Catalogue

COVID-19: Updates on library services and operations.

Monsters of the market [electronic resource] : zombies, vampires, and global capitalism /
by David McNally.
imprint
Leiden, The Netherlands ; Boston : Brill, c2011.
description
x, 296 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
9789004201576 (hardback : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Leiden, The Netherlands ; Boston : Brill, c2011.
isbn
9789004201576 (hardback : alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
contents note
Dissecting the labouring body : Frankenstein, political anatomy, and the rise of capitalism -- "Save my body from the surgeons" -- The culture of dissection : anatomy, colonisation, and social order -- Political anatomy, wage-labour, and destruction of the English commons -- Anatomy and the corpse-economy -- Monsters of rebellion -- Jacobins, Irishmen and Luddites : rebel-monsters in the age of Frankenstein -- The rights of monsters : horror and the split society -- Marx's monsters : vampire-capital and the nightmare-world of late capitalism -- Dialectics and the doubled life of the commodity -- The spectre of value and the fetishism of commodities -- "As if by love possessed" : vampire-capital and the labouring body -- Zombie-labour and the "monstrous outrages" of capital -- Money : capitalism's second nature -- "Self-birthing" capital and the alchemy of money -- Wild money : the occult economies of late-capitalist globalisation -- Enron : case-study in the occult economy of late capitalism -- "Capital comes into the world dripping in blood from every pore" -- African vampires in the age of globalisation -- Kinship and accumulation : from the old witchcraft to the new -- Zombies, vampires, and spectres of capital : the new occult economies of globalising capitalism -- African fetishes and the fetishism of commodities -- The living dead : zombie-labourers in the age of globalisation -- Vampire-capitalism in sub-Saharan Africa -- Bewitched accumulation, famished roads, and the endless toilers of the earth -- Conclusion ugly beauty : monstrous dreams of utopia.
catalogue key
11668785
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [271]-290) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
David McNally, Ph.D (1983) is Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto. He is the author of five previous books and has published widely on political economy, Marxism, and contemporary social justice movements.
Excerpts
Introduction or Preface
IntroductionWe live in an age of monsters and of the body-panics they excite. The global economic crisis that broke over the world in 20089 certainly gave an exclamation-mark to this claim, with Time magazine declaring the zombie 'the official monster of the recession', while Pride and Prejudice and Zombies rocketed up bestseller-lists, and seemingly endless numbers of vampire- and zombie-films and novels flooded the market. As banks collapsed and global corporations wobbled, and millions were thrown out of work, pundits talked of 'zombie banks', 'zombie economics', 'zombie capitalism', even a new 'zombie politics' in which the rich devoured the poor. But while zombies took centre-stage, vampires too made their mark, so to speak, particularly in one American journalist's widely-cited declaration that Goldman Sachs, America's most powerful investment bank, resembled 'a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money'. Having colonised much of mass culture, monsters also infiltrated the discourse of world leaders. 'We know very well who we are up against real monsters', proclaimed the president of Ecuador in late 2008 in a stinging attack on the international banks and bondholders who hold his country's debt. Only a few days earlier, Germany's president told interviewers that 'global financial markets are a monster that must be tamed'. Compelling as such proclamations are they also risk trivialising what is genuinely monstrous about the existential structures of modern life. For modernity's monstrosities do not begin and end with shocking crises of financial markets, however wrenching and dramatic these may be. Instead, the very insidiousness of the capitalist grotesque has to do with its invisibility with, in other words, the ways in which monstrosity becomes normalised and naturalised via its colonisation of the essential fabric of everyday-life, beginning with the very texture of corporeal experience in the modern world. What is most striking about capitalist monstrosity, in other words, is its elusive everydayness, its apparently seamless integration into the banal and mundane rhythms of quotidian existence. This is why the most salient representations of the capitalist grotesque tend to occur in environments in which bourgeois relations are still experienced as strange and horrifying. In such circumstances, images of vampires and zombies frequently dramatise the profound senses of corporeal vulnerability that pervade modern society, most manifestly when commodification invades new spheres of social life. As the following chapters demonstrate, the persistent body-panics that run across the history of global capitalism comprise a corporeal phenomenology of the bourgeois life-world. Throwing light on the troubled relations between human bodies and the operations of the capitalist economy, such panics underline the profound experiential basis for a capitalist monsterology, a study of the monstrous forms of everyday-life in a capitalist world-system. In what follows, I seek to track several genres of monster-stories to explore what they tell us about key symbolic registers in which the experience of capitalist commodification is felt, experienced and resisted.Yet, it is a paradox of our age that monsters are both everywhere and nowhere. Let us begin with the everywhere.No great investigative rigours are required to discover zombies and vampires marauding across movie- and television-screens, or haunting the pages of pulp-fiction. Tales of bodysnatching of abduction, ritual murder and organ-theft traverse folklore, science-fiction, film, video and print-media. As with all such cultural phenomena, these stories and legends speak to real social practices and to the symbolic registers in which popular anxieties are recorded. After all, organ-selling is in fact a growing industry, based on commercial clinics that harvest parts, like kidneys, from poor people in the global South on behalf of wealthy buyers in the North. Here, then, we have monstrosities of the market enacted in actual exchanges of body-parts for money. But, the revulsion elicited by such transactions often occludes the much wider range of monstrous experiences beginning with the everyday-sale of our life-energies for a wage that define life in capitalist society. And this brings us to the nowhere-ness of monsters today. For, effectively, nowhere in the discourse of monstrosity today do we find the naming of capitalism as a monstrous system, one that systematically threatens the integrity of human personhood. Instead, monsters like vampires and zombies move throughout the circuits of cultural exchange largely detached from the system that gives them their life-threatening energies.One purpose of this book is to bring the monsters of the market out of this netherworld by exploring the zones of experience that nurture and sustain them, that provide them the blood and flesh off which they feed. Central to this exploration is the claim that tales of body-snatching, vampirism, organ-theft, and zombie-economics all comprise multiple imaginings of the risks to bodily integrity that inhere in a society in which individual survival requires selling our life-energies to people on the market. Body-panics are thus, I submit, cultural phenomena endemic to capitalism, part of the phenomenology of bourgeois life. But, because liberal ideology typically denies these quotidian horrors, apprehensions of the monstrosities of the market tend to find discursive refuge in folklore, literature, video and film. Once we turn to these media, however, we also realise that monsters of the market operate on each side of body-panic, as both perpetrators and victims. In the former camp, we have those monstrous beings vampires, evil doctors, pharmaceutical companies, body-snatchers that capture and dissect bodies, and bring their bits to market. In the camp of the victims, we find those disfigured creatures, frequently depicted as zombies, who have been turned into mere bodies, unthinking and exploitable collections of flesh, blood, muscle and tissue.At its heart, this book is about these monsters of the market and the occult economies they inhabit. In the chapters that follow, I argue that a whole genre of monster-tales, both past and present, manifest recurrent anxieties about corporeal dismemberment in societies where the commodification of human labour its purchase and sale on markets is becoming widespread. In making this argument, my study ranges from popular opposition to anatomists in early-modern England, an opposition captured in the poetics of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, to vampire- and zombie-tales in contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa. In so doing, our investigation tracks themes of dissection, mindless labour, and the vampire-powers of capital across writers from Shakespeare to Dickens, from Mary Shelley to Ben Okri. And it re-reads Karl Marx's Capital as, amongst other things, a mystery-narrative that seeks out the hidden spaces in which bodies are injured and maimed by capital. Across all these readings, it shows how and why fears for the integrity of human bodies are so ubiquitous to modern society.Today, Sub-Saharan Africa is the site of some of the most resonant legends of market monstrosity. Ravaged by the forces of globalisation, the African sub-continent is rife today with tales of enrichment via cannibalism, vampirism and extraordinary intercourse between the living and the dead of paths to private accumulation that pass through the mysterious world of the occult. In various parts of the African subcontinent, we encounter tales of magical coins that turn people into labouring zombies, of credit-cards that provide instant commodities with
First Chapter
Introduction We live in an age of monsters and of the body-panics they excite. The global economic crisis that broke over the world in 2008–9 certainly gave an exclamation-mark to this claim, with Time magazine declaring the zombie ‘the official monster of the recession’, while Pride and Prejudice and Zombies rocketed up bestseller-lists, and seemingly endless numbers of vampire- and zombie-films and novels flooded the market. As banks collapsed and global corporations wobbled, and millions were thrown out of work, pundits talked of ‘zombie banks’, ‘zombie economics’, ‘zombie capitalism’, even a new ‘zombie politics’ in which the rich devoured the poor. But while zombies took centre-stage, vampires too made their mark, so to speak, particularly in one American journalist’s widely-cited declaration that Goldman Sachs, America’s most powerful investment bank, resembled ‘a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money’. Having colonised much of mass culture, monsters also infiltrated the discourse of world leaders. ‘We know very well who we are up against real monsters’, proclaimed the president of Ecuador in late 2008 in a stinging attack on the international banks and bondholders who hold his country’s debt. Only a few days earlier, Germany’s president told interviewers that ‘global financial markets are a monster that must be tamed’. Compelling as such proclamations are they also risk trivialising what is genuinely monstrous about the existential structures of modern life. For modernity’s monstrosities do not begin and end with shocking crises of financial markets, however wrenching and dramatic these may be. Instead, the very insidiousness of the capitalist grotesque has to do with its invisibility with, in other words, the ways in which monstrosity becomes normalised and naturalised via its colonisation of the essential fabric of everyday-life, beginning with the very texture of corporeal experience in the modern world. What is most striking about capitalist monstrosity, in other words, is its elusive everydayness, its apparently seamless integration into the banal and mundane rhythms of quotidian existence. This is why the most salient representations of the capitalist grotesque tend to occur in environments in which bourgeois relations are still experienced as strange and horrifying. In such circumstances, images of vampires and zombies frequently dramatise the profound senses of corporeal vulnerability that pervade modern society, most manifestly when commodification invades new spheres of social life. As the following chapters demonstrate, the persistent body-panics that run across the history of global capitalism comprise a corporeal phenomenology of the bourgeois life-world. Throwing light on the troubled relations between human bodies and the operations of the capitalist economy, such panics underline the profound experiential basis for a capitalist monsterology, a study of the monstrous forms of everyday-life in a capitalist world-system. In what follows, I seek to track several genres of monster-stories to explore what they tell us about key symbolic registers in which the experience of capitalist commodification is felt, experienced and resisted. Yet, it is a paradox of our age that monsters are both everywhere and nowhere. Let us begin with the everywhere. No great investigative rigours are required to discover zombies and vampires marauding across movie- and television-screens, or haunting the pages of pulp-fiction. Tales of bodysnatching of abduction, ritual murder and organ-theft traverse folklore, science-fiction, film, video and print-media. As with all such cultural phenomena, these stories and legends speak to real social practices and to the symbolic registers in which popular anxieties are recorded. After all, organ-selling is in fact a growing industry, based on commercial clinics that harvest parts, like kidneys, from poor people in the global South on behalf of wealthy buyers in the North. Here, then, we have monstrosities of the market enacted in actual exchanges of body-parts for money. But, the revulsion elicited by such transactions often occludes the much wider range of monstrous experiences beginning with the everyday-sale of our life-energies for a wage that define life in capitalist society. And this brings us to the nowhere-ness of monsters today. For, effectively, nowhere in the discourse of monstrosity today do we find the naming of capitalism as a monstrous system, one that systematically threatens the integrity of human personhood. Instead, monsters like vampires and zombies move throughout the circuits of cultural exchange largely detached from the system that gives them their life-threatening energies. One purpose of this book is to bring the monsters of the market out of this netherworld by exploring the zones of experience that nurture and sustain them, that provide them the blood and flesh off which they feed. Central to this exploration is the claim that tales of body-snatching, vampirism, organ-theft, and zombie-economics all comprise multiple imaginings of the risks to bodily integrity that inhere in a society in which individual survival requires selling our life-energies to people on the market. Body-panics are thus, I submit, cultural phenomena endemic to capitalism, part of the phenomenology of bourgeois life. But, because liberal ideology typically denies these quotidian horrors, apprehensions of the monstrosities of the market tend to find discursive refuge in folklore, literature, video and film. Once we turn to these media, however, we also realise that monsters of the market operate on each side of body-panic, as both perpetrators and victims. In the former camp, we have those monstrous beings – vampires, evil doctors, pharmaceutical companies, body-snatchers – that capture and dissect bodies, and bring their bits to market. In the camp of the victims, we find those disfigured creatures, frequently depicted as zombies, who have been turned into mere bodies, unthinking and exploitable collections of flesh, blood, muscle and tissue. At its heart, this book is about these monsters of the market and the occult economies they inhabit. In the chapters that follow, I argue that a whole genre of monster-tales, both past and present, manifest recurrent anxieties about corporeal dismemberment in societies where the commodification of human labour – its purchase and sale on markets – is becoming widespread. In making this argument, my study ranges from popular opposition to anatomists in early-modern England, an opposition captured in the poetics of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, to vampire- and zombie-tales in contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa. In so doing, our investigation tracks themes of dissection, mindless labour, and the vampire-powers of capital across writers from Shakespeare to Dickens, from Mary Shelley to Ben Okri. And it re-reads Karl Marx’s Capital as, amongst other things, a mystery-narrative that seeks out the hidden spaces in which bodies are injured and maimed by capital. Across all these readings, it shows how and why fears for the integrity of human bodies are so ubiquitous to modern society. Today, Sub-Saharan Africa is the site of some of the most resonant legends of market monstrosity. Ravaged by the forces of globalisation, the African sub-continent is rife today with tales of enrichment via cannibalism, vampirism and extraordinary intercourse between the living and the dead – of paths to private accumulation that pass through the mysterious world of the occult. In various parts of the African subcontinent, we encounter tales of magical coins that turn people into labouring zombies, of credit-cards that provide instant commodities without registering debt, of enchanted currencies that leave cash-registers and return to their owners after every commodity-exchange. In Nigeria, newspapers carry reports of passengers on motorcycle-taxis who, once helmets are placed on their heads, mysteriously transform into zombies that spew money from their mouths – into human ATMs. From Cameroon, Tanzania, South Africa and elsewhere come stories of witches who, rather than devouring their victims (as in older witchcraft-genres), turn them into zombie-labourers on invisible plantations in an obscure nocturnal economy. And, in all these countries, there is an epidemic of stories of dismemberment and murder for the purpose of harvesting body-parts which can be used in magic-potions that guarantee enrichment, or can be sold as commodities for the same purpose. Mainstream social science has a long tradition of characterising such tales as premodern superstitions that refuse to accommodate the disenchantment of society that is integral to modern life. Yet such dismissals enact a mystification, denying as they do the systematic assaults on bodily and psychic integrity that define the economic infrastructure of modernity, the capitalist market-system. And that is why we need disruptive fables of modernity like those circulating throughout Sub-Saharan Africa today. For such tales disturb the naturalisation of capitalism – both of its social relations and the senses of property, propriety and personhood that accompany it – by insisting that something strange, indeed life-threatening, is at work in our world. So normalised has capitalism become in the social sciences, so naturalised its historically unique forms of life, that critical theory requires an armoury of de-familiarising techniques, a set of critical-dialectical procedures, that throw into relief its fantastic and mysterious processes. Discussing Freudian theory’s attempts to unearth concealed mechanisms of psychic repression, Theodor Adorno once intoned that ‘in psychoanalysis only the exaggerations are true’. The structures of denial that dominate conscious life in modernity are so habitual, the intellectual and cultural web that normalises the repression of unconscious desires so intricate, that only images with explosive power can break the web of mystification. This is why psychoanalysis (at least in its most genuinely radical version) is compelled to dramatise, to use a metaphorical language and imagery that shocks the modern mind. And what is true of the psychic conflicts in the life of individuals applies with markedly greater force where the traumas attendant on the commodification of everyday-life are concerned. ‘The feeling of atomization and bondage which is the phenomenology of the market-based system’ has become so normalised, the buying and selling of all imaginable goods and human capacities, including body-parts, so routinised, that a genuinely critical theory must operate by way of estrangement-effects, via procedures that make the everyday appear as it truly is: bizarre, shocking, monstrous. But this means, as I argue across the chapters of this study, that critical theory must be capable of developing a dialectical optics, ways of seeing the unseen. For the essential features of capitalism, as Marx regularly reminded us, are not immediately visible. To be sure, many of their effects can be touched and measured. But the circuits through which capital moves are abstracted ones; we are left to observe things and persons – boxes of commodities, factories full of machines, workers straining inside the sweatshop, lines of people seeking work or bread – while the elusive power that grows and multiplies through their deployment remains unseen, un-comprehended. This is why critical theory sets out to see the unseen, to chart the cartography of the invisible. ‘Invisible things are not necessarily not-there’, observes Toni Morrison. And it is the demonic power of such invisible things, the unseen operations of capital, that at least some fantastic legends seek to map. ‘The fantastic might be a mode peculiarly resonant with the forms of modernity’, observes writer China Miéville. After all, straightforward narrative strategies regularly fail to register the reality of the unseen forces of capital; they assume that what is invisible is necessarily ‘not there.’ But this is to miss the essential: the hidden circuits of capital through which human capacities become things, while things assume human powers; in which markets ‘rise’ and ‘fall’, and in so doing dictate who shall prosper and who starve; in which human organs are offered up to the gods of the market in exchange for food or fuel. ‘The reign of the market shapes conditions of life and death in a zombie economy’, argues Henry A. Giroux. And this means that invisible powers – market-forces – are at the same time fantastically real. Market-forces constitute horrifying aspects of a strange and bewildering world that represents itself as normal, natural, unchangeable. For this reason, fantastic genres, be they literary or folkloric, can occasionally carry a disruptively critical charge, offering a kind of grotesque realism that ‘mimics the ‘absurdity’ of capitalist modernity’ the better to expose it. As the global unleashing of unrestrained market-forces intensifies anxieties about the integrity of the body and generates horrifying images of bewitched accumulation, of occult forces exploiting zombie-labour, critical theory thus needs an alliance with the fantastic. In seizing upon fabulous images of occult capitalism, critical theory ought to read them the way psychoanalysis interprets dreams – as a necessarily coded form of subversive knowledge whose decoding promises radical insights and transformative energies. Mining a popular imaginary populated by vampires, zombies and malevolent corporations that abduct and dissect people, critical theory needs to construct shock-effects that allow us to see the monstrous dislocations at the heart of commodified existence. And, because modern bourgeois consciousness was decisively shaped by its colonialist horror over African peoples and their customs, it is fitting that our investigation should culminates in Chapter Three with an interrogation of the poetic knowledge animating fables of monstrosity that emanate today from Sub-Saharan Africa. * * * ‘Poetic knowledge’, urged Aimé Césaire, the legendary poet-writer-political theorist from Martinique, ‘is born in the great silence of scientific knowledge’. And since liberal-bourgeois rationalism pivots on a disdain for bodies, corporeal experience, and material practices, it is these that poetic wisdom seeks to capture. ‘What presides over the poem’, Césaire continued, is ‘experience as a whole’. Yet, ‘the great silence of [social] scientific knowledge’ concerns the very experiential texture of life in a marketised society. Incapable of a dialectical optics that sees the unseen, it focuses on the observable: measures of output, employment, trade and gross national product. Meanwhile, the invisible processes of exploitation, and unmeasurable experiences of psychic and corporeal disintegration are occluded by its investigative lens. Popular folklore, however, occasionally becomes the preserve of poetic knowledge about what capitalism does to people at the deepest levels of corporeal and psychic existence. Rather than being treated as ‘an eccentricity’, folklore, as Gramsci insisted, deserves to be studied as ‘a conception of the world and of life’. In the chapters that follow, I seek to observe this injunction by attending to a variety of symbolic registers through which people come to know global capitalism, as it shapes bodily experience, sensibilities and freedom dreams.
Reviews
Review Quotes
Monsters of the Market is essential reading for anybody working in the field of critical social theory, critical sociology, political economy, etc., and suitable for a wide range of theory and culture courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels.Mark Worrell, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books, 29 February 2012
This item was reviewed in:
Reference & Research Book News, December 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
'Monsters of the Market' investigates the rise of capitalism through the prism of the body panics it arouses.
Description for Reader
All those interested in Marxism, cultural studies, global political economy, as well as students of literature, folklore and popular culture.
Long Description
Monsters of the Market investigates the rise of capitalism through the prism of the body-panics it arouses. Drawing on folklore, literature and popular culture, the book links tales of monstrosity from early-modern England, including Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, to a spate of recent vampire- and zombie-fables from sub-Saharan Africa, and it connects these to Marx's persistent use of monster-metaphors in his descriptions of capitalism. Reading across these tales of the grotesque, Monsters of the Market offers a novel account of the cultural and corporeal economy of a global market-system. The book thus makes original contributions to political economy, cultural theory, commodification-studies and 'body-theory'.
Main Description
Monsters of the Market investigates the rise of capitalism through the prism of the body-panics it arouses. Drawing on folklore, literature and popular culture, the book links tales of monstrosity from early-modern England, including Mary Shelley s Frankenstein, to a spate of recent vampire- and zombie-fables from sub-Saharan Africa, and it connects these to Marx s persistent use of monster-metaphors in his descriptions of capitalism. Reading across these tales of the grotesque, Monsters of the Market offers a novel account of the cultural and corporeal economy of a global market-system. The book thus makes original contributions to political economy, cultural theory, commodification-studies and body-theory .
Table of Contents
Acknowledgementsp. ix
List of Figuresp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Dissecting the Labouring Body: Frankenstein, Political Anatomy and the Rise of Capitalismp. 17
'Save my body from the surgeons'p. 20
The culture of dissection: anatomy, colonisation and social orderp. 23
Political anatomy, wage-labour and destruction of the English commonsp. 37
Anatomy and the corpse-economyp. 51
Monsters of rebellionp. 59
Jacobins, Irishmen and Luddites: Rebel-monsters in the age of Frankensteinp. 77
The rights of monsters: horror and the split societyp. 88
Marx's Monsters: Vampire-Capital and the Nightmare-World of Late Capitalismp. 113
Dialectics and the doubled life of the commodityp. 117
The spectre of value and the fetishism of commoditiesp. 126
'As if by love possessed': vampire-capital and the labouring bodyp. 132
Zombie-labour and the 'monstrous outrages' of capitalp. 141
Money: capitalism's second naturep. 148
'Self-birthing' capital and the alchemy of moneyp. 151
Wild money: the occult economies of late-capitalist globalisationp. 156
Enron: case-study in the occult economy of late capitalismp. 163
'Capital comes into the world dripping in blood from every pore'p. 171
African Vampires in the Age of Globalisationp. 175
Kinship and accumulation: from the old witchcraft to the newp. 186
Zombies, vampires, and spectres of capital: the new occult economies of globalising capitalismp. 193
African fetishes and the fetishism of commoditiesp. 201
The living dead: zombie-labourers in the age of globalisationp. 210
Vampire-capitalism in Sub-Saharan Africap. 213
Bewitched accumulation, famished roads, and the endless toilers of the Earthp. 228
Conclusion Ugly Beauty: Monstrous Dreams of Utopiap. 253
Referencesp. 271
Indexp. 291
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem