Debt as Original Sin
With Joshua Ramey
Tuesdays, May 5-June 9, 6-8:30pm EST
Part I of the “For The Remains: Undoing Economic Sovereignty” seminar series
Over the next year Joshua Ramey will be completing the manuscript of a new book, For the Remains: Undoing Economic Sovereignty. In collaboration with Incite Seminars, he will offer three 6-week public seminars on its key sources, themes, and concepts. The book will be written over the course of this three-part public seminar, and will be published in a free and open-access format.
For the Remains is the culmination of ten years of research in political economy and political theology, a follow-up to Ramey’s 2016 book Politics of Divination: Neoliberal Endgame and the Religion of Contingency. The demands of economic growth—of production and consumption, and above all of debt servicing—are destroying planetary life. And yet the powers that be relinquish neither their murderously extractive practices of financial speculation nor their obsessive devotion to the illusion of endless economic growth. As many others have argued before, the willingness of human beings to sacrifice and to suffer for the accumulation of capital is a religious commitment to a ritual practice of a violence. As the theology justifying this violence, the discourse of economics is sacred, and to question it, anathema. To displace its religious power, For The Remains will argue that the discourse and practice economics as we know it must be abolished.
For The Remains Seminar Series
Part I, “Debt as Original Sin,” (May 5 – June 9, 2020) traces the origin of the neoliberal society of permanent indebtedness to its roots in religion, in particular in the enduring legacy of Christian theology and its afterlife in so-called secular modernity.
Part II, “Production or Enslavement” (October-November 2020) reads modern industrial (and “post-industrial” life) as an after-life of disavowed racialization and ongoing slavery at one with anti-blackness, sexism, and ableism.
Part III, “Becoming Soil,” (April-May 2021) is a speculative attempt to construct a non-economic concept of social life that draws from Edouard Glissant’s notion of individuality as opacity, Donna Haraway’s transhumanist concept of “compost people,” and sources heavily from both animist cosmologies and ancestor-reverent traditions of ritual practice.
“Debt as Original Sin” – Tuesdays, May 5 – June 9, 6-8:30pm
May 5: Why Must We Pay?
A study of various forms of indebtedness and practices of periodic debt forgiveness in the ancient near east, by way of the work of economist and historian Michael Hudson. This seminar will focus on Hudson’s thesis that the modern creditor oligarchy comes to power in Rome and has remained essentially unchallenged in its domination of political possibility, ever since.
Text: Michael Hudson, . . . And Forgive Them Their Debts: Lending, Foreclosure, and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Year of Jubilee
May 12: Blood Money: Social Death and Abstract Value
A reading of David Graeber’s groundbreaking work on the historical connections between violence and abstract forms of calculation, and the origins of modern money at the conjuncture of warfare, slavery/colonization, and financial speculation.
Text: David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years
May 19: Indebted for Life
An examination of the work of Maurizio Lazzarato, Roberto Esposito, and Elettra Stimilli on how and why neoliberal capitalism produces not just debt but indebted subjectivity, and life as perpetual indebtedness.
- Maurizio Lazzarato, Governing by Debt
- Roberto Esposito, Two
- Elettra Stimilli, Debt and Guilt
May 26: What Did Jesus (Not) Do?
A look at the historical role of Christian theology as foundational to neoliberal governance and political economy.
- Giorgio Agamben, The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government
- Devin Singh: Divine Currency: The Theological Power of Money in the West
- Dotan Leshem: The Origins of Neoliberalism: Modeling the Economy from Jesus to Foucault
- Adam Kotsko: Neoliberalism’s Demons: On the Political Theology of Late Capital
June 2: Credit or Faith?
An examination of the work of Philip Goodchild, who argues that the neoliberal society of debt and guilt can be transformed into a society of credit and faith.
Text: Philip Goodchild, Credit and Faith, Vol. I.
June 9: Show Me a Body
The key problem for economy may not be how to extend credit but how to negotiate the need for bodily interpenetration. This final meeting is a reading of Pierre Klossowski’s Living Currency, which argues that the modern industrial era is not invested in producing commodities or technological innovation, but in the control and regulation of desiring bodies. This final meeting of Seminar I anticipates themes and concepts of the Seminar II, “Production as Enslavement,” to begin in October 2020. That seminar will critique the basis of capitalist political economy in a systemic anti-black racism, misogyny, and necropolitical colonization whose ultimate purpose is not the production of wealth but of domination.
Text: Pierre Klossowski, Living Currency
Facilitator: Joshua Ramey, PhD is a writer, educator, and shamanic practitioner based in Philadelphia. He is the author of The Hermetic Deleuze: Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal and Politics of Divination: Neoliberal Endgame and the Religion of Contingency. Since earning his Doctorate in Philosophy from Villanova University in 2006, he has held positions at Grinnell College, Haverford College, and Rowan University. He is currently devoting his time and energy to writing in and teaching for counter-institutional initiatives like Incite Seminars. Support his work at www.patreon.com/joshuaramey. Learn more about his shamanic work at www.becoming-fluid.com.
Dates: Tuesdays, May 5-June 9, 6-8:30pm EST
Cost: To pay for this seminar, please sign up to support Joshua Ramey via his Patreon at any level of contribution. This seminar series is designed to enable the writing and publication of Dr. Ramey’s book For The Remains: Undoing Economic Sovereignty over the course of the next 18 months. By becoming a Patreon supporter, you will gain access to all the live and archived seminars related to this project, as well as receive advance chapters of the book incrementally and the finished manuscript upon completion. We are experimenting with creating a different model of collective knowledge production and distribution, rather than “selling” you and “educational product.” Please join us in this experiment!
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