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The Self-Devouring Society: Capitalism, Narcissism, and Self-Destruction

The Self-Devouring Society: Capitalism, Narcissism, and Self-Destruction

Common Notions9781942173793

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Liberals smirk at Trump’s narcissism, but, as renowned theorist Anselm Jappe explains, contemporary capitalism has turned everyone into a narcissist.

The Greek myth of Erysichthon describes the fate of a king whose hunger drove him to eat until the only thing left to devour was himself. This image—of a society spiraling inexorably in a self-destructive dynamic—forms the starting point of Anselm Jappe’s investigation into the relationship between contemporary capitalism and subjectivity, or our personal experience of the world.

In a work that unites the critique of political economy and the psychoanalytic tradition, Jappe explores the dynamics of contemporary capitalism and explains how internalizing them creates a specific kind of person—a narcissist, someone who can only interact with the world by consuming it and who cannot conceive of limits to this consumption. In conversation with Marx as well as Freud, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, and Christopher Lasch, Jappe probes the ways in which the churning of the capitalist machine, ceaseless and yet devoid of real purpose, creates an endless hunger that increasingly ends in spectacular violence.

Everyone can feel that the world is getting angrier. The Self-Devouring Society provides an original and rigorous explanation of why.

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