This essay reflects on the global financial crisis of 2008 as a site from which to assess anumber of theorisations of critique and change, based within a broadly-defined Marxism.While the recent crisis has given traction to Marxism as a form of critique, the articulationof that critique to actual change, and especially to the prospective agents of change, hasbeen left hanging. Charting the work of Fredric Jameson, Hardt and Negri, and others, wefind an emphasis on the powers of production and life as a point of excess to fuel anticapitalist politics. However, these images of dynamism are now forced to confrontcapitalism in a state of inertia and deceleration, and in so doing, they reveal theirdependence on replicating or displacing the supposed ‘productive forces’ of capitalism totheir own projects. Models of ‘anti-production’, such as those derived from GeorgesBataille, also tend to converge on models of vital powers, although cast in forms ofconsumption and excess. Criticising this convergence on a mythical vitalism, this essaysuggests a deflationary critique of capitalism’s ‘productivism’, and explores the potentialfor an anti-vitalist analysis that might better grasp the ‘mythological displacement’ ofexperience that operates within the frame of capitalist social relations
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