Dienst, Richard. The Bonds of Debt: Borrowing Against the Common Good. New York: Verso Publications, 2011. x + 200 pages. Cloth, $24.95.
The timeliness of this publication cannot be denied with the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement as one might think that those in the movement have read Richard Dienst's analysis of the current debt crisis in the world. Dienst, an associate professor of English at Rutgers University, explores the current world economy through the lens of history and sociology through an examination of market ideology which is working its way deeper into the texture of every aspect of social life. The credit crisis has pushed the common person to new levels of indebtedness. Now the world is so far into the red that it defies understanding. Deinst's work offers insight toward that understanding. He strives to clarify the process that has brought the world to this place, linking the predictions of the past and warnings of Karl Marx and others.
Today, the top members of society are not viewed as the creators of wealth but as those who simply make money: bankers, insurance brokers, fund managers, and the legion of traders who maneuver their product for economic gain. The financial crisis that has followed this ideology is explored throughout this book. Dienst first investigates the construction of materialism of society today. "The market ideology has wound its way deeper into social life becomes something more absolute" (p. 2). As a consequence, indebtedness has become the norm of society. The author relates this back to the works of Marx and his concerns about the world of capitalism.
The author's review of Marx's critique of capitalism leads one forward to a consideration of the financial crisis, global poverty, media politics, and radical theory. That indebtedness is what we are born into in the new economy, both the public and private. It leads to higher levels of inequality; half of the world's adults hold only 1% of global wealth. These issues are hardly surprising to us in the social sciences. Dienst's review, however, brings in rich ties to the theorist works in the various fields of social sciences since he is a cultural and literary theorist, not an economist or other social scientist. The...