Friday, August 06, 2010

political economy as theatre

Some writers (Roughtheory) argue that Marx's Capital is really theatre, that illustrates the absurdity of the human condition, at least in our current social and economic system. Marx does talk about the capitalist as capital personified and much more along those lines. Like everything else with Marx this idea has been both much discussed and much distorted. But to be a capitalist you do have to devote a significant portion of your life to reproducing and nourishing capital, a "mere thing". In one sense that "mere thing" takes over the life or significant parts of the life of a human.

Capital is difficult reading. I wonder if it could reach a wider audience if aspects of it were presented as a play.

Although not as conceptually ambitious this has been done to an extent by Lucy Prebble with her play about Enron:

Here is an extract from an article based on an interview with the playwright Lucy Prebble:
...the whole financial basis on which Enron rose and fell was "that most theatrical of entities, just a game, an illusion, a system of belief". ... Jeffrey Skilling, the disgraced former CEO of Enron ... begins full of the airy belief that he has reinvented the world on his own terms, and ends beset by his own demons as that world crashes around his ears ... what is extraordinary is that we had all watched this happen with Enron nearly a decade before and yet still we wanted to believe in the illusion of financial miracles

Skilling: I have to check the stock price.
Daughter: Why?
Skilling: Because that's how daddy knows how much he's worth.
Daughter: Why?
Skilling: Because the market tells me.
Daughter: Why?

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