Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Pseud's corner

Death by excess: consumption, its discontents and the morbid enjoyment of capitalism

According to Baudrillard (1998) waste - often considered a negative consequence of capitalistic production - is a necessary and integral concept within which modern capitalist societies recognise and identify themselves. It is through the production of excess - of waste - that capitalism knows it is capitalism. This paper is concerned with how discourses of waste, and excess are produced as markers of identity and subjectivity within oppositional cultures to global capitalistic processes. The paper is concerned in particular with dominant expressions of what might be termed an anti-consumption sensibility articulated via (in)formal groupings, collectivities and pressure groups. These groupings are frequently referred to in popular discourse as the anti-capitalist movement. A key discourse within this movement is pronounced polemic against what it considers the excessive and wastefully conspicuous character of contemporary consumption. This paper argues that this movement expresses an increasingly morbid character, organised principally around notions of waste and the death like character of ‘excessive’ consumption. These discourses appear increasingly religious in character - drawing upon Western Christian notions of temperance. Furthermore this paper argues that the morbid characterisation of capitalist consumption functions as a spectacular form of jouissance or enjoyment.

Thankfully, the author then takes the piss out of Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger. Phew!


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