November 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
Enlightenment colonial merchants were unable to reconcile encounters with non-Europeans for whom some objects were not for sale at any price. These merchants had a deep belief that all things were commensurable through market exchange value. So, “… in insisting that certain goods not be commodified,… Africans were exposing as fictive all claims for the universality and naturalness of the European market-economy.” Europeans invented the fetish “to mask the absence of market-values among Africans.” Idol-worship was something that people of the Judeo-Christian Bible could understand, and judge. Marx, however, ironically reverses the charge, characterizing the Enlightened Europeans as idolators – fetishists in their barbarous devotion to material commodities and the thoroughly immaterial value they represent.
The West’s enduring fascination with zombies has a great deal to do with its culture industry – especially movies. But most contemporary Western productions, McNally argues, are “pale substitutes, faint and distorted after-images of the monsters we deny.” They may on occasion have a satirical anti-consumerist message, but what they crucially lack for David McNally is an anti-capitalist message. Indeed, McNally traces the zombie to West Africa by way of 18th century Haiti where slaves transformed a pre-capitalist religious idea (of the dead arising to help or harm the living) into the idea that coerced mindless labor is a kind of living death. read more
PHOTOGRAPH: Ei Toshinari