Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets


Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 8.9 X 0.8 inches | 0.95 pounds

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About the Author

Todd McGowan is professor of film studies at the University of Vermont. His Columbia University Press books include The Impossible David Lynch (2007), Emancipation After Hegel: Achieving a Contradictory Revolution (2019), and Universality and Identity Politics (2020).


Capitalism and Desire turns around the predominant leftist whining about the devastating psychic consequences of global capitalism, about how it undermines elementary structures of psychic stability which enable individuals to lead a meaningful life. The focus of Todd McGowan's effort is, rather, the enigma of the success of capitalist ideology: how was it possible for such a destabilizing life practice to fully capture the libidinal lives of billions, how was it possible that continuous crises and states of exception only strengthened its hold? In short, how is it possible that capitalism again and again imposes itself as the cure for the crisis it brings about? In answering these difficult questions, McGowan has produced a classic.--Slavoj Zizek
McGowan's argument is positively brilliant--almost every page brings a startling insight and every chapter compels an exciting reorientation of thought. Because of its paradigm-shifting originality, Capitalism and Desire places McGowan among the most prominent critical thinkers of his generation and competes admirably even with the very best work of the generation before him.--Mari Ruti, author of The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living
With Capitalism and Desire, McGowan provides an admirably accessible and intellectually sophisticated analysis of the real connections between capitalism and psychoanalysis. This is a wonderful book demonstrating immense intellectual vitality--it is simply impossible to ignore.--Fabio Vighi, author of Critical Theory and the Crisis of Contemporary Capitalism
How many syntheses of Marx and Freud have been forged in an attempt to ground a critique of capitalism--only in the end to fail? After tallying their individual failures, this smart book goes on to confront their underlying problem: a botched reading of Freud. Relying on Lacan's radical re-excavation of Freud, McGowan offers brand-new ideas about the subject's ensnarement in the "freedoms" of capitalism and the possibilities of resistance to them.--Joan Copjec, author of Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists
The immense satisfaction of McGowan's latest and most ambitious book is achieved, appropriately enough, by putting capitalism to the test of a suitably profound (and paradoxical) conception of satisfaction. Astonishingly far-ranging in its references yet written in perfectly limpid prose, Capitalism and Desire sets a new high-water mark in contemporary social and political philosophy. A dazzling work of theory.--Richard Boothby, author of Sex on the Couch: What Freud Still Has To Teach Us About Sex and Gender
McGowan's book is a reader-friendly and therapeutic dissection of capitalism's success. His examples are readily comprehensible and he avoids heavy academic language.-- "Scottish Left Review"
Although there has been, in some circles, a dismissal of Lacan and psychoanalysis more generally, McGowan's impressive application of the seemingly intractable Lacanian subject to the conditions of late capitalism enables those who might otherwise be disinterested in psychoanalysis to see its unique and important contribution.-- "Symposium"