Totalled: Salvaging the Future from the Wreckage of Capitalism
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In this book, Colin Cremin tackles the overbearing truth that capitalism encompasses the totality of our societal relations, weaving deep into the fabric of all that it means to be human. He shows how it is a system that totalises and which has upended the modernity project by industrialised warfare, surveillance, commodification and control. With ever deepening crises and ecological catastrophes it threatens the total destruction of human civilisation. But in amongst this wreckage there are still functioning parts, machines to be salvaged through the collective force of the human imagination and the total mobilisation of the peoples of this earth. We must realise a different future to the apocalypticism forewarned by scientists, prescribed by economists, accommodated by politicians and made spectacle by the entertainment industry. Totalled maps the deteriorating socio-economic, political and ecological conditions in which we live and, through our labours and consumption, seemingly have no choice other than to accelerate. The question for the book is how a utopian possibility discernable in the power of human creation can be realised when as a society we are in different ways materially, ideologically and libidinally bound to the capitalist machine of destruction. Totalled concludes with a politically and economically grounded set of propositions on how this might be achieved.
tool, a weapon even, will propose ways in which the energies described above can be wrestled away from their destructive encounter with capital. Chapter Content Totalled differs from my first book, Capitalism’s New Clothes, in a number of important respects, but there are symmetries that justify calling this a follow-up. In that first book I outlined what I see as three overlapping and mutually reinforcing ideological injunctions of capitalism today: to be enterprising (exemplified by work);
accounting procedures have penetrated the public sector; or, from the perspective of the individual, how work is no longer delimited by or enclosed within the workplace, and identity is no longer anchored to a particular firm or mass worker. Or recall the earlier example of manufacturing industry deriving profits from financial investments. Rather than a contradictory binary of individual/ mass, individuals have become ‘dividuals’, and masses have become samples, data, markets, or ‘banks’
of those over whom it rules, then it is obvious that all the essential questions of sociology are nothing other than the questions of political science. (2003 [1929–35]: 244) Eric Hobsbawm writes that: the basic problem of the revolution is how to make a hitherto subaltern class capable of hegemony, believe in itself as a potential ruling class and be credible as such to other classes … the struggle to turn the working class into a potential ruling class, the struggle for hegemony, must be
of these theoretical contributions can help explain and unravel the predicament that this book identifies the whole of human society to be in. The value of this approach can be ascertained according to what it achieves, namely that it does indeed help us to understand, explain and develop a persuasive critique of current subjective and thereby social conditions as well as make propositions for transforming them. The relevance of Freud today lies in the power of his theory to explain social
historic development, which makes this totality of development, i.e. the development of all human powers as such the end in itself, not as measured on a predetermined yardstick? Where he does not reproduce himself in one specificity, but produces his totality? Strives not to remain something he has become, but is in the absolute movement of becoming? (1973 : 488) ‘Needs, capacities, pleasures and productive forces’, an ‘absolute movement of becoming’ – this is not a sterile vision of the