Castoriadis on the Capitalist Imaginary

Craig Browne


The virtual dissolution of notions of a social alternative to capitalism has in large part shaped the two most influential contemporary perspectives in social theory: postmod -
ernism and globalisation. At the same time, new modes of protest and resistance to capitalism have evolved in the advanced western nation states, as well as other parts of
the world. These anti-capitalist movements are set apart from earlier socialist struggles by their global dialogue, historical reflexivity and occasional appreciation of their own entanglements with capitalism. Although the critique of capitalism has not ended, it no doubt needs to be refocused. Cornelius Castoriadis’ writings on the capitalist imaginary
make a signal contribution to this task, they suggest another direction in critical theory. Even Castoriadis’ severest critics appreciate the originality of his conception of the imagi - nary institution of society and its commitment to the extension of the project of auton - omy (see Habermas 1987a).

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