Capitalism's 'Magic Act'

Timothy de Waal Malefyt recently published a piece in Anthropology News titled “Capitalism’s ‘Magic Act‘,” exploring the intersection of magic and capitalism in modern society. The article delves into the widespread practice of magic and its role in mitigating uncertainty, dispelling ambiguity, and bringing about change through nonrational means. Malefyt argues that magic once considered primitive and opposed to rational practices, is now seen as a complement to contemporary life, particularly within capitalist institutions. The article illustrates how magic plays a fundamental role in various fields, including finance, advertising, technology, and social media, as they operate under conditions of uncertainty and rely on enchantment to achieve their goals. By examining examples like the “Red Bull gives you wings” marketing campaign and the transformation of ordinary products like Kleenex into emotionally engaging brands, the author highlights the significance of magical practices in shaping consumer behavior and generating success in an ever-changing capitalist landscape.

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