Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Antisocial Feelings: Capitalism and Ressentiment from Adam Smith to the Present

16 February 2024, 5:30 pm–7:30 pm

Photo of people on a bus

Marxism in Culture seminar with Samo Tomšič (University of Fine Arts Hamburg)

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students




Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Forum
G17, ground floor, South Wing
UCL, Gower St, London

In my talk, I will engage with the intersection of psychoanalysis and the critique of political economy from the viewpoint of capitalism’s antisocial tendencies. Aggression, ressentiment, and violence are key to capitalism’s affective condition, and thus, also at the core of its critique. In this sense we could revisit Marx’s rejection of economic liberalism and what’s usually understood as Freud’s pessimistic view of the modern cultural condition as working through or against antisocial feelings. An important meeting point between both, the critical and clinical framework, is the concept of the drive and in particular the "capitalist destiny“ of the drive , which – fixated on a useless object (surplus-value) – fuels its aggressive and eventually destructive actualization. Thinking capitalism’s affective conditions through the drive, my talk will outline a rough genealogy of ressentiment as the privileged affective expression of capitalism’s antisocial tendencies.

All welcome. No registration required.

The Marxism in Culture seminar series was conceived in 2002 to provide a forum for those committed to the continuing relevance of Marxism for cultural analysis. Both ‘Marxism’ and ‘culture’ are conceived here in a broad sense. We understand Marxism as an ongoing self-critical tradition, and correspondingly the critique of Marxism's own history and premises is part of the agenda. ‘Culture’ is intended to comprehend not only the traditional fine arts, but also aspects of popular culture such as film, popular music and fashion. 

About the Speaker

Samo Tomšič

Professor of Philosophy at University of Fine Arts Hamburg

Samo Tomšič is currently professor of philosophy at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg, as well as a research fellow at the Humboldt University Berlin. His research areas comprise political philosophy, critical theory, theory of psychoanalysis, and philosophy of language. Selected publications: The Capitalist Unconscious. Marx and Lacan (Verso, 2015), The Labour of Enjoyment (Matthes & Seitz, 2019)

More about Samo Tomšič