chapter  9
22 Pages

Neoclassical economics as a logic of subversion

WithArpad Szakolczai

Instead of reducing subversion to secret plotting for the violent undermining of established powers and authorities, this chapter starts from the presumption that we today, all of us, inside the advanced, democratic world, live inside subversion. In order to explore how such a situation could have emerged, the paper starts from similar diagnoses by Goethe and Dostoevsky, and then introduces a series of concepts from political anthropology, like trickster, imitation and liminality, to analyse the processes resulting in subversion. Focussing on the modern economy as a central modality of subversion, it argues that we do not live inside a market economy that developed gradually out of small-scale exchanges, but rather this economy should be conceived as a fairground that has become permanent. The chapter evokes three historical moments, and related trickster figures, central for such permanentisation of liminality. It finishes by presenting four concepts, utility, marginalism, interest and opportunity cost, which illustrate the trickster terminology of modern economics.