Capital’s real subsumption of consumption
in The capitalist mode of destruction
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This chapter interprets the rise of consumerism as the result of capital’s subsumption of consumption. Adapting Marx’s original distinction between capital’s formal and real subsumption of labor, this chapter shows how capitalism has, over time, not only commodified the means of subsistence, thus achieving capital’s formal subsumption of consumption; it has also used scientific research, advanced techniques, and cultural resources to reconstitute consumer preferences in ways that serve capital. The chapter traces this process to the dynamics of capitalist competition and the pursuit of profit, while also discussing its negative impact on human well-being and the ecological integrity of the planet. In this sense, this chapter represents a first step in the analysis of the destructive ways that capitalism uses the surplus it extracts from workers.

The capitalist mode of destruction

Austerity, ecological crisis and the hollowing out of democracy

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