Is Capitalism Really the Reason?

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Well, as frequently happens, I can find things I like about this article and things I don’t like about it.  First, the poststructuralism is very evident in the essay, which makes sense.  As Keesey explained new historicism is heavily influenced by poststructuralism.  Eagleton writes in his essay that, “But what comes then of our delight in comparisons, in distance, in dissimilarity—which is at the same time a delight in what is close and proper to ourselves” (424).  If we go back to Guetti’s article, he said almost the same thing.  The differences or the “missing” part is what makes us interested in something.  How well we can relate to it or how incapable we are of relating to something fascinates us.

However, the Marxist influence was also easily spotted in Eagleton’s essay (which again Keesey warned us about).  Now, granted, I live in a capitalist society, so I am undoubtedly biased (as these critics would observe) by my cultural positioning.  However, when Eagleton commented, “We respond to Spartacus of Greek sculpture because our own history links us to those ancient societies; we find in them an undeveloped phase of the forces which condition us.  Moreover, we find in those ancient societies a primitive image of ‘measure’ between man and Nature which capitalist society necessarily destroys” (423), I can’t help but have a couple problems with it.  First off, if part of our cultural positioning includes where we find ourselves in history, in other words the year, then is it really fair of Eagleton to call the Greeks and other ancient societies “primitive”?  Isn’t that a bit judgmental?  My other issue is that Eagleton attributes our response to classical literature as resulting from our distance from Nature as a capitalist society.  However, what about other societies?  Don’t communists enjoy classical literature as well?  If the only reason that we relate to “epics” is that we are capitalists, then shouldn’t this mean that only capitalists like the classics?     

Read more on Eagleton’s article. 

1 Comments

Angela Palumbo said:

I agree with you that he should not have called the Greeks "primitive," however, I think that it was just poor word choice. I don't really think that he meant "primitive" in the way you are thinking. I think that he means that it is early. Just bad word choice there.

I really like how you deconstructed what Eagleton said. I get the impression that Eagleton thinks that he is very smart (and he is) but sometimes that's why he can make these overstatements and get away with it. Is this true? Do people who are deemed as "smart" get their way more because people just accept what they have to say because they feel that their intellect can't compete?

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