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Invest Yourself! Wendy Brown in conversation with Isabelle Graw

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In Wendy Brown’s 2015 book “Undoing the Demos” the American scholar asks: could neoliberal politics and its promise of economic empowerment across class lines pose a threat to democratic rule? If the alarming shift toward nationalist, populist leadership this past year in Europe and the US is any gauge, the answer would seem to be, overwhelmingly, yes.

This fall (when the outcome of the US election was not yet known), Isabelle Graw spoke with Brown about the limit-point of neoliberal order, the subject’s status in turn, and whether, particularly in light of recent events, she feels the longstanding labor-capital relation that Marx hypothesized still holds.

Isabelle Graw: In your book “Undoing the Demos” you very convincingly describe how neoliberalism has reached a new stage – one that also implies a remodeling of the subject. In such an economy, the subject has turned into what you define as a new version of homo oeconomicus, characterized as “financialized human capital.” I would like to start by asking how we are to imagine such a financialized subject – what does it actually look like? And in what way does it differ from the model, invented in the eighteenth century, of a rational, sovereign, self-determined subject driven by economic interests?

Wendy Brown: There are two important lines of thought we need to pursue here: one is the difference between the subject that is rendered as homo oeconomicus across all dimensions of life – as opposed to the subject who is understood to be economically oriented only in some of her or his endeavors but not everywhere; and the second line involves the specific financialization of the economy and economic practices. I’ll try to be brief in developing both. In the period that you’ve offered as our origin for thinking about this, the eighteenth century, we have Enlightenment and early liberal formulations of the emerging bourgeois male subject: a self-governing and self-crafting being, imagined to govern itself through reason and design its own ends. But this formulation of the subject is contingent on whether reason itself prevails and also whether liberal governments – in the sense of restrained states, states that leave you a wide sphere of individual choice and personal life – also prevail. That said, there’s nothing here that claims this subject exists only to enhance its economic value, or is motivated entirely by self-interest (that will happen with Bentham). Nor is there anything here – even with the early political economists, most notably Adam Smith – that says we are economic subjects through and through. There is simply an understanding of us as self-governing autonomous beings, along with a formulation of us as interested beings. Now, what changes with the rise of neoliberalism is a newfound construction of the subject and, increasingly, a newfound governance of the subject that renders it not simply as a creature of moral autonomy and self-crafting but as one that is relentlessly economically oriented in every aspect of life. This is a fundamental, radical shift. The early neoliberal intellectuals as well as later developments within neoliberalism, ranging from theories of public choice to rational actors and game theory, generate a figure who is not simply a figure of moral autonomy (self-governing and self-crafting), but a figure who seeks to enhance its competitive positioning in every sphere of life.

Brexit supporters London, 2016

I now want to go back to the other line of thought. When we get the figure of homo oeconomicus from somebody like Adam Smith, we have the figure of a dealmaker. Adam Smith famously gives us the idea that we are all creatures who by nature truck, barter, and exchange. That’s very different than the figure we get 100 years later with Bentham: the subject as pleasure maximizer and pain minimizer, a utilitarian calculator. And that is also very different than the subject Foucault delineates as the subject of early neoliberal thought: the entrepreneurial subject, the subject who is trying to entrepreneurialize her or his assets in every dimension of life. As each of these subject-formations corresponds to the actual economies in which the subject operates – economies governed by various kinds of states – our current financialized economy gives us yet another iteration of homo oeconomicus: a subject who is concerned with its present and future value, not simply maximizing its deal-making capacity and not even simply entrepreneurializing itself, but investing in itself in order to enhance its present and future value and in order to attract investors.

I want to offer a footnote here. This formulation is most incisively developed by the French philosopher Michel Feher, who reminds us that while entrepreneurialized homo oeconomicus is simply trying to figure out how to successfully entrepreneurialize its assets to maximize its value in the present, financialized homo oeconomicus aims to self-invest and attract investors in itself not just in the present, but in its imagined future. That is, it is obsessively oriented toward enhancing its present and future value through speculation about what will attract investors: this is how large financialized firms act but also how financialized human capital acts. This is a very different kind of subject from the figure of human capital oriented toward entrepreneurializing its assets, though some of that also remains. No one knows this better than our young students in college today. If you describe this to them, they recognize themselves instantly; they know they’re doing this with their education, with their dating lives, with their Facebook lives, with their LinkedIn lives, with their internships and networking, with their preoccupation with branding early and well.

Graw: While I find your periodization of these different stages of an increasingly economized subject very convincing, I still wonder whether we can equate these theoretical, normative descriptions of the financialized homo oeconomicus with the empirical reality demonstrated by your students. In other words: Doesn’t one run the risk of mixing up the normative and the descriptive in such a perspective? And is it really true that we all turn into “human capital,” as you suggested in your book – meaning that we, therefore, behave like capital? According to Marx, capital is a certain amount of value that only seeks to further increase its value. Can we truly describe the complex behavior of subjects in such a one-dimensional way?

Melania Trump in her Penthouse, New York, 2012

Brown: It seems that there are two concerns that you are raising. One has to do with whether the schema I’m offering, drawing both on political theory and political economy, accurately describes and governs various formations and subjects. The other has to do with how relentless these descriptions are in capturing the subject. To start with the first, I’m not saying that Adam Smith or Bentham were empirically accurate – I’m saying that they are giving us figures that comport with the economies and hence the homo oeconomicus of their time. Yet by distinguishing between the empirical and the normative, you are invoking a kind of fact/value distinction that I want to reject and that I want to reject, especially, through the work of Foucault.

Graw: Right – Foucault rejects this distinction by demonstrating how norms actually create social realities.

Brown: Of course. What is important about Foucault’s contribution to our discussion is an appreciation of the imbrication of the way the world is organized with the norms that govern and conduct us. Your description of an empirical reality presumed to be very different from dominant norms brings us closer to a Marxist or neo-Marxist understanding, where there’s ideology and then there is reality. Though I also draw on Marx for the work I do, I do not find that particular formulation helpful in understanding the transformation of the subject, nor the transformation of economies themselves by a new order of reason. Norms do not completely and totally make the subject but do govern, construct, and interpret it in ways that ideology does not capture.

To put this sharply, I would argue that the neoliberal revolution – while it certainly implied a tremendous number of actual policy changes and economic rearrangements – also involved a new form of governing states and subjects. Here, Thatcher’s little passing remark that ‘economics is the method but the object is to change the soul’ is quite pertinent. The aim of neoliberal revolutions in a variety of different sites was not just to add competition back into societies where it had waned or to strip out the welfare state, change the structure of taxation, or orchestrate free trade; it was also to produce a different kind of subject. Thatcher’s England is actually a beautiful place to see that: she explicitly aimed at bringing a whole new mode of governing the individual into being – not just through ideology but through a transformation of the welfare state that would produce entrepreneurialism and self-care (or what was called then responsibilization) for subjects. Does this mean that we are relentlessly ruled by a normative order of reason that succeeds in making us self-investing bits of human capital? No. Is this kind of governance complete or successful? No, it is partial, uneven, and there are all kinds of resistances to it, all kinds of psychic, unconscious rebellion and effects. Foucault is also helpful here. He’s never argued that one mode of reason is total; he’s always argued for multiple discourses, multiple rationalities – as well as limited success and unpredictable turns and effects. Nietzsche, not Marx, is behind Foucault’s thinking about ­history and subject formation.

Bastian Schweinsteiger,2012

Graw: While neoliberal norms certainly reach into our bodies and souls, as Foucault demonstrated, I still can’t help but think that the description of this new homo oeconomicus, which we find in your book, tends to be slightly totalizing. Because to conceive subjects as human capital that is busy enhancing its portfolio value furthermore presupposes a rather voluntarist notion of the ­subject – one that acts strategically, knows what she is doing, and reaches her goals by using certain means. Such an assumption of a voluntarist subject is questionable, especially from a psychoanalytic point of view, because the subject, according to Freud’s famous formulation, is not master in her own house. And yet this subject that is not in control of itself doesn’t seem to have a place in the scenario you developed?

Brown: I agree with you that the book has tendencies in the direction of totalization. Also, though, I think that a certain will towards totalization, despite our intentions, is almost inherent in the project of theorizing.

Graw: That’s true, one needs to overdo it slightly when making a strong theoretical proposition.

Brown: And yes, you’re correct, the book sometimes implies that we are completely conquered by this rationality and that’s not right. It is interesting to me, however, that so many readers of this book have taken it as a theory of the subject rather than as a theory of de-democratization. The aim of “Undoing the Demos” was not to describe, in any kind of detail, the vicissitudes of neoliberal or financialized subjectivity; there are many good works on this important topic and many more coming, but the topic is not mine. Rather, my intent was to describe what happens to democracy in the course of neoliberal transformations of its practices and terms: equality, liberty, universality. However, many people have read the book as you have, as a theory or study of the neoliberal subject.

Graw: In my case, such focus on the subject simply stems from the fact that our conversation is happening in the context of an issue that takes “the individual” as its theme.

Brown: I understand. And you raise an important point when you ask what difference there is between the ways we are governed, conditioned, and constructed to pursue certain ends, on the one hand, and the psychic life of the subject, on the other. I think that difference absolutely needs to be explored, especially for purposes of cultivating democratic resistance. But I also think that it’s not quite right to call this subject “voluntarist.” Take, for example, the transformation of universities from public goods to private investments. (I write about this at one point in the book.) When the weight of investing in an education is placed entirely on the individual, the chances of that individual being able to pursue a broadening, critical, civic education shrink radically. It’s not about volunteering to go pursue capital enhancement of yourself, it’s about the economic constraints combined with a governing order of reason that says a university education is for enhancing your future value as human capital, period. When you’re governed that way and also put in the economic predicament of obtaining such indebtedness in order to pursue your future, you start acting like value-enhancing human capital. I don’t think that it is voluntarist.

Graw: I used “voluntarism” as a problematic concept considering that the idea of a voluntarist subject is a fiction, especially from a psychoanalytic point of view. Though it also underestimates, I agree, the impact of social and economic constraints – how they limit our choices and influence our intentions. And it’s true that there have been many scholars working on what actually happens to the subject in such an economy: Alain Ehrenberg, for example, with his book “The Weariness of the Self” (“La fatigue d’être soi,” 1998/2009), which focuses on the kind of mental and psychological devastations that result from a system that requires you to prove your value nonstop and to feel responsible, especially if you fail.

There is just one question that I feel is missing from your book though: Why is neoliberal rationality, as you call it, so eagerly internalized by so many people? What is so attractive about this form of governance? Could it simply be that people enjoy investing in themselves and that they experience this as self-empowering? That, in a way, they prefer the “new spirit of capitalism” that Boltanski and Chiapello described, wherein governance is enacted through networks, where we have flat hierarchies, cooperation, teamwork, consensus, self-organization, all these things – maybe this newer spirit of capitalism is actually preferable to the old, more repressive one?

Student center, Utah Valley University, 2014

Brown: Again, I have two different lines of analysis here. One is that it’s important to not treat the subject as constant or as having a set of preferences that can be captured or developed by one mode over another. If we take seriously the notion that subjects themselves are effects of power, produced by power, by modes of governance and by norms, then it won’t quite work for us to say that we prefer one mode over another. Rather, we’ve been organized, constructed, and conditioned – and I’m not saying determined – to seek or even find satisfaction in a particular mode of life. Many people have argued that there is something deeply attractive about the freedom and the self-cultivation that neoliberal values, including their financialized form, offer. As opposed to the old ‘knowing what your vocation is’ or ‘knowing what your work or craft is’ and doing it every day for all the days of your life and having this tedious existence or being a worker exploited for their labor power, this new, more flexible, networked economy has its excitements and its enticements and its freedoms. Many have entertained the idea that part of Foucault’s interest in neoliberalism came from his interest in the freedoms that it held. And there are now several books from critical theorists that explore the emotional or affective appeal, and not just the subjectifications and cruelties, of neoliberal orders. At the same time, I want to suggest that, in addition to thinking psychoanalytically here, we think psychopharmaceutically. What I mean is the obvious: never has the routine prescription of both antidepressants and antianxiety drugs been so high. And then there is the off-label use of Adderall – the high performance drug that has now become ubiquitous, not simply in the workplace and on the trading floor of investment firms but also in schools; more and more parents are directly administering a drug to their children that will improve their school performance at a young age. Of course, that drug also often needs to be supplemented by antianxiety and antidepressant drugs. Now how are we going to figure out, through that chemical screen of human management, what we are actually made happy by or attracted to, how much we are enjoying this new form of freedom, self-making and valuation? I’m not saying it’s not there. I’m asking how are we to evaluate human pleasure that is managed through pharmaceuticals that specifically address (1) the almost permanent anxiety that the mandate to enhance your human capital produces; (2) the depression that precariousness entails as well as the ennui that comes with losing a lot of other values in life; and (3) the pressure to enhance performance and hence value constantly, without loss of focus or even decent amounts of sleep?

Graw: This is an important point you are raising: that people take these drugs as a kind of facilitator, allowing them to better perform, to better cope with anxiety and the depression resulting from constant overextension; that it is difficult to enjoy the new spirit of capitalism without recourse to medication. But if it is true that neoliberalism is a type of governance that aims at us internalizing its values and norms, as Foucault suggested, then couldn’t it also be possible not to internalize them to such a degree – to actually consciously refuse the daily gym, non-stop networking, self-branding oneself in social media, and so on? It would seem that this refusal is especially an option in the art world, which is the social universe where I’m coming from and where Texte zur Kunst is also situated. I know many artists and theorists who very consciously decide to not network the room, to not work on their brand or self-performance, to not promote themselves on social media. I mean, such refusal does seem somehow possible, nevertheless.

Brown: Absolutely. It is possible. It’s even to be applauded precisely because it’s very difficult. I am conscious, in a daily way, of artists, intellectuals, scholars, teachers who – though they understand themselves to be roughly on the left and in a certain kind of opposition to a neoliberalized and financialized world – are nonetheless caught up in the spirit of those worlds. It’s not just networking the room; it’s the self-promoting personal websites and the constant posting to Facebook of one’s accomplishments and the tweeting of one’s experiences and living for the number of citations, mentions, hits, retweets one receives. Though it’s certainly very difficult to both engage in the conduct of refusal that you describe and to thrive economically, it’s not impossible. What we are describing has a long and beautiful history, this resistance to the norms of governance. I identify with aspects of that history! I, myself, am not on social media at all: no Facebook, no Twitter, I actually don’t even know how to use these things.

Graw: But we are Skyping now! [laughs]

Brown: Skyping is a little different; it’s a communications technology. And I’m not saying I’m pure; it’s impossible to escape the ratings/rankings preoccupation of a financialized era. However, I admire that resistance because it is often the place, in one’s art or performance or thinking, from which creativity springs.

Jeff Koons and his Art Car, Paris, 2010

Graw: Apropos creativity: the modern “creative” artist can be seen, on the one hand, as a prototype of the creative “entrepreneurial self,” as Ulrich Bröckling has called it, and that you also mentioned at the beginning of our conversation. Artists such as Rubens, Rembrandt, or later figures like Warhol or Koons indeed display entrepreneurial qualities in the organization of their work. On the other hand, artists are also expected to not act in an economically sensible way. And it is also true that their work cannot be reduced to economic criteria. In fact, their behavior is at times even expected to be eccentric and not rational or economically productive. So I was wondering whether this other non-economic dimension of the artist-subject – her resistance to an economic ratio – merely contributes to the successful marketing of the artist’s product? Is it just grist for neoliberalism’s mill because it renders the artist’s product more believable? Or does it throw into question the whole notion of a totalizing neoliberal iteration of homo oeconomicus, because artists are an example of how we are not everywhere and only homo oeconomicus?

Brown: Of course artists have always needed patrons or sponsors. But further, as you say, artists have also often been involved in producing their own – you called it “brand,” but let’s say “signature.”

Graw: Yes, a signature style.

Brown: So artists have never been outside an economic order of things, even though, as you note, they are still expected to engage in an activity that doesn’t necessarily immediately comport with either profitability or enhancing their own value. And yet I’m sure there is not an artist on the planet who doesn’t struggle with the question of how to attract investors – not just literal investors, but those who are invested in the idea of the work, who might promote it, blog about it, identify their names with it – those who will invest because they imagine that the value of the art or artist will enhance in the future and hence enhance the investor’s value. Artists today aren’t any more separate from the present economy than they were from court-patron economies.

There are probably some important continuities, however, in the expectation that art is somehow apart from this economic order of things, and even in this common stance – as the early Frankfurt School had considered – of art being at odds with the market, of critiquing of it. Certainly, tremendously successful artists can also be the very ones who are also engaged in devastating critiques of this world and this order of things, and that does not necessarily lead to a depression of their economic value; it may even do the opposite. There are always continuities to be traced in different forms of polity, culture, and economic behavior. The task of the thinker trying to apprehend our time is to attend both to what’s continuous and to what is distinct or novel. It won’t do to stop with “well this kind of looks like the same thing as patronage in the old days wherein you had to suck up to the king or the wealthy court member in order to go on being Renoir or Mozart.”

Graw: Yes, while you can consider artists such as Dürer or Rembrandt as pioneers of self-branding, you also have to situate their work historically and contrast their historical conditions with the present situation, where many artists now work in a digital economy that requires a certain branding of their persona and their product. Then again, when you look even more closely, you realize that there are also many artists who are not at all busy “attracting investors” as you might put it, but this is precisely what renders them attractive. So we have both types: the ones who actively brand and the ones who refuse this construction of the self as a homo oeconomicus and yet are considered valuable precisely because of that.

But to switch gears for a moment, I would also like to talk about the current political situation, especially in Europe. I wanted to ask you whether this emergent model of homo oeconomicus can still be considered, as you suggest in your book, as a universal phenomenon in light of Brexit, for instance, which is definitely harmful to the UK economy and also represents a threat to the country’s growth; indeed, many studies have shown that it makes no sense economically. And yet the British government pushes for it. So where is homo oeconomicus here, in this crazy – or rather, destructive – behavior that in one sense appears irrational but, in another, appears as what the British government must feel is the only way for them to regain legitimacy: to become a sounding board for these racist fantasies that Polish workers take away their jobs. Still, Brexit, economically, is nevertheless really harmful, so I find it puzzling.

Kress Events Center, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Brown: One thing that’s important to realize about neoliberalism and financialization is that it generates a number of things that make “no economic sense.” And you’ve described a certain set of political reactions – and we could broaden those to talk about various kinds of political reactions on the right and on the left – that are generated by the mandate for capital enhancement, whether human capital or institutional capital or corporate or financial capital, that still make no economic sense.

Let me give you a very local example: As our public universities in the United States have been increasingly privatized – which is to say, funded by student tuition and donor contributions – intercollegiate athletics have expanded exponentially. And this is not because these programs bring in revenue for the school; indeed, most universities hosting these incredibly expensive teams are in the red by tens of millions of dollars on account of them. And intercollegiate athletics haven’t expanded exponentially because donors are especially likely to fund other parts of the institution in addition to these teams. They’ve expanded because the fans of these teams are regarded as potential sources of value enhancement, and there is fear of divesting from this, of just saying: “No, we’re a university; we should not be in the business of sustaining an athletics industry, we should simply be educating students and doing research.” However, it is not possible to say this – even though it’s what makes economic sense and would help balance university budgets. Shareholder value, and the rankings and ratings that measure it and attract investors, emphasizes outsize athletic teams and facilities, expensive dorm and student amenities – even though this stuff makes no economic sense. I want to note more broadly that in some ways, the attitude we have here is already captured by Marx, that capitalism will drive toward things that make no economic sense in terms of being “sustainable” or maintaining the future of a particular industry or of capitalism as a whole.

Graw: Are you referring to capitalism’s destructive tendencies and how Marx described them?

Brown: We need to update Marx in order to understand the specific self-destructive tendencies of neoliberalism and financialization. Marxist terms won’t do here. Even the old Marxists like Claus Offe and Wolfgang Streeck, when theorizing “Europe entrapped,” bring out the novel contradictions and perils of the EU being dominated by finance capital today. Here’s another example: austerity for the indebted nations of the South. Everybody knows that austerity does not help nations regain footing to develop, let alone provide for their citizens. Austerity destroys the dynamism of capitalist economies in a dozen different ways. From a mainstream perspective, it is a disastrous policy, sinking the nations on which it is imposed into an ever-deeper hole of debt and economic stagnation. Why is austerity demanded? Because it fulfills the creditors’ first priority, which is to have their debt serviced, to receive interest on the debt that they have extended. Austerity makes no economic sense. But it’s standard. Ok, now let’s go to Brexit, and to nationalist, often xenophobic, populist tendencies …

Graw: … everywhere. Including Germany, Austria, France, America …

Brown: … yes, not least in the US. So what happened? These populist movements are not democratic – that is, they’re not looking for universal freedom, equality, and inclusion. They are not particularly interested even in the most basic principles of the rule of law. They are expressing, as you say, xenophobic rage that has been mobilized, often by elites, that displaces their own sense of economic deracination and political powerlessness onto a dark Other, inside and outside the nation. That’s shorthand but I’ll let it stand for the bigger argument I want to make. What you see everywhere is the rising up of people who feel radically disenfranchised, both politically and economically, in orders that govern for and through finance and not for and by the people. The result is antidemocratic, populist outrage on the right and on the left: antidemocratic because neoliberalism did such a fine job of demolishing and discrediting – delegitimizing – democracy. Of course some left populism is democratic. But a lot of it, including the neoanarchist version, is saying, to hell with politics, states, democracy; to hell with all of it; we can live without all this stuff. This is an effect of neoliberal policy and neoliberal destruction of basic democratic principles of people governing themselves, popular sovereignty. It’s not some explosion to the side of the neoliberalization of the EU. It’s a precise effect of it.

Graw: In your book you referred to Rousseau and his prediction that extreme inequalities between rich and poor, which is what we have now, produce resentment and the abandonment of shared values such as democracy. In that way, we could say that Brexit and the return to nationalism and racism in many European countries – this correlation between neoliberal austerity politics and populist racist outrage – in fact illustrate, to some degree, Rousseau’s intuition?

Commerzbank Tower, Frankfurt Main

Brown: Yes, and then we need to complicate it by also adding things that Rousseau couldn’t have even imagined; things beyond simple social and economic inequalities, the increasing governance of our lives directed by forces that seem to be under nobody’s control but that nonetheless dictate terms of existence. Finance is certainly one of those.

Graw: When you talk about the subject turning into human capital in this neoliberal economy, you’re explaining very well how this subject is no longer a bearer of rights. But I wonder, what does it mean, from a theoretical point of view, to place such emphasis on this notion of human capital? Because what it implies, and this is mentioned in your book as well, is a denial of a social reality that is still based on the dynamic between labor and capital – a dynamic that was very crucial for Marx in that it explains capitalist and, in my mind, also neoliberal exploitation. As soon as one uses the term “human capital,” this social reality of class, labor, and value gets eclipsed. Is there a reason why “value” is not a concept central to your analysis in this book?

Brown: Let me just go to what I take to be the heart of your question: Is Marx’s labor theory of value still potent in explaining how capitalism works? How capital accumulates and what the labor-capital relation is and how exploitation figures at the heart of it? My answer is yes – and no. Yes, there are, of course, many sites in the world that are producing the goods that we use (clothing, food, iPhones, machinery), all the stuff of life that, through an exploitative labor relation, generates profitability for capital. That said, the so-called “real economy,” the “productive economy,” is, as you know, a shrinking portion of the total growth and wealth production today. Instead we have a financial sector that is not only a site of value itself – and I do want to insist on that – but also has increasingly drawn even productive capital into its orbit. There is no separation anymore; increasingly, everyone has to be financialized. Here’s an example: Auto manufacturers in the United States extract more income (rent) from car loans than car sales. They are more heavily involved in the financial dimension of the industry than in the production and sale dimension. Where’s that labor theory of value now? Is financialization itself something that produces value through the exploitation of labor? My answer to this is no. There, we need to shift to a different understanding of value and I do not think Marx helps us here. We have big arguments about this in the world of scholarly neoliberal and financial-critical theory: those who think Marx had it all right, noting that he even had a theory of finance capital, and that still his labor value theory holds above all, versus those of us who think that some of the world still runs in that way but that financialization has changed so much that we need to rethink theories of value that can capture shareholder value, as well as the return to rent extraction.

Graw: I would take sides with the Marxists here because Marx demonstrated how so-called unproductive labor, which is what we find in the world of finance, still implies exploitation and the production of surplus value because it helps reduce its costs. With Marx in mind, we can actually analyze how the expanded sphere of circulation, the sphere of finance capital, isn’t absolutely opposed to the productive sphere – both overlap and Marx doesn’t draw an absolute distinction between them.

Brown: I don’t think Marx can help you understand why, without turning a profit and in fact running deep in the red, Uber can be valued at 65 billion dollars. Why is its value enhanced even when it loses money, when it runs off of its investors? One could also ask what it means to be able, as an individual, to enhance your value or enhance the value of any dimension of your portfolio, monetized or not monetized, apart from the question of labor. Marx is indispensable to understanding many features and characteristics of capital, broadly defined. But we can no longer think about capital as simply a mode of production, a vast world of commodities produced through the exploitation of labor. To understand the world that we are navigating today, that we are governed and incited and freaked out by today, we need Marx - but we also need much more than only Marx. You know who would be the first to agree with that statement were he alive? Marx.

Notes

[1]View from Melania and Donald Trump's Penthouse