A Capitalist Mode of Prediction
Zone Books 2016
Is Marx still relevant? Any social scientist will answer with a resounding yes! In what he refers to as a thought experiment, Ivan Ascher uses Marx to understand the financial market. In Portfolio Society: A Capitalist Mode of Prediction (Zone Books, 2016), Ascher focuses on the arc and narratives found in Capital, using them to analyze risk, credit, and the financial market downfall of 2008. Ascher encourages the reader to explore how we might be able to understand what is going on today by looking back at Marx’s understanding of capitalism. The reader will come across familiar characters, like moneybags and vampires, and familiar concepts from Marx, like fetishism and co-dependence within the market. The nice thing about this book is that you do not need prior knowledge of Marx or financial markets, though those who have knowledge of either or both will still find great pleasure in this thought experiment.
This book would be enjoyed by sociologists or political scientists in general, alongside those interested in financial markets. It would be especially useful in a theory course where students could make connections between Marx and Ascher’s narratives.
Sarah E. Patterson is a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario. You can follow and tweet her at @spattersearch.