By using the concept of capitalism as a “form of life”, the authors in this volume reconceive capitalism, its mechanisms and effects on our bodies and on our common life.
The idea that capitalism is more than a discrete economic system and instead a “form of life” that shapes our relationships with others, our sense of ourselves and our capacities, practices, bodies, and actions in the material world should be rather obvious. Yet efforts – whether through criticism or policy remedies – to redress the vast inequalities, inherent exploitation, alienation, and the manifold destructive effects of capitalism on the environment, typically proceed without grappling fully with the entwinement of the economic with the social and cultural, much less the ethical, ontological, and phenomenological. This volume proposes “form of life” as a heuristic tool, connecting literatures that often remain isolated from one another – the Frankfurt School, neo-materialism, Wittgenstein’s philosophy, Foucault’s and Agamben’s biopolitics, and Marx’s discussion of reproduction. In emphasizing economic practices, as opposed to capitalism as a system, they conceive of “the economic” as an integral and integrated dimension of life, and thus develop new possibilities for critique. Viewing human beings as “economic bios,” provides a needed alternative to analyses that position neoliberalism as an economic logic imposed upon the social and cultural.
This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal for Cultural Research.
Table of Contents
1. How capitalism forms our lives
Alyson Cole and Estelle Ferrarese
2. The state of contemporary social philosophy and the tasks of an institute for social research (1931)
Max Horkheimer (new translation by Alyson Cole and Estelle Ferrarese)
3. Economy as social practice
4. The use of bodies. Agamben’s idea of a non-capitalist form of life
5. Universal alienation
6. The enduring regulation of the poor
Frances Fox Piven
7. Governmentality, subjectivity, and the neoliberal form of life
8. The subject of objects: Marx, new materialism, & queer forms of life
9. The whiteness of capital
10. Beyond the barricades: class interests and actually existing black life
Cedric G. Johnson
11. The capitalist metabolism: an unachieved subsumption of life under the value-form
12. Vocabularies of vulnerability
Sharon P. Holland
Alyson Cole is Professor of Political Science, Gender Studies, and American Studies at Queens College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY), USA. She is the author of The Cult of True Victimhood: From the War on Welfare to the War on Terror (2007), and co-editor of Michael Paul Rogin: Derangement and Liberalism (2019).
Estelle Ferrarese is Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at Picardie-Jules-Verne University, France. Her authored and edited books include Vulnerability and Critical Theory (2018), La fragilité du souci des autres: Adorno et le care (2018), The Politics of Vulnerability (2017), and Éthique et politique de l'espace public: Jürgen Habermas et la discussion (2015).