Bataille’s Libidinal Economics: Capitalism as an Open Wound

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This essay undertakes a scrutiny of Georges Bataille’s ambiguous relationship to capitalism. On the one hand, Bataille subscribes to a fundamentally Nietzschean, romantic critique of capitalism, which is censured as grey and banal, at the same time as he indirectly apologizes for capitalism inasmuch as risk, chance, torment and permanent commotion are ontologized. On yet another level, however, Bataille represents an interesting and sometimes highly original attempt to fuse Marx and Nietzsche, combining the dream of Dionysian unleashing with Marx’s realm of freedom. Given Bataille’s elitist and nihilist presuppositions, however, this dialectical option necessarily remains a largely unfulfilled promise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-596
Number of pages16
JournalCritical Sociology
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, © The Author(s) 2014.


  • Bataille
  • Marx
  • Nietzsche
  • capitalism
  • communism
  • consumption
  • political theory
  • sociology


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