Advertisement

The Boundless Economy: An Enduring Performative American Fiction?

  • Pierre Arnaud
Chapter
  • 17 Downloads
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Culture and Economics book series (PSLCE)

Abstract

The chapter explores boundlessness as an enduring fiction powering the American variety of capitalism. It first establishes the part played by space in America’s mythical representation of itself and in Americans’ relation to land through the territory’s history. It then examines the transposition of this foundational mythology to the economic sector through a plotting of the development of US capitalism as a story of growth. The story is not without a few major blind spots, the author shows. Nevertheless, the shift of the fiction of boundlessness from space to time, embodied in a special relation to the future, has ensured the performative effectiveness of the boundlessness narrative to this day, even if the current presidency seems mostly intent on raising barriers.

Bibliography

  1. Adam, Barbara and Christopher Groves. 2007. Future matters: action, knowledge, ethics. Leiden: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams, James T. 1932. The epic of America. New York: Blue Ribbon Books.Google Scholar
  3. Arnaud, Pierre. 2016. Consumption, money flows and the crisis of American capitalism. In The crisis and renewal of American capitalism, eds. Laurence Cossu-Beaumont, Jacques-Henri Coste, Jean-Baptiste Velut. 85–116. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Atack, Jeremy and Peter Passell. 1994. American economic growth: A long-run perspective. In A new economic view of American history. 1–25. Norton: New York and London.Google Scholar
  5. Baudrillard, Jean. 1989. America. London and New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  6. Beckert, Jens. 2013. Imagined futures. Fictional expectations in the economy. Theory and society 42: 219–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Belgrad, Daniel. 2002. Power’s larger meaning: The Johnson county war as political violence in an environmental context. The Western Historical Quarterly (33)2: 159–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bloch, Ernst. 1986. Introduction. The principle of hope. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Boorstin, Daniel. 2000a. The national experience. Phoenix: Phoenix Press.Google Scholar
  10. Boorstin, Daniel. 2000b. The democratic experience. Phoenix: Phoenix Press.Google Scholar
  11. Butler, Judith. 2010. Performative agency. Journal of Cultural Economy. (3)2: 147–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Castoriadis, Cornelius. 1997. The imaginary institution of society. Trans. Kathleen Blamey. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Chandler, Alfred D. 1977. The visible hand: The managerial revolution in American business. Harvard: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Costa, Dora L, and Naomi R. Lamoreaux. 2011. Understanding long-run economic growth: Geography, institutions, and the knowledge economy. Chicago: University of Chicago PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cross, Gary. 2000. An all-consuming century, why commercialism won in modern America. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Cullen, Jim. 2003. The American Dream: A short history of an idea that shaped a nation. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Dickinson, Emily. 1998. 466. In Emily Dickinson: Reading edition. Ed. Ralph W. Franklin. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Engerman, Stanley, and Kenneth L. Sokoloff. 2002. Factor endowments, inequality, and paths of development among new world economics. NBER Working Paper No. 9259, Issued in October 2002. http://www.nber.org/papers/w9259.
  19. Graham, Carol. 2017. Happiness for all? Unequal hopes and lives in pursuit of the American Dream. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Habakkuk, John H. 1962. American and British technology in the nineteenth century. London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hartz, Louis. 1955. The Liberal tradition in America: An interpretation of American political thought since the revolution. New York: Harcourt, Brace.Google Scholar
  22. Harvey, David. 1982. The limits to capital. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  23. Harvey, Daniel. 2008. The dialectics of spacetime. In Ollman B., and Smith T. (eds). Dialectics for the new century. London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  24. Hayes, Calvin. 2009. Popper, Hayek and the open society. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Higham, John. 1969. From boundlessness to consolidation, the transformation of American culture, 1848–1860. Ann Arbor: William L. Clements Library.Google Scholar
  26. Hochschild, Jennifer L. 1996. Facing up to the American Dream, race, class and the soul of the nation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hochschild, Jennifer L. 2016. I spent 5 years with some of Trump’s biggest fans. Here’s what they won’t tell you. How Donald Trump took a narrative of unfairness and twisted it to his advantage. Mother Jones, September/October.Google Scholar
  28. Hofstadter, Richard. 1968. The Progressive Historians: Turner, Beard, Parrington. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  29. Kennedy, David M. 2007. Imagining America: The promise and peril of boundlessness. In Anti-Americanisms in World Politics. Eds. Peter J. Katzenstein, and Robert Owen Keohane, 40–54.Google Scholar
  30. Keynes, John M. 1936. The general theory of employment, interest, and money. New York: Harcourt, Inc. See chapter 12 for the notion of “animal spirits” and chapter 13, II, for the role of uncertainty.Google Scholar
  31. Knight, Frank H. 1921. Risk, uncertainty, and profit. Boston, MA: Hart, Schaffner & Marx; Houghton Mifflin Co.Google Scholar
  32. Kuznets, Simon. 1965. Economic growth and structure: Selected essays. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  33. Locke, John. 1690. Property, Second Treatise on Civil Government, §36.Google Scholar
  34. Lordon, Frédéric, 2014. Willing slaves of Capital, Spinoza and Marx on desire. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  35. McFerrin, Randy, and Douglas Wills. 2007. High noon on the Western range: A property rights analysis of the Johnson county war. The Journal of Economic History 67(1): 69–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mill, John Stuart. 1848. Of the stationary state. Principles of Political Economy. Book IV, 6.Google Scholar
  37. Mokyr, Joel. 2016. A culture of growth: The origins of the modern economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. North, David. 1961. The economic growth of the United States, 1790–1860. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  39. O’Sullivan, John L. 1839. The great nation of futurity. The United States Democratic Review 6(23): 426–430.Google Scholar
  40. Olson, Charles. 1947. Call me Ishmael. New York: Grove Press Inc.Google Scholar
  41. Orléan, André. 2004. What is a collective belief? In Cognitive economics, eds. Paul Bourgine and Jean-Pierre Nadal. Berlin; Heidelberg; New York: Springer-Verlag). 199–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Orléan, André. 2014. The empire of value: a new foundation for economics. Cambridge: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Piketty, Thomas. 2015. Capital in the twenty-first century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Popper, Karl. 1945. The open society and its enemies. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Rifkin, Jeremy. 1995. The end of work: The decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era. New York: Putnam.Google Scholar
  46. Rogoff, Kenneth. 2012. Rethinking the growth imperative. Project Syndicate. www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/rethinking-the-growth-imperative. Accessed 3 Mar 2017.
  47. Romer, Paul. 1986. Increasing returns and long run growth. Journal of Political Economy 94(5): 1002–1037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schmelzer, Matthias. 2016. The hegemony of growth: The OECD and the making of the economic growth paradigm. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schumpeter, John A. 1942. Capitalism, socialism, and democracy. New York: Harper and Brother.Google Scholar
  50. Shiller Robert, J. 2017. Narrative economics. Cowles Foundation Discussion paper, No. 2069, http://cowles.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/pub/d20/d2069.pdf.
  51. Shonkwiler, Alison. 2017. The financial imaginary: Economic mystification and the limits of realist fiction. University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  52. Solow, Robert M. 1988. Growth theory and after. American Economic Review 78(3): 30717.Google Scholar
  53. Solow, Robert M. 2007. The last 50 years in growth theory and the next 10. Oxford Review of Economic Policy 23 (1): 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Taylor, Charles. 2003. Modern social imaginaries Durham and London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Temin, Peter. 1975. Causal factor in American economic growth in the nineteenth century. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Turner, Frederic J. 1920. The Frontier in American history. New York: H. Holt & Co.Google Scholar
  57. Walsh, Margaret. 2005 The American West. Visions and revisions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Weber, Max. 1904–1905. The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Trans. Talcott Parsons. New York: Scribner’s.Google Scholar
  59. Wilsey, John D. 2015. American exceptionalism and civil religion: Reassessing the history of an idea. Downers Grove: IVP Academic.Google Scholar
  60. Yarrow, Andrew L. 2010 Measuring America: How economic growth came to define American greatness in the late twentieth century Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
  61. Žižek, Slavoj. 2010. Living in the end-times. London: Verso.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierre Arnaud
    • 1
  1. 1.Université Paris NanterreNanterreFrance

Personalised recommendations