If we are to understand the nature of the relationship between a culture and its economy it is necessary to trace out the logic that informs the apparently disparate currents that make up that culture and its economy. There are any number of loci by reference to which this relationship might be discerned, but none are so important or profound, or for that matter so telling, than our body. Following on from two previous articles this essay approaches the subject by way of Foucault’s understanding of the ‘biopolitical’.[1] Through the issues of sexuality and eugenics we see how the logic informing early modern liberal philosophy worked itself out, coming to its full realisation in what is today referred to as ‘anti-essentialism’.

The rise of anti-essentialism is concomitant with, if not identical with, the rise of capitalism proper. Anti-essentialism, both as a cultural and economic phenomena, is necessary for the rise to global dominance of capitalism. Although anti-essentialism is often thought of in terms of postmodernism and performance theory something of its logic was understood in the early modern period. And it was so by way of opposition to the growing defence and acceptance of free-market economics, which acceptance went hand in glove with a free market in credit and debt, which is to say in the liberalisation of anti-usury laws.