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How The Economy Became A Political Myth

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“The ‘political’ critique of Marxism (the claim that, when one reduces politics to a ‘formal’ expression of some underlying ‘objective’ socio-economic process, one loses the openess and contingency constitutive  of the political field proper) should thus be supplemented by its obverse: the field of economy is in its very form irreducible to politics – this level of the form of economy (of economy as the determining form of the social) is what French ‘political post-Marxists’ miss when they reduce economy to one of the positive social fields.

The basic idea of the parallax view is that the very act of bracketing off produces its object – ‘democracy’ as a form emerges only when one brackets off the texture of economic relations as well as the inherent logic of the political state apparatus; they both have to be abstracted from people who are effectively embedded in economic processes and subjected to state apparatuses. The same goes for the ‘logic of domination’, the way people are controlled/manipulated by the apparatus of subjection: in order to clearly discern these mechanisms of power, one has to be abstracted not only from the democratic imaginary (as Foucault does in his analyses of the micro-physics of power, but also as Lacan does in his analysis of power in Seminar XVII), but also from the process of economic (re)production. And finally, the specific sphere of economic (re)production only emerges if one methodologically brackets off the concrete existence of state and political ideology – no wonder critics of Marx complained that Marx’s ‘critique of political economy lacks a theory of power and state. And, of course, the trap to be avoided here is precisely the naive idea that one should keep in view the social totality (parts of which are democratic ideology, the exercise of power and process of economic (re)production): if one tries to keep the whole in view, one ends up seeing nothing, the contours disappear. This bracketing off is not only epistemological, but concerns what Marx calls the ‘real abstraction’: the abstraction from power and economic relations that is inscribed into the very actuality of the democratic process.

– From “The Parallax View” Interrogating the Real , by Slavoj Zizek.

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Written by Joe

November 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized, Zizek

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