Capitalism’s Identity Politics
A Faculty Lecture by Todd Magowan
3pm 28th April
The primary effect of the introduction of a capitalist logic is that the commodity form becomes all-important so whatever specific content that form has loses its importance. This is why Karl Marx rightly says that under capitalism “all that is solid melts into air.” This is true even for individual identity. Capitalism imposes the commodity form on individuals and strips them of any identity. They become pure forms.
Identity politics–the assertion of identity as the central political category–represents a response to the emptiness of existence under capitalism. It attempts to reassert the content of an identity against the empty commodity form. But far from disrupting the logic of capitalism, identity politics inadvertently plays directly into its hands, which is what this talk will explore.
Seedhead is delighted to have secured Todd McGowan, associate professor of film studies at the University of Vermont, to deliver this Faculty Lecture. His latest book ‘Capitalism and Desire’ eloquently brings a new, psychoanalytically grounded approach to political and social theory.