More thoughts on Capitalism, Ideology and Ontology

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The central issue of our Marxist ontology should not be that of reality, but rather that of appearance. This distinction is critical as it allows us to understand the logic involved in the development of neoliberal ideology in later modernity. This distinction goes back to Hegel, who distinguished between[1]:

§  The inquiry of how it is possible to sift through the plethora of appearances to arrive at an underlying reality.

§  The inquiry of how appearances are able to emergence.

 This distinction in the nature of inquiry allowed Hegel to disregard the attempt to search for a single unknown event to which all other events are measured relative to. The distinction renders the task of speculation on the nature of primitive replicators in order to relatively measure the state of a contemporary good as inappropriate. In terms of neoliberalism, this distinction will allow us to understand the inappropriateness of the task of speculating on the nature of how Capital should be directed to obtain an understanding of the Real. For Hegel, “[u]niversality is not merely the universal core that animates a series of its particular forms of appearance; it persists in this irreducible tension, noncoincidence, between these different levels”[2].

 The conception of Universality as positing a universal abstraction to which all other ideas are measured relative to, is the ideological construction which maintains the neoliberal order. The universal core acts as an exception which constitutes the universal as transcendent and to which all to which all other particulars are forced; thus under neoliberalism, then all that is, is that which can be known in relationship to the neoliberal expression of capitalism.

Our approach to this is to refuse a logic which – in the manner illustrated above – advocates the notion of a closed system. All that is, on is insofar as it is revealed to individual’s through the symbolic/semiotic order, and because it is not everything that is, it is pas-tout. In establishing a pas-tout, a non-whole, there is understood to be an absence of a static exception or universal core. The pas-tout operates within the what-is and reflects the logic of the what-is, but society can never fully correspond to or overtake the what-is, yet the what-is is operative everywhere in society undermining and distorting it[3].

[1] See Žižek, The Fragile Absolute. 14-15.

[2] Žižek, S. (2006) The Parallax View. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press): 31.

[3] See Kotsko, A. (2008) Žižek and Theology. (New York: T&T Clark): 48-49.


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