“Nihilism no longer wears the dark, Wagnerian ... colors of the end of the century”. With this provocation, Jean Baudrillard expressed the idea that media systems had fundamentally transformed the character of nihilism. Today nihilism still stalks the world scene, only now it wears another new look. Money is a lie, the banks are empty, the financial system conjures wealth out of a void. Cryptocurrencies are revolutionary, NFT avatars are a new form of identity, the Metaverse an exciting frontier at once financial and metaphysical. In other words, the latest boom in nihilism is taking place through the language and institutions of digital finance. But what are we to make of this? What are its causes and likely consequences? What is the meaning and significance of growing nihilism in a financial key? Currency of Nihilism brings the philosophical problem of nihilism into conversation with the history of economic discourse and the analysis of contemporary capitalism. Constructing a genealogy of economic nihilism and its financialization, the book shows how the latest developments in digital finance and online financial culture restage the dilemmas of nihilism in new ways. The result is a unique account of economy’s uneasy relationship with nothingness, annihilation, and disappearance. From crypto currencies and meme stocks to NFTs and virtual finance, capitalism today thrives on cutting-edge forms of financial nihilism and the economies of desire that fuel these.
Amin Samman is Senior Lecturer in the Department of International Politics at City, University of London. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of the journal, Finance and Society, as well as co-founder and director of the Finance and Society Network (FSN). His research focuses on the temporal, historical, and existential aspects of contemporary capitalism, with an emphasis on how these relate to the workings of money, debt, and finance. He is author of History in Financial Times (Stanford University Press, 2019) and numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals of political economy, social theory, economic sociology, and cultural studies.