Since the 2008 financial crisis, the neoliberal ideas that arguably caused the damage have been triumphant in presenting themselves as the only possible solution for it. How can we account for the persistence of neoliberal hegemony, in spite of its obviously disastrous effects upon labor, capital, ecology, and society? The argument pursued in this book is that part of the persistence of neoliberalism has to do with the archaic and obscure political theology upon which of much of its discourse trades. This is a political theology of chance that both underwrites and obscures sacrificial devotion to market outcomes. Joshua Ramey structures this political theology around hidden homologies between modern markets, as non-rational randomizing ‘meta-information processors’, and archaic divination tools, which are used in public acts of tradition-bound attempts to interpret the deliverances of chance. Ramey argues that only by recognizing the persistently sacred character of chance within putatively secularized discourses of risk and randomness can the investments of neoliberal power be exposed at their sacred source, and an alternative political theology be constructed.
Preface / 1. Introduction: Within the Endgame / 2. We Have Always Been Giants / 3. Divining Neoliberal Order / 4. Random Chance Providential / 5. Risking Derivatives Politics / 6. Decolonizing Divination / Bibliography / Index
Ramey is an authority on the relations between philosophy and the hermetic traditions. Hermeticists devised techniques of divination in response to a world pervaded by chance and risk, and Ramey, in this compelling and fascinating book, makes the argument that neoliberalism resorts to analogous techniques in its quest to understand an economic world shot-through with contingency and undecidability.
In this very contemporary book, Ramey offers a twist on the classic dialectic of enlightenment: markets are divination tools, ways of dealing with contingency, chance and uncertainty. Yet, with disastrous effects, they restrict the outcome of chance to profit and loss. Ramey offers a highly original critique of neoliberalism, and an impassioned plea to recover a politics beyond individualism.
Joshua Ramey breaks new ground with this account of how our current mania of financial speculation relates to the ways that human beings have long sought to interrogate the uncertain future, and to deal with chance and change. Politics of Divination takes a long view of human potentiality, and suggests how we might escape from the nightmare of what he calls our "neoliberal endgame".
Politics of Divination clearly does not aspire to be a definitive treatise, but rather to open up a new and unforeseen path for research. … Overall it is undeniably successful in its core aims. Ramey has discovered a research project that could be a genuine life’s work. We should all hope that he is able to continue down the path he has traced out here.
Joshua Ramey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Grinnell College. He is the author of The Hermetic Deleuze (2012), the co-translator of François Laruelle’s Non-Philosophical Mysticism for Today (forthcoming), and the author of numerous articles on figures including Adorno, Zizek, Badiou, Deleuze, Bruno, Warhol, Hitchcock and Cronenburg. His work has appeared in Angelaki, Political Theology, Discourse, SubStance, and the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory.