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Fall 2019

ZONE BOOKS

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New in Progress in Political Economy
Michel Feher on Right Wing Populism in the Age of Asset Appreciation

This month in Progress in Political Economy, fellow Zone author Melinda Cooper discusses Michel Feher’s new book Rated Agency: Investee Politics in a Speculative Age. Feher participated in several events with Cooper this past spring at the University of Sydney, where he presented lectures and seminars on his work. Click here to learn more about his book. Click here to read the full article. An excerpt appears below:

“The philosopher Michel Feher is one of the most insightful observers of financialized capitalism writing today. Many English-speaking readers would have first encountered Feher’s thinking with the article ‘Self-Appreciation: or, the Aspirations of Human Capital,’ a masterpiece of compression that in a few pages, updates Michel Foucault’s late seminars on neoliberalism for the era of financialization, tells us why the Chicago-school neoliberal and human capital theorist Gary Becker was both ahead of his time and behind the times, and why human capital as a mode of government and subjectivation is less about the utilitarian logic of commodity exchange than the process of asset appreciation, where the ‘self’ functions as the most universal of assets. Many scholars would agree that today’s financialized capitalism prioritizes asset appreciation and capital gains over wealth accumulation and industrial profits. But few have so carefully traced the avenues through which asset appreciation permeates the sphere of social policy and subjective experience. Renewing Foucault’s project of a history of subjectivation, Feher proposes that contemporary strategies of subject formation are all about appreciating the value of the self (‘self-esteem’ in popular psychological parlance), hence attracting credit to oneself.”