Declarations of Dependence: Money, Aesthetics, and the Politics of Care

Human being is born and remains dependent, yet everywhere she is abandoned. Today, so many yearn to be free from the governing center, but they are more reliant upon its care than they know. Traditionally, critique has answered care’s entanglements by insisting that money enslaves and the aesthetic saves. Yet neoliberal fecklessness has revealed the impotence of this dialectic, requiring us to set the historical relation between money and aesthetics on more capacious foundations. For this, critical theory must desert the Marxist image of money as a private, finite, and alienable quantum of value. Instead, it should embrace the heterodoxy of Modern Monetary Theory, for which money is a boundless public center that can be made to support all.

Seize the money relation!

Enlist the aesthetic in money’s expansion!

Hail money as the center of caretaking!

Declare your dependence on care’s center!

Relinquish attachments to thisness!

Imagine a boundless public center!

Never forsake abstraction for gravity’s attractions!

Exalt abstraction as the locus of care!


Declarations of Dependence is humanities scholarship at its best: incisively written, it uses a new approach to a core philosophical and political question—what is money?—in the service of developing truly surprising and revealing interpretations of works ranging from medieval scholastic philosophy to Star Wars.”
— David Golumbia, associate professor of digital studies in the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University
“A bold polemic on behalf of collective flourishing, Declarations of Dependence challenges readers to demand more from social relations and to demand more from aesthetic pleasures and should be required reading for literary and cultural theorists, political economists, care workers, and policymakers of all stripes.”
— Anna Kornbluh, associate professor of English at the University of Illinois, Chicago

“Deeply original, Declarations of Dependence makes a vital contribution to cultural studies and cultural and aesthetic theory. . . . Indeed, it is so rich in suggestions that it could inspire an entire series of Modern Monetary Theory–guided inquiries into various areas of modern culture.”
— Steven Shaviro, Deroy Professor of English at Wayne State University

About the Author

Scott Ferguson is an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida. He is a research scholar at the Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity.