This article identifies a basic formula in the Freudo-Marxist take on twentieth-century authoritarianism. This is the incommensurability of inherited past development with the pace and demands of industrial social life, damming up a tremendous excess that seeks reactionary outlet. Authoritarianism, here, breeds in the contradiction between the symptoms of the Oedipal drama and the commodity form. The implicit “repressive hypothesis” for sexuality and developmentalist teleology make this theorization of authoritarian formations untenable today. This article, however, identifies moments of promise in this literature, and turns to materials available to these thinkers—specifically interwar psychoanalytic theory on anxiety and economic theory on capital assets—to develop the rudiments of a different psycho-social theory of authoritarianism. I conclude by considering the specific and novel implications of financialization as an initial gesture towards bringing this forward to the present. If twentieth-century authoritarianism was a crisis of authority, today we witness authority’s decay.
"Time Decay: Assets, Authoritarianism, and Anxiety about the Future."
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