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New Left Review 86, March-April 2014

nancy fraser


For an Expanded Conception of Capitalism

Capitalism is back! After decades in which the term could scarcely be found outside the writings of Marxian thinkers, commentators of varying stripes now worry openly about its sustainability, scholars from every school scramble to systematize criticisms of it and activists throughout the world mobilize in opposition to its practices. [*] These arguments were worked out in conversation with Rahel Jaeggi and will appear in our Crisis, Critique, Capitalism, forthcoming from Polity. Thanks to Blair Taylor for research assistance and to the Centre for Gender Studies (Cambridge), the Collège d’études mondiales, the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften and the Centre for Advanced Studies ‘Justitia Amplificata’ for their support. Certainly, the return of ‘capitalism’ is a welcome development, a crystal-clear marker, if any were needed, of the depth of the present crisis—and of the pervasive hunger for a systematic account of it. What all the talk about capitalism indicates, symptomatically, is a growing intuition that the heterogeneous ills—financial, economic, ecological, political, social—that surround us can be traced to a common root; and that reforms which fail to engage with the deep structural underpinnings of these ills are doomed to fail. Equally, the term’s renaissance signals the wish in many quarters for an analysis that could clarify the relations among the disparate social struggles of our time, an analysis that could foster the close cooperation, if not the full unification, of their most advanced, progressive currents in a counter-systemic bloc. The hunch that capitalism could supply the central category of such an analysis is on the mark.

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Nancy Fraser, ‘Behind Marx’s Hidden Abode’, NLR 86: £3

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