When K-Punk's Capitalist Realism came out X number of years ago, I found it disappointing, deflating, as I think quite a few people did. Firstly, partly because I was already familiar with a lot of Mark's observations and formulations from his blogging, secondly because, such was my faith in his powers, I really thought he was going to come up with an answer to the question posed in the sub-title "is there really no alternative?". Which he didn't.
It seems though that Mark essentially then set about trying to answer that question himself, along with collaborator and frequent interlocutor Jeremy Gilbert. What I think is particularly striking about this paper (fingers crossed it's as widely read as Capitalist Realism, to which, really, it is the response) is that aside from a few references to Dr Who and the shiteness of contemporary music culture it isn't at all what you might have expected Mark to come up with/out with several years ago i.e. it's not very Gothic, nor does it seem to care much about theory. Can it be that Mark is just as interested in the work of Eric Olen Wright or Gar Alperovitz as he is Lacan or the films of Kubrick? It seems so.
I find this heartening and politically instructive, heartening on a human level because I like Mark (I have met him about three times, we have very different personal styles, we exchange a comment on Facebook about once every three years on average just in case you think we are part of some mutually supportive, backslapping, entryist Cabal) and will always be grateful to him for having created the kind of electrifying intellectual excitement that no-one now particularly wants to admit was absolutely vital to their own intellectual development and re/awakening ( not to mention his support being integral, via Zero / the Wire in adding impetus to a few careers) and also heartening and instructive because it demonstrates the necessity of thinking the moment, uncluttered by prior aesthetic and theoretical commitments.
Actually this format also seems to have liberated and helped to coalesce the argument in Jeremy Gilbert's Common Ground too. Liberated, I mean, from the need to painstakingly justify every point with reference to the entire tradition of human thought to which academics are professionally subjected. As usual Gilbert's snappy CiF piece is littered with commonsensical sneering below the line of the Oh really and What about and The author clearly doesn't even seem to know ilk, whereas, you can trust me, I have read his book, he honestly, really has thought of all that stuff and maybe, y'know, even a little bit more.*
Beyond Markets, Beyond Machines. Actually the second of those two beyonds doesn't really get unpacked here, but I hope it will!
* my favourite ever example of this was when Peter Hallward did a bit for CIF after the earthquake in Haiti and someone in the comments box suggested (after a quick read of wikipedia, I assume) that Hallward didn't even seem to know that Aristide had been president twice. I have a strict policy of never leaving comments on anything but even I was tempted to get in there and say, have you read Damming the Flood? Jesus Christ it's the most laboriously researched and minutely detailed 800 page doorstop imaginable. Naturally I restrained myself, for as we know, that way madness lies.