Freedom and Morality in Indebted Societies

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Thomas CAMPBELL, University of Leed, United Kingdom
Mark DAVIS, University of Leed, United Kingdom
This paper argues that morality, specifically sentiments of guilt and fault, is deployed through the mechanism of debt to subjugate humans at a pre-subjective. Debt is fundamentally linked to time, wrestling the unknowable future of free human activity into a present set of financial and moral constraints upon that free action, rendering freedom knowable, calculable and therefore governable. The debtor is in this sense disciplining themselves, rather than being coerced by a disciplining society.  It is our thesis, that in the post-crisis era entire nations and their populations have been forcefully ‘re-born with original sin’ – an economic sin, that we propose constrains free human action through moral constraint and the production of particular temporal experiences for the debtor.  We shall deploy the reflections on original sin of Charles Baudelaire, and one his key influences  Joseph de Maistre, along with Benjamin’s analysis of ‘capitalism as religion’, to analyse how the experience of sinful debtors (both nations and individuals) experience time without the possibility of redemption, without the promise of salvation.  We present an analysis of the erosion of our freedom through the creation of a particular moral and temporal experience for indebted men and women.