1. Documents, Constellations, Prospects
        2. Contributions
        Infrastructure, Lecture

        The Spatial-Cognitive Fix: The Urbanization of "Homo Economicus"

        Louis Moreno

        21 March 2013

      1. With the crisis of 2007–2008, “the city” has become a crucial conceptual object conditioning the political economic imaginations of the left and right. For anti-capitalists the rise of austerity urbanism has opened up the prospect of a Lefebvrean “right to the city” to resist an intensive spatial concentration and centralization of capital by occupying sites that might arrest the flow of capital. Alternatively, for World Bank technocrats, the urban manifestation of economies of scale, technological change, and cultural diversification represent a way to extend the market potential of globalization. Despite this polarization, each faction recognizes the city as a kind of socio-spatial infrastructure crucial to the planetary circulation of capital. But while neo-Marxian theory has long been preoccupied with cities in terms of the historical dynamics of capital accumulation, the interest of mainstream economics in socio-spatial institutions represents a profound epistemological break. I want to draw on social theorist Michel Foucault’s 1979 disquisition on the “crises of liberalism,” and Marxist geographer David Harvey’s analysis of “accumulation by dispossession” to throw this transformation into perspective. What has precipitated this shift of liberal theory from the high ground of macroeconomics to the micro-politics of collective consumption? What is the political significance of this “elaboration of the powers of public authorities” into the external, open, creative field of everyday life? I argue that we might view this urban rationalization of economic subjectivity as, in itself, the articulation of a new kind of “cognitive infrastructure,” one underpinning a new urban “art of government.”