Excerpt: Joseph Vogl, The Specter of Capital

If, then, in modern times the earth not only begins to rotate around the sun but money too starts to rotate around the earth […] these revolutions are evidently complemented by an anthropological one, which no longer presents a mere “image” of mankind but manking as it “really” is — and this redefinition becomes the starting point for new conceptions of socio-political order. At any rate, ever since the Baroque, teachers of natural law and moral philosophers have generally agreed that human beings are no longer to be understood simply as zoa politika, as political animals who are directly and instinctively adapted to life in society. In contrast to most other creatures, human beings have instead shown themselves to be dysfunctional and quite unsuited to communal existence. By nature, they are disagreeable companions for their fellows — and an extensive literature [p.19] about such concepts as “self-love” or “self-preservation” proves that here, so far as human beings are concerned, we can only join Kant in speaking of “unsociable sociability” or a “nation of devils.” According to this view, “real” human beings find themselves in a hopelessly “ruined state”; they are “creatures filled with all kinds of wicked cravings.” […] The identification of a new type of human being thus coincides with novel conceptions of social order, conceptions in which market events and political economy will ultimately assume a privileged role.

Joseph Vogl, The Specter of Capital (Stanford: Stanford University 2015), pp.18-19

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