In various posts over the last few years, I’ve written about my fascination with images of civilisational collapse. Reading Riots and Political Protest, by Steve Hall, Simon Winlow, Daniel Briggs and James Treadwell, I find myself wondering if this fascination is in large part because of how ‘civilisational collapse’ and the ‘end of capitalism’ tend to be conflated under our present circumstances. As they write on pg 18,
The dominant images of the end of capitalism in Western culture are those of absolute economic devastation and crushing hardship, a return to Dark Age repression and poverty. In the popular imagination, capitalism is lively and vivacious, and all alternatives to it are dull, grey and monotonous.
Images of civilisational collapse are so emotive under current conditions because of our much remarked upon inability to imagine a world beyond capitalism. For this reason I think sociological engagements with how these dystopias are represented could provide rewarding. By identifying their questionable assumptions, highlighting what is untenable in accounts of collapse and what might turn out differently in reality, could we open up the space in which to think about a beyond rather than merely an end?
6 responses to “Images of the end of capitalism”
Yes, I think this is why much of John Urry’s writing towards the most recent part of his career set out alternative visions for futures, such as societies after oil etc.
Excellent! And include artists in such endeavors.
Do you have any examples?
Still not read those yet.
None, but I would love to see sociologists collaborate with artists in conceptualising and presenting such alternate futures
Gibson-Grahams “The End of Capitalism (as we knew it)” deals with the same diagnosis. They suggest a ‘performative ontological project’ which brings marginalized alternative economic practices to light and make them ‘more real’.