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Spring 2024


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New in Public Books
Giving Credit to White Supremacy

In a new article in Public Books, Michael C. Dawson discusses Michel Feher’s Rated Agency: Investee Politics in a Speculative Age. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full review. An excerpt appears below:

“Something, we are told, has changed in capitalism. Finance has replaced production as the main source of wealth; credit matters more than profit; even the old antagonism between owner and worker is no longer as important as the new conflict between investor and investee. But perhaps what is more important about recent capitalism is not what has changed but, instead, what has stayed the same.

Financial capitalism and its partner in crime, neoliberal political regimes, were created, in part, to protect white supremacy around the world; to repeat the discipline of the old empires with a new, but similar, world order. What is eminently clear—and missing from even the best scholars’ analysis of financial capitalism—is the realization that neoliberalism is, at its center, a racial project. In fact, financial capitalism aims at maintaining global white supremacy, in order to keep capitalism safe from the “savages”: the insurgent nonwhite populations found in rebellious colonies and former colonies, as well as within the United States.

But even when they misunderstand the causes of the crisis, the scholars revealing how financial capitalism and neoliberal politics are remaking the world are, nevertheless, important to study—for their substantial contributions as well as for the weaknesses in their arguments. Michel Feher’s Rated Agency is a strong addition to a growing literature that theorizes and traces how the neoliberal project laid the foundations for the financialization of national and global economies.

This literature includes contributions from, among others, Greta Krippner, Quinn Slobodian, and Wolfgang Streeck, all of whom have convincingly argued that the changes to the global economy mark a new era of capitalism, and/or that this new era of financial capitalism was profoundly enabled by the political project of neoliberalism. One of Feher’s singular contributions to this literature is his careful elucidation of how the new logics of financial capitalism affect politics in general and, particularly, the politics of the left.”