Faculty Writing: Anti-Utopian Feminism, Against Optimism, and the Fed’s “Magic Money”

For The Baffler, Sophie Lewis reviews the taxonomies that comprise Kate Manne’s recently published Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women and its notable gap in class consciousness. Lewis writes, “For centuries, revolutionaries have speculated that that which we call power would disappear under conditions of real equality. Thus my kind of street-variety feminist philosopher is wont to challenge the whole concept of “power over” and to air the old communist saying “we don’t want a bigger slice of the pie, we want the whole fucking bakery.” It is fair to say, I think, that this particular author evinces no real critique of the bakery, or pie-markets. In the end—even leaving aside the anti-utopianism—my personal dissatisfaction with Entitled probably stems from the fact that Manne, by her own admission, is “not a marcher.” While philosophers have often changed the world, for her, the point is to interpret it.”

For The Baffler, Ajay Singh Chaudhary details the effervescent and rapidly shifting fixation on political optimism. Discussing the bipolarity of the present moment, Chaudhary writes, “Perhaps what we suffer from, then, is not left melancholy at all but a kind of left hypomania. From uncertain celebration to fluctuating fixation, it is our inner depressive realists, our exhaustive selves, speaking to our collective effervescence. This, though, is maybe my own cruel optimism. Too many of us are still too addicted to Trump the meme, Trump the drug, Trump an inescapable orbit, no matter what we believe. Or worse, with pure euphoric fantasy realistically impossible, many turn away from the depressive or exhaustive realism and cling all the more tightly to aspartame hegemony: unwilling to trust others, or themselves, with how bad it all actually is.”

In Foreign Affairs, Raphaele Chappe, together with co-author Mark Blyth, explains the Fed’s transformation of the U.S. economy via “magic money” as not a wholly new phenomenon, but a direct extension of past policy records. Calling Fed policy “moral hazard as a business model”, Chappe goes on to say that, “In short, the United States seems to have stumbled into a monetary policy regime that has untethered the fate of economic elites, who derive most of their income from state-protected financial assets, from that of ordinary people, who rely on low and precarious wages. Such a regime offers permanent protections to those with high incomes from financial assets; everyone else gets little more than temporary help in times of crisis. In a world of high inequality and intense polarization, this is a dangerous policy mix.”

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