(how) does one come to desire "oppression"?

I was interested in Anderson's discussion of Lyotard's pre-Postmodern Condition turn away from structural Marxism toward an analysis of systemic manipulations of libidinal drives and erotic enjoyment. Anderson sketches out Lyotard's claim that serious critiques of capitalisms must contend with "the truth that exploitation itself was typically lived - even by the early industrial workers - as erotic enjoyment: masochistic or hysterical delectation in the destruction of physical health in mines and factories, or disintegration of personal identity in anonymous slums." In other words, "capitalism was desired by those it dominated" (28).

Without any specifics, this argument is difficult to judge. On the one hand, it seems brazen to valorize exploitative conditions as having "masochistic appeal." And the argument manages to pre-emptively evade criticism by positing that "revolt against [capitalism comes] only when the pleasures it [yields become] 'untenable'" (28). Well, that's convenient: systemic transformation is self-evident proof of the libidinal forces at play.

On the other hand, the notion of investment in subjection potentially points to radically new ways of conceptualizing various "What the fuck happened?" moments in history. Fascism, in particular, seems to elude full explanation according to Enlightenment frameworks of citizenship and sociality. Were Hitlerian politics liberal or anti-liberal? These categories seem forced, at best, in cases such as Nazi Germany. Deleuze and Guattari come to mind as theorists who refuse to explain away the consequences of such "perversions" by recourse to simplistic notions of "mass coercion." They ask, instead, if/how people come to desire fascism. How do we ever get to the point where the popular cry becomes "more taxes, less bread!"? It sounds like Lyotard (at least according to Anderson's depiction) is interested in something similar.

What do people think of this emphasis on desire and libidinal/erotic investment? Personally, I'm partial this kind of analysis. I find that it elucidates both the various travesties of the twentieth century and, perhaps more importantly, our general misapprehension of such travesties in the liberal-capitalist West. The basic libidinal structure of bourgeois society seems be that of disavowal - those deviant (violent, sadistic, profane, etc.) impulses that motivate us, but, nonetheless, we shy away from discussing openly. What was the basic libidinal structure of Nazi Germany? Whatever our answer, the main value of these questions, I think, is that they framing the debate in a way that puts these divergent socio-economic systems on a "level playing field" of sorts. Fascism is not just the rupture in History after which point philosophy becomes impossible. Rather, it's just another way of structuring/harnessing the libidinal circuit of social life. Conceived as such, distancing ourselves from its disastrous political outcomes becomes more difficult, which is almost always valuable.

Lyotard's argument that everyone subsumed under capitalist domination in fact years for its perpetuation seems to me a rather obvious facet of capitalist logic, and thus a most central element of its critique. Perhaps it is my historical retrospect, but it seems logical to argue that if the proletariat never rose up against its oppressor, there must have been some logic that kept the proletariat complacent - some appeal, some attraction. And indeed, as we have implicitly addressed in our class discussions, there is a very powerful element of consumption that we continue to enjoy. We have been trained (or interpolated, I suppose) to seek out the pleasures offered by our engagement with capitalism. And so we can both see its horrors while simultaneously feeling its 'libidinal' forces compel us toward it.

I think you are right to point to comparison that this logic allows for between as you say 'divergent socio-economic systems.' Empire must engage its participants. And the powerless must have some reason to remain passively engaged, or revolutionary disengagement is certain to arise. The subtlety with which these libidinal forces are harnessed seems to correspond to the qualifier we associate with a given 'regime.' Perhaps that's an extreme simplification, but nonetheless, I agree with your general observations about Lyotard's early postmodern theorizing.

Is it possible to rise above capitalism not by revolution, but by playing the game better than everyone else? If making money becomes a game, not an obsession, but a passion, and consumption is only a byproduct of "winning", does consumption lose its appeal? The point becomes to live within the confines of the "game" - capitalism - without being obsessed with the material - everything consumption oriented. Is rising to the top of the system without reveling in it a form of postmodern life? If postmodernity is part of the capitalist culture then what can be better than playing capitalism for all its worth?

I just felt like throwing ideas out there and seemed like a good place to do so. I don't if these thoughts necessarily follow from the previous two posts, but what the heck.

You should read Gamer Theory by MacKenzie Wark. He argues that life has transformed into "Gamespace," a inescapable virtual-reality of sorts in which values, ideologies, and political discussion have atrophied into one, singular ethos: winning.

When you ask if it is possible to "rise above" capitalism by identifying with, as opposed to critiquing, its systemic logic, to whom are you granting agency? The people who need to contend with the most averse affects of capitalism are those who make up its constitutive, underdeveloped peripheries. I would say that for the staggering majority of global participants, no, capitalism cannot be transcended via opportune play.

(I've been interpolated!)