We take infrastructure as a ‘keyword’ in foregrounding the production and the reproduction of contemporary capitalism as well as its complexities and contradictions. To tease out the capitalist dynamics of the contemporary moment as infrastructural capitalism, this paper moves beyond a dichotomous constellation of the logic of capital and the territorial logic of power, to argue how a triple logic- capital, power, and culture informs the cultural politics, attempting to simultaneously resolve the economic crisis and glorify China’s fast-speed capitalism. As the vanguard of Chinese infrastructural politics, the high-speed rail spearheads the Chinese spatial economic system towards one that is not an alternative to capitalism but, at best, a variegated form of moving capitalism, which we call infrastructural capitalism. Illuminating the political role of the infrastructural projects in creating invisible social contradictions, this article highlights a wide array of affected working-class masses who take individual and collective actions that result in the reversion of ‘the vanguard’, dissolving the condensation of the materiality of infrastructural capitalism into the global assemblage of unpredictable but inescapable contradictions driving China into global imperial rivalries and class conflicts.
Bibliographical noteWe would like to express our gratitude to two reviewers who provide valuable comments, and special thanks to Stephen Chan, Jin Shuheng and a group of graduate and undergraduate students who have participated in the study group in 2020-2021.
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- High-speed rail
- class conflict
- cultural politics
- infrastructural capitalism
- logic of power