“To dream of a wildness distant from ourselves”: Capitalism, colonialism, and the Robinsonade
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/16015
Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe holds an iconic position, not solely as a work of literature, but also for its influence in economic and social theory. This article reflects on this influence by mobilising Charles Mills’ concept of epistemologies of ignorance and Lorenzo Veracini’s work on psychological defence mechanisms in settler colonial societies. This theoretical framework motivates a close textual analysis of Robinson Crusoe that focuses particularly on four textual strategies: paired contrasts between Xury and Friday that frame enslavement as a sacrificial act; strategic use of “cosmopolitan” ideals; a theory of subjection as the foundation for legitimate power; and moral relativisms that rationalise Crusoe’s theft of Indigenous land. This analysis then provides the foundation for an original interpretation of Marx’s Capital as a critically inverted Robinsonade: one designed to demonstrate how global relations of colonial expropriation generate a crucible in which a particular imaginary of autonomous individuality is forged.
Taylor and Francis
© 2023 The Author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License.
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