Review: The New Prophets of Capital by Nicole Aschoff


ISBN: 9781781688106
Price: 16.95 (USD)
Edition: Paperback
Published by: Verso Books (US)
Publication date: 10th March 2015


A deft and caustic takedown of the new prophets of profit, from Bill Gates to Oprah

Mythmaking is as central to sustaining our economy as proft-making, particularly as severe environmental degradation, breathtaking inequality, and increasing alienation among youth push capitalism against its own contradictions.

Enter the new prophets of capital. In this moment of crisis, a new generation of wealthy mythmakers, masquerading as progressive thinkers, has emerged to reinvent the free market as the solution to society’s problems. With Oprah rallying the poor to bootstrap their way into the middle class; Sheryl Sandberg calling on women to “lean in” to the unequal demands of a sexist world; and Bill and Melinda Gates offering the generosity of the 1 percent as the solution to a persistent, systemic inequality, the new prophets of capital buttress the exploitative system, even as the cracks grow more visible.


This book made me angry. Just by pointing to four individuals out of the “1%”, who by their extreme wealth have more influence over US, and possibly global, politics than the majority of the population, the author shows us in this brief yet biting book that the 1% still control our cultural experiences, even if they do hide behind new variations of capitalism that are supposed to be ‘better’.

One particular example really irked me. Bill Gates invests in vaccine development to sell to African countries – because he wants to stimulate the market. According to Mr Gates the reason there are no vaccines for the diseases often found in developing countries is that the pharmaceutical companies won’t make money so they don’t do the development. Instead of putting money into curing the symptoms it would make more sense to deal with the cause – improve infrastructure such as roads and hospitals, clean water supplies, sanitation, education. But of course, that won’t make him or other people any money in the long run.

And he believes, contrary to all evidence, that private health insurance is better for people than universal healthcare. Last I checked, approximately 45,000 people a year die in the US because they can’t afford medical care. There may be waiting lists in countries like the UK and Canada that have free at point if use universal healthcare, but at least the poorest can get help without going bankrupt.

See, I’m so angry I wrote two whole paragraphs!

I recommend this book; brief but acerbic, thoroughly footnoted and researched with suggestions for further reading, Nicole Aschoff explores the new ‘ethical’ face of capitalism through focusing her attention on four individuals with a great deal of influence in the world.


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