380
Harry D.
Harootunian
on the course to make sure that everyday life is fully incorporated into the
structures of capital, epitomized today in the celebrations of ‘‘globaliza-
tion,’’ so that it can no longer retain its distance from modernity (an ideo-
logical misrecognition of capitalism) and its status as an ‘‘irreducible re-
mainder.’’ If everydayness is, as Dutton and many others believe, the space
of subalternity—the voiceless—it was also, as both Benjamin and Tosaka
Jun envisioned, the time of dreaming. This meant that it was the place
of ‘‘actualizing’’ (putting into practice a political intervention) rather than
merely the space for getting through one day to the next by resorting to
tactics of survival that masquerade as forms of resistance. In this sense, the
idea of tactics of resistance is simply another name for everyday routines.
Resistance, here, must entail something more than a rewriting of domi-
nant culture (inverting the strategy of the ruling class) within the symbolic
spaces of capitalism, something more akin to a Gramscian ‘‘war of ma-
neuver’’ instead of fixed positions. Such a recoding throws the everyday as
both mediation and site of critique into the domain of representation, far
from the Benjaminian conception of an everyday that shows itself—that
is always a presentation because it constantly escapes our grasp. An inter-
pretative strategy devoted to employing tactics of resistance based on re-
writing and recoding the cultural dominant to explain what, at bottom, has
been determined by the force of exchange value but that still might have
different uses can only recuperate the exemplars of capitalist social for-
mations. The uncoupling of consumption and production drives a wedge
into the everyday and separates it from utility and culture from politics.
Because consumption thrives on objectification and the repression of his-
tory (real difference), no guarantee can be made that rewriting its practices
will accomplish more than satisfying a desire for simulating a figure of re-
sistance. More importantly, the effort to recode capitalist cultural symbols
presumes that everyday life is already indistinguishable from the domi-
nant structures and institutions of society and can only lead, like the ideal-
ized colonial subject of postcolonial discourse, to ‘‘mimicking’’ it.
What is troubling about Dutton’s extraordinary account of streetlife in
contemporary China is, in fact, the recognizable degree to which everyday-
ness as the site of unevenness and the irreducible remainder has already
been assimilated to prevailing social and economic structures. Moreover,
it has, as a result, been stripped of precisely that autonomy once perceived
by Tosaka Jun in prewar Japan and Henri Lefebvre in postwar France that
would allow everydayness to write its own history, both as the agent and
place of an actualization—a rehistoricization—that would recall its origi-
nal vocation as the space of democratic (viewed as socialist) transforma-
tion. To recall the memory of that inaugural purpose, lingering with traces
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