Market Affect and the Rhetoric of Political Economic Debates
157 pages
English

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157 pages
English

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What explains the "triumph of capitalism"? Why do people so often respond positively to discussions favoring it while shutting down arguments against it? Overwhelmingly theories regarding capitalism's resilience have focused on individual choice bolstered by careful rhetorical argumentation. In this penetrating study, however, Catherine Chaput shows that something more than choice is at work in capitalism's ability to thrive in public practice and imagination—more even than material resources (power) and cultural imperialism (ideology). That "something," she contends, is market affect. Affect, says Chaput, signifies a semi-autonomous entity circulating through individuals and groups. Physiological in nature but moving across cultural, material, and environmental boundaries, affect has three functions: it opens or closes individual receptivity; it pulls or pushes individual identification; and it raises or lowers individual energies. This novel approach begins by connecting affect to rhetorical theory and offers a method for tracking its three modalities in relation to economic markets. Each of the following chapters compares a major theorist of capitalism with one of his important critics, beginning with the juxtaposition of Adam Smith and Karl Marx, who set the agenda not only for arguments endorsing and critiquing capitalism but also for the affective energies associated with these positions. Subsequent chapters restage this initial debate through pairs of economic theorists—John Maynard Keynes and Thorstein Veblen, Friedrich Hayek and Theodor Adorno, and Milton Friedman and John Kenneth Galbraith—who represent key historical moments. In each case, Chaput demonstrates, capitalism's critics have fallen short in their rhetorical effectiveness. Chaput concludes by exploring possibilities for escaping the straitjacket imposed by these debates. In particular she points to the biopolitical lectures of Michel Foucault as offering a framework for more persuasive anticapitalist critiques by reconstituting people's conscious understandings as well as their natural instincts.


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Publié par
Date de parution 14 août 2019
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9781611179958
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,2350€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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Market Affect and the Rhetoric of Political Economic Debates
Studies in Rhetoric/Communication Thomas W. Benson, Series Editor
Market Affect and the Rhetoric of Political Economic Debates
Catherine Chaput
2019 University of South Carolina
Published by the University of South Carolina Press Columbia, South Carolina 29208
www.sc.edu/uscpress
28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data can be found at http://catalog.loc.gov/ .
ISBN 978-1-61117-994-1 (hardback)
ISBN 978-1-61117-995-8 (ebook)
Front cover design by Faceout Studio, Spencer Fuller
Contents
SERIES EDITOR S PREFACE
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Introduction: A Genealogy of Affect in Market Thinking
1
Affect as Capitalist Being
Bridging the Materialist Traditions
2
Adam Smith and Karl Marx
The Founding Fathers and Their Foundations
3
John Maynard Keynes and Thorstein Veblen
Reimagining the Founding Legacies
4
Friedrich Hayek and Theodor Adorno
Reactions from Displaced Capitalist Subjects
5
Milton Friedman and John Kenneth Galbraith
The Battle for Public and Political Influence
Conclusion Rhetoric, Biopolitics, and the Capacity for Anticapitalist Agencies
NOTES
WORKS CITED
INDEX
Series Editor s Preface
In Market Affect and the Rhetoric of Political Economic Debates , Catherine Chaput asks how capitalism as an idea and a system has resisted criticism in the rhetorical public sphere. Her investigation traces the debate by pairing a series of advocates of capitalist theory and free markets with a major critic of each-Adam Smith and Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes and Thorstein Veblen, Friedrich Hayek and Theodor Adorno, Milton Friedman and John Kenneth Galbraith. In each case, argues Chaput, the critics of capitalism fall short in the rhetorical encounter because they allow their own arguments to be staged in and limited to the realm of ideology, material power, and rational choice. Chaput reasons that the much-needed critique of capitalism has been handicapped by its failure to understand the affective biopolitics of capitalism, a realm of analysis most fully explored by Michel Foucault. Affect theory, states Chaput, offers the possibility for a reinvigorated rhetoric of affective democratic critique and governance.
T HOMAS W. B ENSON
Acknowledgments
I would like to thank the editorial staff at the University of South Carolina Press. They have been incredibly responsive, helpful, and professional throughout this process. There are some exceptional colleagues in rhetoric who deserve my thanks. Robert Asen, M. Lane Bruner, Ronald Greene, Mark Longaker, and Brian Ott all volunteered to read this manuscript even among so many other pressing obligations. Each of you represents the kind of scholar-one with equal doses of curiosity and generosity-that I hope to become. Additionally, I wish to thank the anonymous reviewers of the manuscript. Their nuanced reading and insightful comments demonstrated a careful engagement with my ideas, for which I am grateful. I am fortunate to have a local community of such commentators in my colleagues in the Department of English at the University of Nevada, Reno, and especially in the rhetoric and composition faculty. I have learned much from them as well as the graduate students with whom I have worked. I am particularly indebted to the informal reading group of graduate students and faculty who have studied Marx and Foucault with me. These discussions have sometimes been fast-paced and dynamic while at other times they have been thoughtful and lighthearted, but they have always been intellectually and personally fulfilling to me. A final thanks goes to my family and, in particular, to Madeline Chaput, who has become my touchstone in the world, reminding me that is it easier to theorize change than to practice it.
Introduction
A Genealogy of Affect in Market Thinking

O n a Sunday, a little more than a week before the August 2011 deadline for Congress to raise the United States debt ceiling or risk defaulting on our national obligations, the news media highlighted neither the Democrats nor the Republicans as rhetorical actors in this historical scene. Instead, the agent was the ephemeral entity we have placed our faith in for over two hundred years: the market. CNN s correspondent contended that the market, in fact, was the only adult at the discussion. The Democratic and Republican leadership were cast as children who placed their interests and agendas above economic laws. It was, therefore, up to the market to ensure a debt-ceiling increase and free finance capital from arbitrary constraints. That same Sunday s New York Times featured an article on the American diet that staged its argument similarly: healthier eating habits and healthcare cost savings would be accomplished by the market on its own accord. Here too the human agents of change were absent. In short, the news media that day declared that the market would negotiate our federal budget and implement a better national diet. This is far from anomalous. The economic imaginary present in these examples pervades contemporary political economic and cultural landscapes, distancing human agents from their social and individual choices.
These two examples and others like them simultaneously exemplify Adam Smith s invisible-hand metaphor and Marx s notion of alienation. Smith, the adopted father of free-market capitalism, is perhaps most remembered for his theory that conscious decisions to plan the economy often backfire. Deliberate interventions interfere with natural market processes that operate as though they were guided by an overarching invisible hand. His theory characterizes economic agency as an invisible force that silently instructs. For Marx, these extrahuman qualities derive from the market s origins in the human mind; the market, he says, is the alienated power of human beings. Human beings abdicate their world-making responsibilities by externalizing them within the fantasy of market forces. As we place our faith in this all-knowing construct, we displace our own agentive powers. The market shapes our political life-making decisions about the national debt, for instance-just as much as it contours our everyday lives-determining whether we make healthy lifestyle choices, to use the other example. The market comes to the table, acts appropriately, and determines future courses of action. A tried and true political economic agent, the market not only exists but thrives and proliferates. The question that needs to be answered, the question that underscores this book, is not whether the market exists but what the market is and how it cajoles so invisibly, effortlessly, and yet authoritatively.
At least part of the answer, the part on which I focus, suggests that the market is an affective force that influences rhetorical action by linking bodily receptivities to economic persuasion. The market feels real because it is the nominalization we give to the very real affective energies circulating throughout our lived experiences. An often-slippery concept, affect signifies a set of theories tracking diverse relationships among emotion, sensation, and everyday practices. Affect studies, across a range of approaches, has reinvigorated explorations of people s conscious and unconscious behaviors that had more or less come to an explanatory impasse in theories of ideology. In the Marxist tradition, ideological criticism presupposes an economic base that supports a multiplicity of cultural and political practices in the superstructure. Ideological inclinations, that is, derive from the specifics of our daily economic relations. Unmasking these causal relationships produces a different consciousness and thus different life patterns. Affect theory complicates this connection between materiality and consciousness by exploring the unconscious bodily mediations that influence how we understand and interact with the material world prior to conscious thought.
In the cultural studies tradition, for instance, Raymond Williams uses the term structure of feeling and Richard Hoggart refers to a felt quality of life to account for the perceived milieu constructed by the many factors underwriting individual and group sensibilities. They challenge the idea of an economic base and offer a more complex formula for understanding ideology. This initial rethinking has been expanded by a second generation of cultural theorists who benefit from the post-structural philosophies of such scholars as Gilles Deleuze and F lix Guattari. Deleuze and Guattari add desire to the social relations between materiality and consciousness, changing understandings of both ontological and epistemological ways of inhabiting the world. Thinkers such as Lawrence Grossberg, Lauren Berlant, and Melissa Gregg make use of affect through a nonlinear lens that seriously engages both the many facets of our consciousness and the radical open-endedness of identity and power relations. They replace rational and irrational as the terms for identifying nonideological from ideological thinking with a spectrum of affective and emotional assemblages, each of which offers a way of understanding and engaging in public debate. For them, it is just as important to study how communities habituate embodied ways of knowing as it is to analyze the cultivation of particular kinds of thinking.
A parallel, though sometimes overlapping, trajectory of affect studies focuses not on representation (the articulation of desires and ideologies to material objects) but on valuation (the process of producing material possibilities). Rather than locating the nodal point in Williams s structure of feeling, this

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