Monday, May 5, 2014

Just speculations--because you're worth it

The awareness that early readings of the crisis were above all misreadings has only motivated a further retreat into a style of thought that is singularly incapable of critically penetrating the workings of neoliberalism: the more apparent the tremendous affective force that neoliberalism derives from a politics of ignorance, the more progressive scholarship and commentary retreat into a fantasy of social critique as a kind of neutral, depoliticized fact-checking exercise. That is, the more neoliberalism is capable of making productive use of the limits of knowledge, the more its critique becomes invested in the notion of positive knowledge and of uncertainty as an external limit to it, thereby foreclosing the possibility of critically engaging neoliberalism’s ability to make speculation productive. This is what accounts for the paradoxical sense in which the progressive– liberal attachment to objective facts and neutral debate is so moralistic: it disavows the very speculative operations from which neoliberalism derives its strength. That is Hayekian agnotology at work.

'Hoodwinked by Hayek' Martijn Konings book review of Philip Mirowksi Never Let a Serious Crisis go to Waste. Journal of Cultural Economy March 2014

Is the basis of a revived left a project to make speculation just and equitable? Michel Feher is building a case for Investee Activism in his Goldsmith lectures on the Neoliberal Condition. What real opportunities can there be for all people to be who and what they have reason to value? (Sen's capability maxim). If speculation is just and equitable, then will it need to take account of the real opportunities that it produces?

Feher is also making an argument that Neoliberal governmentality has embedded a new human condition. This new human condition is both the object of and presupposes that people, as human capital, need to be empowered to appreciate themselves: to grow their credit. Are there then just limits to self-appreciation? Do some forms of self-appreciation/ self-esteem over-extend the credit one is due, or demands, via excesses of self-speculation? Do the real opportunities some people have to be and do what they have reason to value diminish the stock of real opportunities that others could draw on?