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Neoliberalism and Human Capital
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Fueled by the rise of the Chicago School of neo-classical economists, the Reaganite and Thatcherite revolutions of the 1980s initiated a 30-year run of neoliberalist reform that has profoundly reshaped global trade through policies and institutions that foster both national and international deregulation.  From the privatization of everything from public works to prison systems, the measured excision of state oversight and control has been conjoined with a systematic rollback of expenditure for social services.  A myriad of major multilateral and bilateral trade agreements like NAFTA (1994) MAI (1995_1998) have reduced tariffs and facilitated the unchecked flow of capital across national borders; GATT’s formation of the WTO in 1994 has since made it the dominant supranational institution that dictates global economic policy; and the last vestiges of Keynesianism have been squeezed out of the IMF and the World Bank, which have now become the global strong-arm to convert the world’s poorer national economies to the neoliberalist agenda. Overall, this wave of neoliberalist reform has meant a diminishment of state sovereignty. Seeking to open new channels for the flow of capital that were previously limited by nationalist protectionism, the state has become an agent of multinational corporations, as one can easily glean from the ominously sequestered G8 summits.  All this is happening under the ambiguous, divisive designation known as globalization--outsourcing production to the global south, systms of flexible accumulation, the production of financial speculative wealth--which has lead to the current economic downturn and intensified the crisis of global precarity.

 

This description offers a standard macro-economic perspective on the reigning global economic paradigm, but it does little to explain how neoliberalism actually functions at the micro-levels of culture, politics, and society.  How does this economic doctrine produce and articulate forms of subjectivity, identity, and affect?  How does it connect to parallel scientific paradigms such as cognitive psychology, chaos theory, or rational action theory?  How is it realized through the myriad operations of biopower and biopolitics?  How is it transmitted in forms of cultural production?  How does neoliberalism fundamentally change our understanding of human labor power, techno-politics, and the attention economy?  This course will concern itself with these and other question by tracing the story of how a recondite economic doctrine was extended into every aspect of social, cultural, and political life through the theory of human capital.  If neoliberalism is the reigning global economic paradigm, human capital refers to the way that paradigm becomes installed through discrete technologies of power and the self toward the management of populations.

 

The course will consist of a set of close critical readings of primary sources that directly advocate or contest the development of a theory of human capital.  Readings may include: Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, Gary S. Becker, Milton Friedman, Frederick von Hayek, T.W. Shultz, Leo Strauss, Thorstein Veblen, Emile Durkheim, Nikolas Rose, Brian Holmes, and others.

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  • dinermode

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hi everyone,

just one last note. My article on the neoliberal state, which I already discussed with some of you during the class, has been published today:

http://legwork.cc/2011/02/the-ideological-design-of-the-neoliberal-state/

enjoy the read and feel free to give me some feedback. and a special thanks to tim for this! :-)

kind regards, dirk

fiona geuss's picture

hello,

thank you dirk! i really enjoyed the class and am looking forward to what comes next

my best
fiona

Hi everyone,

today the last meeting of this class took place. I want to thank everyone who participated in the discussions.

For me it was a pretty interesting strain of thought: starting with reading actual neoliberal theorists like becker and friedman, we went on discussing the role of the neoliberal idea of the state in the on-going economic crisis, and ended up in talking about different theoretical approaches to the crisis and possible scenarios of crisis solution.

The decision to end the class was not made, because it wouldnt have been possible to go on, but there are new classes coming up, that I want to participate in.

Slightly more philosophical, but I expect great will be a class on "Hegel, by way of marx" I will be doing together with Aaron. It will be proposed in the next days. Also a class on the late foucault is on the horizon. So watch out if you are interested in this topics. ;-)

Thank you all, I had a lot of fun and a great time in doing this class! Dirk

fiona geuss's picture

hi dirk,

a translation would be great!

best
fiona

Hi everyone,

I just want to remind you that we will meet again next saturday at 1pm to continue our discussion on Christian Marazzi.

The two texts we will discuss are: "The violence of financial capitalism" and "Rules for the incommensurable" (links in the comment section above)

If someone wants a copy of the German translation of "The violence of financial capitalism" please let me know.

Kind regards, Dirk

caleb berlin's picture

sorry, the first text, Christian Marazzi. ”Rules for the Incommensurable” is not in the Crisis in the Global Economy. It is available here: http://www.factoryofthecommon.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/marazzi_rul...

caleb berlin's picture

Just a reminder that we'll be meeting tmr at 1pm at The Public School (Invalidenstraße 115) to discuss:

- Christian Marazzi. ”Rules for the Incommensurable”. SubStance, Issue 112 (Volume 36, Number 1), 2007. http://bit.ly/gtlzQM
- Christian Marazzi. “The Violence of Financial Capitalism”.
- Carlo Vercellone. “The Crisis of the Law of Value and the Becoming-Rent of Profit”.
- Stefano Lucarelli. “Financialization as Biopower”.

These are all in Andrea Fumagalli & Sandro Mezzadra (eds) Crisis in the Global Economy: Financial Markets, Social Struggles, and New Political Scenarios (New York: Semiotexte, 2010). http://bit.ly/eTiJAc

Forgot to mention. For the German-speakers! The Uninomade book is also in German now! http://www.unrast-verlag.de/unrast,2,356,13.html

Hi,

my proposal would be to discuss all 3 texts (marazzi,violence of financial cap, marazzi, rules for the incommensurable, vercellone: the crisis of law..). I would concentrate on reading the second marazzi text then.

Maybe in the beginning of the discussion everyone who likes can give a short summary on the text(s) he or she read to share knowledge.

Great you will be coming, Matteo! Looking forward to the discussion, Dirk

Hi. I compiled a small track with PDF links:

- Christian Marazzi. ”Rules for the Incommensurable”. SubStance, Issue 112 (Volume 36, Number 1), 2007. http://bit.ly/gtlzQM
- Christian Marazzi. “The Violence of Financial Capitalism”.
- Carlo Vercellone. “The Crisis of the Law of Value and the Becoming-Rent of Profit”. - Stefano Lucarelli. “Financialization as Biopower”.

These last 3 from: Andrea Fumagalli & Sandro Mezzadra (eds) Crisis in the Global Economy: Financial Markets, Social Struggles, and New Political Scenarios (New York: Semiotexte, 2010). http://bit.ly/eTiJAc

Shall we agree about which texts to read soonish? I will spread out the voice and invite more people at this discussion.... Best, M

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