AbstractThis essay looks at ways in which various branches of capitalist enterprise and their supporting mechanisms are often not as rational as they make themselves out to be, but operate instead according to magical premises. Magical thinking, as a mode of thought, creates or invokes extraordinary connections between things, people, organizations, and beliefs in order to understand, explain, influence, and occasionally predict, events. Magical practices involve magicians, magical rites, and magical representations ― almost invariably working together to perform the overcoming of uncertainty. And uncertainty, in the sense of unpredictability, is what underpins government, business, and the economy. The essay makes use of seven scenarios ― ranging from Davos and Brexit to GPS and Japanese manga ― to illustrate how politicians, media, education, and various forms of cultural production make use of language, technologies, and images to perform magic in contemporary societies.
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