New materialism claims to offer a postanthropocentric advance over historical materialism by displacing human labor with the “vital agency” of all matter: from humans to objects and machines. By equating people with the objects they produce and positing the autopoiesis of things, new materialism inverts its own basis in commodity production and offers a new metaphysics of matter in which the ideology of exchange—which conceals the exploitation of labor in production—is writ large as the ontological basis of “life” as such. The main difference between vitalism and historical materialism is not (post)anthropocentrism but the class each represents.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.