoretical and political work. It enables us to breathe freely in our sticky atmosphere. -- Slavoj Zizek

What happened to our future? Mark Fisher is a master cultural diagnostician, and in Capitalist Realism he surveys the symptoms of our current cultural malaise. We live in a world in which we have been told, again and again, that There Is No Alternative. The harsh demands of the 'just-in-time' marketplace have drained us of all hope and all belief. Living in an endless Eternal Now, we no longer seem able to imagine a future that might be different from the present. This book offers a brilliant analysis of the pervasive cynicism in which we seem to be mired, and even holds out the prospect of an antidote. -- Steven Shaviro, Author of Connected and Doom Patrols

About the Author

Mark Fisher is a writer and lecturer who maintains a highly successful weblog. He lives in the UK.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Paul R. Bryant on March 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone who believes Fisher's book is "Zizek-lite" (as in the case of the reviewer below) has clearly neither read Zizek nor Fisher. Zizek's work unfolds in and through the analysis of the cultural register or symbolic formations. While Fisher certainly has much to say about cultural artifacts, he also deftly analyzes contemporary structures of affectivity (such as the recent rise of depressive and anxiety disorders), as well as how the post-Fordist workplace is structured and what challenges these transformations entail for organizing and pursuing emancipatory politics. The reviewer below misses the key point of Fisher's analysis of students and schools today. Fisher is not setting out to *blame* students or shake his cane and declare with exasperation "these kids today!", but rather to analyze the new forms subjectivity is taking within our contemporary milieu and to analyze how the reigning apathy and ubiquitous (yet unsatisfying hedonism) that characterizes our cultural memory is a product of a social structure in which "it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism". Just as Voltaire's Candide suggested that we tend our gardens, the new form of subjectivity, discerning no limit to the horizon of capitalism seems to resign itself to dissatisfying small hedonistic pleasures as the only way to render life tolerable within such a hopeless situation. The question, then, is that of how it might become possible to begin imagining an alternative to current historical moment.Read more ›
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gerrymander on November 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
My brother gave me a book a couple of months ago which I've just managed to read. Interestingly, I read the book just days after being involved in an online discussion about politics. It was a late, tangential, and general contribution to a post on the issue of asylum-seekers in Australia. I began my series of reflections (or, perhaps, rants) by declaring that there was a part of me that felt `blah, blah, blah' about the issue. This was not something I wrote with a sense of sardonic superiority nor a cynicism which might have grown from such a position. Rather, I felt disappointed, frustrated and perhaps even exasperated. Moreover, it was an expression of a response to politics that has been growing for some time now; first articulated, I think, in the aftermath of the last federal election in Australia.

Essentially, I am tired of boring, lazy, uncreative, expedient, conservative politics. I am completely uninterested in a politics that is only different in respect to the story within which it locates itself (and even this can seem barely indistinguishable at time). Ironically perhaps, this lament is, I think, a pretty boring, clichéd, glib statement. Yet, the point remains that I want to see, hear and participate in a truly alternative politics. Yet, it seems any time I have a conversation with someone, it is either explicitly stated or implied that `what we have is the best of the admittedly flawed offerings'. What we have, of course, is some kind of liberal capitalism. Can we really not imagine anything else...anything better?

Mark Fisher begins his book, Capitalist Realism, at this point in the story. Chapter 1 is titled, after Jameson and Zizek, `It's easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism'.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ilias on August 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
Fisher makes a concise and compelling argument for the politicization of some of the symptoms of capitalist ideology, such as the widespread nature of mental health problems and stifling bureaucracy and audits. In doing so he begins pulling apart some of the latent tensions in today's capitalist system, exposing them as outright contradictions. Curiously he devotes very little space to the ongoing politicization of the ecological crises. But the issues he does address are presented from many different angles: cultural, Marxist, psychoanalytic, social, etc. Not surprisingly, Fisher's argumentation is along the same lines as Zizek's, and he does cite Zizek frequently, as well as a host of other philosophers and cultural critics.

But what distinguishes Fisher's writing from Zizek is that it is much more accesible and clearly written. Even a less diligent reader will be able to nod along to Fisher's writing, instead of scratching his or her head at every paragraph. And unlike some similar literature, this short book is refreshingly optimistic, revealing hidden opportunities for an ideological revolution. If you are concerned about today's social and economic structure--as you should be--but haven't written a thesis on the post-Fordist economy (yet), you need to read this book!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steven Craig Hickman on February 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
Mark Fisher in his new book Capitalist Realism affirms the exhaustion and collapse into decadence of a world that is not only artificial but is itself the productive force of an artificiality that affirms its own negative complicity within an endgame from which there is neither a final outcome to be expected nor an escape into some Utopian future as an outlying myth: but only a final collapse into a world of last men without affect who can truly say with Nietzsche's Last Man: "We have invented happiness," blinking robotically to the rhythm of the vast megamachine of Capitalist Realism.

Fisher recounts the dismal tale of Kurt Cobain for whom the last men were the embodied cliche of his own nihilistic life: "In his dreadful lassitude and objectless rage, Cobain seemed to give wearied voice to the despondency of the generation that had come after history, whose every move was anticipated, tracked, bought and sold before it had even happened. Cobain knew that he was just another piece of spectacle, that nothing runs better on MTV than a protest against MTV; knew that his every move was a cliche scripted in advance, knew that even realizing it is a cliche" (15). [1] Like a dead man in an imaginary museum Cobain adapted to the masks of an unreasoning culture to show forth the zombie styles of an age of revolt that was itself never a revolt, but only another decadence of hyperstylization of the transglobal machine that feeds upon such detritus with a relish that makes any form of rebellion seem nothing more than a final capitulation and affirmation of megacapital's very power of inscripting and incorporating all rebellions.
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