Capitalist realism - Mark Fisher

Mockup of London's future financial district

It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. After 1989, capitalism has successfully presented itself as the only realistic political-economic system - a situation that the bank crisis of 2008, far from ending, actually compounded. The book analyses the development and principal features of this capitalist realism as a lived ideological framework.

Using examples from politics, film (Children Of Men, Jason Bourne, Supernanny), fiction (Le Guin and Kafka), work and education, it argues that capitalist realism colours all areas of contemporary experience, is anything but realistic and asks how capitalism and its inconsistencies can be challenged It is a sharp analysis of the post-ideological malaise that suggests that the economics and politics of free market neo-liberalism are givens rather than constructions.

Capitalist Realism - Is there no alternative? PDF5.18 MB


Jan 3 2012 15:10

This is a good book. It's like reading Zizek, Fredric Jameson and the likes, but without having to deal with 300 pages of boring parts between all the good stuff.

Jan 3 2012 15:36

I can't think of a better review, sounds amazing!

Jan 4 2012 05:03

This is the book that i want to read. where can I buy this?

Melancholy of R...
Jan 4 2012 12:03

You can buy it from Amazon through the links in this page -

I read this yesterday (slow times at work) and liked it very much. Perhaps too broad a subject to talk about in just 81 pages, though. For example, when he mentions Tarkovsky's two sci-fi films as a product of a snobbish, elitist USSR government culture department, that is not necessarily true, or at least not true to the purpose the author intends and would require a thicker book to explain them.

Still a cracking read, thanks very much for sharing.

Jan 4 2012 12:12

Also, Y NO REFERENCES? I'm sure it can all be tracked down though.

Jan 4 2012 15:22

have downloaded, it's now in the reading stack

Jan 4 2012 20:45

This is an amazing book, it has plenty of the sophistication of the writers and subjects it refers to, but very little redundant or overly complex language. It is actually quite enjoyable to read rather than tiresome.

Jan 5 2012 03:55

Just read half of it so far, it really is like a concise version of zizek, jameson et al very good. Extremely readable like the nina power essay one dimensional women also put out by the same publisher.

Jan 5 2012 04:00

Also page 37 seems to crash my pdf reader, weird.

Jan 5 2012 05:05

Just finished it bar the elusive page 37 which is annoying cos I was loving his use of Heat to illustrate post modernity against the territorialised centred world of the Godfather.

A great little book, look forward to reading more stuff by him.

Also think choccy would enjoy the examples drawing on the authors experience in teaching.

Jan 5 2012 06:08

If it references Heat I'll have to read it. I love that movie especially the part where they come out of the bank and kill all those cops. Best movie shootout ever.

Jan 22 2012 16:19

might give it a wee jook

Jan 22 2012 16:49

To open a can of worms, do you think this is why Revol likes it?
He's going through a BAADER MEINHOF HAD THE RIGHT IDEA phase of political regression where he thinks we'll never win and should 'at least take some of the bastards out', rather than get on with the hard slog of talking to our workmates and trying to get shit off the ground.

Jan 22 2012 17:04

Hmm I'll pick up a hard copy, hate reading on a screen and don't have kindle.

Joseph Kay
Jan 22 2012 17:24

The practical side is weak, but I didn't read it for tactics. I think some of the cultural analysis/politicisation of depression is decent, and the stuff about bullshit managerialism in his college was interesting too. I have a load of annotations on my copy but it's lent out, so going off memory. Iirc there was a cringeable bit about 'not capturing the state but subjecting it to the general will' too, but like I say I remember thinking it was decent, but not on practical stuff/tactics.

Jan 22 2012 18:25

I think if you are reading texts like this for tactical purposes you've missed the point. The book is about the (post) ideology of neo liberalism in the west, and it does a great job of giving a nice concise summary of ideas expressed in more obscure terms in the likes of Zizek and Jameson.

It's a book about the cultural and political landscape neo liberalism has produced, it is of course going to talk about the defeat of the working classes formal organs and the breakdown of the post war social democratic consensus, it's not defeatism, it's dealing with reality.

His point about public service strikes wasn't simply opposed to such strikers, I'm pretty certain he'd still support such strikers rather his point was a call for greater imagination instead of the same old essentially symbolic one day strikes that really are useless.

I don;t get what you are on about with the post fordism and working class defeat thing, it's quite obvious that fordism is gone and won't be coming back and the traditional organs that the working class used to impose itself on capital have been left largely irrelevant. I don't think it's simply a case of mourning this defeat but rather looking at ways it opens up new forms of struggle and class recomposition.

Also choccy I certainly am not politically in a Baader Meinhof mindset, sure I have my moments of wishing for some divine violence to visit itself upon on various cunts but I think we are living in interesting times that will only get more so, for good or bad.

Jan 22 2012 18:36

also it's pretty hard doing the "hard slog" of talking to your work mates when your on a series of temp contracts, interrupted by bouts of unemployment, as such I think this text is more realistic in it's analysis of class forces, class forces that can't be reduced to naive volunteerism about "hard slog".

Jan 22 2012 18:55

I found this text version of the book.
Looks like it's spellchecked and all, but the quotes aren't highlighted. smile

Jan 22 2012 19:15

Fordism isn't to be understood as a simple management technique, rather in it's common use it is understood as being tied to a kind of compromise where increases in productivity were tied to increases in wages and a recognised role for collective labour. The idea that both capital and labour could increase it's wealth through increases in productivity, facilitating higher wages and in turn greater consumerism in a never ending waltz of growth. That is clearly dead, neo liberalism and globalisation has saw labour in the west massively devalued and it was credit and cheap consumer commodities that made up this shortfall to allow it's corpse to dance on. The financial crash has totally buried it.

You're quite correct that many forms of post fordism provide the means of greater empowerment of the working class in terms of it's place within chains of production and circulation but this objective potentiality has been massively offset by various methods of undermining the subjective collectivity of the working class, something a book like this goes some way in trying to grapple with.

If this book seems to embody the defeat it describes it's only because it is aiming to be an honest diagnosis and not a prescription.

Jan 22 2012 19:14

I'm currently reading Paul Mason's "Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere" and it's pretty damn good, better than I expected, well except for his overplaying of social networks which reminds me far too much of all that pish from 1999-2000 about the fluidity of networks wah wah. He talks quite alot about the shifting demographics of protesters and the proletarianisation of increasing layers of youth and it's political effects. I think it's here in the mish mash of young proles that there lies the potential for going beyond the limits of the traditional labour movement, certainly the illusions many young people had about their shitty jobs being only temporary and that they'd soon get better ones with all the benefits and security of their parents generation are falling by the wayside.

Feb 15 2012 21:12

Capitalist Realism is a great book. The bits on education had me nervously laughing and I hope to reflect on it's relevance to teachers in the next week or so.

Overall I don't think it's anywhere near as pessimistic as JimClarke makes out - there's a kernal of hope at the end, but only in the realisation that we have to move beyond what we're doing, which is something we'd say anyway. I certainly don't think he advocates doing nothing in the workplace, nor is he 'against' one day strikes as such, just recognising them for what they are, which, again, we already know.

Of course he isn't full of practical suggestions but it's opening up that conversation about those sorts of actions. I think he's right about suggesting we choose actions that reject managerialism/bureuacracy - personally something like this would work in schools - refusing to be observed, collectively, refusing to sign our performance management documents things like that.

Juan Conatz
Feb 20 2013 20:42

Went home sick today, but before that, I stopped by Boneshaker Books (local lefty bookstore in Minneapolis) and picked up this. Reading now and will hopefully get through it. I got about halfway through the PDF a while ago. Its pretty good, but $15 for a 80 page book, really ?

Feb 20 2013 23:05

You need to get a Kindle!

Also, get well soon

cardy lady
Feb 21 2013 21:44

great book, his piece in 'what are we fighting for' is also very good, which is a little bit more optimistic, i do think things are pretty bad though, I like his description of stalanistic capitalism, we are slipping rapidly into a dystopia in the UK and there seems to be little opposition and the old nostalgic left tactics still linger

Mar 12 2013 21:04
May 30 2013 15:38

Fisher's book crystallizes the ideas of many of the most important critics of the cultural and economic landscape since the onslaught of neoliberalism; a succinct, readable and jargon-free slim volume that should be the inception of a new debate about late-capitalist society and the way we humans interact with it.

Apr 11 2016 12:42

Also criticised and discussed here:

Jul 12 2017 22:59

Apparently page 37 is missing from this PDF. Anyone have a better version?