Retrofitting "Henwood before Butler" (was Re: Force & Truth...)

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Thu Nov 4 11:32:21 PST 1999

So many things to clarify here. I've never been retrofitted before; it's a dizzying experience.

Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

>from Brad to Doug:
> >>That too, implying that there's a nature that exists apart from our
> >>perceptions of nature.
> >>Doug
> >
> >It seems a reasonable hypothesis, doesn't it?

Yes, and it's one I share.

>Lately I've been wondering what happened to Doug. Is this a fad or an
>Althusserian 'epistemological break'???

I wouldn't repudiate anything I wrote in the passage. I'd express it a bit differently, for sure, but I'm not rejecting it. In fact, I think it hints at what Angela was calling for, a material analysis of where "postmodernism" came from. I'm with Jameson when he argues that one can't really be for or against "postmodernism" - it's everywhere, the cultural logic of what's optimistically called "late capitalism." I think Jameson is wrong in his essay on culture & finance capital when he takes the apparent immateriality of finance capital at face value; I'm not sure what the implications are for the cultural side of his analysis, but I would emphasize that behind the apparent immateriality of fin K are relations of power and coercion, and that the markets themselves are important institutions of class formation.



>***** from Doug Henwood, _Wall Street_ (NY: Verso, 1997)
>In higher rentier consciousness, production disappears from view. This is
>apparent not only in ruling-class thinking, but even among its supposed
>critics. Many postmodern cultural theorists, for whom class is an obsolete
>concept left over from when production mattered most, see the world as one
>of identities and desires formed and expressed in the sphere of
>consumption. "Capital," complained Andrew Ross (1988, quoted in Hawkes,
>1996, p. 8), "or rather our imaginary of Capital, still belongs for the
>most part to a demonology of the Other. This is a demonology that inhibits
>understanding and action as much as it artificially keeps alive older forms
>of _ressentiment_ that have little or no purchase on postmodern consumer
>society." [31] Capital becomes fictive, a product of imagination rather
>than a real social relation; all antagonism disappears, and money becomes
>not a form of coercion, but a realm of desire, even of freedom. This is
>unsurprising coming from capital's house intellectuals, but it seems to
>infect even its opponents. Forms meant to disseminate these mystifying
>temptations -- the media, advertising, PR -- become the principal objects
>of study in themselves, overshadowing relations of property and power.
>Immateriality simplifies the work of apologists, as it complicates that of
>critics [Yoshie: How nicely put!]. Interest-bearing capital is a "godsend"
>to bourgeois economists, who yearn to represent capital as an independent
>source of value in production -- which therefore _earns_ its profits just
>as workers earn their wages. Interest, especially in its compounded form,
>"appears as a Moloch demanding the whole world as a sacrifice belonging to
>it of right, whose legitimate demands, arising from its very nature, are
>however never met and are always frustrated by a mysterious fate" (Marx
>1971, p. 456). But reformers who aim to transform or abolish credit
>"without touching upon real capitalist production [are] merely attacking
>one of its consequences." Interest-bearing capital is a distillation of
>capital as a social form, not some phenomenon above or apart from it.
>Therefore, abolishing interest and interest-bearing capital, Marx (1971, p.
>472) argued, "means the abolition of capital and of capitalist production
>[31] Ross seems to have evolved away from this position, with his more
>recent interest in the sweatshop reality behind the glitz of the fashion
>Hawkes, Daivd (1996). _Ideology_ (London and New York: Routledge, 1996).
>Marx, Karl (1971). _Theories of Surplus Value_, vol. 3, translated by Jack
>Cohen and S.W. Ryazankaya (Moscow: Progress Publishers).
>(237) *****
>retrofitting the post-Foucauldian Marxist chronotope,

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