Marx’s madness: Why ‘Parasite’ explains everything, basically

The movie Parasite stands in my mind on the same level as Moonlight. It is a distinctive and cutting portrayal of the modern condition of Homo sapiens. It is ‘terrifying.’ And it is, fundamentally, true. Here is why.

Parasite’, directed by Bong Joon-ho.

In Parasite, the enduring question is: who is the parasite — the poor family which infiltrates into the beating heart of a rich family’s home, under which the remaining member of a previous infiltration languishes until reemerging for a dramatic confrontation with his wife’s old master towards the end of the film? Is the working class a parasite on the professional-managerial class, or vice versa? I think it’s clear who is more parasitical — the home-owners who exploit their workers, who are able to infiltrate their families into rich people’s homes only because rich people could not care less about the lives of those they deem lesser to them. ‘Let them eat cake,’ to misquote French aristocrat Marie Antoinette on the eve of the French revolution against the ancien régime.

In the West, the Marxist critics of woke liberalism argue the latter is espoused by a professional-managerial class. But this class is diminishing as fast as it arose, as capital drags professionals down and workers up to put all subordinates on a level of competitive equality with one another. In Parasite, this brief equality — symbolised by the recognition afforded to one family’s leader by the other — is destroyed by violent conflagration, catalysed by commercial exploitation.

Marxism, then, is not about violent equality or peaceful inequality. Marxism is the abolition of the distinction by the overcoming of its root condition: exploitation. This exploitation is the parasite above the movie Parasite itself: the capitalists leeching off the real economy of workers and their bosses alike. Capital is not uniformed or belt-wielding. Capital is not conniving or Machiavellian. Capital appears as pleasant and approachable. Capital works hard and gets the job done. Capital is the worker robbed of their humanity. Capital is what a human being becomes when their past and present humanity is sold to a future that never comes. Capital is the promise that is never denied but never realised. Capital is the dream that never dies, and the lie that never lies. Capital is where the labour of life gives up all movement, and fades into nothing, forever — until, of course, it starts again, revving for a fresh death.

In touching on something quite important, then, the movie Parasite explains everything, basically.

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