‘Culture and Finance Capital’ (1997) ‘Globalization as a Philosophical Issue’ (1998) ‘The End of Temporality’ (2003) Fredric Jameson (born 1934)
Periodization – phases of capitalism: ‘competitive capitalism’ – 1700 to mid/late 19 th century ‘monopoly capitalism’ (imperialism) – circa 1870s to early 20 th century ‘Fordism’ – conditions for which emerge in early 20 th century / consolidated post-1945 ‘late’ capitalism ‘post-Fordism’ / neoliberalism – from 1968/73 to present (?)
Jameson on ‘late’ capitalism: The new type of social life and economic order to which postmodernism corresponds “is often euphemistically called modernization, postindustrial or consumer society, the society of the media or the spectacle, or multinational capitalism. This new moment of capitalism can be dated from the post-war boom in the United States in the late 1940s and early ‘50s or, in France, from the establishment of the Fifth Republic in 1958. The 1960s are in many ways the key transitional period, a period in which the new international order [...] is at one and the same time set in place and is swept and shaken by its own internal contradictions and by external resistance.” (“Postmodernism and Consumer Society”)
“the becoming cultural of the economic, and the becoming economic of the cultural”, which has “often been identified as one of the features that characterizes what is known as postmodernity” (“GPI”, 60). Socio-economic / technological developments of ‘late’ capitalism financialization new forms of credit and money transfers proliferation of informational and communication networks cybernetic technologies dominance of multinational corporations, and so on and so forth Cultural / experiential forms loss of a sense of temporality and historicity decentring of the subject reduction to the present/body intensification of fragmentation and abstraction emphasis on language and semiotics – “the wholesale replacement of the old subject-object relationship, the logic of reference, with a new one, which might better be called the semiotic or, indeed, the logic of the signifier” (705).
“From a different kind of theoretical point of view, meanwhile, the theory of postmodernity affirms a gradual de-differentiation of these levels, the economic itself gradually becoming cultural, all the while the cultural gradually becomes economic. Image society and advertising can no doubt document the gradual transformation of commodities into libidinal images of themselves, that is to say, into well-nigh cultural products; whereas the dissolution of high culture and the simultaneous intensification of investment in mass cultural commodities may be enough to suggest that, whatever was the case at earlier stages and moments of capitalism (where the aesthetic was very precisely a sanctuary and a refuge from business and the state), today no enclaves – aesthetic or other – are left in which the commodity form does not reign supreme.” (“GPI”, 70)
“There is some agreement that the older modernism functioned against its society in ways which are variously described as critical, negative, contestatory, subversive, oppositional and the like. Can anything of the sort be affirmed about postmodernism and its social moment? We have seen that there is a way in which postmodernism replicates or reproduces – reinforces – the logic of consumer capitalism; the more significant question is whether there is also a way in which it resists that logic. But that is a question we must leave open.” (“Postmodernism and Consumer Society”)
Jameson on film: the formal logic of violent action films is to be seen as “a structural effect of the temporality of our socioeconomic system or, in other words, of postmodernity as such, of late capitalism” (“EoT”, 718) “in contemporary action films, the story has become little more than a pretext on which to suspend a perpetual present of thrills and explosions” (“CFC”, 261);
“the newer process of the consumption of investment as such, the anxious daily consultation of the listings, deliberations with or without your broker, selling off, taking a gamble on something as yet untested [...] The narrowing and the urgency of the time frame need to be underscored here and the way in which a novel and more universal microtemporality accompanies and as it were condenses the rhythms of quarterly “profit taking” [...]. The futures of the stock [...] come to be deeply intertwined with the way we live our own individual and collective futures generally [...]. By the same token, the new rhythms are transmitted to cultural production in the form of the narratives we consume and the stories we tell ourselves” [...]. (704)
new temporality / sense of a perpetual present manifests itself in the formal principle of “something like a unity of place, or at least, a confinement within a closed space” “the closure now becomes allegorical of the human body itself and reduction to the vehicle of closure in these films represents the reduction to the body that is a fundamental dimension of the end of temporality or the reduction to the present” (715-16). BUT: formal tendency towards the reduction to the ultimate present of the body, which is symptomatic of a historical tendency within capitalism, is seemingly met with some kind of resistance
Jameson on modernity “the only satisfactory semantic meaning of modernity lies in its association with capitalism” (A Singular Modernity, 13) capitalist modernity as a singular and simultaneous phenomenon, yet one that is everywhere heterogeneous and specific Ernst Bloch: “Gleichzeitigkeit des Ungleichzeitigen” – “simultaneity of the nonsimultaneous” modernity defined by a condition of incomplete modernization, modernity as always – that is, definitionally – uneven Defined by the “coexistence of realities from radically different moments of history – handicrafts alongside the great cartels, peasant fields with the Krupp factories or the Ford plant in the distance” (Postmodernism, 307).
Jameson on postmodernity: “postmodernity is what obtains under a tendentially far more complete modernization, which can be summed up in two achievements: the industrialization of agriculture, that is, the destruction of traditional peasantries, and the colonization and commercialization of the Unconscious or, in other words, mass culture and the culture industry” (A Singular Modernity, 12)
Michael Lowy on the existence of “new forms of combined and uneven development: in the megacities of Brazil, India, or Egypt a small island of modern industrial, financial and commercial enterprises – often multinational – is surrounded by a sea of urban poor [...]. Similarly, in the rural areas, modern agricultural capitalist ventures combine with traditional latifundia, and brutally exploit small sharecroppers, subsistence farmers and a mass of poor landless peasants” (The Politics of Combined and Uneven Development, 147).