Rivoli - Palco do Grande Auditório
The Empire of debt

Chaired by 

Pedro Levi Bismarck


Debt has been one of the largest economic values in the expansion of the great empires in Antiquity, not only in the Mediterranean, but also in China and India. Both public and private, debt became a central concern to political leaders, which transversally intensified the mechanisms of class exploitation and domination, forever altering the value of human life. Are we still hostage to this financial system of classical roots?

Maurizio Lazzarato, philosopher, sociologist and one of the greatest critics of present day capitalism, speaks, on this talk chaired by the architect Pedro Levi Bismarck, about how debt, increasingly ubiquitous in our global societies, has transferred class struggle from the confrontation between capital and labour to the opposition between creditors and debtors. According to the philosopher, the recent fall of the financial system created a rupture in the neoliberal model, opening a new and more intense phase of political instability – all persons are debtors, guilty and responsible towards capital. The polarizing of the distribution of wealth and patrimony, as well as the debt crisis, has given rise to the figure of the indebted man and the perilious conversion of their fears and frustrations into a subjectivity receptive to racist, sexist ideas and radical identity politics.

Simultaneous interpretation