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Capitalist unrealism: Countering the crisis of critique and imagination

volume 22, number 2

Rejecting capitalism is like living out Don Michael Corleone’s famous phrase from The Godfather Part III: ‘Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in’. Traditionally, capitalism has used violence to lay claim to everything that escapes from it. But today this violence is complemented by more insidious forms of coercion that are based as much on seduction and pleasure as they are on cruelty and oppression. We now work for capitalism as much in our free time as we do when we are being paid – not because we have to, but because we want to. Capitalism demands everything from you: your ideas, your relationships and love, your loyalty, and every single penny you make. Capitalism may seem inevitable, yet modes of subversion and ‘other organizing’ do exist. In this open issue, we present four contributions that show what alternatives to the present might look like. The contributions suggest that, by reclaiming the commons and by reconfiguring our creativity and imagination, it might be possible to short-circuit the inner-wiring of capitalism…at least locally and temporarily.

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