This chapter explores the subterranean politics of anxiety in the student bodies of the USA, UK, and Canada. As a new generation is emerging into adulthood, for whom neoliberalism, financialisation, and its anxieties are all they have ever known, what forms of struggle, survival, and mutual aid are they inventing? Could everyday practices of student self-sabotage become the basis for collective acts of self-sabotage aimed at the financial machinery of the contemporary university?
This chapter explores the relation between death and economy through an engagement with the work of Georges Bataille, Norman Brown, and Jean Baudrillard. While capitalism is just the latest in a long series of attempts to manage death anxiety, the accumulation of capital fails to alleviate guilt, resulting in an endless thirst for ever more money, wealth, and power.
The notion of ‘clickbait’ speaks to the intersection of money, technology, and desire, suggesting a cunning ruse to profit from unsavoury inclinations of one kind or another. Clickbait capitalism pursues the idea that the entire contemporary economy is just such a ruse, an elaborate exercise in psychological capture and release. Pushing beyond rationalist accounts of economic life, this volume puts psychoanalysis and political economy into conversation with the cutting edges of capitalist development. Perennial questions of death, sex, aggression, enjoyment, despair, hope, and revenge are followed onto the terrain of the contemporary, with chapters devoted to social media, online dating apps, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and meme stocks. The result is a unique and compelling portrait of the latest institutions to stage, channel, or reconfigure the psychic energies of political and economic life.
As potent new cultures of desire take shape around the intersection of digital technology and finance, this very site is beginning to take on the qualities of a fantasy, structuring ever more lives around recursive forms of emotional capture and release, while at the same time fuelling a lucrative game of anticipating and capitalising on such cycles. The result is a kind of runaway abstraction that applies not only to money and technology, but also perhaps to desire itself. What if the libidinal economies of digital and financial capitalism run best when detached from definite aims, ends, objects?
This chapter examines the interface between desire and money infrastructures in the new crypto economy. Focusing on NFTs, utility tokens, and interoperability technologies, it argues that economic investment in monetary technologies is tantamount to a libidinal investment in technological designs and the forms of capitalisation they enable.
When global stock markets plunged during the onset of the 2020 pandemic, young South Koreans took out loans to fund risky personal investments. This chapter relates the lure of speculation at work here to a fantasy of escaping the hopeless realities produced through financial capitalism, in South Korea and elsewhere.
This chapter examines the hostile dynamics of online communication, linking these to a fragmentation of social reality set in motion by the rise of capitalism. As this is taken to new extremes by developments in digital technology, affective inclinations towards paranoia and conflict come to the fore – hence the mindless antagonism of our moment.
This chapter examines the psychic life of global inequality through the phenomenon of ‘compassionate consumerism’. Drawing on the psychoanalytic critique of ideology, it shows how explicit ethical appeals to assist those less fortunate than ourselves are underwritten by invitations to participate in a disavowed enjoyment of relations of inequality.
Combining Freud’s ideas on sex with Marshall McLuhan’s understanding of technology, this chapter addresses the interpenetration of eroticism and finance today. In so doing, it clarifies how a detachment from the real traverses the technological, erotic, and economic transformation involved with online dating apps.
This chapter interprets the GameStop saga of 2021 as the surface expression of an underlying libidinal economy of leverage. Building on post-Keynesian accounts of money and finance, it argues that the current financial system operates on the basis of a ‘rolling apocalypse’, turning the destructive nihilism of petty investors into fuel for the levered-up trading strategies of professional money managers.