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Can the Market Speak?

April 9, 2013

Mark Bergfeld in The Berlin Review of Books:

Stock-MarketWhen first reading Campbell Jones’s Can the Market speak? I simply treated it by the author’s self-imposed standards: a philosophical enquiry into the market and “the structure of the ideas and fantasies that come with the category of the market” (7). If I had finished writing this book review before Cypriot bank heist and the run on banks it would have probably remained at the level of summarizing the book, and making some snarky comments on particular points I liked or didn’t like. (…)

Every Economics, Business and Political Science student will have been taught that the markets are ‘rational’, ‘robust’, and ‘efficient’. While the reality couldn’t be further from the truth, these tenets act as an ‘organizing principle’ of the current status quo, permeate every aspect of social life and legitimize the exploitation and destruction of humans and their environment in the name of ‘efficiency’. By solely focussing on the personification of the markets, Jones reveals a contradiction in capital’s attempt to paint the markets as behaving rationally: The supposed rational actors inside of the markets are guided by “the invisible hand of the market”. In other words, underlying the very rationality of the market one finds irrationality, superstition…

Jones’s psychoanalytic and theological critiques of the prosopopoeia of the markets disclose how hegemony manifests and legitimises itself. His psychoanalytic critique analyses power as ‘displaced’ and hidden. Rather than manifesting itself through the truncheon of a police officer, the prosopopoiea expresses individual actors’ interests i.e. capital’s interests. While psychoanalytic critique remains, or once again has become, fashionable it doesn’t assist us in understanding the real social relations that the market masks behind its veil of rationality and efficiency, nor does it help us to analyse what happens when these so-called hidden powers come out into the open when losses are socialised and profits are privatised . [More]

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