Author Information: Mark Bergfeld - mdbergfeldATgmailDOTcom
people take on the character of “a thing”, acquiring what Lukacs calls “phantom objectivitity”,concealing “every trace of its fundamental nature” [HCC, 83]. In other words, commodity
relations and the hegemony of the market dehumanise and turn all human functions into a
commodity itself totally opposed to people’s own personalities. By applying this analysis we
come to understand that Jones mistakes the effect for its cause. The personification of themarket and self-objectification of
humans are the effect of the system’s guiding principle of
commodity-exchange. To be more concise, the personification of the market is a symptom of a society ruled by commodity-exchange and the accumulation of capital.
In such a society ‘the consumer’ as the subject replaces the worker. By accepting this as a fait
accompli Jones cannot answer the question where counter-hegemonic power could manifest
itself, namely, at the point of production which contains within it “in
concentrated form the
whole structure of capitalist society” [HCC, 90].
Can zombies learn to speak?
Critics of capitalism and the market have always evoked images of monsters, zombies andvampires to describe the dehumanising effects of the system. While Karl Marx labelled
like”, Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi called Goldman Sachs “giantvampire squids”. The Canadian Marxist David McNally even published a dense 300
-pager called Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires and Global Capitalism. Drawing on popular films and culture McNally observes that zombies have no speech. This is important
in regard to Jones’s book.
In Shelley’s Frankenstein’s Monster, the monster learns how to read revolutionary books and
also learns how to speak. In a more recent zombie movies
The People under the Stairs,
the zombies have had their tongues cut out by a rich property developer and never learn to tospeak
even at the point where they rebel. This film sums up precisely what Campbell Jonesargues when he says that capitalism renders the vast majority of people voiceless. But it alsocan tell us something more fundamental about the current balance of forces between capitaland labour.Despite global mass movements challenging the dominance of the market zombies still
haven’t learnt to speak. This is true on two accounts: Firstly, even the most radical thinkers of
our day and age remain trapped within the confines of the market. Whether they advocate
‘market socialism’ such as Set
h Ackerman in Jacobin magazine or simply blame the actorsinside of the market
‘giant vampire squids’ and ‘fat cats’ –
they fail to blame the system as
a whole. Much of today’s anti
-capitalist critique seeks cosmetic changes to a dehumanisingsystem instead of aiming to construct alternative institutions and parties which go beyond themarket and at the same time advocate its destruction.This is crucial given the weakness of trade unions and social democratic parties inchallenging the market. Traditional social democracy has silenced workers by speaking ontheir behalf in parliament. Even those trade unions fighting austerity measures in their