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The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It)

The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy

J. K. Gibson-Graham
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 348
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  • Book Info
    The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It)
    Book Description:

    In the mid-1990s, at the height of discussion about the inevitability of capitalist globalization, J. K. Gibson-Graham presented a groundbreaking argument for envisioning alternative economies. This new edition includes an introduction in which the authors address critical responses to The End of Capitalism and outline the economic research and activism they have been engaged in since the book was first published.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9844-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction to the New Edition: Ten Years On
    (pp. vii-xxxvi)

    A startling thing happened just as we were preparing to write the introduction to this new edition ofThe End of Capitalism (As We Knew It).We had traveled to England to give the opening lecture for a workshop called “Contesting Capitalism: Practices and Strategies,” hosted by the Collective for Alternative Organisation Studies (CAOS) at the University of Leicester Management Centre. On the day before the workshop, we walked into the Centre to meet our hosts and were welcomed into an entirely friendly intellectual and political environment—one in which thinking about and experimenting with alternatives to conventional capitalism were...

  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxvii-xliv)
  5. 1 Strategies
    (pp. 1-23)

    Understanding capitalism has always been a project of the left, especially within the Marxian tradition. There, where knowledges of “capitalism” arguably originated, theory is accorded an explicit social role. From Marx to Lenin to the neo-Marxists of the post-World War II period, theorists have understood their work as contributing - whether proximately or distantly - to anticapitalist projects of political action. In this sense economic theory has related to politics as a subordinate and a servant: we understand the world in order to change it.

    Given the avowed servitude of left theory to left political action it is ironic (though...

  6. 2 Capitalism and Anti-essentialism: An Encounter in Contradiction
    (pp. 24-45)

    Contemporary social theory is arguably the site of a dominant antiessentialism, particularly in projects that seek to address philosophical and personal “identity.”¹ To varying degrees the essentialist hold of biological, psychological and social (to name but three) universals and structures on the construction of identity has been loosened under the influence of poststructuralist critiques and reformulations. Rarely, however, is anti-essentialism associated with Marxian political economy, where the “economic” has often been privileged as the fundamental, necessary oressentialconstituent of social systems and historical events. Within political economy and the political movements it has spawned or inspired, economic determinism has...

  7. 3 Class and the Politics of “Identity”
    (pp. 46-71)

    Recent episodes of restructuring in industrialized societies seem to have been largely a negative experience for the “working class.”¹ In the eyes of many observers, capital has achieved a new ascendancy, whether by virtue of its increased mobility and internationalization, or by virtue of a complex transition in society as a whole. By contrast, and by extension, workers have experienced declining standards of life and work, a decrease in bargaining leverage, and a general waning of effective militancy.

    Given the new economic conditions that are widely acknowledged to characterize the 1980s and 1990s, many have given the restructured working class...

  8. 4 How Do We Get Out of This Capitalist Place?
    (pp. 72-91)

    Geographers - of which I am one (or, more accurately, two) - have ambivalent feelings about the proliferating references to space in contemporary social theory. And, indeed, the profusion of spatial metaphors is remarkable (as well as frequently remarked). Discursive space is “occupied,” speaking positions are “located” or “situated,” “boundaries” are “transgressed,” identity is “deterritorialized” and “nomadic.” Theory flows in and around a conceptual “landscape” that must be “mapped,” producing “cartographies” of desire and “spaces” of enunciation. If space is currently where it’s at, perhaps it is not surprising that professional geographers occasionally feel displaced. It seems we are all...

  9. 5 The Economy, Stupid! Industrial Policy Discourse and the Body Economic
    (pp. 92-119)

    InEcstasy and Economics,Meaghan Morris chronicles the ecstatic submission of white Australian men to “the economy.”² Humbled before its godlike figure, grown men grovel and shout in fundamentalist rapture, transported in “an ecstasy of Reason” (1992: 77). By giving themselves over to a higher power, they have paradoxically gained mastery and authority. They “talk economics” and find themselves speaking the language of pure necessity, unhampered by base specificities of politics and intention. In the face of necessity, and in its despite, they project a wilful certainty that their economic “interventions” will yield the outcomes they desire.

    During the 1980s...

  10. 6 Querying Globalization
    (pp. 120-147)

    It was an article on rape by Sharon Marcus that first “drove home” to me the force of globalization. The force of it as a discourse, that is, as a language of domination, a tightly scripted narrative of differential power. What I mean by “globalization” is that set of processes by which the world is rapidly being integrated into one economic space via increased international trade, the internationalization of production and financial markets, the internationalization of a commodity culture promoted by an increasingly networked global telecommunications system. A forceful visual image of this present and future domain is the photograph...

  11. 7 Post-Fordism as Politics
    (pp. 148-173)

    Reading the growing literature on post-Fordism, I am impressed by the power of this “model of development” to organize and illuminate contemporary experience, interpreting and connecting a wide variety of social processes and institutions.¹ Yet at the same time that I have been impressed by the fertility and richness of the literature that has amassed around this catalytic concept, I have found aspects of post-Fordist theory quite problematic and constraining. By emphasizing the thoroughly capitalist nature of industrial social formations, by theorizing societies as centered upon economies, by representing contradiction as mediated or stalled, and by understanding development as a...

  12. 8 Toward a New Class Politics of Distribution
    (pp. 174-205)

    Class relations of exploitation have traditionally been the unquestioned target of a politics of class transformation, while issues of (re)distribution have more often been relegated to a politics of social democratic reform. This is a dualism that bears investigation as both forms of politics slide out of public view.¹ The privileging of exploitation over distribution as the truly legitimate focus of class politics reveals an essentialist vision of the economic totality as centered upon a core economic relation (between capital and labor) and a key flow of resources (the appropriation of surplus value) which, if changed, would revolutionize the whole.²...

  13. 9 “Hewers of Cake and Drawers of Tea”
    (pp. 206-237)

    In the context of discourses deriving from or influenced by political economy, including such farflung discursive regions as literary and cultural studies, we have encountered a wealth of representations of economic hegemony (presumptively capitalist) and a corresponding dearth of anti-hegemonic representations. This experience of shortage, of critical absence, has prompted us to include this chapter, which portrays noncapitalist economic activity or, more precisely, noncapitalist relations and processes of class and the interaction of these with capitalist ones. The chapter moves back and forth between an article we wrote in the early 1990s and our current - no doubt soon to...

  14. 10 Haunting Capitalism: Ghosts on a Blackboard
    (pp. 238-250)

    The specter in Derrida’sSpecters of Marxis a figure of mixture and contamination, of undecidability, a reminder of the impossibility of pure and definitive being. Neither living nor dead (or if dead not absent), neither fully embodied nor entirely bodiless, the specter figures in a space “between presence and non-presence” (1994: 12). It inhabits a realm of complication and difference beyond simple antagonisms and oppositions.

    In the “virtual space of spectrality” (p. 11), every presence is shaped by absences, every present moment is haunted and contaminated by the past and the future. Signaling the effectivity of what is excluded...

  15. 11 Waiting for the Revolution ...
    (pp. 251-265)

    This chapter has a surplus of titles. The grand title is “Rethinking Capitalism,” affirming a connection with contemporary projects to rethink received concepts and, indeed, to question the entire epistemic foundation that has rendered them prevalent and effective. The tantalizing title is “How to smash capitalism while working at home in your spare time” (this one was used at a conference hosted byRethinking Marxism.¹) Last but not least there’s the querulous title: “Why can feminists have revolution now, while Marxists have to wait?” This title has drawn the most criticism (since it tends to obscure the diversity within feminism...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 266-285)
  17. Index
    (pp. 286-300)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-301)