Excerpt: Joseph Vogl, The Specter of Capital

What is at issue is nothing less than the validity, possibility, and tenability of a liberal or capitalist oikodicy, […] a theodicy of the economic universe: the inner consistency of an economic doctrine that — rightly or wrongly, for good or ill — views contradictions, adverse effects, and breakdowns in the system as eminently compatible with its sound institutional arrangements. […] [p.17] What comes into question with this oikodicy is one of the founding ideas of political economy. According to its assumptions, only the market and its players can guarantee spontaneous order, systematic organization, and the workings of Providence in the world. The history of political economy is the history of this optimistic conception. Originating in seventeenth-century natural law, political advice literature, and moral philosophy, economic science achieves systematic consistency in the expectation that, following on from advances in mathematics, astronomy, physics, and medicine, laws of motion analogous to those governing the stars and natural bodies could be discovered in human action as well. The formulation of general laws for the movement of natural bodies — from the astronomy of Copernicus to the physics of Galileo and Newton — accords with the idea that there is a specific rationality to be found in political and social life once it has detached itself from the exemplary model of divine world government to seek its principles in itself.

Joseph Vogl, The Specter of Capital (Stanford: Stanford University, 2015), pp.16-17.


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