Seminar on Global Society IV
Crisis and Capital
The financial crisis of 2008 was a shock, not only to those who lost their homes due to foreclosure, watched their retirement savings plummet, or joined the swelling ranks of the unemployed, but it also came as a shock to the very people who were managing and directing the world economy. When pressed for an answer, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, responded by stating everyone “needs an ideology (in this case, free-market capitalism)… the question is whether it is accurate or not.” This course is designed to interrogate this statement in regards to the role of crisis in capitalism from a historical approach. The readings will begin with Karl Marx’s theorization of economic crises in the 19th century and then examine how other scholars, such as Josef Schumpeter, Uno Kozo, Karatani Kojin, Eric Cazdyn, and Slavoj Zizek, have rethought the concept of crisis up to the contemporary moment. The common element linking these thinkers together is their use of the dialectical method, which examines the nature of contradiction as well as the relation between content and form. The aim of this course is to introduce students to theories of crisis so that they can better understand the structural role it plays in a capitalist economy while also encouraging students to interrogate how they relate to their own object of study.