chapter  6
15 Pages

Substances

The luxurious, the sublime, and the harmful
WithTammy Ayres

Drawing on Ultra-Realism and the philosopher Slavoj Žižek, this chapter examines the consumption and supply of (il)licit substances as a normal and integral part of surviving and succeeding in consumer society. Although drugs have traditionally been perceived as subverting capitalism, the following discussion will show how the use and supply of drugs, consumed as a perceived necessity and as a form of leisure, have been integral to capitalism’s development. Whereas substances available in the legal market are possibly more harmful than many prohibited drugs, substances act as ‘sublime objects of ideology’. Tied to the mythical entrepreneur, the use and supply of illegal substances are symptomatic of the drives, structures, and processes inherent in global neoliberal consumer culture and its harmful subjectivities. Despite offering a solution to our problems, substances are merely semblances that keep the neoliberal fantasy alive in a society where symbolism dominates, representation is prioritised over reality, and objective violence is disavowed.