You’re doing it wrong—representations of capitalism as hegemonically dominant preclude the realization of actual social change. Changing this view is a pre-requisite to the alt. Gibson-Graham 06 – J.K., pen name shared by feminist economic geographers Julie Graham and Katherine Gibson
(“The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy”, pg 2-5, IWren)
The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It) problematizes "capitalism" as an economic and social descriptor.4 Scrutinizing what might be seen as throwaway uses of the term - passing references, for example, to the capitalist system or to global capitalism - as well as systematic and deliberate attempts to represent capitalism as a central and organizing feature of modern social experience, the book selectively traces the discursive origins of a widespread understanding: that capitalism is the hegemonic, or even the only, present form of economy and that it will continue to be so in the proximate future. It follows from this prevalent though not ubiquitous view that noncapitalist economic sites, if they exist at all, must inhabit the social margins; and, as a corollary, that deliberate attempts to develop noncapitalist economic practices and institutions must take place in the social interstices, in the realm of experiment, or in a visionary space of revolutionary social replacement. Representations of capitalism are a potent constituent of the anticapitalist imagination, providing images of what is to be resisted and changed as well as intimations of the strategies, techniques, and possibilities of changing it. For this reason, depictions of "capitalist hegemony" deserve a particularly skeptical reading. For in the vicinity of these representations, the very idea of a noncapitalist economy takes the shape of an unlikelihood or even an impossibility. It becomes difficult to entertain a vision of the prevalence and vitality of noncapitalist economic forms, or of daily or partial replacements of capitalism by noncapitalist economic practices, or of capitalist retreats and reversals. In this sense, "capitalist hegemony" operates not only as a constituent of, but also as a brake upon, the anticapitalist imagination.5 What difference might it make to release that brake and allow an anticapitalist economic imaginary to develop unrestricted?6 If we were to dissolve the image that looms in the economic foreground, what shadowy economic forms might come forward? In these questions we can identify the broad outlines of our project: to discover or create a world of economic difference, and to populate that world with exotic creatures that become, upon inspection, quite local and familiar (not to mention familiar beings that are not what they seem). The discursive artifact we call "capitalist hegemony" is a complex effect of a wide variety of discursive and nondiscursive conditions.7 In this book we focus on the practices and preoccupations of discourse, tracing some of the different, even incompatible, representations of capitalism that can be collated within this fictive summary representati n. These depictions have their origins in the diverse traditions of Marxism, classical and contemporary political economy, academic social science, modern historiography, popular economic and social thought, western philosophy and metaphysics, indeed, in an endless array of texts, traditions and infrastructures of meaning. In the chapters that follow, only a few of these are examined for the ways in which they have sustained a vision of capitalism as the dominant form of economy, or have contributed to the possibility or durability of such a vision. But the point should emerge none the less clearly: the virtually unquestioned dominance of capitalism can be seen as a complex product of a variety of discursive commitments, including but not limited to organicist social conceptions, heroic historical narratives, evolutionary scenarios of social development, and essentialist, phallocentric, or binary patterns of thinking. It is through these discursive figurings and alignments that capitalism is constituted as large, powerful, persistent, active, expansive, progressive, dynamic, transformative; embracing, penetrating, disciplining, colonizing, constraining; systemic, self-reproducing, rational, lawful, self-rectifying; organized and organizing, centered and centering; originating, creative, protean; victorious and ascendant; selfidentical, self-expressive, full, definite, real, positive, and capable of conferring identity and meaning.8 The argument revisited: it is the way capitalism has been "thought" that has made it so difficult for people to imagine its supersession.9 It is therefore the ways in which capitalism is known that we wish to delegitimize and displace. The process is one of unearthing, of bringing to light images and habits of understanding that constitute "hegemonic capitalism" at the intersection of a set of representations. This we see as a first step toward theorizing capitalism without representing dominance as a natural and inevitable feature of its being. At the same time, we hope to foster conditions under which the economy might become less subject to definitional closure. If it were possible to inhabit a heterogeneous and open-ended economic space whose identity was not fixed or singular (the space potentially to be vacated by a capitalism that is necessarily and naturally hegemonic) then a vision of noncapitalist economic practices as existing and widespread might be able to be born; and in the context of such a vision, a new anticapitalist politics might emerge, a noncapitalist politics of class (whatever that may mean) might take root and flourish. A long shot perhaps but one worth pursuing.