Jameson: Representing Capital

Canadian magazine Rabble has an interview with Frederic Jameson about his new book Representing Capital: A Reading of Volume One. Jameson explains what he means when he writes in the book, “Capital is not a book about politics, and not even a book about labour: it is a book about unemployment.” The statement is based on the law-like association Marx makes between the creation of wealth and the expansion of an industrial reserve army. Personally, I think the association has a lot more to do with exploitation and the contradictions surrounding value in capitalist accumulation, but his point is that the infernal machine (i.e. capitalism) is thus systematically incapable of providing full employment. Jameson says that this is really the relevance of Capital for today. This leaves an urgent task: How would we reflect this creation of a surplus population in our politics? The other part of the interview retreads some ground on crisis and the limits to capital accumulation—some of which he points out are spatial. He revisits his previous book Valence of the Dialectic in which he argues that capitalism is “a peculiar machine whose evolution is at one with its breakdown, its expansion at one with its malfunction, its growth with its collapse.” The interview concludes with Jameson complaining about the Left’s defensive position; how it always engages rearguard motions without any affirmative (or at least offensive) project.

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