READING ON CARMEN – Instructor will specify pages!

Friday's reading, pages: 25-29; 37-44; 44-49.
Monday's reading, pages: 96-104; 109-115.

IMPORTANT: Lazzarato uses the term "neo-liberal," in this context is is not equivalent to Democrat. In fact, Ronald Reagan was the first neoliberal president, and Republicans tend to be more neoliberal than Democrats.

Neoliberalism is a political-economic philosophy that advocates
  1. privatizating public resources/wealth
  2. reducing government services
  3. cutting regulations
  4. increase in foreign trade through so-called "free trade"

Lazzarato is a critic of neoliberalism and says that it is to blame for today's "debt economy." Moreover, he thinks both Democrats and Republicans are to blame.

Wealth Charts:

Share of Wealth since 1979:

American's Perception vs. Reality of Wealth:
Racial Wealth gap:

Bailey Welch
Live Blogging – March 31
The Making of the Indebted Man, Day 2

  • Change in share of income
    • o The rich are getting richer and the poor are staying poor or getting poorer (since 1979)
    • o The top 20% has over 80% of the wealth in society today!
    • Median net worth of households, 2005 and 2009
      • o 2005
        • § Whites – 134,992
        • § Hispanics – 18,359
        • § Blacks – 12,124
  • o 2009
    • § Whites – 113,149
    • § Hispanics – 6,325
    • § Blacks – 5,677
      • o Sovereign power
        • § Money = debt
        • § Virtual and real
        • § “Too big to fail” – the banks were failing but the government HAD to bail them out because there was no other option in which the future would be stable.
  • o Disciplinary power – the ability for you to be coerced into doing something but you feel as though you made the choice for yourself.
    • § Example: In some prisons, the inmates are told that they’re always being watched, so they act as though they are being watched (good) at all times, whether that is actually true or not.
    • § Shift from social relations to individual “shareholders”
      • Shareholders control decisions but don’t do any of the work
      • Want to increase productivity by increasing the product
      • We are shareholders – we want everything to become a profit for us, so we want everyone to work harder to increase our share
      • The makers are the only “true citizens”; the takers contribute nothing to society.
  • o Bio power – looks at society as a group; everyone contributes
    • § Two-fold
      • Transfer revenue to businesses or the wealthy – everything goes to the businesses
      • Deficits and debt – people engage in society by taking on more debt
***Of the 7 billion people on earth, 1 billion of them live on less than 1$ a day!
  • Debt reconfiguration
    • o A tool used to separate people into wealthy and poor
    • o Sovereign debt – keeps people “in line” through their debt because money = debt
    • o Disciplinary debt – gets people to take on debt willingly (makes them believe it’s beneficial to them) and makes them feel as though they’re competing with others for gain
    • o Biopolitical debt – divides society into people in debt and people who are holding that debt over them
    • Neoliberal ideology – when governments are not involved, people are able to be more creative and less controlled

Bailey Welch
Live Blogging – March 28
The Making of the Indebted Man

***Debt predetermined one’s future.

  • p. 25-29 – Manufacturing Debt
    • o Approach: Historical essay through statistics about policy for government.
    • o Thesis: Debt is at the core of contemporary economy.
***How the government is run has nothing to do with the economy.
  • p. 37-44 – Basis of Social Rx
    • o “Domestication of Man” – debt used to turn people into people who can keep their promises and do what they say they’ll do.
      • § Author doesn’t like this because promise prohibit freedom.
  • o Economic exchange
  • o Symbolic exchange
  • p. 44-49 – Temporality of Debt (Possibility Choice Decision)
    • o Debt is objectification of the future in the present, therefore forecloses upon possible futures because one is promising that something that has not yet happened yet will happen in the future.
*Time is uncertain because it is open to any number of possibilities.

LIFE PLAN EXERCISE: Lay out what you’d like to happen in your life and then calculate the estimated amount of debt you will accrue. What will you have to do in order to make it possible for all of this to happen?

Laura Rickrich – Live Blog 3/28/14
Manufacturing Debt** (p. 25-29)
Approach: Historical
  • Stats – policy & government

Thesis: Debt is at the core of the contemporary economy. Our economy runs on debt today.

-Popular rhetoric used by politicians, ideologists, etc. is not actually how the economy is run.

-The way in which the economy actually runs has nothing to do with debt.

-Popular discourse about how debt hurts the economy… but actually, debt is how the economy runs and is essential to the economy.

Temporality of Debt – Possibility Choice Decision (p. 44-49)
-Debt changes how our social lives function.

-Credit – promise to pay a debt (p. 45)

-Time seems to be uncertain. Why?
Multiple possible ways for the future to happen. The future is open-ended. More potential in the future. You do not have to make a decision, whereas in the present you have already had to make decisions.

-Debt makes you choose for the future in the present. Predetermination of future time. Forecloses on possible futures.

-Debt = objectification of future in present.

-i.e. Mortgage loans – agreeing to have a job and at a certain rate (have to work make payments).

Checks and credit cards – financial instruments created by banks to teach people the credit/debtor relationship so that they could take on debts.

“Golden Handcuffs” – have to keep on career track even though you may not like it.

Socially necessary goods:
  • Car
  • Cellphone
  • Computer/internet
  • Credit card
  • House/apartment
  • Decent clothing

Process by which we are able to afford and maintain those things = debt, not out of savings.
Choice - multiple optional futures.

When you go into debt you are giving your decision over to those people.

Credit report can influence your ability to do things in your future.

Creditor Debtor Relationship as Social Relations (p. 37-44)
Subjectifications is our ability to understand ourselves.

1. symbolic exchange
2. economic exchange
3. "domestication of man"
(p. 39).

-Debts were used to turn humans into promising people.

-Choice that makes sure that you don't have a future choice.
-By promising you stand as a garniture of yourself. (honest, trustworthy) - actually an impediment on your freedom.

-Create a system of confidence and trust, but this only leads to a form of self-torture.

Henry Ford - Fordism
Productive bargain

Laura Rickrich – Live Blog 3.31.14
Social Facts about feminism:
-Women still make less than men
-College women are likely to be sexually assaulted

Social Facts about debt:
-Workers do not have an increase in salary vs. CEOs see huge increase (rich are getting richer and poor are staying the same or getting a little bit poorer).
-Top 20% have over 80% of the wealth in the U.S.
-Median white household in 2005 ~ $135,000 (Hispanic and blacks less, about 11:1)
-Wealth is good for – owning house, medical bills, purchasing power, etc.
-Median white household in 2009 ~ $113,000 (Hispanic and blacks less, but now about 20:1)
-Wealth is a major driver behind racial inequality


  • $ = Debt
  • “Real economy” – tangible, producing stuff, often linked to industry
  • When latter industry dies out or leaves country (internationalizes) results in more service industries – legal services, financial services, telemarketing
  • financialization – people trade futures
  • 2007 financial crisis – “Too big too fail” – government has to bail them out- had to be refinanced
  • Debt sovereign = person who controls the debt

  • Ability for you to be coerced into doing something but feeling like you had the choice
    • o i.e. college loans to go to college, or buy a house – social norms
    • o Ways in which society can be constructed in a way that gets people to create new habits even if they may not be immediately benefitting
    • Social à individual “shareholders”
      • o We want everything that we do to turn a profit, and there is a system to try to get others to do their work for them
      • Everyone competing to make $

  • Dealing with things as a whole populations (doesn’t look at things as individuals, but as a group)
  • Two fold process:
  1. 1. Massive transfer of revenue to business & wealthiest
  2. 2. Deficits & debt
  • Wolf of Wall Street – don’t make anything, goal is to move investors $ from their pocket to stockbroker’s pocket
  • Two groups in society now: People that are in debt (majority of people) and those holding majority of the wealth of society (20%)

Subprime Crisis (p.109-115)
Neoliberal Ideology – fails, creates more disparities
  • Things that used to be social rights no longer really exist (no right to housing, no right to tuition, etc.)
  • People have to make private investments
  • Subprime credit - income redistribution that leaves profit untouched
  • Requires majority of population to take on more and more debt