The Cultural Contradictions of Anti-Capitalism: The Liberal Spirit and the Making of Western Radicalism, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Cultural Contradictions of Anti-Capitalism

The Liberal Spirit and the Making of Western Radicalism, 1st Edition

By Daniel Fletcher


198 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138207745
pub: 2017-09-22
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pub: 2017-08-23
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Does contemporary anti-capitalism tend towards, as Slavoj Žižek believes, nihilism, or does it tend towards, as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri believe, true egalitarian freedom?

Within The Cultural Contradictions of Anti-Capitalism, Fletcher presents an answer that manages to tend towards both simultaneously. In entering into contemporary debates on radicalism, this innovative volume proposes a revised conception of Hardt and Negri’s philosophy of emancipatory desire. Indeed, Fletcher reassesses Hardt and Negri’s history of Western radicalism and challenges their notion of an alter-modernity break from bourgeois modernity. In addition to this, this title proposes the idea of Western anti-capitalism as a spirit within a spirit, exploring how anti-capitalist movements in the West pose a genuine challenge to the capitalist order while remaining dependent on liberalist assumptions about the emancipatory individual.

Inspired by post-structuralism and rejecting both revolutionary transcendence and notions of an underlying desiring purity, The Cultural Contradictions of Anti-Capitalism offers new insight into how liberal capitalist society persistently produces its own forms of resistance against itself. This book will appeal to graduate and postgraduate students interested in fields such as: Sociology, Politics, International Relations, Cultural Studies, History, and Philosophy.


Daniel Fletcher’s The Cultural Contradictions of Anti-Capitalism is an outstanding cultural history of the globalised present that sheds new light on the relationship between the liberal capitalist spirit and anti-capitalist radicalism. Reading Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus and Hardt and Negri’s Empire through the lens of the history of the liberal spirit, Fletcher shows how the cultural contradictions of the contemporary global capitalist system, comprising both a dynamic ultra-modern tendency towards over-coming and a socialistic democratic idealism concerned with establishing connection, mean that the post-modern left will need to rethink its visions of the future if it is to ever escape its liberal, capitalist pre-history.

Mark Featherstone, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Keele University, UK

This book importantly traces the emergence of the anti-capitalist ethos back via five key stages in the development of the Western bourgeois-individual spirit, to which this book argues the anti-capitalist ethos remains inextricably wedded. In doing so, the book offers a welcome rereading of Deleuze and Guattari’s arguments regarding desire, showing that much that goes under the header of left-wing activism actually bypasses indigenous and working class populations in spite of its own arguments to the contrary. This book is required reading for anyone seeking to understand the conundrums of contemporary political struggles.

Ingrid Hoofd, Assistant Professor, Department of Media and Culture Studies, Universiteit Utrecht, UK

Daniel Fletcher analyses in intricate detail the origins and development of the bourgeois ethos of self-emancipation, caught as it is? between contradictory tendencies towards? being-with and being-over. This highly original work opens a new vista on ?the agony which Western radical culture has dragged itself into.

Ronnie Lippens, Professor of Criminology, Keele University, UK

Daniel Fletcher provides a compelling theoretical and philosophical analysis of left-wing radicalism. This is an important book. Those who read it will understand the importance of engaging in a more reflexive and informed debate concerning cultural resistance, global capitalism and social change.

James Hardie-Bick, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology, University of Sussex, UK

Table of Contents

Introduction: Overview and Key Theoretical Argument

Chapter 1

Perspectives on Contemporary Radicalism: Transcendence and the Immanentist Break

Chapter 2

A Short History of Bourgeois Self-Emancipation: From Spinoza to Locke and Onwards.

Chapter 3

May 1968: Towards the Limits of Self-Emancipatory Radicalism.

Chapter 4

Varieties of Self-Emancipatory Experience: French and Anglo-Saxon Cultures of Self-Emancipation

Chapter 5

Deleuze and Guattari: Self-Emancipatory Philosophy in the ’68 Era

Chapter 6

Hardt and Negri on Postmodernisation: Self-Emancipatory Radicalism in the Politics of the Multitude

Chapter 7

Flexible Re-Institutionalisation:From Revolutionary Anti-Capitalism to Transnationalist Alter-Globalism




About the Author

Daniel Fletcher is an independent researcher and writer living in the West Midlands, England.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought

This series explores core issues in political philosophy and social theory. Addressing theoretical subjects of both historical and contemporary relevance, the series has broad appeal across the social sciences. Contributions include new studies of major thinkers, key debates and critical concepts.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General