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Revenge Capitalism

Revenge Capitalism

The Ghosts of Empire, the Demons of Capital, and the Settling of Unpayable Debts

Max Haiven

Capitalism has become a system of economic revenge, meted out against oppressed populations around the globe.

Capitalism is in a profound state of crisis. Beyond the mere dispassionate cruelty of 'ordinary' structural violence, it appears today as a global system bent on reckless economic revenge; its expression found in mass incarceration, climate chaos, unpayable debt, pharmaceutical violence and the relentless degradation of common life.

In Revenge Capitalism, Max Haiven argues that this economic vengeance helps us explain the culture and politics of revenge we see in society more broadly. Moving from the history of colonialism and its continuing effects today, he examines the opioid crisis in the US, the growth of 'surplus populations' worldwide and unpacks the central paradigm of unpayable debts - both as reparations owed, and as a methodology of oppression.

Revenge Capitalism offers no easy answers, but is a powerful call to the radical imagination.

Max Haiven is Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice at Lakehead University, Canada. His books include Art after Money, Money after Art (Pluto, 2018), Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power (Zed Books, 2004), Cultures of Financialization (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014) and the Radical Imagination (Zed Books, 2014).

'Perhaps the most theoretically creative radical thinker of the moment' - David Graeber, author of 'Debt: The First 5000 Years'

'A deeply learned debt warrior, Haiven lays bare the abject cruelty of financial capitalism, and provides us with a rich supply of sources and arguments for a fightback that gives as good as it takes' - Andrew Ross, author of 'Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal'

'Max Haiven retraces the roots of the current regression, of the reactionary trend that is driving the world toward a new darkness. These roots are humiliation and revenge. In my opinion, this book is of strategic importance' - Franco Berardi, author of 'Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility'

Introduction: We Want Revenge
1. Toward a materialist theory of revenge
Interlude: Shylock’s vindication, or Venice’s bonds?
2. The work of art in an age of unpayable debts: social reproduction, geopolitics, and settler colonialism
Interlude: Ahab’s coin, or Moby Dick’s currencies?
3. Money as a medium of vengeance: Colonial accumulation and proletarian practices
Interlude: Khloé Kardashian’s revenge body, or the Zapatisa nobody?
4. Our opium Wars: Pain, race, and the ghosts of empire
Interlude: V’s vendetta, or Joker’s retribution?
5. The dead zone: Financialized nihilism, toxic wealth, and vindictive technologies
Conclusion: Revenge fantasy or avenging imaginary?
Coda: 11 Theses on revenge capitalism
Postscript: After the pandemic: Against the vindictive normal
Published by Pluto Press in May 2020
Paperback ISBN: 9780745340562
Hardcover ISBN: 9780745340555
eBook ISBN: 9781786806178

288 pages

135mm x 215mm

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