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The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition (Semiotext(e) / Intervention Series) Paperback – August 31, 2012
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About the Author
Maurizio Lazzarato is a sociologist and philosopher in Paris. He is the author of Governing by Debt and Signs and Machines: Capitalism and the Production of Subjectivity, both published by Semiotext(e).
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Lazzarato views Financial Capitalism as a de-territorialized form of social production, without any referent, focused on the endless production of signs. This is also how Philosopher Franco Berardi Bifo defines Semio-Capitalism, a term he coined to differentiate the latest phase of industrial development from its earlier bourgeois and feudal forms. Since globalization has in fact increased the size of the “working class”, this analysis may be limited to Post-Industrial / Post-Fordist societies. It should be noted, as economist Dani Rodrik has shown, that “developing countries” are deindustrializing at much faster rates (Premature Deindustrialization), and in certain cases skipping phases of technological development that have traditionally been understood as historical necessities. Premature Deindustrialization, along with the austerity and market liberalization policies imposed on the Global South, makes Lazzarato’s examination relevant to economies at all levels of technological advancement.
In this book, Lazaratto presents a genealogy of debt and its rise in neoliberal society. Lazzaratto’s main sources include: Deleuze & Guattari's reading of Nietzsche's second essay in “The Genealogy of Morals”, Marx's theory of money in Capital, and Foucault’s Lectures on Biopolitics. Returning to these sources, Lazzarato decenters the worker/owner distinction and attempts to revive two hypotheses. First, as mentioned above, that it is in debt, and not exchange, that we should see the archetype of social organization. Seeing debt as the archetype of social organization introduces power differentials between social groups, where the creditor is always more powerful than the debtor. Second, that debt makes the economy subjective. This means that debt not only structures relations of production, but also the creation and molding of subjectivity, the subjectivity of the debtor. I recommend this book alongside Undoing The Demos (Wendy Brown), The Limits of Neoliberalism (William Davies), The Trial (Franz Kafka), and the work of Deleuze, Marx, and Nietzsche.