Analyses of the crises, instability and precariousness of the entire capitalist enterprise are presented in two new works: The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey and Living in the End Times by Slavoj Žižek. Both texts provide eschatological treatises of financial collapse and ecological catastrophe while both, in their idiosyncratic styles, are as terrifying as they are comprehensive in terms of portraying the seriousness and violence in which we find ourselves.
The painter is standing a little back from his canvas. He is glancing at his model; perhaps he is considering whether to add some finishing touch, though it is also possible that the first stroke has not yet been made. (Foucault, 1989: 3)
The birth of biopolitics is the sixth instalment in the ongoing publication of the lectures given by Michel Foucault from 1971 to 1984 in his tenure as Professor of the History of Systems of Thought at the Collège de France. This volume is the first translation into English of the series of twelve lectures delivered from January to April 1979. It develops the theme of the previous year’s lectures, of which an English translation was published in 2007 as Security, territory, population (see Foucault, 2007).
This book is all about the stories we tell ourselves (p. 6), and David Boje is one of the best storytellers around in management and organization theory. But he is difficult to pin down, and he knows it. He roams around through vast fields of literature, including history, literary theory, and sociology. He says his book is an exploration of ‘complexity, collective memory, strategy, and organization change’ (p. 2). It could easily find its way to becoming a recommended text for a course in any of those subjects, and I hope it does.
When research, teaching and writing about history is being done, it is usually justified with reference to the problem of induction. Though induction is called a ‘logic’, it is really a guess about probability. If the sun has risen every day for all of my life, then it will probably rise tomorrow. There is no necessary reason implied here, no deduction from principles, simply a guess based on spotting a pattern and then predicting it into the future.
The global financial crisis recently exposed the uncertain conditions of the capitalist system reminding us of the vulnerability of both life itself and of capital. Capital organises labour relations that nowadays extend beyond the grasp of the nation-state (Hardt and Negri, 2001: 236).
Nicos P. Mouzelis has written many books on social theory during the last two decades. In Modern and Postmodern Social Theorizing he makes an updated synthesis of his previous critical studies on the current state of modern and postmodern social theory, and attempts to show a way out of the deadlocks of some radical versions of sociological theorizing. Although Mouzelis writes in the introduction that his book is not a textbook, his study is a long and informative journey into the landscape of modern and postmodern theorizing.
The Austrian born but French writing social philosopher and author André Gorz’s (1923-2007) important book The immaterial: Knowledge, value and capital is now available in English. The leftist radical post-Marxist theorist originally wrote the book in French, entitled L’immateriel. Connaissance, valeur et capital, five years before the international financial crisis hit the world in 2008.
Ben Fine’s argument in his second book on social capital, Theories of social capital, is straightforward: social capital is a non-sensical concept. With a nod to the Mad Hatter and his tea party in Lewis Carroll’s much-loved Alice in wonderland, Fine’s purpose in this book is to point out to us the circularities, tautologies and oxymorons of the exhaustingly vast academic and policy literature on social capital.