Angela’s view on postcapitalism. – A contribution to mέta.
It is almost twenty years since the Marxist cultural theorist Fredric Jameson wrote (or reiterated) that “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism”. In those twenty years, the need to imagine the end of capitalism became imperative.
The term ‘postcapitalism’ brings this need to the fore, with a potential double meaning: on the one hand, it is a springboard for potentially signifying an ‘after’, activating the political imagination prefiguratively. On the other hand, it accepts, through historical pragmatism (which, for me, is linked to historical materialism), that the experience of capitalism has existed and will exist. The “after” will not be created ex nihilo because, quite simply, there is no such process in the history of humanity and its environment — however we define the latter. There is no creatio ex nihilo in how modes of production, which are always modes of social reproduction, are linked. For those of us who belong to the segments of the population that refuse to distance themselves from the possibility of breaking with the extremely exploitative and oppressive context constituted by capitalism, awareness of the connection between slow processes and sudden events becomes crucial. This dictates the need for strategy.
Strategy has been both a demand and a characteristic of the emancipatory movements of the twentieth century, yet that is not to say that such movements have been homogeneous and certain of the course they wanted to chart. On the contrary, there was always within them the need to process the social data, possibly leading to conflicts, perhaps even internal ruptures. All these are elements of the historical process itself. We have seen or studied them, for example, as elements of the course of feminist movements – particularly perhaps the second wave. Today, the militant feminism of our time is at a turning point, as the environment in which it makes its demands has changed markedly since the 1960s and 1970s. There is a new international status quo where decisive processes are being
accelerated even for the right to protest and put forward demands — capitalism is far from “liberal” and the deadlocks it produces bring out most fascist tendencies.
The new militant feminist movements are not blind to the role of capitalism as a global condition but with local “expressions”. There is a long experience of struggles (with both victories and defeats), there is diverse theoretical work and radical thinking, and there is, finally, the need not to submit to the “siren call” of accepting the status quo and the dead-end reformism we are sometimes allowed, so that the most radical demands and perspectives are harnessed. The latter are the ones that shape the horizon of the ‘after’, but this horizon is lost from our visual field when there is no possibility of realising a strategy. What needs to be taken into account in strategy formulation? What kinds of alliances favour the strategy and which would weaken it?
I think this is a question for anti-capitalist feminism in all its manifestations, for the vision of the “after” as a complex and collective proposal on the political that can no longer wait. Either we imagine the end of capitalism with an “after” that abolishes exploitation and oppression, or we let capitalism initiate the end of all resistance.
Angela Dimitrakaki is a writer and art historian. Educated in Greece and the UK, she teaches contemporary art history and theory at the University of Edinburgh, focusing on Marxist and feminist thought.
She has published numerous scholarly articles as well as the booksGender, ArtWork and the Global Imperative (2013), Politics in a Glass Case (ed. with L. Perry, 2013), ECONOMY (ed. with K. Lloyd, 2015). Her literary work in Greek includes, among others, the novels Antarctica (1997, rev. ed. 2006), Antithalassa (2002), The Manifesto of Defeat (2006), Inside a Girl Like You (2009), AEROPLAST (2015), TINA the Story of an Alignment (2019, nominated for the Greek State Award) and the novel Four Testimonies to the Exhumation of the River Erinyes (2016, Short Story/Novel Prize of Anagnostis Magazine and the Kostas and Eleni Ouranis Foundation of the Academy of Athens).
She is a member of the editorial board of Third Text for which she has edited special issues on anti-fascism and social reproduction, and collaborates with several reviews/journals either in her field or of an interdisciplinary orientation.