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Foucault and Finance Capital Essay

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While Foucault was, I think, correct in leaving out finance capital at the level of practice, I believe it was an error in terms of discourse. To use the figure of the entrepreneur in a highly technological and developed age is not to evoke the figure, to put it in the most general and simplistic terms, of someone who goes to a factory and checks in on their investment from time to time. The entrepreneur, before even the notion of finance capital comes into view for us, is someone already deeply divorced from the production process and our general way of thinking about it. To introduce the pervasive, however misapprehended, understanding of finance capital that is common today is to say simply that the entrepreneur of himself, on the neo-liberal account, is someone who imagines that they make their human capital work for them. What I mean by this is that once people begin to think that investment is a process whereby money is grown by virtue of its participation in the market, subjects will understand themselves, by way of the neo-liberal concept of human capital, quite differently. Yes, homo-œconomicus will be an entrepreneur of himself but in neo-liberal society this will have developed, at least supplementarily, by way of the discourse around finance capital. The individual always having something to sell is not a very new thought considering the extent to which Marx explained that a worker was a commodity owner selling their labor-power for a wage; a wage they could increase by selling to a different capitalist. To differentiate the extent to which this is a new type of entrepreneurship of the self, beyond acknowledging the extent to which human capital plays a role, is to acknowledge the change in the way one seeks to profit...


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...in the neo-liberal era, one can not think of the entrepreneur without thinking of what our “top” entrepreneurs do, which is, like the preceding era engage as investors in investing. But investing at this level today is subsumed under the activities not of industrial ownership but of finance capital. In a certain way, to turn everyone into an entrepreneur is to place subjects in a massive hierarchy of better or worse participants in the “topsy-turvy” world of finance capital. For neo-liberals, individuals use their human capital to invest in whatever opportunities may come along, hoping to scale the ladder and achieve the success that the best entrepreneurs have. To understand this type of entrepreneurial figure requires Foucault's discussion to adopt a critical-historical-discursive category of finance capital.


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Michel Foucault, The Birth of Bio-Politics


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