Perversions of the Market

Sadism, Masochism, and the Culture of Capitalism

Expected to ship: 2024-12-01

An engaging analysis of the catastrophic ways capital perverts market dynamics by a leading scholar of Deleuze.


Perversions of the Market argues that capitalism fosters sadism and masochism—not as individual psychological proclivities but as widespread institutionalized patterns of behavior. The book is divided into two parts: one historical and the other theoretical. In the first, Eugene W. Holland shows how, as capital becomes global in scale and drives production and consumption farther and farther apart, it perverts otherwise free markets, transforming sadism and masochism into borderline conditions and various supremacisms. The second part then turns to Deleuze and Guattari's "schizoanalysis," explaining how it helpfully embeds Freud's analysis of the family and Lacan's analysis of language within an analysis of the capitalist market and its psycho-dynamics. Drawing on literature and film throughout to illuminate the discontents of modern culture, Holland maintains that the sadistic relations of production and masochistic relations of consumption must be eliminated to prevent capitalism from destroying life as we know it.

Eugene W. Holland is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University. He is the author of Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus: A Reader's Guide and Nomad Citizenship: Free-Market Communism and the Slow-Motion General Strike.


"Holland demonstrates an enviable comprehension of the theories he mobilizes, an awareness of their limits, but also respect for their possibilities, with no haste in accepting or rejecting them—the true mark of a serious critical theorist. Faced with the question of the point of unmasking the sadomasochistic features of the capitalist market, Holland does not leave the reader with a critique for critique's sake. Rather, he makes it clear that his labor is expended in advocacy and anticipation of a free market—free from capital, not from the State. For Holland, a market free from the State is both a danger and an illusion." — Constantin V. Boundas, editor of Schizoanalysis and Ecosophy: Reading Deleuze and Guattari

"An outstanding study with far-reaching ramifications. Under the rubric of 'schizoanalysis,' Holland shows how concepts from psychoanalysis—especially sadism, masochism, borderline narcissism, borderline supremacism, and polymorphous narcissism—may be used to chart developments in capitalism over the last three centuries. Rather than moving from the psychological to the social, however, Holland approaches psychological phenomena as functions of social, political, and economic systems inherent in capitalism. The approach is original, the scholarship is impeccable, the style is bracing, and the conclusions are profound." — Ronald Bogue, author of Thinking with Deleuze