The aim of the essay is to situate Bataille’s idiosyncratic thought on consumption in the context of the modern debate on this topic, to unravel its vacillations and contradictions, and to tease out its main implications. The modern philosophical and ideological debate on consumption, while highly variegated, can be usefully divided into two main camps, two broad intellectual traditions or lineages, a Marxist and a Nietzschean one. These camps are diametrically opposed in all important respects, including consumption, yet paradoxically enough, Bataille had roots in both. This point is of crucial importance for understanding his position and its striking peculiarities. Bataille’s contradictory political position is explored, a position which overtly embraces radicalism but remains in fact profoundly attached, it is argued, to capitalism.
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