New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Archive for January 7th, 2011

Environmental Justice and the Derivatives Depression

January 07, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Economy

Undoing Neoliberalism through Solidarity Economics

by Devon G. Peña

Preparing for the start of a new semester at the University of Washington, I am pondering what to emphasize to students during the first day of classes. I am teaching two seminars, one focused on the study of food sovereignty movements, and the other a ‘theory’ course on the contributions of anthropology to the comparative study of social movements in the Mesoamerican Diaspora.

I already see numerous connections between the two themes: food sovereignty and theories of social movements. The first problem that occurs to me may not be at all obvious, namely the dilemma posed by the advent of what Christian Marazzi and others have called cognitive capitalism. This is the idea of a cyberspace-based realm of ‘high finance’ that profits from the construction of complicated credit default obligations, collateralized debt obligations, and other financial instruments that basically allow for the extraction of surplus value out of speculative thin air through the commodification of ‘risk.’ This development, Marazzi argues, has altered everything — including the prospects and methods needed for the multitude to escape hunger, malnutrition, and structural violence. (more…)