Editorial note: This text was submitted by a colleague who wishes to remain anonymous; he has informed us that “this version of Viktor’s tale has been embellished in accordance with conventions of the genre (but also beyond them); at the same time, experts have ascertained that this version is not to be confused with the “fake news” that became so widespread in this era; all personal names and place names have been verified; they are real and authentic.”
This post is part of a feature on “How Capitalists Think,” moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (University of Bergen) and Tijo Salverda (University of Cologne).
Research on capitalism commonly distinguishes between neoclassical economics and political economy. If neoclassical economics have dominated scientific debates since the 1930s at the latest, the nineteenth century view was that of political economy, with Karl Marx providing a powerful critique thereof. Both theories influence scientific reasoning until today. Yet, could both also elucidate the quotidian behavior of “normal” people in ethnographies of everyday life in the twenty-first century?
Given that nowadays most people live in societies organized according to capitalist principles and given that few oppose those principles fundamentally, capitalists may well constitute the world’s largest ideology-based formation. Most anthropologists have undoubtedly had encounters with capitalists, who occupy positions in all social strata. Yet, apart from the “usual suspects” such as CEOs, elites, leading politicians, and other members of the transnational capitalist class, our discipline pays little, and certainly not enough, explicit attention to the many who equally support and/or benefit from capitalist principles—be they ordinary employees in governments and in the private sector, subalterns with native title claims, or even social welfare claimants (for the varying scope and scale of anthropological research so far, see Friedman 1999; Kalb 1997; Neveling 2015; Rose 2015; Salverda 2015). Continue reading