Publication Year: 2018
The present crisis of capitalism has a history. A history of the private accumulation of wealth through property regimes which allow increasing commodification and the privatisation of resources: from land to knowledge and even to life itself. Understanding that history may allow us to imagine alternatives after Capital which are no longer private but common. After Capital explores this history, showing how the economy is linked to environmental damage, climate change, resource depletion, and to massive inequality. It takes the reader from liberalism to neoliberalism, from climate change to the Anthropocene, and shows how this history is inextricably the history of colonialism. It is a rich and detailed narrative of capitalism over the last 200 years, that explains its texture and its neoliberal endgame. This ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Introduction: The State of the World: Convergent Crises
- Chapter 1: New Mechanisms of Dispossession: Property, Inequality and the Debt Society
- Chapter 2: In the Shadow of Tipping Points: The Political Economy of Climate Change
- Chapter 3: Colonialism, Dispossession and Capitalist Accumulation: A Decolonial History of the Present
- Chapter 4: From Liberalism to Neoliberalism: A Dissident Genealogy
- Chapter 5: Towards a World in Common
- Chapter 6: New Foundations for Postcapitalist Worlds
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© Couze Venn 2018
First published 2018
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2018932208
British Library Cataloguing in Publication data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 978-1-5264-5013-5 (pbk)
Editor: Natalie Aguilera
Assistant editor: Delayna Spencer
Editorial assistant: Eve Williams
Production editor: Katherine Haw
Copyeditor: Chris Bitten
Proofreader: Rebecca Storr
Indexer: Couze Venn
Marketing manager: Susheel Gokarakonda
Cover design: Wendy Scott
Typeset by: C&M Digitals (P) Ltd, Chennai, India
Printed in the UK
Praise for the Book[Page v]
‘This extraordinary work synthesises, extends and originates a vast range of scholarship and critical thought. In doing so, it offers the most concise yet most comprehensive account of the crisis of our times, and of the very nature of capitalism as such, to have been produced for many years. Couze Venn is one of the great unsung intellectual heroes of our age; how many other thinkers are able to synthesise post-structuralist philosophy and postcolonial theory with Marxist political economy and critical ecology, without a trace of superficiality in their approach to any of these sources? How many would even dare to try? This is an invaluable book for anyone who wants to think politically about the state of the world today, inside or outside the academy, in any discipline.’Jeremy Gilbert, Professor of Cultural and Political Theory, University of East London
‘After Capital takes the risky path that our bleak circumstances demand. This thoughtful and learned intervention boldly spells out protocols for a new way of living. Moving between critique and urgent, unsentimental speculation, Couze Venn identifies the novel habits required to sustain life beyond the war, waste and squalor of contemporary capitalism.’Paul Gilroy, Professor of American and English Literature, Kings College, University of London
‘A tour de force. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this book – not only for the present but for many generations to come.’Valerie Walkerdine, Professor, Cardiff University
‘I could not recommend a better book to those interested not only in the interdependence of the multiple crises (environmental, economic and political) that we are currently entangled in, but also in alternative visions for the future. After Capital is outstanding scholarship that daringly and passionately articulates new conceptual frameworks that makes clear the potential of a post-capitalist and post-anthropocentric cosmopolitics of the commons to make life after capital something to look forward to.’Dr Tiziana Terranova, University of Naples, L’Orientale[Page vi]
‘With typical depth and thoughtfulness, Couze Venn explores and untangles the intricately woven and mammoth issues that we face today. Erudite and scholarly, these pages are a revelation and guide in our complex and uncertain times.’Dr Dave Beer, Reader, York University
The book is dedicated to my wife Francesca for the years of constant and unfailing emotional sustenance, love and intellectual companionship. The loving support of our close family, Scarlett Thomas, Rod Edmond, Sam Ashurst, Hari Ashurst-Venn and Nia Ashurst-Venn has sustained me through the long process of writing; they have been a constant source of encouragement, comfort and fun. It is dedicated also to Francesca’s and my granddaughter Ivy, in the hope that the world she inherits from us is a liveable and happy one, to be shared amongst all equally as the greatest gift.[Page viii]
About the Author
This book has taken much longer to complete than I had anticipated. Along the way many friends and colleagues have offered comments and generous encouragements without which this book would never have seen the light of day. Several aspects of the book have been developed over the years, through talks and seminars to which colleagues had kindly invited me, and in a number of journal articles. Key arguments were tried out at a plenary lecture for the Radical Foucault Conference in 2011 organised by my friend Jeremy Gilbert. Jeremy has also read early drafts of chapters and provided valuable comments and advice when I needed reassurance about the overall project. The problem of debt in today’s financial capitalism was presented in 2012 at the TCS seminar on property at the University of Naples l’Orientale, organised by colleagues there, principally Tiziana Terranova and Iain Chambers. The analysis in Chapter 3 extends a position I developed in an article in Theory, Culture & Society in 2009 – ‘Neoliberal political economy, biopolitics and colonialism’; Chapter 4 has benefited from the research which Francesca and I did for our book Inequality, Poverty, Exclusion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); and Chapter 6 draws from my paper in Body & Society in 2010 – ‘Individuation, relationality, affect: Rethinking the human in relation to the living’.
I have discussed ideas and shared early drafts with the Changing the Subject book group, Julian Henriques, Wendy Hollway, Cathy Urwin and Valerie Walkerdine. Their intellectual and emotional support and enthusiastic comments and inputs helped me reorganise the arguments and have a better sense of what I needed to foreground. Cathy has since died and we all miss her greatly.
My colleague and friend Mike Featherstone has offered all manner of support over the years, providing me with opportunities to test and disseminate many ideas through articles in the journals he edits, as well as through the Theory, Culture & Society Book Series. He has been a rock on whom I have relied a lot.
Robert Rojek at Sage has skilfully steered the book through the hazards of the publishing machine. Thank you Robert.
Special thanks are due to Dave Beer, Jeremy Gilbert, Paul Gilroy, Chris Miles, Lynne Segal, Tiziana Terranova, Vron Ware. Their confidence in the project and their comments have sustained me and helped me rework my arguments.
Other colleagues and friends provided much valued suggestions and encouragement. Some have read chapters at different points in the process of writing and I have tried to incorporate their suggestions where necessary. They are Lisa Blackman, Ryan Bishop, Andy Conio, Neal Curtis, [Page xii]Simon Dawes, Heike Doring, Nick Gane, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Sunil Manghani, Matt Merefield, Dimitris Pappadopoulos, John Phillips, Bev Skeggs and Tomoko Tamari. I am grateful also to my colleague Sheila Sheikh whose kindness and support has been invaluable. Dr Lydon has nursed me through serious health problems.
Thanks are due to the team at SAGE – Katherine Haw, Delayna Spencer, Susheel Gokarakonda who have been helpful, patient and indulgent, making the task of completion less stressful than it could have been, and the copyeditor, Christine Bitten has ironed out the kinks.
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