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Debt as Power

By Richard H. Robbins and Tim Di Muzio

Debt as Power

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Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9326-9
  • Pages: 216
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £18.99
  • Published Date: January 2016
  • BIC Category: Economics, Political economy, Globalization, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Economy, Economics, finance, business & management / Economics, Society & social sciences / Globalization
  • Series: Theory for a Global Age

Description

Debt as Power is a timely and innovative contribution to our understanding of one of the most prescient issues of our time: the explosion of debt across the global economy and related requirement of political leaders to pursue exponential growth to meet the demands of creditors and investors. The book is distinctive in offering a historically sensitive and comprehensive analysis of debt as an interconnected and global phenomenon.

Reviews

'This is economic anthropology at its best - relevant, sophisticated, and readable. The authors brilliantly show how debt has been the essential glue that holds the world economic system together, an instrument that spreads untold misery and modern forms of slavery, to the continuing benefit of creditors. A powerful anthropological answer to Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Debt as Power is a clear-eyed and thoroughly original dissection of capitalism, an essential guide to understanding how today's world works...'

Richard Wilks, Distinguished Professor, Indiana University, USA

'This book is a crucial introduction to the phenomenon of debt...Debt, argue Di Muzio and Robbins, is more than an economic and social debacle: it is a technique of government for disciplining and managing people and the environment. At the same time, the individuation of the power to make money, by taking on debt, increasingly puts the world economy in the hands of everyday people. The realization of this power...could be the key to a more equitable and ecologically sane future.'

James Igoe, Associate Professor at the University of Virginia, USA

'Meticulously researched and clearly exposited, Debt as Power makes a most convincing case that modern capitalism must be explained as political economy. An indispensable companion to understanding contemporary world affairs.'

Martin Weber, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Queensland, Australia

'This radical and wide-ranging book provides an innovative critical analysis of an alarming scourge of our times: debt. Developed as a critique of the categories of money and credit as technical and socially neutral categories in neoclassical economics, 'Debt as Power' provides an economic anthropology - at once historical and international - of the origins, intensification and socially deleterious consequences of debt as a technology of power. Derived from the Marxist theoretical framework of differential accumulation and conceiving of capitalism less in terms of a relation between exploiter and exploited and more as a relation between creditor and debtor, the study reads the international history of capitalist debt with strikingly new results. It opens up a new perspective on the origins of debt within the context of England's 17th Century's bellicose geopolitical context, emphasising the capitalisation of the English/British state and its indebtedness to private investors. It moves on to explore the transatlantic spread and intensification of debt - private and public - through war, commerce, and colonialism. And concludes with an analysis of the further role of odious debt after WWII in the production of inter-state and domestic inequalities. The book ends with a call to arms: debt strike! 'Debt as Power' immeasurably advances our understanding of the international history of debt as a technology of power. It constitutes a fresh and important contribution to critical IR and IPE.'
2017 Sussex International Theory Prize - Honourable Mention

Author

Richard H. Robbins is Distinguished Teaching Professor in Anthropology at Plattsburg State University of New York, USA

Tim Di Muzio is Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, Humanities and the Arts at the University of Wollongong, Australia

Contents

Introduction: Towards a stark utopia
1. Origins: war, national debt and the capitalist state
2. Intensification: war, debt and colonial power
3. Consequences: Exponential growth, magic money and austerity
4. What is to be done?
Bibliography
Index

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