By Dan Bouk
Lengthy earlier than the age of "Big Data" or the increase of today's "self-quantifiers," American capitalism embraced "risk"--and proceeded to quantity our days. existence insurers led the best way, constructing numerical practices for measuring contributors and teams, predicting their fates, and intervening of their futures. Emanating from the gilded boardrooms of reduce new york and making their method into drawing rooms and tenement residences around the state, those practices quickly got here to alter the futures they alleged to divine.
How Our Days turned Numbered tells a narrative of company tradition remaking American culture--a tale of intellectuals and execs in and round insurance firms who reimagined Americans' lives via numbers and taught usual american citizens to do an identical. Making contributors statistical didn't take place simply. Legislative battles raged over the propriety of discriminating through race or of smoothing away the results of capitalism's fluctuations on members. in the meantime, debates inside businesses set medical professionals opposed to actuaries and brokers, leading to intricate, secretive platforms of surveillance and calculation.
Dan Bouk unearths how, in a bit over part a century, insurers laid the basis for the much-quantified, risk-infused international that we are living in this day. to appreciate how the monetary global shapes glossy our bodies, how possibility tests can perpetuate inequalities of race or intercourse, and the way the quantification and claims of danger on every one people keep growing, we needs to take heavily the historical past of these who view our lives as a sequence of possibilities to be controlled.
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Additional info for How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual
Intertwined with the increasingly more important role that the state began to assume within the economy is the considerable expansion of forms of labour and of strata not directly productive of surplus-value. If that favoured capital from the point of view of the realisation of commodities on the market, it imposed at the same time an ever-greater pressure on the extraction of surplus-value from 40 • Riccardo Bellofiore the workers directly producing value, who had to sustain the entire classstructure.
She is ‘absolute poverty’, a ‘pauper’,30 whatever her retribution might be. 32 When Marx comes to the description of the introduction of machines – to the stages that later in the 1861–3 Manuscripts and in the Results of the Capitalist Pro cess of Production will give life to the ‘specifically’ capitalist mode of production and to the ‘real subsumption of labour to capital’ – it will be more clear that the concrete ‘properties’ of labour, just like the productive power of social labour, are in reality dictated and in some ways produced, by capital itself, which has, precisely, ‘taken on a body’.
To be sure, in this reading that sets in tension the Grundrisse and Capital there emerges, so to speak, a Marx ‘against’ Marx. But the unprecedented character of the ‘new’ capitalism that cannot be found in the letter of the texts – except if we reduce Marx to the dubious status of a prophet or engage in idiosyncratic readings – cannot ever be comprehended if not by ‘beginning’ anew from Marx. We must begin from a Marx that is, above all, his value-theory, with the centrality of the living labour of the wage-worker and of money as capital; while purging it, however, of those excesses of optimism on the historical role of capital and of those seeds of the philosophy of history that the Grundrisse contains in ample proportions.
How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual by Dan Bouk