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Fabio Vighi’s Senile Capitalism Theory and the Ongoing Banking Crisis of March 2023


What does a Marx+Foucault framework look like for understanding contemporary capital crises? [1] Look no further than the work of Italian Marxist Fabio Vighi.

At the start of each essay in his ongoing project, Vighi makes clear that he wants his readers to consider what happens to a capitalist society when it no longer centrally runs on the production of profit via the exploitation of waged labor (or, the extraction of surplus value from a waged worker’s labor power). He gathers this question through a reading of “The Fragment on Machines,” an essay found in Marx’s Grundrisse. In this essay, as Michael McBride notes, Marx “seems to imply that the very act of automation transforms the framework he has established in his previous texts.” It breaks down the revolutionary subjecthood of the working class, in that – as Marx notes – it “no longer appears so much to be included within the production process.” Worth quoting Marx at length here:

[T]he human being comes to relate more as watchman and regulator to the production process itself…As soon as labor in the direct form has ceased to be the great well-spring of wealth, labor time ceases and must cease to be its measure. Capitalism thus works toward its own dissolution as the form dominating production….[T]he general reduction of necessary labor of society to a minimum, which corresponds to the artistic, scientific etc. development of individuals in the time set free, and with the means created, for all of them. Capital itself is the moving contradiction, [in] that it presses to reduce labor time to a minimum, while it posits labor time, on the other side, as sole measure and source of wealth.

The contradiction of capital is the push by major capitalists to reduce labor time (to reduce labor costs, to outcompete competitors) at the same time that labor is the source of surplus value/wealth. The battle to outcompete through efficiency leads to such high levels of productivity and savings, with less labor time/cost required, that capitalists are no longer able to extract as much surplus value since they’ve now put themselves in a situation where there is less human labor to exploit. Vighi agrees with the British Marxist Ted Reese that what Marx was speculating on in Grundrisse is not dissimilar to what we’re experiencing today, with automation leading to “prices trend[ing] secularly towards zero.” For a few wide-ranging examples, Reese notes:

[T]he fastest supercomputer in 1975 was worth $5m ($32m in 2013 money); an iPhone 4 released in 2010 with the equivalent performance was $400. Aerospace companies producing propulsion systems in 2010 for $24m in 24 months were by 2019 3-D printing them for $2,000 in two weeks [citing A. Bastani, Fully Automated Luxury Communism, Verso, 2019, p. 123]. One gigabyte of data storage fell from around $200,000 in 1980 to $0.03 in 2014. According to Rethink X, cheaply growing “unlimited” amounts of food in vats through ‘precision fermentation’ – feedstock plus gene-edited microbes (a form of automation) – will soon “sweep away the industrial dairy and meat industries”. In 2000, the cost of producing one kilogram of one type of molecule through precision fermentation cost $1million, but fell to around $100 in 2020, when it was on course to become cost-competitive with bulk animal protein ($10 per kg for casein and whey) by 2025. It is expected to be five times cheaper than traditional animal proteins by 2030.

So what happens when prices such as these trend toward zero? Reese argues that an under-accumulation of labor-produced surplus value is paired with an overaccumulation of value “increasingly dependent on the efficiency of central planning both at the state level (e.g., central bank intervention) and within private enterprises; industrial monopolization (mergers & acquisitions); and state subsidies, facilities and contracts.”

Vighi takes a slightly different angle on what happens, though similarly coalescing around crises of accumulation, automation, the narrowing of necessary waged labor time, and state management:

The current implosion reflects the historical exhaustion of the value-creating substance of capital; the fact that the fundamental ingredient of value itself – labor – is vanishing irreversibly while automated (technological) productivity takes off…

…Every leap in post-industrial technological innovation driven by capital, no matter how green or desirable, will cause unemployment and poverty to grow, together with the imposition of widespread repressive measures upon entire populations.

Vighi’s story begins at a typical starting point for understanding the rise of the particular kind of capitalist hegemony we see today. This is, of course, the dawn of neoliberalism. He briefly points to some financial policy and business shifts in the 60s and 70s before focusing on the 80s as the real starting point, at least for established/institutionalized neoliberalism and financial capitalism, two objects of analysis he refuses to separate, a third being biopolitics, which he will introduce later in his story. [2]

But before re-telling this story, if I even have space, we seriously need to put all of Vighi’s cards on the table. It would be disingenuous to not disclose his ‘senile’ perspective up front. Vighi is a firm believer that COVID-19 lockdowns were a biopolitical strategy orchestrated by the state and elite capital. He insists that global lockdowns were paired with mass government injection of artificially produced liquidity (cash) into the economy. He insists that that the systematic, centralized injection of liquidity was required to save the rentier, financial, credit-based capitalist system from collapse:

[S]everal trillions of newly printed cash have been created with a few clicks of a mouse by central banks and injected into financial systems, where they have in great part remained. The aim of the printing-spree was to plug calamitous liquidity gaps. Most of this ‘magic-tree money’ is still frozen inside the shadow banking system, the stock exchanges, and various virtual currency schemes that are not meant to be used for spending and investment. Their function is solely to provide cheap loans for financial speculation. This is what Marx called ‘fictitious capital’, which continues to expand in an orbital loop that is now completely independent of economic cycles on the ground.

Such an injection, Vighi argues, would be hyperinflationary unless it was paired with a recalibrating slowdown in the real economy (e.g., the realm of commodity production, of goods and services). Vighi saw pandemic lockdowns as serving this function. In this sense, the pandemic was/is a simulation, executed for the purpose of saving the financial system by constructing an emergency, a state of exception, that allowed for extreme monetary and social policy measures necessary to save the illiquidity problem:

The only road into the capitalist future continues to be signposted by liquidity creation programs. Creating cash ‘out of nothing’, and setting it in motion as credit, is the elementary monetary strategy that keeps our societies from staring into the abyss – like the cartoon character who, having run off the edge of a cliff, floats in mid-air before acknowledging gravity… The central bankers’ cavalry will return with more sustained monetary injections as soon as deemed necessary – most likely, under the protective shield of the next emergency.

Removing ourselves momentarily from the possible discomfort of Covid politics, we can find other states of exception made by regulators in order to save the banking industry, arguably the hegemonic realm of capital today (the realm of speculative, fictitious capital. More on this later). Just this March 12th, the Federal Reserve issued an emergency declaration regarding the closing down of three U.S. banks in the last week (Silvergate, Silicon Valley Bank, and Signature). The government halted the operations of the banks and declared the setup of an emergency lending program. As the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System notes:

To support American businesses and households, the Federal Reserve Board on Sunday announced it will make available additional funding to eligible depository institutions to help assure banks have the ability to meet the needs of all their depositors. This action will bolster the capacity of the banking system to safeguard deposits and ensure the ongoing provision of money and credit to the economy. The Federal Reserve is prepared to address any liquidity pressures that may arise. The additional funding will be made available through the creation of a new Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP), offering loans of up to one year in length to banks, savings associations, credit unions, and other eligible depository institutions pledging U.S. Treasuries, agency debt and mortgage-backed securities, and other qualifying assets as collateral. These assets will be valued at par. The BTFP will be an additional source of liquidity against high-quality securities, eliminating an institution’s need to quickly sell those securities in times of stress. With approval of the Treasury Secretary, the Department of the Treasury will make available up to $25 billion from the Exchange Stabilization Fund as a backstop for the BTFP.

As New York Times reported the same day:

The aggressive actions to save the failed bank’s depositors from pain and to prop up the banking sector as a whole demonstrated that officials had become worried that the cracks that surfaced at Silicon Valley Bank earlier this week — ones that tied back to a recent and rapid rise in interest rates as the Fed fights inflation — could morph into a systemwide crisis if not halted. The F.D.I.C. is usually supposed to clean up a failed bank in the cheapest way possible, but regulators agreed that the situation posed a risk to the financial system, which allowed them to invoke an exception to that rule [my italics]. In doing so, this will create a workaround to financial institutions that have seen the market value of their long-term asset holdings fall as interest rates have risen. Many banks are sitting on big “unrealized losses” because of the shift in rates over the past year: That is partly what brought Silicon Valley Bank down. Now, they will be able to borrow against the original value of their asset holdings at the Fed. That will give them bigger cash infusions, and prevent them from having to sell in desperation.

Beyond the government’s invocation of a state of exception, in further perusing the NYT article we’re provided with an excellent opportunity to reveal the fruits of a Foucauldian discourse analysis, a method that can serve to break down the naturalized discourses that capitalist and capitalist regulators use to regulate economic management and evade systemic concern. In the NYT article, the reporters supplanted their description of the actions of the Federal Reserve with a criticism from the head North American economist at private economic research and consultant firm Capital Economics, Paul Ashworth. Regarding the government initiative, Ashworth communicated to his concerned clients that:

Rationally, this should be enough to stop any contagion from spreading and taking down more banks, which can happen in the blink of an eye in the digital age… But contagion has always been more about irrational fear, so we would stress that there is no guarantee this will work.

Using the tools of something like a Foucaultian discourse analysis, we can see how this is illusory. We can note how the capital consultant is blaming the contagions (pathologies, irrationality) in an otherwise supposed-to-be smoothly running system. We can understand that the economist is wrapped up in an episteme that views capitalism as a rational system whose problems are caused by irrational players. We can then turn to Marxist-infused discourses to suggest the ‘contagions’ are in fact a result of a system bound up in a crisis, with many self-interested players merely protecting their interests, where the slightest contingencies/unexpectencies – not contagions, or errors – may wreak havoc to a fragility propped system (unexpectencies which arise due to the impossibility of totalizing knowledge about the economy,past present or future. Or as Foucault notes in the Birth of Biopolitics, “economics is a discipline without totality…[there is] an inability to master the totality of the economic field”). [3]

Back to Vighi’s narrative

I’ve gotten carried away, as it is quite difficult not to see in the financial panic of March 2023 some of the phenomena that those like Vighi have warned about. So let’s back up a little. Before I started going on about Vighi’s biopolitical pandemic theory, I said I would re-tell his story of the history of structural crises under the global capitalist system. I will try below:

Capitalism’s world-historic process has hitherto resulted in structural crises approximately every 40-50 years, revolving around crises of capital accumulation. [4] We may consider each 40-50 year period a conjuncture, where structural crises result in a shift to the next conjuncture. Though this will be reductive, let me try to string together a brief chronology gleaned from Vighi, with some empirical help from William Robinson for the more recent phenomena and theoretical help from David Harvey regarding the rise of fictitious capital. The first known crisis is of the 1870s, which led to a new wave of colonialism and imperialism. The next, World War I and the Great Depression, led not only to fascism but also to its opposite movements: Keynesian, social democratic, and New Deal-style capitalism. Then, the next crisis of accumulation and accompanying structural crises came around the late 60s early 70s – followed by exceptional financial and territorial measures of restructuration – led to our part neoliberal, part neocolonial, part neofeudalist conjuncture. Finally, today, we are in another structural crisis due to the logics of these various systems of governance. The present crisis has built up in large part because of the reliance on two things: (1) fictitious capital, (2) debt-driven growth, reliances that resulted from some of the exceptional state and private financial measures taken due to the previous conjuncture’s accumulation crisis.

Throughout the 90s, after the major restructurings of financial institutions and policy during the 70s and 80s, capital was doing alright, with a steady rate of profit and massive increases to the total output of commodities in the global economy. This was especially the case because China, with the largest population in the world, had become subsumed under the spell of capital. But due to the policy shifts and new credit systems introduced in the 70s and especially the 80s, credit and debt becomes much more significant for steady economic flow. Credit and debt pile up into the 90s. The fictitious capital of credit, as David Harvey notes, “starts to circulate in search of [more] fictitious capital.” A whole range of fictitious capital markets are being created: You can actually go out now and instead of investing in production, you can start to trade stocks and shares against government debt, against carbon futures, against financial currency futures. Capital can now simply invest in capital: You can borrow more money to pay the interest on the money you just borrowed.

Most importantly, as with Vighi and Robinson, Harvey notes a “huge gap” between fictitious capital and real capital in circulation. He speculates that “there [is] likely to be a very serious crash in the financial system, particularly because fictitious capital is actually built now into a global Ponzi scheme. And a Ponzi scheme invariably becomes undone, except in this case the Ponzi scheme is so big that you can’t afford to undo it.”

The debt that builds from this scheme is enormous. Household debt dramatically increased leading up to 2008, and has continued since then; further, total government debt via the global bond market has increased to $100 trillion with U.S. accounting for 1/5 of that ($20 trillion). All in all, total global debt in 2017 was at $250 trillion. [5]

Government and household debt, as Vighi is keen to note in his most recent breakdown of “senile economics,” is quintessentially apart of our neoliberal turn, which politically-judicially is accompanied by a use of the state (Reaganomics, Thatcherism) to (1) subsidize “essential” corporations/industries and (2) transfer wealth from the working class majority to the upper class minority (and especially the transnational capitalist class), through austerity measures (cutting public programs or massively limiting government spending in said programs), reconfiguration of tax policy, and bonds/subsidies to investors. Or as Robinson notes:

Governments issue bonds to investors in order to close government budget deficits and also to subsidize private accumulation so as to keep the economy going. They then have to pay back these bonds, with interest, by extracting taxes from current and future wages of the working class. [6]

Such bond practices have especially picked up since (1) the 2008 financial crisis, and (2) the COVID pandemic. Central Bank interest rate policy has come to take on a much greater role in the bond market. Federal financial regulators have made it a policy to protect banks from collapse by allowing them to buy government bonds with a near-zero interest rate. Banks, as Krystal Ball notes, have come to rely on these ‘low risk assets’ to merely stay afloat (low risk in comparison to private lending, which comes with much higher interest charges). Unfortunately, in moments that the Feds feel it necessary to raise interest rates in order to fight inflation, such as in 2023, the fragility of private banks’ reliance on bonds is revealed. When interest rates go up, it is much more financially difficult for those banks to obtain bonds. Default becomes a major risk. Beyond banks, higher interest rates have trickle effects leading to less production in the goods and services economy, leading to more job loss. It is seemingly impossible for federal regulators not to know this, making the management of interest rates by the Central Bank not just a financial tool but a significantly biopolitical one.

It gets worse. Accompanying these large scale financial-political shifts is the dominance of financial speculation, where global derivative market nears $1.2 quadrillion in 2017, compared to “gross world product or the total value of goods and services produced worldwide” at some $75 trillion. [7] Finally, this financialization turn since the 70s (and especially since the post-Great Recession of 2008 that it led to), has been accompanied by the digitalization of the economy and much investment/speculation pouring into the tech sector, which at present remains overvalued relative to output/revenue:

The enormous cash reserves and profits accumulated in the tech sector do not represent the production of new value so much as the appropriation by digital capitalists of the lion’s share of surplus value through rent…Absent major state intervention in labor markets and to promote redistributive policies, the emerging digital economy cannot resolve the problem of overaccumulation. In addition, there is every reason to believe that digitalization will only further undermine the ability of states to impose any sort of regulation on transnationally mobile capital, in particular, transnational finance capital, which is the hegemonic fraction of capital globally. It will therefore aggravate problems of state legitimacy. [8]

Though I’m leaving out much detail, I think this gets at the thrust of the story that Vighi tells. So where were we? What’s Vighi’s next step in analysis and speculation? Ah yes, the pandemic as simulation theory…the construction of a state of exception in the attempt to solve an illiquidity problem. Without having to accept or even consider such a view, it’s worth focusing in on what Vighi means by the need to bring in extreme monetary and social policy measures in order to save an illiquidity problem. What does that mean? What is an illiquidity problem?

Vighi points to the end of 2019. By the end of 2019, before Covid as crisis, Vighi argues that the financial sector was at risk of rapidly becoming illiquid, something that is not uncommon to the historical dynamics of capitalism. Illiquidity means being out of cash flow for reinvestment. This results in a crisis of accumulation, really a crisis of overaccumulation, meaning that there is too much artificially accumulated capital in capitalist hands without an outlet for reinvestment into the real economy (that expansionist thing that capitalism needs to sustain itself and the broader social system it leads):

If liquidity does dry up, we will hit the deflationary spiral, like drink-driving at full speed against a wall. Whatever can no longer be financed through credit will be brought to a standstill. Banks will refuse to lend and bank accounts could be frozen. Deflationary capital destruction through the meltdown of debt & stock markets would annihilate currencies and livelihoods…The future seems to offer a choice between structural stagflation (stagnant economy with high inflation) and an abrupt deflationary depression – like a choice between bleeding to death and suffering a heart attack. Either way, the divide between the super-rich and all the rest will increase further, with catastrophic consequences for humanity.

Vighi makes clear that private banks and financial consultant firms were themselves aware of the looming crisis of illiquidity. BlackRock, a globally dominant investment company with a ferocious amount of asset ownership and lobbying power, went as far as to warn global central banks to “find ‘unconventional’ remedies to avoid the coming downturn.” Specifically, they pushed for ‘unprecedented response’ described as ‘going direct’: ‘Going direct’ means the central bank finding ways to get central bank money directly into the hands of the public and private sector spenders, while making sure that such massive money printing and insertion into public circulation does not trigger a potentially devastating inflation.

But we can go even further back than BlackRock white papers from late 2019. Vighi points to a 2010 Rockefeller Foundation pamphlet that details a range of hypothetical scenarios for risk management. One hypothetical, reports Vighi, was the “lock step” scenario, which:

predicted a deadly zoonotic pandemic, saying, ‘the pandemic that the world had been anticipating for years finally hit,’ and the ensuing imposition of ‘airtight rules and restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face masks to body-temperature checks at the entries to communal spaces like train stations and supermarkets…after the pandemic faded, this more authoritarian control and oversight of citizens and their activities stuck and even intensified. In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems—from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty—leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power.’

For Vighi, this is what the CARES Act and COVID were, without ever going as far as to say that the disease itself was purposely introduced, more so that it’s been capitalized on and exceptionalized, allowing for heavy economic and population regulation, regardless of the disease’s origin. A banking, corporation, small business, and household stimulus paired with social lockdown. Household spending decreased significantly during the pandemic, even if it was going up a lot in certain areas of the economy. Thus, inflation was stalled.

COVID-19 was, in this critical Foucaultian-Agamben-Marxist biopolitical lens, an unprecedented globally scaled attempt to restore the expansive (growth) capacity of artificial liquidity. It momentarily saved the economic system from collapse due to internal contradictions. Vighi argues that a biopolitical regime – through science, healthism, and a governmentality ethics of social responsibility – played one of the biggest roles in ensuring this system-wide restructuring act. This discursive construction of emergency capitalism and states of exception is what allows for authoritarian regulation in a manufactured consent kind of way:

What is spelt out in th[e] remarkable piece of creative writing from the Rockefeller think-tank is, ultimately, the connection between Lockdowns and Poverty: ‘authoritarian control’ helps against ‘global problems’ like ‘rising poverty’. Is this authoritarian world not the world we already live in? Is the fiction not more real than reality itself? Those who believe that lockdowns are a thing of the past, had better think twice. The normalisation of repression and surveillance that began with 9/11 and continued with COVID-19 is now about to accelerate.


How much do I accept this view laid out by Vighi? Honestly, I’m not sure. There is strong explanatory affect, it is exciting and daunting, and it certainly reveals the spectacular lengths to which an informal Marx+Foucault framework can go. And to be fair, Foucault himself had his own cynical views on epidemics, including the one that took his life. [9] And this raises an interesting point in the way that health crises can be very real, worth taking seriously, while still also thinking critically about the way in which emergency events can take on simulation-like characteristics so as to ideologically legitimize states of exception that allow for massive reconfiguring of populations and economies under the advisement and mechanisms of state agencies and financial capital.

In Vighi’s case, we can appreciate three insights: (1) Pointing out the way in which the present crisis of accumulation arises from a gap between fictitious capital and real capital, or in other words, the gap between speculative value and real value that arises due to contradictions that led to the ongoing difficulty for large commodity-based capitalists to extract the sufficient amount of surplus value from human labor, surplus value that is necessary in order to re-invest and stay competitive, unless you take on credit/debt. (2) Vighi points to the credit system’s status in 2019, detailing how top banks and investment firms wrote white papers warning about a bubbling debt crisis that called for exceptional measures in economic and biopolitical management. (3) One does not have to assume that COVID has nefarious origins, or that it’s not a serious health threat, to accept that state/central banks worked, with advice from private bank consultants, to pump enormous sums of liquidity into private banks, businesses, and households, in order to help resolve not just the pandemic but the economic crisis which was emerging prior to it. I’m certainly tempted to accept that this is a systemic restructuration attempt in line with what I theorized in a prior Sublation essay.

Further, despite the speculative nature of Vighi’s work, it points to substantial sources ripe for discourse and political economic analysis, whether investment firms and financial consultants, private banks, central banks, presidential administrations, or news coverage. Does it offer much hope, though? Paths for resistance, change? Though descriptive-explanatory projects need not be accompanied by prescriptions and strategies for them to useful (i.e., other projects can use these analyses to theorize about prescriptions and strategies), Vighi does point in a few directions. He argues that now is one of those moments of structural crisis in capitalist history ripe for ideological, counter-hegemonic capture, particular given the accompanying crisis of state legitimacy that manifests alongside crises of accumulation:

And yet, not all is lost. Despite the unstoppable convergence of science and capitalism in establishing a watertight belief-system that excludes dissent, our successfully paranoid universe will fail to totalize its structure. Paradoxically, the current crackdown on humanity may be the best chance yet for radical opposition to the coming regime of capitalist accumulation and its relentless emergency blackmail.

Tracking similar trends, though without the biopolitical-dystopian focus that Vighi offers, Ted Reese makes a slightly different (and more concretely hopeful) case, reinvigorating the possibility for socialism amidst the self-destructive collapse of capitalism:

Since the workforce has been deindustrialized (shifted out of manufacturing) and is now almost entirely services-based – services workers produce relatively little new surplus value per commodity since they tend to handle finished or near-finished commodities – stable economic growth can only be established by abolishing exchange between private producers; i.e. no exchange of ownership takes place between social enterprises, making ‘trade’ truly free. With socialism, ‘value’ (used only as an accounting tool) is created not by anarchic (recessions and destructive competition), for-profit commodity-production but by planned (co-operative and co-ordinated), break-even utility-production.

This of course points to a long term possibility or vision. In the existing state of affairs (one of an intricately linked global system of digitality, credit, production, and exploitation), the desire to do nothing and allow banks to collapse might seem principally right. But the idea that allowing these massive banks to fail is even an option, that seems to go against the pragmatics of existing systems of power. It would never be allowed to happen because the state is aware of the fact that if that does happen, the national and global system would collapse. Collapse here would not be a particularly exciting revolution or restructuration given the lack of existing state welfare and, more importantly, militant organization for liberation movements surrounding interlocked oppressions. Yes, the capital system is reconciling with its internal agitations, the dialectic is advancing, but society would seemingly collapse if the banking and credit system did. I imagine masses of businesses would close or dial back production (both large and small businesses, and in both goods and service sectors), causing layoffs for masses of wage workers now without their means of self-reproduction. Unfortunately, beyond raising consciousness about systemic crises and the various state and capital mechanisms of crisis management, I am not particularly in the business of recommendations for getting out of banking or capital crises. The Marxist circles I hail from suggest the nationalization of banks to some significant degrees.

[1] Why am I pairing this essay with the establishment of a Marx+Foucault framework? Because I believe there exists such a thing as Marxist-Foucaultianism, and I believe it is a relatively useful intellectual current. Through Foucault, class-focused Marxists can look to disciplinary power and biopower for better explanations of why disparate working class populations struggle to gain sufficient class consciousness, or in more sociological terms, a critical mass capable of leveraging socio-political power in the pursuit of shared interest. Conversely, through Marx, biopolitical or surveillance theorists can look to various contradictory socio-economic tendencies of capital flow – within an institutionalized capitalist world – as an explanation for why biopolitics and surveillance societies are even necessary, what their ends are, and who their targets are. The thrust of my project is to look closely at these political-intellectual junctions in the pursuit of a better descriptive and explanatory analysis of generalized modern conditions. Crucially, some connections to economic theory are personally laid out by Foucault in both his early works, such as in Madness and Civilization, and his late works, such as his studyof the history of (the study of) political economy and its relation to the rise of neoliberalism, which he undertook during his interest in biopolitics and which led him to articulate the concept of governmentality (and the role of economic utilitarianism and the market principle in the more particular neoliberal governmentality). Around this time, in the late 70s, the Greek Marxist Nicos Poulantzas was taking up Foucault’s theories of state and power in order to better understand capitalist societies, economic logics, and class relations. Then in the 1990s, as more of Foucault’s work on neoliberalism and biopolitics were being released after his death in ‘84, the historian of psychology Nikolas Rose took up Foucault’s theory of neoliberal governmentality in order to explain the rise of a new individualist entrepreneurial ethos which was dramatically shifting how employers managed their employees (turning to employee satisfaction as an indirect way to increase productivity, as opposed to directly trying to increase productivity through discipline or repression).

[2] In this paper, the running definition of biopolitics will be: a political-economic strategy of following population trends – through demographic measurement, statistics, and forecasts, which requires advanced surveillance tech – in order to intervene in and/or regulate population ?pathologies? as efficiently as possible, where pathologies are understood as that which causes lack of productivity and efficiency within the economy, and more generally, lack of cohesion-stability within a geo-political territory. Stability does not entail social equality, it just entails the maintenance of a political-economic system. Stability is the goal, regulation of population is part of the path. In Society Must Be Defended, Foucault makes clear that tracking population trends becomes about knowing ?a population that one wishes to regularize? (253). As he further ponders: What does this new technology of power, this biopolitics, this biopower that is beginning to establish itself, involve?…[A] set of processes such as? the birth rate, the mortality rate, longevity, and so on ? together with a whole series of related economic and political problems?which, in the second half of the eighteenth century, become biopolitics’ first objects of knowledge and the targets it seeks to control (243). Or more succinctly: A technology which brings together the mass effects characteristic of a population, which tries to control the series of random events that can occur in a living mass (249). See Michel Foucault, ?17 March 1976,? Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the College de France 1975-76, Picador, 2003, 239-264.

[3] Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–79, Palgrave, 2008, 292.

[4] William I. Robinson, “Global Capitalist Crisis and Twenty-First Century Fascism: Beyond the Trump Hype,” Science & Society,83(2), 2019.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 159.

[7] Ibid., 159.

[8] Ibid., 160.

[9] In a 2014 interview with The Nation, American writer Edmund White was asked about Foucault’s view on AIDS, as White and Foucault had been friends. The transcript reads as follows.

Interviewer: Michel Foucault died of AIDS in 1984—what had his understanding of AIDS been?

White: I’d told him about it in 1981 when I was visiting, and he laughed at me and said, “This is some new piece of American Puritanism. You’ve dreamed up a disease that punishes only gays and blacks? Why don’t you throw in child molesters too?”

[3] Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–79, Palgrave, 2008, 292.

[4] William I. Robinson, “Global Capitalist Crisis and Twenty-First Century Fascism: Beyond the Trump Hype,” Science & Society,83(2), 2019.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 159.

[7] Ibid., 159.

[8] Ibid., 160.

[9] In a 2014 interview with The Nation, American writer Edmund White was asked about Foucault’s view on AIDS, as White and Foucault had been friends. The transcript reads as follows.

Interviewer: Michel Foucault died of AIDS in 1984—what had his understanding of AIDS been?

White: I’d told him about it in 1981 when I was visiting, and he laughed at me and said, “This is some new piece of American Puritanism. You’ve dreamed up a disease that punishes only gays and blacks? Why don’t you throw in child molesters too?”