Rated Agency: Investee Politics in a Speculative Age

Michel Feher, trans. from the French by Gregory Elliott. Zone, $25.95 (248p) ISBN 978-1-942130-12-3
Belgian philosopher Feher (Powerless by Design) argues that, though industrial capitalism once pitched employers’ interests against those of workers, in the present “financialized” form of capitalism the conflict is between investors (those who decide when to extend credit) and “investees,” and activism must adjust accordingly. He begins by tracing neoliberal thought from its origins during the postwar era to its “third way” manifestations near the turn of the millennium. He describes how not letting creditors fail has become the focus of governance, and how workers were “de-proletarianized” by being encouraged to view themselves as entrepreneurs (and thereby not in conflict with the entrepreneurial class). Nowadays, “the pursuit of credit is the prevailing preoccupation” for corporations, governments, and individuals, and “the power of investors to select investees—to decide who and what is deemed creditworthy—has become a new site of social struggle.” Feher posits that activists should take ownership of the “investee condition” and engage in “counterspeculating” to change the parameters under which investors extend credit, through, for example, divestment campaigns, debt strikes, and discrediting of political parties. The reading can be difficult, as moments of conceptual clarity compete with dense, complex passages, but the phenomena that Feher describes and the counterstrategy he outlines are likely to spark intra-left debate. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2018
Release date: 09/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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