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The New Prophets of Capital

A deft and caustic takedown of the new prophets of profit, from Bill Gates to Oprah

As severe environmental degradation, breathtaking inequality, and increasing alienation push capitalism against its own contradictions, mythmaking has become as central to sustaining our economy as profitmaking.

Enter the new prophets of capital: Sheryl Sandberg touting the capitalist work ethic as the antidote to gender inequality; John Mackey promising that free markets will heal the planet; Oprah Winfrey urging us to find solutions to poverty and alienation within ourselves; and Bill and Melinda Gates offering the generosity of the 1 percent as the answer to a persistent, systemic inequality. The new prophets of capital buttress an exploitative system, even as the cracks grow more visible.

Reviews

  • “Wry and adroit.”
  • “A highly original and fascinating exploration of what we might think of as ‘changeless change’—the kind of innovation that simultaneously upends current practices and studiously protects existing wealth and power inequities. Through four well-chosen and emblematic case studies, Aschoff tackles this slippery subject with confidence and subtlety, providing readers with key intellectual tools to separate fact from fiction.”
  • “Nicole Aschoff expertly dissects the magical thinking behind America’s idolatry of the invisible hand. In a series of lively and closely argued case studies, she lets readers see the threadbare state of our rationales for the market’s uncontested sovereignty. And just as impressively, she urges us not to be daunted by the challenges ahead.”
  • “Nicole Aschoff has skewered the high priests and priestesses of our most unshakable religion: capitalism. Anyone persuading you to ‘lean in,’ engage in ‘conscious capitalism’ or admire philanthropists will be (rightfully) upset by Aschoff’s takedown of some of the big-name ‘ethical capitalists’ of our era: Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Gates, Whole Foods’ John Mackey. Aschoff takes apart the platitudes of liberal capitalism and offers a solid set of alternatives that stress the collective over the individual, people over profit, and real narratives over cover stories.”
  • The New Prophets of Capital is intellectually serious without succumbing to critical jargon, and Aschoff makes her points both thoughtfully and rigorously.”
  • “Straightforward, concise and impressive”

Blog

  • Emmanuel Macron, spasm of the system

    First published in Le Monde Diplomatique. Translated by David Broder.



    "I'm going to be very clear..." Probably ignorant of the basic logics of the symptom, Emmanuel Macron seems unable to see how this repetitive way of starting each of his answers betrays the deep desire to cover things up — or rather, to recover them — that animates his whole campaign. "Keep on bathing between vagueness and nothingness" — that is what we should take from each of his promises of clarity. In his defence, we will admit that deferring to the obligation to speak when one's intention is to say nothing at all is one of the curses of this "democracy" that we have still found no satisfactory antidote for. Some will object that most of the candidates end up accommodating to this long and difficult moment — a moment one simply has to go through — and that the campaign-season fib is a well-established genre which should no longer be able to surprise anyone. For Macron, however, the problem takes on unprecedented proportions: not just a matter of slipping across a couple of whoppers, even of the calibre of "my enemy is finance" [as François Hollande claimed before his election in 2012]: rather, his entire campaign, and even his very persona as a candidate, constitute an essentially fraudulent enterprise.

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  • Verso Books at Historical Materialism NY



    Verso Books is a proud Co-Sponsor of this year’s Historical Materialism New York Conference: “Resurgent Radicalisms in a Polarizing World.” The conference will be held April 21-23 at NYU and will bring together hundreds of radical scholars in conversation and debate on some of the most pressing questions posed today by social movements and Marxist theory. More information about the location and registration is available here

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  • Clinton’s Historical Tragedy and the International Women’s Strike: In Support of a Feminism for the 99%


    1912 Lawrence Textile Strike

    Mired in the recurrent nightmare that is Trump, it is hard to look back and take stock of what happened last week, let alone three months ago. Yet, looking back at Hillary Clinton’s defeat, one may not only see the rising tide of Trump’s hordes, but also the tragic fate of a liberal era. Nowhere is this clearer than in the contradictions embodied by Clinton’s deeply personal but nonetheless strained relation to feminism. Not surprisingly, a broad group of radical and internationalist women are showing the way forward with a call for a feminism of the 99% and coordinating in the U.S. on March 8th with the International Women’s Strike.

    Even viewed from a radical perspective, responding on one hand to Clinton’s loss and on the other to Trump’s continuous appalling attacks, we can see Hillary Clinton defeat as having the features of a contemporary tragedy.

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