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It is customary to point that one does not escape Hegel’s dialectic easily: opposition (or trying to negate) dialectic would still amount to be playing its game, since negation is a necessary step to dialectical progress. That’s a logical or an epistemological problem.

A political equivalent is found in the process by which counter-culture is co-opted (or absorbed, or recuperated) precisely by that against which it revolts, the contradiction (or opposition) being solved in the emergence of a new market or a new economy (such is Che on the tote bag).

Hence, one would tend to think that there is something akin to a “dialectical capitalism” at work in the way with which counter-culture is commodified. This reading, I believe, goes against the idea that a “dialectical materialism” could brought capitalism to the point of rupture and revolution. Instead, it seems that a dialectical movement drives capitalism forward, assuring its progress.

Fredric Jameson wrote on this specific problem in “The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” (first published in 1984 in The New Left Review, included in his book Postmodernism in 1991, as the first chapter). Another interesting summary of the problem is provided by John Holloway, Fernando Matamoros and Sergio Tischler in their introduction to Negativity and Revolution: Adorno and Political Activism:

The rejection of dialectics focuses principally on two related points. It is argued that dialectical thought leads to closure rather than openness. The typical Hegelian triad of thesis–antithesis–synthesis ends in a closing synthesis, which provides the basis of a view of history as a series of stages or steps. The synthesis is a reconciliation of opposites, the establishment, in other words, of a new modus vivendi between labour and capital.

I provided the example of counter-culture, but other examples could be mobilized as well. For example, it is argued that capitalism function on the premise of private property (thesis). Against this, initiatives to promote “openness” and “sharing” (e.g. open software, social sharing platforms) were developed (anti-thesis). The market can adapt by turning the sharing model into a productive economy (synthesis). This is merely an example, its validity remains open to debate.

My question instead is the following: Are there dialectical interpretations exploring the capacity of capitalism to absorb what is set to contradict or to opposite it, and using it for its own development/progress? Does the cooptation of counter-culter into a new form of cultural economy (for example) has been described in a dialectical way by authors? Any suggestion would be appreciate.

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    While all this sounds fascinating (and I might get the holloway et al book you linked), what is the question? – mart Jul 21 '15 at 8:52
  • Are there dialectical interpretations exploring the capacity of capitalism to absorb what is set to contradict or to opposite it, and using it for its own development/progress? Does the cooptation of counter-culter into a new form of cultural economy, for example, has been described as sublation? – Parneix Jul 21 '15 at 11:26
  • @Parneix Please edit your post to clearly state that question. – gerrit Jul 21 '15 at 13:12
  • I edited the question so that question stands more clearly. Thank you for your feedback! – Parneix Jul 21 '15 at 14:41
  • I'm tempted to flag this to be migrated to Philosophy.SE, but I suppose it's ontopic here as well. – user4012 Jul 27 '15 at 3:07
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That’s pretty much what I was looking for. I still wonder if there are other analysis like it, but that’s a good point to start:

The capitalist dialectic in simple terms can be seen as the mirror image of the Marxist dialectic: Marxism states that socialism cannot be achieved from a rural society until it has become industrialized by capitalism; the capitalist dialectic postulates that capitalism can be more effectively achieved if a rural society is first industrialized by the dictatorial methods of socialism.

Bolton, Kerry R (2010). “Socialism, Revolution and Capitalist Dialectics”, Foreign Policy Journal, May 4th.

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