Governing by Debt

Peter Gratton Review:

Brown’s Undoing the Demos and Maurizio Lazzarato’s Governing by Debt (first published in Italian in 2013) aim both to diagnose the contemporary neoliberal condition and to demonstrate the tragedy of its growing ubiquity. Brown’s is a markedly nostalgic work, at least rhetorically, since it hearkens to the imperiled values of a previous era of political liberalism before the current reign of homo oeconomicus (economic man) (her past writings are best known for demonstrating the failures of liberalism to confront the problems of patriarchy and economic inequality). Where Brown sees the promise in rejuvenating a political thought that replaces rampant economism, Lazzarato argues all forms of politics act as apparatuses for the capture of wealth by a given elite. For this reason he calls for strikes against the contemporary system, and the wholesale destruction of any economic structures that support it. This, too, is strikingly nostalgic — large-scale workers’ actions of the kind Lazzarato prescribes are modeled on an era more and more outmoded as neoliberalism spreads.