Fredric Jameson’s pathbreaking essay An American Utopia radically questions standard leftist notions of what constitutes an emancipated society. "If," Jameson asks, "business, the professions, religion, even the labor unions (let alone the post office or the Mafia) are inadequate vehicles for dual power, what can then be left in late capitalism as an already organized institution capable of assuming the parallel and ultimately revolutionary role on which alone radical social change depends?"
All books on our Emerging Futures Reading List, including An American Utopia, are 40% off until Sunday, November 20th at midnight UTC. Includes free worldwide shipping and bundled ebooks where available.
Click here to activate the discount.
A long time ago when I was writing for the pulps I put into a story a line like “He got out of the car and walked across the sun-drenched sidewalk until the shadow of the awning over the entrance fell across his face like the touch of cool water.” They took it out when they published the story. Their readers didn’t appreciate this sort of thing — just held up the action. I set out to prove them wrong. My theory was that the readers just thought they cared about nothing but the action; that really, although they didn’t know it, the thing they cared about, and that I cared about, was the creation of emotion through dialogue and description.
That the detective story represented something more to Raymond Chandler than a mere commercial product, furnished for popular entertainment purposes, can be judged from the fact that he came to it late in life, with a long and successful business career behind him.
Fredric Jameson's latest work, recently released as An American Utopia (which is currently 50% off), sees the renowned literary critic and theorist grappling with what the social basis for a new utopian project could, or should, be. In it he proposes the idea of a new citizens' army which will form an alternative power structure from the state.
But, this isn't the only time that Jameson has tried to think through this predicament. In this extract from Valences of the Dialectic, Jameson proposes the logistical-might of Walmart as the foundation for a new society.
This is the point at which I wish to propose a model for Utopian analysis that might be taken as a kind of synthesis of these two subjective and objective approaches.
As part of our new Radical Thinkers set 12, a collection of 4 classic works of political theory, we've recently republished Alexander Kluge and Oskar Negt seminal study of the limits of Habermasian liberalism, Public Sphere and Experience.
Alongside being one of the most influential German theorists of the past 50 years, continuing the Frankfurt School legacy, Kluge is also world renowned filmmaker. His early films were pioneering examples of the New German Cinema movement, and influenced the later generation of German directors of Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders and Margherita von Trotta.
In 2009, Kluge set out to put to film Sergei Eisenstein's plans to produce a film of Marx's Capital. The result was a 9 hour epic entitled News from Ideological Antiquity. To celebrate Kluge's work today we're making a commentary of the film by Fredric Jameson available on the blog.