Professor Fabio Vighi (Cardiff University)
Talk to be held at the National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay, The Old Debating Chamber, 6.30 pm – 8 pm, 12thJune 2018
Karl Marx’s ideological ideas have had arguably more influence over the lives or more people than any other in the last three centuries. The ideas of Marx have shaped the lives of billions of people and influenced many different spectrums of arts, media and academia. Prof Vighi reflected on this and asks the question that as the communist teleology evoked in some of Marx’s writings – and fully endorsed by the Marxist ideologies that followed him – has been dead and buried at least since 1989, what is left on our historical scene is the original capitalist dream of realising a self-sufficient society that sidesteps political or institutional mediations to establish ‘free’ economic relations on a purely empirical basis. The extent to which such a dream scenario is likely to turn into a global nightmare is the central topic of this talk. In the process it draws upon key concepts in Marx’s critique of political economy (such as value, labour and mode of production) to argue that Marx’s enduring contribution resides in his uncovering the modern metaphysics of the value-form (Wertform) as the a priori condition that structures our world. The historical inability to reflect on capitalist value as the disavowed cause of our ontological horizon translates into our inability to tackle crisis at its roots is explored.
Rather than focussing on the Marxist theme of the revolutionary (or reformist) potential of the working class, the talk will therefore centre on the contemporary relevance of Marx as the dialectical thinker of the capitalist mode of production. If historical Marxist movements have privileged the positivistic and scientific aspects of Marx’s oeuvre, in connection with the defence of the social dignity of wage work, here it will be argued that the real stakes, in Marx, concern the critique of the sphere of production, where economic value is generated out of the combustion of human energy.
Biography – Professor Fabio Vighi
Professor Fabio Vighi’s studied at the Universities of Bologna (Italy) and Reading (UK). He came to Cardiff in 2000 to work as a lecturer in Cardiff University’s School of European Studies (now School of Modern Languages). His research focuses on critical theory, theoretical psychoanalysis and film, as reflected in his recent publications, which include the following volumes: Crisi di valore. Lacan, Marx e il crepuscolo della societa’ del lavoro(Mimesis, 2018), Critical Theory and the Crisis of Contemporary Capitalism(Bloomsbury, 2015; co-authored with Heiko Feldner), Critical Theory and Film: Rethinking Ideology through Film Noir(Continuum, 2012), On Žižek’s Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation(Continuum, 2010).
His current research projects tackle capitalist crisis from a Marxian and psychoanalytic perspective, focusing on Jacques Lacan’s notion of discourse as social bond. He links this to the analysis of the global challenges currently faced by the capitalist mode of production and social reproduction. Alongside psychoanalysis, he is interested in Hegelian dialectics as a mode of thinking crisis; film as a prominent form of dialectical thinking; and ideology critique as a way to address unconscious or disavowed attachments to social formations. He is co-director of the ‘Žižek Centre for Ideology Critique’.
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