This article is a critical investigation and application of the aesthetic theory of Cornelius Castoriadis, one of the most important 20th-century theorists of radical democracy. We outline Castoriadis’s thoughts on autonomy, the social-historical nature of Being, and creation -- key elements that inform his model of democratic culture. We then develop a Castoriadian critique of culture produced by capitalist institutions. By also drawing on the political economic thought of Thorstein Veblen, Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, our critique focuses on one sector of contemporary culture: Hollywood film. We show how Hollywood, as a business enterprise, uses techniques of sabotage and capitalization to control and occult the social-historical nature of creation. Lastly, by way of conclusion, we gesture toward a mode of artistic production that is able to affirm the democratic values that organize Castoriadis’s thought.
Cornelius Castoriadis Hollywood film industry mass culture democracy cultural creation aesthetic theory capitalism