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On Capitalization

On Capitalization

Timothy Mitchell • Columbia University

FEBRUARY 12 @ 6 P.M. | Daniel Family Commons, Usdan University Center

We have recently come to understand “the economy” not as a feature of all societies, nor as an aspect of the emergence of market societies since the eighteenth century, but as mode of organizing material worlds that developed only in the mid-twentieth century. The birth of the economy responded to an earlier development, the rise of the large corporation. The corporation provided a way of building technical-spatial arrangements—initially colonies, canals, and railways, later oil fields, dams, urban fabrics, industrial processes, and consumer worlds—whose scale, durability, and powers of control promised a future stream of income that could be “capitalized” in the present. Capitalization became a method for transferring future income to the present. If the era of the economy was a short-lived attempt to stabilize the increasingly speculative futures on which capitalization came to depend, today we inhabit a post-economy—the future that capitalization impoverished.

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