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the condition of postmodernity summary
Moreover, it converts the real fluidity of experience in the represented area into a fixed representation, thereby doing violence to it, causing the alienation of the occupants of the space from the representation of it (252-3). Yet, Marx insists, there is a single unitary principle at work that underpins and frames all of this revolutionary upheaval, fragmentation, and perpetual insecurity. In either case, Marx's account of capitalism, if correct, provides us with a very solid basis for thinking about the general relations between modernization, modernity, and the aesthetic movements that draw their energies from such conditions. He fragmented tasks and distributed them in space so as to maximize efficiency and minimize the friction of flow in production. Such a system of asymmetrical money relations relates to the need to mobilize cultural creativity and aesthetic ingenuity, not only in the production of a cultural artefact but also in its promotion, packaging, and transformation into some kind of successful spectacle. Postmodernism seems to be a reinforcement rather than a transformation of the role of money as Marx depicts it – after all postmodernism suggests that we should focus on: As commodity producers seeking money, however, we are dependent upon the needs and capacity of others to buy. Harvey explains what postmodernism means and why it makes sense to talk about the current epoch as the postmodern age. (207), The common-sense notion that 'there is a time and a place for everything' gets carried into a set of prescriptions which replicate the social order by assigning social meanings to spaces and times. Partly, this postmodern resistance to the meta-narrative of the proletarian revolution takes the form of doubt that Marx's alienation applies adequately to workers: if identity is fragmented (schizoid, as postmodern concerns with identity frequently assert), than it is doubtful that alienation can characterize them sufficiently to motivate class identity and revolutionary fervor (e.g., pp 53-4) Harvey goes on to analyze postmodern aesthetics as characterized by depthlessness and reproduction rather than depth and original production. Ch. Of course, this is an aspect of ideology, and masks the real social and psychological factors producing specific concepts of space and time. The capitalist has the power to mobilize the powers of co-operation, division of labour, and machinery as powers of capital over labour. Innovation exacerbates instability, insecurity, and in the end, becomes the prime force pushing capitalism into periodic paroxysms of crisis. (264), The map of domination of the world's spaces changed out of all recognition between 1850 and 1914. In all of these respects, the individual labourer is ‘made poor’ in individual productive powers ‘in order to make the collective labourer, and through him capital rich in social productive power’ (Capital, 1: 341). Differences in labour markets, especially, are relevant as space collapses. The classical Marxian responses to capitalistic crises (devaluation of commodities, productive capacity, or labor value; macro-economic control; absorption of overaccumulation through infrastructural re-investment -- temporal or spatial displacement) are examined, along with their negative consequences -- inevitably, to precipitate a new crisis of overaccumulation. Space becomes predominant in theory under certain social conditions, however, such as conditions of nationalistic feeling and/or war, particularly when space is mythologized. […] It is conventional these days, for example, to dismiss out of hand any suggestion that the 'economy' (however that vague word is understood) might be determinant of cultural life even in (as Engels and later Althusser suggested) 'the last instance.' (305-6). (141), More generally, the period from 1965 to 1973 was one in which the inability of Fordism and Keynesianism to contain the inherent contradictions of capitalism became more and more apparent. (44), Whereas the modernists see space as something to be shaped for social purposes and therefore always subservient to the construction of a social project, the postmodernists see space as something independent and autonomous, to be shaped according to aesthetic aims and principles which have nothing necessary to do with any overarching social objective, save, perhaps, the achievement of timeless and 'disinterested' beauty as an objective in itself. As Fordism was successfully exported, however, other countries increasingly became competing centers of Fordist production, rather than sources of raw materials and markets for products produced in the (previously) nearly unique countries that had fully integrated Fordist systems of production. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Loyalties to place then take precedence over loyalties to class, spatializing political action. Harvey here also locates Marx within the tradition of modernity and the Enlightenment project (e.g., p. 111). (104), Capitalism, in short, is a social system internalizing rules that ensure it will remain a permanently revolutionary and disruptive force in its own world history. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. This chapter-by-chapter summary necessarily distorts Harvey's argument by de-nuancing it and stripping out most of Harvey's examples. Indeed, there are abundant signs that localism and nationalism have become stronger precisely because of the quest for the security that place always offers in the midst of all the shifting that flexible accumulation implies. Once the poor become aestheticized, poverty itself moves out of our field of social vision, except as a passive depiction of otherness, alienation and contingency within the human condition. Harvey suggests at the end of the chapter that the sense of life as new … fleeting … ephemeral underlying postmodernity maps onto the characteristics of capital flows during the postmodern period. (336-7), It seems as if postmodernist flexibility merely reverses the dominant order to be found in Fordist modernity. (287-8) This increased ability to produce images more or less at will is exemplified in the rise of personal image consultants and the production of class & other group identity on the basis of images. 189-197) sketches the outlines of an evaluation of the stability of the new regime of flexible accumulation. (305-6), The problems are not confined to the realms of political and military decision-making, for the world's financial markets are on the boil in ways that make a snap judgement here, an unconsidered word there, and a gut reaction somewhere else the slip that can unravel the whole skein of fictitious capital formation and of interdependency. The spatial image (particularly the evidence of the photograph) then asserts an important power over history. Creative destruction is embedded within the circulation of capital itself. The mobilization of capital is evident, for instance, in the way that cultural producers are mobilized by capital to produce (market, circulate, package, transform) a continuing stream of spectacles for public consumption. Fordist Modernism versus Flexible Postmodernism, or the Interpenetration of Opposed Tendencies in Capitalism as a Whole. (293-4), If capitalists become increasingly sensitive to the spatially differentiated qualities of which the world's geography is composed, then it is possible for the peoples and powers that command those spaces to alter them in such a way as to be more rather than less attractive to highly mobile capital. Harvey surveys several overviews of postmodern economics and proposes an analysis based on terms from classical Marxism. Postmodern compression of time is associated with an acceleration in the turnover of capital (via credit, electronic and plastic money, etc.) Major examples are Jonathan Raban's Soft City and the photographs of Cindy Sherman. Yet within these broad constraints, we are ‘free,’ as it were, to develop our own personalities and relationships in our own way, our own ‘otherness,’ even to forge group language games, provided, of course, that we have enough money to live on satisfactorily. Harvey suggests that the opposition between modernism and postmodernism expressed in the table constitutes a structural description of the totality of political-economic and cultural-ideological relations within capitalism (339). The world that the rootless seeker of science and trade destroyed, leaving the suffering Volk without a vital myth to live by, the artist must create anew. (258), All Enlightenment projects had in common a relatively unified common-sense of what space and time were about and why their rational ordering was important. This summary is very rough and may even contain typos.
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