Your Home May Be Repossessed if You Do Not Keep Up With Your Payments: A Marxist Approach to Post-Recession Horror Film

As the sustained growth of critical work in recent years has compelling proven, the Gothic has been increasingly theorized as not merely an aesthetic category or a particular kind of cultural production but also as a form that both responds to and critiques political structures. The relationship between Gothic horror and politics has always been contested and far from straight forward, which makes any political reading of the Gothic potentially uncertain.  However, despite this ambiguity, the aim of this paper is to begin clearing some of the conceptual ground for a Marxist approach to horror films, specifically horror films that emerged in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States. There has been much work done on the re-emergent gothic and horrific nature of capitalism (triggered by work such as David McNally’s Monsters of the Market)[1] often focused through neoliberal subjectivity and the rise of the zombie.[2]

However, one aspect that remains somewhat under-explored is the ways in which recession horror from the US has been so influenced by the sub-prime mortgage crises and the ways in which that because of this, the home has become a reinvented site of cultural anxiety.[3] The company that best exemplifies this kind of post-recession horror is Blumhouse Productions. Founded by Jason Blum in 2000, Blumhouse specializes in the production of micro-budget horror, often focused around the home – home possession, haunting, demonic infiltration, alien abduction and so on. Its films are generally cheap in terms of budget, often (albeit not always) poorly regarded, critically speaking, and enormously profitable. One of the first major successes for the company was Paranormal Activity, (dir. Orin Pelli, 2009) which was made for $15,000 before grossing $193.4 million dollars in total in the global box office and spawning four sequels, the most recent of which was released in 2015. Just four years later, Insidious Chapter Two was made for $5 million before grossing nearly $162 million.[4] Given the vast sums involved, the wide reach of the cultural form and the ubiquity of the these texts over the past decade, it is worth questioning what use there may be within them for Marxist thinking.

Before proceeding any further, it is worth pointing out that Marxist criticism has always had a somewhat ambiguous relationship with non-realist forms. Despite the recent resurgence in explicitly political work on Gothic and Horror texts, there is a well-established genealogy in Marxist thought that views the defiantly non-realist with a degree of suspicion. China Mieville tells the story of Nadezhda Krupskaya – Lenin’s widow and a vital figure in the history of Soviet literary culture – when she famously delivered a stern critique of a Russian children’s story, “The Crocodile”, claiming it was bourgeois fog, guilty of distorting the facts about animals and plants, and thus unfit for children because crocodiles do not walk on two legs or smoke cigarettes.[5] Perhaps most famously, György Lukács, philosopher of Bolshevism, spoke out against non-mimetic art and writing.[6] Whilst there is no real need to rehearse what are by now somewhat old-fashioned debates about the role of art and culture, especially on the political left, it should be acknowledged that these suspicions are somewhat understandable if ultimately misguided. After all, the science of historical materialism should concern itself with what is and has been, not what most certainly is not.[7] Yet, this leaves Marxist thought prone to a kind of vulgar materialism and in the wake of the worst recession of the century and a decade of politically motivated austerity, it seems prudent and necessary to acknowledge the spectral, immaterial, even ghostly nature of the current political situation. For this, Marxist thought can turn to another tradition within its history – a Marxism that draws from movements such as surrealism and other fantastic elements in culture. By contrast, an overly materialistic and rather arid Marxism, with its stubborn insistence upon just what is could only echo the sense of the cancelled future so hauntingly written about by the late Mark Fisher in his work such as Capitalist Realism.  As with all general criticism there is an element to which I may be being somewhat unfair, but rather than spend any more time rehashing older theoretical skirmishes, insisting upon a Marxist criticism that is open to the possibilities of the non-realist seems both historically pertinent and necessary.

In her book on Walter Benjamin and surrealism, Profane Illuminations, Margaret Cohen offers a long and substantive definition of what a Gothic Marxism may look like. Cohen defines Gothic Marxism in a great deal of detail, a part of which I quote here:

The valorization of the realm of a culture’s ghosts and phantasms as a significant and rich field of social production rather than a mirage to be dispelled; (2) the valorization of a culture’s detritus and trivia as well as its strange and marginal practices.[8]

For Cohen, the aim of Gothic Marxist criticism is to chart the contours of a genealogy that, ‘both investigates how the irrational pervades existing society and dreams of using it to effect social change.’[9] For Cohen, one of the foundational texts of Gothic Marxism is Benjamin’s Passagen-Werk in which he sought to uncover the sensual, irrational and even trivial aspects of life during the expansion of industrial capitalism. As Cohen points out, ‘monolithic Marxist categories as base and superstructure tend to obscure’[10] these aspects to existence and so Benjamin was forced to bring Marxist theory into dialogue with other techniques and models of thought, such as mass cultural studies, Jewish mysticism and his interest in surrealism.

Philosopher Michael Löwy, whilst disagreeing with Cohen in a few respects, particularly around the issue of rationality, writes of the Gothic Marxism of Andre Breton, the so-called Pope of Surrealism, that it was a ‘historical materialism that is sensitive to the magical dimension … to the “black moment of revolt, and to the illumination that rends the sky of revolutionary action like a bolt of lightning.’[11] It is a Marxism influenced by Arthur Rimbaud, Comte de Lautréamont and the English Gothic novel, drawn to and fascinated with ‘enchantment and the marvellous.’[12] Space, of course, precludes developing all of these provocative points but what is clear is that Gothic Marxism is a Marxism that stands against class exploitation as well as material reductionism. By supplementing Marxist categories with other modes of analysis, it is possible to consider the horror film as not simply a low cultural form but an area of cultural expression where material anxieties find expression in often non-material forms. As China Mieville points out, a kind of balancing-act is required, to at once avoid falling into nostalgia for a lost past (something for which criticises William Morris) and at the same time resist falling into a kind of boosterish irrationalism that celebrates the irrational for its own sake.[13]

The idea of the irrational may seem something of an anathema to the era of hyper-rationalised, networked global capitalism, but in the wake of the American mortgage crises one of the striking features is the extent to which the official discourse of mainstream economics was so taken aback. This is itself is not necessarily a surprise –  as Chris Harman notes, neoclassical models of economics have always struggled to explain the crises of capitalism, with Ben Bernanke going so far as to call an explanation for the great Depression ‘the Holy Grail of macroeconomics.’[14] When the subprime mortgage crises began unfolding the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) were placed into a conservatorship by the U.S. Treasury in September 2008 after it was revealed that the two bodies had more than $5 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and debt; the debt portion alone was $1.6 trillion.[15] The conservatorship was estimated by the CBO to increase US government liabilities by some $230 billion. That same month Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy[16] while the insurance giant AIG had its credit rating downgraded, an act which led to an $85 billion rescue package from the Federal Reserve Bank.[17] Alan Greenspan, chair of the Federal Reserve, admitted to the US Congress that he still did ‘not fully understand what went wrong in what he thought were self-governing markets.’[18] The presumed autonomy of the market coupled with an economic model and ideology that had discounted the insights of Marx’s critique of classical models of capitalism (as well as the historical experiences of previous crises!) resulted in an expectation that the market would essentially manage itself.[19]  This point about self-governing, almost autonomous markets ties into a wider point raised by Jameson in his famous essay, ‘The End of Temporality’:

Finance capital suggests a new type of abstraction, in which on the one hand money is sublimated into sheer number, and on the other hand a new kind of value emerges, which seems to have little enough to do with the old-fashioned value of firms and factories or of their products and their marketability.[20]

The home then become more than merely a dwelling, but is abstracted from material reality, into the realm of sheer number – divorced from the material existence of those who may live in it, or even from the issue of trying to pay off a mortgage. After all, what kind of ownership can one take in paying off a mortgage if the mortgage lender itself is vulnerable to the abstract demands of the market and requires the infusion of billions of government dollars simply to maintain its business?[21]  The home is doubly possessed – by those who are the ostensible owners, but also by the immaterial force of sheer numbers where the home as space has little to do with its presence as a numerical contributor to either debt or asset on a digital balance sheet. It is for this reason that the post-recession horror film lends itself to a kind of Gothic Marxist reading, embodying as it does both the subjective fear and anxieties of the individual faced with the spectral forces of abstracted capitalism as well as the contingency, fragility and volatility of what ‘the market,’ that most ineffable and powerful force, demands.

The home, then, is a fundamentally divided site – through the machinations of the market it is no longer functions as something with utility, as residence, but expresses value in multiple senses of the word; it is both a commodity which possesses certain economic value and a location bound up in certain ideological values too. To put it another way, it expresses both the correct kind of middle class aspiration as well as the correct spatial environment for the family unit. There is a common rhetorical theme in conservative economics that emphasizes and idealizes homeownership on precisely these grounds. For example, Ronald Regan argued that ‘a husband and wife that own their home are apt to save … after all; the love of home is one of the finest ideals of our people.’[22] To own one’s home then is bound up within a wider set of values that are distinct to the contemporary American capitalist system — both storing up capital reserves and financially and ideologically investing in the wider political and economic system. As Jameson writes, what is most pressing now is the ways in which these kinds of financial abstractions fundamentally alter the nature of subjective temporal experience, as the evolving capitalist mode of production fundamentally changes how we experience the rhythms of individual life.

For the dynamics of the stock market need to be disentangled from the older cyclical rhythms of capitalism generally: boom and bust, accumulation of inventory, liquidation, and so forth, a process with which everyone is familiar and that imprints a kind of generational rhythm on individual life … From both these temporal cycles, then, is to be distinguished the newer process of the consumption of investment as such …[23]

A long-standing trend in these films that are concerned with the notion of possession is for the process to be begun through moving into a new home, occasioned by the need to move for some material reasons, like a new baby or for the sake of children and their quality of life. This process is at once an activity with a certain amount of utility or use value and something that generally expresses a kind of middle class bourgeois progress – the property ladder, is after all, something one moves UP. Important to note is that these films often attempt to establish a sense of universal identification, generalising outward to resonant with an imagined audience. In the case of Paranormal Activity, Micah (played by Micah Sloat), is a day trader and Katie, (Katie Featherston) is a student, who move into a fashionable starter home in a pricey, though not too exclusive, part of San Diego – theirs is a lush bourgeois home, a bland cookie cutter environment bought with cheap credit. The house could be anywhere, furnished with the same ‘universalised’ bland aesthetics of all middle class suburbs. The demonic possession is a kind of ‘negative energy’ which has been following Katie her entire life. The plot is basic to the point of reductionist as the tropes and clichés of the horror genre are so well known as to not necessarily require detailed explication. However, the film serves as a paradigmatic example of the ways in which home ownership is not just merely a middle class dream but also an exercise in asserting a certain degree of socio-economic control and an act of participation within capitalist society – literally investing in the societal and economic status quo. When confronted with the evidence of demonic possession, Micah’s first instincts are to document it – using his seemingly ever present camera and using baby powder to record demonic footprints – and then call in experts. This is typical behaviour for someone in possession (!) of a home, which functions as both a dwelling as well as asset and an expression of his own middle-class subjectivity, competence and control.

Micah: Hey, hey hey hey hey! Let’s talk about this first. It’s just, I’m in control, I’m making progress.

Katie: No, you haven’t been having any progress, and you’re *not* in control. *It* is in control, and if you think you’re in control, then you’re being an idiot! Not a single thing you’ve done has helped, and I’m sorry, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but the camera hasn’t helped and the stupid footprints haven’t helped … It wanted you to find my photo, it can be anywhere, it hears what we’re saying right now.

Micah: Hey! How the fuck do you know?

Katie: You are absolutely powerless!

Aside from showcasing Micah’s chauvinistic dismissal of Katie’s perfectly understandable  and completely justified concerns as well as his blithe confidence in his own ability to remain ‘in control’, the quoted dialogue is a useful insight into the contemporary subjectivity that is forced to respond to the spectral forces made manifest within the private sphere of the home. After 2011’s Insidious refined the paradigm established in Paranormal Activity, adding possession and astral projection to the demonic presence inside the middle class utopia of suburban living, the Blumhouse films increasingly became aware of the generic clichés of the horror movie. Despite this awareness, the later films keep the underlying preoccupation with the home as fundamentally divided between asset and space of utility, between a material necessity and a spatial configuration of various immaterial forces. In Sinister (dir. Scott Derrickson, 2012) Ethan Hawke’s true crime writer character Ellison Oswalt moves his family into a home infamous for being the site of a particularly grisly murder. A mix of economic necessity (as a true crime writer his career is increasingly unpopular and precarious) and greed prompts the move – the new book he plans on the past murders will, as the film puts it, ‘make him famous again.’ The cheap credit of 2007 has, at this point, begun to bite and even the skilled intelligentsia are forced to move to less reputable areas in the hope of managing to upgrade their career and economic prospects. However, in the course of the research for his book he realises that by moving his family into the house he has placed them in the timeline of murders he is investigating.

In economic terms, the house is a toxic asset, possessed in more ways than one. Understandably, he moves his family out of the house in a neat inversion of the old cliché of discovering demonic possession (how many of us have yelled at the screen for characters to just move out!), but the move out is not the solution, but rather is what ultimately gets him and his family killed by his own daughter, Ashley, under the influence of the demon Bughuul. It seems homes cannot be flipped without consequence in a world where intangible forces such as credit scores, property history and economic necessity are increasingly exerting real physical consequences. In a telling nod to the economies at play here, the film revolves around murders committed by children upon their parents and then recorded under asinine home movie titles. The final one, wherein Tracey, Trevor and Ellison are murdered is entitled ‘House Painting, 12’ – satirising the need to add value to a home that’s in need of some renovation. Scott Stewart’s Dark Skies, from 2013, makes the case more explicit with one of the main characters employed as realtor, fending off both the reorganization of their own living space and an eventual abduction of their child by alien invaders. At the end of the film the family is forced to move out of their comfortable suburban home into a small apartment – downsizing due to forces that are, quite literally, other-worldly.

In 2013 Blumhouse released another film with similar themes, and one that in many ways forms the inverse of Sinister from a thematic and economic perspective. Rather than show the middle class figure as experiencing a kind of economic precarity that leaves them open to (re)possession, The Purge (dir. James DeMonaco, 2013) details the economic opportunities in the volatile housing market created by economic anxieties. Ethan Hawke is once again the star, and here he plays James Sandin, a home-security specialist who makes a comfortable enough living to afford property in an exclusive gated community in Los Angeles. His market are his neighbors, the cash-rich bourgeoisie who use his products to defend themselves on the night of the purge where all crime is legal. In the course of the film, a bloodied black man seeks sanctuary within the house and the home is surrounded by an assortment of young white yuppies who try to break in to murder the man. The family, acting out of a rather paternalistic sense of middle class liberal guilt try to defend themselves and the injured man from the violent intruders. Yet despite the best efforts of the family, the group break in – the middle class home is revealed as far too vulnerable and, despite their sophisticated security system, the house is easily infiltrated. This is thanks to the empathetic response of the young Charlie (played by Max Burkholder) who, in a moment of sympathy turns off the system to allow the man into the house. His father, James, confronted with the gang outside the family home goes so far as to admit that the security systems the house is equipped with, manufactured by his own company and presumably sold at a high price, won’t stop a truly determined siege. His capitalist success has brought economic security, but the products that have made his fortune cannot ultimately secure his own home.  At the film’s climax, the true threat is not the poor bloodied stranger, the figure of the proletariat who exists outside of the gated community, but rather the neighbors who break in to the Sandin home seeking to murder them out of jealousy for the wealth they have accumulated through selling security systems.

Whilst a rather heavy-handed example of the ways in which capitalism depends upon antagonistic relationships between members of the same social class, it also highlights the extent to which that property ownership is invested with certain affective and ideological notions. Ownership and possession, when housing is seen as both a commodity and a product of commodity exchange, can only lead to a sense of futile rage, an inchoate jealousy that finds expression in the middle class turning against itself. Tellingly, the film’s finale includes the line that this year’s purge has been the most successful on record and that thanks to the sales of weapons and home security systems the stock market is higher than ever. This suggests the possibility of reading the film as more than simply a low rent political screed, but rather an exploration of the ways in which the economisation of the home and the home as asset is a feature of middle class antagonisms. These antagonisms are, as a result directed inward, between individuals and family groups within the same class layer, rather than outward, towards the material conditions that produce murder, exploitation and housing shortages in the first place.

A film with far more interesting ideas around the nature of material relations between people and the most profitable and critically successful Blumhouse film to date is Get Out (dir. Jordan Peele 2017). Once again, the film is set in the milieu of the successful middle classes suburbs, full of comfortable aging white liberals who proudly proclaim they would have been happy to vote for Obama for a third time if they could, and who spend their time in secluded privacy enjoying the rewards of a lifetime of accumulation. Neurosurgeon Dean, and psychiat st turned hypnotherapist Missy are enjoying the benefits of a career working in highly paid professions coupled with the security of their racial privileges and their investments in real estate and land. Telling here are the scenes on their arrival to the house, where Dean insists upon showing the home to Chris. Chris, a photographer with a real artistic talent but a beat-up, aging camera is immediately nervous due to the racial tensions within the meeting – ‘I don’t wanna get chased off the lawn with a shotgun’ he quips – but this racial discomfort is also linked to the realm of economics. On their drive up to the Armitage estate, the camera sweeps over the verdant gardens and the home itself seems unaccountably large, bright and sunlit. Impeccably furnished, the Armitage home is a model of contemporary American middle-class aspirations; however, at the same time the film also makes clear the extent to which this kind of material success is a product of the historical and material conditions of American society more widely. Specifically, in its shots of an ornate, plantation like home, Get Out points to the systematic exploitation of black people and their unwaged forced labour through slavery.

For Dean and Missy, the recent economic crash is no longer exerting such a powerful influence. Rather, white wealth has stabilised – and the film makes explicit the fundamentally racialized nature of American middle-class capitalist success. The Armitage family has both a black groundskeeper, Walter, and housekeeper Georgina (played by Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel, respectively) but both seem by turns hostile and oddly compliant. Chris, in the passenger seat for their arrival to the house, notices Walter hard at work on the grounds. As he puts it to Walter, ‘they working you good out here, huh?’ By contrast, Walter’s reply tries to naturalise the black man’s position as a manual laborer and reinforce a kind of economic hierarchy that places the black man as subordinate to the white homeowners. All of this manual labour is ‘nothing I don’t want to be doing.’ This is explained by the fact that Walter is, in reality, the Armitage’s grandfather, enjoying the benefits of the mysterious coagula procedure, that placed his mind and consciousness into the body of a black man.  With this in mind, Walter’s attitude is an attempt to both reinforce systemic racial discrimination and provide economic benefit for the white Armitage family.  Some contemporary economic data seems to correspond to this idea that the labour of black people has been valued less and has been of benefit to richer whites. In 2009, the median wealth for white households was $113,149; for black households, it was a mere $5677. Moreover, the effects of the crash fell disproportionately on black Americans; from 2005 to 2009, the net worth of black households declined by 53 percent, while the net worth of white households declined by only 16 percent.[24] As Matt Breunig from the People’s Policy Project points out, the era of the Obama Presidency was hugely destructive to black wealth – a move the latest PPP paper specifically links to Obama’s housing policies.[25] Jordan Peele has said himself that the script was developed in the apparently post-racial era of the election of America’s first black president. As he jokingly remarked to an audience, ‘we were past race, guys, what happened? Race caught up.’[26]

Historically, the wealth gap between whites and blacks can be traced back to the ability to own land; for a number of years black people were prohibited from owning land, and once homeownership became the primary way to own property black people were often barred from that, too.[27] The alienated labor of black people built the nation – and indeed built the very symbols of American imperial political power, such as the White House. Depriving them of the economic gains of the housing market through systemic, ingrained political racism, the good white liberal seeks to possess the very bodies of black folk to prolong their own existence and further solidify their own supremacy. Here then, the idea of ownership is revealed to be not just a concern with property but with subjectivity – the logical extension of the capitalist idea that to own a commodity carries with it an articulation of the kind of person who gets to obtain ownership. Capitalism, particularly white capitalism, seeks immortality within the subjectivity of those who have been long exploited, shifting the site own ownership from external property to internal reality, from the realm of economics to that of Being.[28]

Gothic Marxism then allows for these texts to be interpreted as sites of social production rather than a mirage to be dispelled but solutions to the concerns and material anxieties to which they respond and draw from seem far less evident. The shadow of the crash earlier this century is still haunting popular culture as the development and persistence of these films concerned with the issue of housing goes to prove. Furthermore, these cultural expressions of anxiety reflect the persisting material and political issues still plaguing the ways in which capitalist society handles the question of housing. As reported recently by CNBC, the US housing market is still plagued by various material issues which are driving process ever higher, whilst inventory remains low and rates of construction lags behind demand[29] So, it seems that the home as a haunted, contested and economically anxious site will persist for some time to come. Perhaps to find solutions for the present moment, we should turn back to the theory of the past and realise that the problem of the home is in fact bound up in the wider patterns and logics of capitalism more broadly. To close with a quote from Engels, and his pamphlet from 1872, “On the Housing Question” –

the infamous holes and cellars in which the capitalist mode of production confines our workers night after night, are not abolished; they are merely shifted elsewhere! The same economic necessity which produced them in the first place, produces them in the next place also. As long as the capitalist mode of production continues to exist, it is folly to hope for an isolated solution of the housing question or of any Other social question affecting the fate of the workers. The solution lies in the abolition of the capitalist mode of production and the appropriation of all the means of life and labour by the working class itself.[30]

Engels point here is, in many ways, eerily prophetic, critiquing the liberal idea of simply ameliorating the worst excesses of market forces. The home as an asset is a microcosm of the wider capitalist system that thrives upon the exploitation of the labour of the individual and the expropriation of the wealth that belongs to them. To phrase the issue in somewhat more Gothic terminology, the ghosts and demons possessing the American home cannot be easily exorcised or externalised as they are signs of a far broader and more complex issue – namely the interaction of the individual and spectral capitalism. In an era of increasing housing precarity, as labour is forced into ever greater mobility, low wage employment and exploitative conditions, it becomes unsurprising that the ghosts within the site of the home have proliferated. As shown throughout this paper, a Gothic Marxism allows for an understanding of the source of these ghostly apparitions as well as highlighting the paucity of contemporary capitalism’s ability to deal with its spectres. Rather, what a Gothic Marxist reading of the films shows is the necessity for returning to that most famous of ghostly apparitions – the spectre of communism that still haunts both the political and cultural imagination of the present neoliberal age.


[1] David McNally, Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires and Global Capitalism, (London, Brill, 2011).

[2] For an excellent contemporary example that covers a wider variety of differing types of engagement with the political nature of Gothic horror, see Linnie Blake and Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, ed. Neoliberal Gothic: International Gothic in the Neoliberal Age, (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2017). For a fascinating non-Western example of the ways in which horror film responds to contemporary capitalism, see Train to Busan (dir. Yeon Sang-ho, 2016).

[3] For a recent examination of the ways in which capitalism, debt and culture have intersected in the aftermath of the 2008 recession, see Annie McClanahan, Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and Twenty-First-Century Culture (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2016) as well as Jeff Kinkle and Alberto Toscano, Cartographies of the Absolute, (London, Zero Books, 2015).

[4] All figures on budget and profit of Blumhouse films taken from

[5] China Miéville, Marxism and Halloween talk given at Socialism 2013,

[6] György Lukács, The Theory of the Novel (Cambridge, The MIT Press, 1971).

[7] As Marxist thinkers such as Fredric Jameson have pointed out however, the non-material and that which is yet to come is decidedly a political issue. See Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, (London, Verso Books, 2005).

[8] Margaret Cohen, Profane Illumination: Walter Benjamin and the Paris of Surrealist Revolution, (Berkley, University of California Press, 1995) For the full five theses which Cohen uses, see p.6

[9] Ibid, p. 1-2.

[10] Cohen, p. 4

[11] Michael Loewy, ‘Walter Benjamin and Surrealism: The Story of a Revolutionary Spell,’ Radical Philosophy 80 (Nov/Dec 1996) pp 17-23, p.18.

[12] Ibid.

[13] See China Mieville, ‘Marxism and Halloween’ delivered at Socialism 2013

[14] Quoted in Chris Harman, Zombie Capitalism: Global Crises and the Relevance of Marx, (Edinburgh, Haymarket Books, 2010) p. 9

[15] Dawn Kopecki, “U.S. Considers Bringing Fannie, Freddie on to Budget”. Bloomberg Sept 2008.

[16] For a good outline of the subprime crisis, see Robin Blackburn, ‘The Subprime Crisis,’ New Left Review 50 March-April 2008. (first accessed 30/11/2017)

[17] See the reports on the meeting here: accessed 30/11/2017)

[18] Reported in the Washington Times, 24 October 2008.

[19] As Gordon Brown, the UK Chancellor of the time put it, this model of neoliberal economics has supposedly ended the cycles of boom and bust. See

[20] Fredric Jameson, ‘The End of Temporality,’ The Ideologies of Theory, (London, Verso Books,2008) p. 642.

[21] A 2011 Levy Institute analysis counting the week-by-week extension of credit from the Fed came up with a total of $29 trillion in cash and loans. See L. Randall Wray, “$29,000,000,000,000: A Detailed Look at the Fed’s Bailout of the Financial System.” Levy Economics Institute of Bard College (December 2011). look-at-the-feds-bailout-of-the-financial-system

[22] Quoted in Amos Kiewe, Davis W. Houck, A Shining City on a Hill: Ronald Reagan’s Economic Rhetoric, 1951-1989, (New York, Prager Publishing, 1991) p. 45.

[23] Jameson, p. 643.

[24] See Rakesh Kochhar, Richard Fry and Paul Taylor, ‘Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics,’ (first accessed 06/12/17)

[25] See Ryan Cooper and Matt Breunig, ‘Foreclosed, Destruction of Black Weallth During the Obama Presidency,’ People’s Policy Project, Dec, 2017.

[26] Brandon Harris, ‘The Giant Leap Forward of Jordan Peele’s Get Out’ (first accessed 06/12/17)

[27] This has most notably been discussed by Ta-Nehisi Coates’s work on the case for reparations. See Ta-Nehisi Coates, ‘The Case For Reparations,’ The Atlantic, June 2014 Issue, (first accessed 28/11/17)

[28] For more on this connection between the ways in which the human body becomes a site for political power, see Foucault’s concept of biopower, discussed in Security, Territory, Population Lectures at the College De France, 1977 – 78, (London, Palgrave, 2009)


[30] Fredrick Engels, ‘On The Housing Question,’ (London, 1872)


Blackburn, Robin: ‘The Subprime Crisis,’ New Left Review 50 March-April 2008. (first accessed 30/11/2017)

Blake, Linnie, and Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, ed. Neoliberal Gothic: International Gothic in the Neoliberal Age, (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2017).

Coates, Ta-Nehisi: ‘The Case For Reparations,’ The Atlantic, June 2014 Issue, (first accessed 28/11/17)

Cohen, Margaret: Profane Illumination: Walter Benjamin and the Paris of Surrealist Revolution, (Berkley, University of California Press, 1995)

Cooper Ryan and Matt Breunig: ‘Foreclosed, Destruction of Black Wealth During the Obama Presidency,’ People’s Policy Project, Dec, 2017.

Engels, Fredrick: ‘On The Housing Question,’ (London, 1872)

Foucault, Michel: Security, Territory, Population Lectures at the College De France, 1977 – 78, (London, Palgrave, 2009)

Harman, Chris: Zombie Capitalism: Global Crises and the Relevance of Marx, (Edinburgh, Haymarket Books, 2010).

Harris, Brandon: ‘The Giant Leap Forward of Jordan Peele’s Get Out’ (first accessed 06/12/17).

Jameson, Fredric: Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, (London, Verso Books, 2005).

Jameson, Fredric: The Ideologies of Theory, (London, Verso Books,2008)

Kinkle, Jeff and Alberto Toscano: Cartographies of the Absolute, (London, Zero Books, 2015).

Kiewe, Amos and Davis W. Houck, ed: A Shining City on a Hill: Ronald Reagan’s Economic Rhetoric, 1951-1989, (New York, Prager Publishing, 1991)

Kochhar, Rakesh, Richard Fry and Paul Taylor: ‘Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics,’ (first accessed 06/12/17)

Kopecki, Dawn: “U.S. Considers Bringing Fannie, Freddie on to Budget”. Bloomberg Sept 2008.

Loewy, Michael: ‘Walter Benjamin and Surrealism: The Story of a Revolutionary Spell,’ Radical Philosophy 80 (Nov/Dec 1996)

Lukács, György: The Theory of the Novel (Cambridge, The MIT Press, 1971).

McClanahan, Annie: Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and Twenty-First-Century Culture (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2016).

McNally, David: Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires and Global Capitalism, (London, Brill, 2011).

Miéville, China: Marxism and Halloween talk given at Socialism 2013,

Wray, Randall, L.: “$29,000,000,000,000: A Detailed Look at the Fed’s Bailout of the Financial System.” Levy Economics Institute of Bard College (December 2011).


Dark Skies, (dir. Scott Stewart, 2013).

Get Out (dir. Jordan Peele, 2017).

Paranormal Activity, (dir. Oren Pelli, 2008)

Sinister (dir. Scott Derrickson, 2012)

The Purge (dir. James DeMonaco, 2013).

Train to Busan (dir. Yeon Sang-ho, 2016).

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