Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Socialization of losses and...

"Privatization of profits and socialization of losses": from goldbugs to Keynesians to trots and anarchists, the chosen syntagma to abbreviate the sequence of events that led us to where we are now. As if socialization signified some definite end to the process of enrichment. The financier stuffs himself, bails out on the check, calls a cab, and goes... where? Monte Cristo?

Even leftists are buying the idea that 'socialization' means the financiers lie in bed all day, waking only at two in the afternoon to pick up their welfare cheque. The lazy scrounging bastards are hoovering up entitlements.

That fiction will be maintained for as long as one believes that the crisis was created by greed-blinded stupidity: the Credit Default Swap cooked up over a boozy weekend in Boca Roca; Quant-fetishism; or the 'ideological' inflexibility of people who have read too much Ayn Rand... all explanations propounded by the popular press and novelistic accounts of the crisis. Those are all reasons put forward for the "shocking" neglect of the "miscalculated" risks incurred by finance before the crash.

The simple fact is that risk was allowed to be miscalculated to an insane degree precisely because crisis had been prepared for so efficiently.
"Socialization of losses" isn't the end of the story, it's just the beginning.


  1. yes...Americans have an especially hard time placing profits into the big picture as the accumulation of power, plutocratic power. That it's not just unfair, this one has less and this one more...(like unfair, this one is rich and that poor, like this one is pretty and that one ugly), but that this is a relation, wealth is a relation to humanity.

  2. i wrote on the old blog about this back in 2006 when it became evident that this was the controlled demolition to which all the policies were leading...the controlled demolition of capitalism the world system with an internally competitive capitalist class of private capitals risked for profits in commodity product and finance of commodity production. there is a transition underway to something like Plato's Republic.

  3. I think that phenomenon is less exclusively American than you imagine.

  4. I sent this to a friend after Ireland's latest bailout. Maybe not completely accurate:

    "Europe, which is dominated by Finance, doesn't expect us to fully repay loans, they just want the austerity and the fire sale that follows. We and the greeks are just the guinea pigs for the Plan:
    * firstly loot whatever infrastructure, industries, natural assets and licenses haven't already been sold (there's not that much left really, most already sold since the 80s);
    * then the pension funds (they'll make Robert Maxwell look like Mother Theresa);
    t*hen on to the big prize, health care and health insurance, the last great frontier for European capitalism.
    * Drive down middle class incomes deeper and and deeper, so they are in perpetual debt and most consumer spending is on credit.
    * Anyone below that will lead lives much like the Palestinians do now.

    It's all been done before in the third world, so it's not like they don't have experience of this - it'll feel a bit weird for a while for the bankers to be doing it to their own kind (white Europeans), but they'll get used to it.
    Plan will require fairly authoritarian governments, and some skulls will have to be cracked, but there won't be as much bloodshed as in the 1930s: techniques for manipulating public opinion and dissent are more sophisticated than back then."

  5. sounds right to me.

    the prison industrial complex expanding.

    climate change can be used to reduce the global south population significantly.

    the masters, an elite servant/manager class, and slaves. that's the plan.

  6. "there won't be as much bloodshed as in the 1930s: "

    there could be, but it will be "natural disasters" and "tribal" conflicts, etc.., not formal declared campaigns to kill and destroy.

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  8. plutocratic power has increased to the point that, having stacked the courts, it can construct impunity for itself

  9. ": during the Social Security debate, Cato tried to expunge all evidence that it had ever used the word “privatization”, when it was easy to show that its project was originally the Project on Social Security Privatization."

  10. "there is a transition underway to something like Plato's Republic."

    It's the cheesiest of sci-fi scenarios, and conspriatorial, but it's telling how only the poorest people I know are prepared to accept that's what's happening. Many in the middle class deluded by notions of luck, merit and justice. There's a huge, rapid, re-definition of 'citizenship' (if not 'human') going on right now. Even basic policing is vanishing where I live (UK) - their energies appear more directed at dissenting organisations etc. Street crime, rape etc: no longer a priority. Intersting how our government wants to reduce jail numbers. In the past year alone, worker/employer imbalance has adjusted sharply. 'Small businessman' rhetoric isn't part of the package - they're just proles like everyone else now. And no, there won't be as much violence required. Media etc. can just create mutual suspicion, fear and rebooted ideas of 'normal' to keep most of us quiet.

  11. cheesy sci fi and conspiratorial why? I think the feeling, the position of spectatorship, is so powerful,that people who are used to watching characters on television, and knowing more than those characters, feel they watch the ruling class on television and know more than the ruling class. So as characters don't live in the world where they can watch later episodes of their show to know their fate, the ruling class is presumed not to live in the same universee as we do where all the books available to us exist. They can't know, as we know, the the global financial system is unstable; they can't know as we know that there is climate change; they can't know as we know that we are trying to organise resistance to them; they're in a bubble, they react impulsively to everything, the news, which takes them by surprise every day. This is how many clerk class people think of the ruling class - as being fictional characters incapable of interpreting their dramas as we the spectators interpret them with all our theory the ruling class has no access to. They are the people who know only what is printed in the NYTimes and who believe it childishly.

    In the US there is more awareness, quicker recognition, because of the history of slavery which is not a faded-to-nothing memory to african-americans. people recognise the effort to return the population to slavery. it was recognised in the Katrina operation - which did put into action the plan for mass detention that was revealed at the Iran Contra hearings. People flown all over the country, treated as prisoners, parents seperated from children...If you speak plainly about this you are denounced as a conspiracy theorist but that is just the usual propagandistic intimidation. The city was ethnically cleansed, it was a rehearsal. Even the once sacred rights of private property were denied. Then Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram...these are genuine developments. The volunteer thought police on the academic pseudo-left of course will leap all over anyone doing more than mildly criticising these as bad policy. Right wing talk radio, Fox News and Zizney of course are out front with a) the tortures not directly ordered b) they are not really tortures but the equivalent of frat hazing c) anyone who criticises this is acting like the US didn't torture before and is therefore naive and uncool and an apologist for prior torture d) anyone who criticises this is a thirdworldist left relvativist and an apologist for the "much worse" tortures we know happen "in China and the Arab World".

  12. So these significant developments are not to be noticed, not to be understood. It's uncool to oppose them. So one gets bogged down even trying to fend off the abuse one gets just for mentioning these thingsd and this kind of prevents really the sinking in of what it means, and the assassination sqauds, the warrantless wiretaps, how significant the developments are. Similarly, the pseudo-left astroturfers focus on young people sneering and attacking them as naive if they attempt to force international and domestic law to remain in effect...they are uncool because as we know the law isn't God's divine justice but the instrument of power etc etc.. and to try to force the rule of law is to be a naif who thinks earthly courts are God's own bench, Jesus' way of protecting the weak, and doesn't get that "the system is the problem". But soon all this propaganda won't be needed, because we are terrorised. One didn't quite get how terrorised we all were until Obamamania and the fears of martial law. But the ferocity of the volunteer thought police regarding the government tortures and detentions - bradley manning now - speaks of repression and painful denial. We are terrorised - wde are afraid of our goivernment, afraid to disobey, afraid to be tortured. Thus the patently disgusting performance of the left about Assange, like its a big joke, he's a schmuck, maybe a rapist, maybe a cia agent, therefore it's funny he could end upo in the custody of the US torture gulag! hahaha! let's make jokes about his arrogance and take bold stands as defenders of feminism when we demand his extradition, demand complaince with the US torturers. He's a probable rapist after all.. not a boy scout. Like people said about the Jews next door when taken away well he never said good morning on the stairs, well he left his garbage on the stoop, well he was nconsiderate, an embezzler, beat his kids, played his violent at all hours when people were sick and needed sleep...

    the US petty bourgeoisie has gone along with a great deal already, not only passively accepting but helping out, volunteering to police criticism, denouncing the alarmists, insisting nothing has really changed, being quite clear tyhat they trust the US gov enough to wish to see assange extradicted to a regime which sees him as a terrorist, and tortures terrorists, because he has been accused of a crime.

  13. Just because it's sci-fi and conspiratorial doesn't mean I think it's untrue. My point was the already disenfranchised are more likely to know the score. The managerial/admin class - they're the ones clinging to delusions of western agency (encouraged by the Spectacle), where the ruling class are waiting to hear petitions and reasoned argument, preferably spun in an entertaining manner. Iraq, Katrina, or the extended disenfranchisement occurring in the west now - the agenda is clear to most people at the bottom of the social scale. It's the bougie liberal papers that are quick to denounce Chomsky or anything close to 'conspiracy theory' (no matter how respected the source).

    It's the managerial/admin class in childlike thrall to legalese - whether it's UN resolutions or the Assange case (who now has anti-semitism added to the charge sheet). It's those who highlight Obama's 'symbolic' presence, under the odd illusion that he's playing a cunning game of realpolitik before his great liberal redemption. Those already pushed to the margins generally see it as smoke and mirrors. Indeed, the main thrust of Blairite social policy was to prevent this perspective.

    BTW don't know what's wrong with this site, but it keeps making my browser crash!

  14. d) anyone who criticises this is a thirdworldist left relvativist and an apologist for the "much worse" tortures we know happen "in China and the Arab World".

    You're just talking about your own ass, because, in fact, that's what you are. Completely and totally insane. When I hear YOU are the victim of a 'natural disaster', I'll laud and praise the conspiracists (but leave Paris for your disaster, will you?)

    Christ, you're gross.

    a pigesse??? Precisely.

  15. Then why don't you just ignore her? Why does she drive you utterly apoplectic. Using the word "marxist" as some sort of punchline isn't just the weakest part of the parody you do, it's down right banal. To the point of you just coming across as unhinged at times, but mostly just sad.

    Is the joke supposed to be that she noone really cares about starving Haitians because they are really ruled be self interest and sexual desires of their own? Or are you literally demented and having a fit at the idea of someone both having a sexuality, a sense of self interest and also some concern about the troubles of other people throughout the world?

    Because I just don't get it.

  16. "don't know what's wrong with this site, but it keeps making my browser crash!"

    And it is eating comments voraciously! So keeping this short this time.

    the controlled demolition of capitalism the world system with an internally competitive capitalist class of private capitals risked for profits in commodity product and finance of commodity production. there is a transition underway to something like Plato's Republic.
    Some questions:
    Do you think any significant intra-class resistance to this project remains? If this is something more than intensified capitalism, more than another 'stage' in the development of capitalism, what do you think of the 'neofeudalism' label that is sometimes attached to this thing? How much of post-Marx Marxism is rendered redundant by the current development?

  17. "Then why don't you just ignore her?"

    Then you tell 'Wayne Kasper' to fucking 'IGNORE' us. It's impossible to ignore somebody who is a societal menace.

    Thank you.

  18. Fascinating that even the other toilet inhabitants are finding that their computers crash ONLY on this un-Drano-ed site. I knew better than to complain. I just wash dishes when I need to let the page load. Hygiene is overtly discouraged in these here parts.

  19. "Why does she drive you utterly apoplectic"

    Clearly she drives me a lot less apoplectic than Zizek, Power, and Penny drive her. Not to mention all the Frenchies even by now. But the answer is: Her insanity is amusing in its extremity. When she didn't seem totally certifiable, there were always little cheap half-perfumed moments, but there had to be a good reason almost everybody else left--and you, hiding behind such an obvious little nickname, you're the biggest embarassment of all, because you should have known better, the others are obvious ignoramouses.

  20. No PJMAS, I've resolved to hound you around the net forever. I'm going to click here, there and everywhere, eagerly awaiting your next yelp. I fear I may have caught your disease. I'm going to obsess over whatever trail of screaming babble you harass academics with. I wish to mimic your middle-initial trolling prowess. I'll follow your very public emotional turbulence. I'll even declare undying love for Dom Fox. There is no cure.

  21. "It's impossible to ignore somebody who is a societal menace."

    Your vigilance is appreciated.

  22. Thanks, kenoma.

    I forgot to mention that OWEN HATHERLEY's book was reviewed in the TLS, and that the reviewer said he should become a POLITICAL WRITER, that his guidebook acumen was on the grainy side. I thought this might interest you, as this is a major MSM ORGAN, not to be ignored like humble, screaming, disgusting whore-bleugers like your mistress. A POLITICAL WRITER. Now how about that? And WHY doesn't your mistress bring up OWEN's latest sins?

    Because they did NOT play well in Peoria. And she does know what that means, you hicks.

  23. Do you think any significant intra-class resistance to this project remains?

    kenoma - i'm just speculating of course but what is happening makes sense to me if a leading bloc of finance in control of the US is disciplining the rest of the world who are just going on as capitalists.

    WallStreet/CityofL have used the bubbles and the plunder of the US treasury to create financial weapons to attack countries with. The "speculative attacks" on countries are too risky for actual capitalists to engage in - if there really are players who can take the other side. This is obviously something more coordinated and risk free. The US public's money was used to wage financial war. This bloc can create financial chaos - they have shown they can. And they are in a position to come out the beneficiary. But yeah, I think most of the world's capitalists are just going on like capitalists always have, but it doesn't matter because even the value of their assets fluctuates at the will of the leading bloc.

    Look at the private equity trend and the exclusive markets; this means that the market of global capital really was too democratic for the leading bloc; they do not go to the public except for sure things; they withdrew from it and created a parallel realm of financial power that was completely fused with military and political power. It isn't just excessively monopolized "capitalism" because they blew and popped the bubbles knowing that they would take the US treasury - that is, they would simply enserf the population, through financial media - and create the conditions for this transition, the abolition of their risk and their competition. All these cdo mortgages with no liens even! and the strongarming of state govs that interfered. it was just to blow up the bubble, and we watched how they had to kick it over and kind of screwed the timing and had to take some clumsy measures in 2007 including the white house coercing the banks to tighten up. Like the biz papers were printing the cdos were illiquid when they weren't back in 2007. In anticipation and to try to make them so.

    Neofeudalism - yes, and I am persuaded by how Hudson describes it to a point; I think Hudson + Wallerstein is pretty much covers what's happening. But I think gentrification, the emergence of world cities that are protected from the property crash, that are full of the rich, is a part of this picture of the future.

    But yeah - there is China, a financial and more importantly a military power, and Europe; together more powerful than the US ruling class, but not coordinated yet and maybe not as ruthless. And backfooted.

    I think Marx is more relevant than ever because he already foresaw this tendency, the polarisation of population into two classes and the increasing socialisation - both of labour AND of capital.

  24. "No PJMAS, I've resolved to hound you around the net forever. "

    Whatever. You don't bother me.

    I see the BOSS LADY put her armour back on. The threat to Mrs. Moussaoui was registered! Poor tearful innocent victim, just like little 'JM', 23 and being corrupted by the Toiletrinas.

  25. "Clearly she drives me a lot less apoplectic than Zizek, Power, and Penny drive her."

    Well that's true - I hate Zizek and Power really intensely, they are white supremacist, misogynist fucks masquerading as Marxists. They selling the same socialism of fools that petty bourgeois moralisers are always selling, the decadent "hedonists" and the lower races have polluted society and made it effeminate, nutured and protected the defective and weak, practising the promotion of "equality as a race to the bottom".

    (Abi Titmuss was asked what she thought of the attack on her in Nina Power's book and she said she thought it was great that people like Power could now lead full and productive lives.)

  26. (I read that in the Slovene media)

  27. Thanks for that, it's helpful (and apologies for dumping a big homework assignment on you with all those questions!) Wallerstein and Hudson are great: the latter a bit sketchy sometimes on local economies, but accurate with the broader picture. I have found Samir Amin helpful in understanding all this too.

    One more question: why now? Why not 10, 15 years ago? What were the conditions that allowed for this final predatory assault on the economies of the metropolitan core? The complete capture of political and mediatic apparatuses?

    there is China, a financial and more importantly a military power, and Europe; together more powerful than the US ruling class, but not coordinated yet and maybe not as ruthless. And backfooted.

    I'm really not sure about this, the EU part at least. The peripheral crises have woken up the bright young things in Brussels: they are shaking off the procedural torpor of the constitution/Lisbon process quickly, and seizing the day. What happened in Portugal for instance was close to a coup d'etat:

    (that's a good site, btw)

    And the competitiveness pact is an extraordinary document, clearly designed for emergency circumstances.

    I think Marx is more relevant than ever because he already foresaw this tendency
    Of course, but hasn't Marxism helped create this headless chicken image of capitalism? (I don't just mean the bullshitters like Zizek here).


    Btw, not a meaningless connection here, Zizek/Power and the fasho-neofeudalislm...and why Marx is more than ever needed to understand.

    Power hawks this straight up fascist understanding of value and labour under capitalism. For example at Marxism last year she had this one big point which was how feminism promoting women's entry into the waged workforce destroyed working class standard of living and what she insists was a situation where "the family wage" of the male "breadwinner" was the norm. Greedy women wanting to "have it all" have ruined the golden age. So she's got a straight up fascist fable (elsewhere she uses the term "partnership" for the relation between classes in the nation) she keeps telling, and when she is challenged she just stomps and insists:

    "Men's wages were depressed so that women could enter the workforce. This is a kind of crucial economic fact."

    (in the "summing up" 2nd video from the New Sexism panel - incredible how Orr is afraid to openly disagree with her even though she must know what kind of dogshit Power is spewing.)

    This is gibberish of course - why would lower men's wages' help women enter the workforce? - but it is emotionally appealing.

    Of course the implication around this "so that" has to do with this bizarre crude conception of where capital comes from, where the capital that is paid as wages comes from, etc, which she also peddles in her book;

    If men's wages too have been depressed, if there literally aren't enough jobs, or enough money to pay for them, (what with the dire need to pay CEOs so much more than anyone else, not to mention the precious shareholders), then the category 'woman' remains a useful one for the 'first fired, last hired' policy that has characterized the employment market for so much of the last hundred years or so.

    then she switches to a harrangue about women's competition causing the "mancession" later.

    and this is picked up by Leninino on his blog and given the SWP imprimatur as not only intelligible but plausible and in fact "Marxism", a "Marxist feminist structural analysis" of capitalism.

  29. Her implication - foggy as it is - appears to be that there is a certain amount of money in the possession of a kind of mysterious power, Authority itself, which combines the state and management and capitalists and "employers" and the Big Other and the zeitgeist and the nation; that this authority dispenses this money as "jobs" and shares of which the individuals in the workforce compete for as part of gender blocs, with the women leading a "race to the bottom" by offering to do the same work for less, requiring men to then try to undercut the women's offer...It's all sheer bullshit, but it is perennially appealing fasho fable (of women, immigrants, minorities...elsewhere she has actually repeated Marine Le Pen's exact routine about "outsourcing").

    All this is rubbish and Marx over a hundred years ago in Capital vol III, clearly explains why this is all rubbish.

    Now why is the popularisation of this ridiculous fascist rubbish important now? Because a united humanity could really now stop this and bring about socialism. Because the loss of legitimacy of the ruling class is extreme now, and makes a difference. So the priority now will be to divide the working class and carve off a privileged bloc who are necessary to the ruling class maintaining power over the others. This si what Nina Power is working on - the production of a nostalgia for the golden age of white supremacist imperialist patriarchy. Her area of focus is the vilification of women and feminism as part of the great spoiler motley hydra, but she also hammers away incessantly at the naturalising of orders of humanity based on race and north/south, so when she speaks of "women" she means white women in the core, while reference to others requires further specification. she zizekifies her "concession" to say that "marxist feminism should pay attentipon to women in other countries" - whom she lieks to refer to as "on the ground" and "grassroots" - that is, she wishes her audience to understand that it is UNTHINKABLE that marxist feminism is primarily produced by women in what for Power are "other countries". Her epistemic racism is just like Zizek's and she brings forward the same authorities to justify it.

  30. Why not 10, 15 years ago? What were the conditions that allowed for this final predatory assault on the economies of the metropolitan core?

    Very simplyè I think it required the elimination of the USSR, and then its been coming along at a good clip, but it took time to do everything...the elimination of capital controls, the dismantling of international law, the development of telecom; it wasn't something one can do overnight.

    and other factors are a)after the fall of the USSR the rise of altermondialism, a real threat which had to be dealt with by an offenseive and b) climate change, which requires action but is also, for the ruling class, an opportunity.

    Don't you think?

  31. agree about euro ruling class but they are not yet in possession of the despotic power of the populations as the US ruling class has. I think.

    "Marxism helped create this headless chicken image of capitalism? "

    The Hegelians did I suppose. But not really Marx and Engels, and historical materialism is not just adviseable for the capitalism world system - it's a way to understand human history, applicable to the new thing too.

    the headless chicken idea of capitalism - i think this really is an anticommunist caricature of Marxism that was produced by bourgeois dissidents in the academy. Partly to distract from the determinism we see verified every day - that people act within structures determining their possibilities, and incen,tives and discouragements, and pursue their survival and interests, (that's what wrong with hallwards "voluntarism", which also promotes this misreading of Marx in order to make Marx seem obviously wrong but also to obscure and conceal the content of his correct observation.) Marx was all about class and class war. That's the structure itself - class, which are groups of people.

  32. the headless chicken vision was i guess promoted by structuralist marxists too, to a point, especially in "theorising" "the state". but the best of them were caricatured by academics the difference is always lost, in these "philosophy" marxists, between an explanation of how parties act and fight the class war, and an explanation of the conditions which impact upon who succeeds...the difference between explaning nazis or fascists as political agents, human actors, and explaining the situation which allowed them to prevail over competition. Academics of the sood left are always all about "not blaming" - its always about how their own class in innocent, so the explanation of the situation in which fascists act is taken for an explanation of the fascists actions and actors, and any more specific account, any rich historical materialist account, is treated with hostility.

  33. neofeudalism especially in American academia and cultural institutions, which are dominated by the nonprofit model, which is direct, unaccountable rule: no taxation, no unions, the legal ability to rely on volunteer labor, no mechanisms for democratic representation, hierarchy based on grants from big foundations and philanthropy, entry to culture work jobs increasingly policed via unpaid internships and other methods of combining class stratification with exploitation.

    and if the academy can be purged of critical voices at same time as a cadre of young intellectuals are duped into thinking of communism as being something like Plato's republic for them, then this is to their extreme advantage.

    climate change is being embraced by well-off locations that are fashioning themselves as "transition towns" and preparing to become little "resilient" city-states.

    the idea is to recreate an enthusiasm for monastic intellectual marginalization of subversive thought while reestablishing as much direct, undemocratic rule as possible.

    and to blame as much of the crisis on the disorganization of first liberals, liberal tolerance, and multiculturalism, and then moving on to parliamentary and electoral democracy, preparing at each step an audience for the rejection of democracy per se.

    but fuck that and yay Egypt.

  34. a new bizarre trend from some academic mediologists is to declare democracy impossible because the new mass media isn't democratic.

    that's like saying the NBA is not democratic so democratic government is impossible.

    Uhm, yeah, new media and telecom is corporate owned commerical enterprise - not democracies. But do these people think that the entertainment industry is the government? Is all Authority? That there is not distinction at all? More and more one sees academic "philosophers" and "sociologists" and "political theorists" bringing forward the plots of blockbuster movies as evidence for contentions about the concrete relations of property and power. Academics are really increasingly just saying some jargon filled version of: "I know this coz I saw it on teevee." I see academics giving grave-faced lectures in which they say "democracy is impossible. I know this because I go on line all day and write blogs and comment on blogs and give lectures to students about my blogging and - nothing happens. Obama doesn't listen to me!"

  35. learning lately from Walter Mignolo

  36. re - why now?

  37. So I think that the protests, even though they're called anti-democratic and every name in the
    book is leveled against the young people protesting on the streets, I see this as an enormous
    leap forward for democracy. I think that there is no possibility of negotiated change inside
    these institutions without masses of people on the streets that are saying to these trade
    bureaucrats who have enjoyed this anonymity for the past 15 years, "We're watching you
    now." That is news to them. They are not used to this. They can't believe that these people
    are paying attention. They can't believe people are watching. They can't even believe they
    understand what the acronym stands for. What's interesting is that the first stage of backlash
    against the protest was to say, "You're stupid, you don't understand, you're clueless"—"You'reNaomi Klein 16
    Clueless in Seattle" was the headline in The Economist—and of course the opposite was true.
    That's why they were so angry: people were educating themselves. Sure, the education
    process wasn't perfect, and it was happening ... in church basements. ... But there was this
    hunger, this hunger for knowledge and information that is still there. That really does blow me
    away. I think that that's where this movement is. It's in the teach-ins, it's in this popular
    education process.

    - Naomi Klein in Quebec city 2001

    this is why there has been so much effort and resources poured into the pseudoleft this decade. the right or centrist pro-capitalist propaganda ceased working. Capitalist praxis became too obvious and no longer even pretended to champion the commonweal.

    So they needed a decoy left discourse to draw people away from altermondialist public pedagogy. not an openly confrontational discourse, openly anticommunist, openly procapitalist, but disguised,a bullshit pseudoleft labelled anticapitalist, labelled communist. And that's why now so much of the zizneyan and negrian discourse is focussed on a) reveiving old topoi like anti-semitism and civilising mission and b) mystifying the simple things that had become clear to a whole generation of youth, just confusing people about value production, exploitation, about imperialism and colonialism, (it's amazing that at the moment this vast movement coalesced around an understanding of and rejection of imperialism, Negri and Hardt declared imperialism non-existent). There has been for ten years a fervent misogynist and racist backlash but also immense effort into muddling the basics of property relations, the nuts and bolts that young people in the imperial core were educated about and understood so well in 2001, and grasped so well alongside more mature political left movements from the south. And their ability to learn from the movements of the south - and to learn from the real history that was being written with serious academic resources for the first time - was due to achievelments of antiracism and feminism in culture prodduction, so these were reversed and immense labour dedicated to restoring the old mythology. Because there was suddenly an alliance based on a comprehension of ruling class praxis, and solidarity that had grossly weakened the divisions maintained by white supremacy, xenophobia and misogyny. A spectre was really hanting the earth. It was threatening. and so the right fostered all this reactionary shit we see flowering now, but made versions of reactionary standards with a left label, and a lenin logo.

  38. A spectre was really hanting the earth [until, say, about September 10th, 2001]. It was threatening. and so the right fostered all this reactionary shit we see flowering now, but made versions of reactionary standards with a left label, and a lenin logo.

    The right's task was of course immensely eased by their impeccably-timed & extremely handy enabling event - a Spectacular event that is still entirely unmentionable in polite pseudoleft circles. The reactionary shit of zizek & co. (the antithought) could only have been swallowed by people so baffled, cowed and disoriented -- so traumatised, literally, or at least so intimidated -- that they had lost or abandoned their ability to think. Abruptly, and for a disastrously long time (nearly a decade, so far).

    That whole Nineteen Deathloving Moozlim Superstudents yarn is not just an insult to the intelligence of a budgie; it is a specifically and viciously racist insult. Which of course helps when you're planning a whole series of neoimperialist invasions in a whole host of Muslim countries.

    Imagine the script conferences, a decade and more ago: "'Nineteen Deathloving Blonde Swedish Superstudents'? Nah, no-one would swallow that. It's just not psychologically plausible. Gotta be Arabs!"

    And the left swallowed it, with alacrity. (Imperial Blowback, doncha know. The Empire Strikes Back. Pass the popcorn.)

  39. I mean, the novelistic suggestion that Wall Street, the banksters and the US/Euro governments were shocked, shocked by the so-called "financial crisis" is as wilfully and self-servingly stupid (and as demonstrably wrong) as the idea that the Pentagon, the CIA and the Bush gang were shocked, shocked by those Nineteen Deathloving Evil Moozlim Superstudents (who just snuck up on us and dunnit, all on their own, without warning and unstoppably, because they hate life, despise freedom and yearn for those 84 virgins in the afterlife).

    In fact, the term "novelistic" doesn't do these yarns justice. Nor does "infantile", because that would be an insult to children. "Cretinous" is surely le mot juste.

    The simple fact is that risk was allowed to be miscalculated to an insane degree precisely because crisis had been prepared for so efficiently.

    Indeed. And not for no reason do you link to Naomi Klein:

    The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas through our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998."

    But why on earth did she stop there? "Hurricane Mitch in 1998"? Full stop? Really? Did nothing happen after that? Was there not in fact a hugely signicant shock to the US populace, and to the world, just after that? So why is it still off-topic, even for someone as brave and rational as Naomi Klein?

    The diagnosis is PTSD.

  40. " So why is it still off-topic, even for someone as brave and rational as Naomi Klein? "

    its not taboo for her, she has said many times she wouldn't be surprised if the bush regime were behind it, that the "official narrative" is obviously false. what else is she supposed to do? she doesn't write speculation, she's a journalist. So additionally i don't know how she could be expected to chronicle the policies made possible by 2001 and the Iraq and Afghan invasions before they happened. We didn't know for sure until 2008 that all was to make possible this last oopsie of the global financial system and the transformation of capital's relation to the the treasuries of the imperial "democracies". One could guess but you wouldn't write prophecy in a book like shock doctrine surely? It was impossible to know for sure - nothing is set in stone and the protagonists of these policies always keep lots of options open.

  41. "And the left swallowed it, with alacrity."

    Here's another thing. Professional journalists in the msm swallowed this or pretended to, and people enjoying or aspiring to the patronage of capital (academics, celeb or would be celeb media workers and culture producers), but I really think it's a stretch to suppose American dissidents as a group were so credulous. Tens of millions of people in the US didn't believe the story. I think many more people believe that the "financial crisis" was a genuine ooopsie of individual hubris, greed and stupidity and the "sorcerer's apprentice" visioin of the "too complex" financial instruments, which is every bit as propagandistic, every bit as much a spectacular deception, than bought the "official narrative" of 2001 terrorism (of which there really isn't even one anymore, since the anthrax stage became so clunky a sub-plot).

  42. it is actually quite a small class of people who can be so flattered and gratified by the belief that their masters are not as clever as they are that they can be convinced that with all that computing power and really smart expert highly paid staff of analysts and masses of direct data concerned all kinds of assets and their traffic, Goldman Sachs knows less about the condition of markets and assets than Doug Henwood with a subscription to the WSJ. Because he's clever and one of us, he has the magic grimoires of Zizek and Lacan and Lenin which Goldman Sachs employees are forbidden to delve.

  43. Very simply I think it required the elimination of the USSR, and then its been coming along at a good clip, but it took time to do everything...the elimination of capital controls, the dismantling of international law, the development of telecom; it wasn't something one can do overnight.

    I'm just now reading a very useful book about the expansion of the offshore system, also a huge contributing factor:

    What it impressed upon me was the long time scale of this thing. for example, it's interesting on the development of the Eurodollar market, about which I knew nothing before: it makes clear that the erosion of Bretton Woods was happening long before the Nixon shock, and the deregulation of city finance was happening long before Thatcher's big bang. Innovations in Deregulatory practice regarding tax, capital controls, secrecy etc. preceded its neolib ideologization by decades, and was exactly coincident with the decline of British imperialism.

    And this links to what I was saying about 'headless chicken' theories - a clumsy, distracting formulation I admit.. But I had in mind some of the Crisis theories in Marxism, and how they feed into how proper socialist movements frame a lot of this, where capitalism is more or less reactive to internal secular crises of overproduction, etc. (Operaismo is the 'philosophical' caricature of this, I suppose).

    What's missing in otherwise very good rigorous accounts is any allowance for the ability of elites to anticipate, prepare for and profit from these crises. (And I know I am caricaturing here... but trying to describe here in shorthand something I think you'd recognize from the pages of the NLR).

  44. I think many more people believe that the "financial crisis" was a genuine ooopsie of individual hubris, greed and stupidity and the "sorcerer's apprentice" visioin of the "too complex" financial instruments, which is every bit as propagandistic, every bit as much a spectacular deception, than bought the "official narrative" of 2001 terrorism

    Something that struck me is that while the war on terror propaganda involved a lot of suppression of information, falsification, crude stereotyping and basic making-shit-up, popular 'dissident' accounts of the financial crash include a lot of unadulterated data that you think could surely only lead to the one logical conclusion (the 'Inside Job' movie is an example of this). But the stupidity/hubris thesis is just tacked on as bald assertion, and seems to be compelling

  45. Is not possible that it's both planned AND subject to hubris and idiocy? And isn't a lot of leftist argument against 'conspiracy theory' that it makes the ruling class appear more competent and omnipotent than they actually are?

    PS. Kenoma - why is your blog hidden now?

  46. yeah, basically, my take is that all of this is a pre-coordinated and post-coordinated polyhierarchy.

    it involves both intentions, planning, stupidity, hubris, expected outcomes, and management of crisis so that it turns into opportunity.

  47. So - instead of wars ending up the unwieldy disasters they inevitably are, mass death and instability above and beyond military/economic intention is the actual purpose? How does this square with the geopolitical 'blowback' that also occurs? Like empires declining, long-term escalation, etc?

  48. One thing is there can't be any hubris since there are no gods to punish men for cupidity and ambition. Cupidity and ambition pays off as we see. Colloquially we take hubris to mean being very risk prone, cocaine personality, but we see no evidence of this here, indeed utterly the opposite. The players who appeared to be taking big risks had removed their risk completely, by getting control the treasuries, through control of the Congess, but this was kept under wraps until it was basically announced in the articial "chaos", and there was a drama to make it appear democratic (the little "voting down" one bill, much like the US navy being scared away from Haiti by cedras' forces the first time they tried to land with Aristide in 1994).

    kenoma - yes, the spreading out of production across countries was a key element and its realisation had to wait for telecom, and went hand in hand with that. Derivatives were the necessary global money (I have this

    as pdf

    if anyone wants to read it i can email it)

  49. "What it impressed upon me was the long time scale of this thing."

    Yeah - Gowan's book the Global Gamble was written before this last stage, it's really good although a bit "innocent" as well, but it shows the US imperial managers learning how to use a global financial system and certain features of behaviour like "flight to safety". But that story ends before the new century. And what I think characterises this century - as I wrote on the old blog - is that what happened was at some point in the 80s, the US imperial managers realised the global financial system was unstable and would only get more so and that there was no way to stabilise it. They could not get enough financial power under one player - themselves - to stabilise it. But they could get enough to knock it over in a way convenient to themselves, when they were positioned to benefit. They understand that ultimately it's the political and military power that backs up the financial power, so that is what the whole 1st decade of the 21st century was about.

  50. WK:
    "mass death and instability above and beyond military/economic intention is the actual purpose?"

    yeah. obviously. it's not "_beyond_ military economic intention" but it is the intention. because countries that are destroyed and in constant chaos can never become independent. The people are enslaved. What the US does not want is for Iraq to emerge from the ashes like Japan. The US empire wants most of the world to be like Haiti. The US empire does not actually believe its colonial mythology, that it could rule over client states of relatively prosperous people in a relatively stable world forever because they are childish. This was the basis of the fables about Iraq - the US wants the "cake walk" and to leave an elected puppet, a little formal democracy it can control with subtle financial and diplomatic pressures. (We knew when the Bush regime pushed early for debt amnesty for Iraq that this was not the idea). Because you can't control and exploit people that way forever - this is the fantasy of genuine white supremacists, but the actual policy makers know better from their long genocidal experience and from the history of the core. They know what was required to maintain empire (at home and abroad, i would reexpropriate that word from negrihardtism) and they know that now that there is no rival superpower, their surest thing is permanent chaos and de-civilisation, destruction of basic infrastructure, attacks on the population's physical and mental health, etc.. The US imperial managers know that they can only maintain empire over people by force and terror. The idea that the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and Haiti is all a mistake is really silly. If it were incompetence, then there would be a greater diversity of results - sometimes something would go "right"; some policy would tend in the other direction.

    "Is not possible that it's both planned AND subject to hubris and idiocy?"

    the belief in hubris - the framing of basically a sneer at cokeheads in this fashion, as a sneer at their impiety, and a prophesy of their inevitable fated punishment by offended olympians - is the kind of superstition that the ruling class' courtier intellectuals inculcate in the public, for obvious reasons. Hubris and Karma belong to the same loose vocab of confidence in the morality of the existing system guaranteed by God.

    You have to be a believer to consider this as an exaplanation for anything.

    "And isn't a lot of leftist argument against 'conspiracy theory' that it makes the ruling class appear more competent and omnipotent than they actually are?"

    Well I wouldn't say it's an argument so much as a line, a packaged opinionette. The pseudo left dissidents who are in the pay of capital do routinely insist that only paranoid sick people see the ruling class as a coordinated, cohesive (to varying degrees at different times) bloc of the population - the proprietors of the means of social reproduction and their upper servnts- acting to protect their common interests. The is no shortage of pundits and intellectuals who are well rewarded - or hope to be - for repeating incessantly that the ruling class are flawed, well-meaning people who really have very little power and that anyone who thinks otherwise should be committed to an asylum.


  51. So far from "omnipotence", the servants of the ruling class repeat their own sincere beliefs (having nothing to do with being paid to think this way) that the ruling class certainly has not enough powervto oppress anyone or exploit anyone who is not complicit and whose complicity and volunary servitude is really the block to liberation.

    Not only to theyu have so little power, they don't even really know how to use the little power they have and end up bungling sometimes by using it in their own interests in ways that don't alwyas share the benefits when they mean sincerely to promote the commonweal.

    It's as fanciful and superstitious a belief as that the Gods are going to punish Henry Paulson for his arrogating their divine perogatives.

    The ruling class itself - the owners of capital - isn't especially competent, but they have the smartest, best informed, best trained people as their servants, with fantastic resources of information and analysis, and the class as a whole defer to the smartest and most successful of their own number with regard to strategy and policy.

    And I don't care about people harping about "conspiracy theory" anymore. Fifteen years ago one could see some people were worried about ZOG-type stuff, but now this has really just deteriorated into a way of intimidating people into silence about the obvious. Nobody even claims "al Qaeda" was behgind the anthrax attacks on congress and the media anymore but has any one of these shreilkers, these sneering soodleft fuckheads apologised for their tireless verbal abuse, their veiled threats, their insinuations that people who were unconvincedf should be locked up, straightjacketed, and electroshocked? Until I see some apologies from the leadetrs of that I don't even want to hear about "conspiracy theory" in that connotation. These smae people shriek constantly about conspiracy theory in response to everything that five weeks later they are obliged to accept as established historical record. It was a conspiracy theory to suspect the bush regume was lying about wmd, that the NYTimes reporters were working for US intelligence, that the anthrax was not sent by any pious muslims, that the US was behind the death quads in Iraq and the bombing of mosques, that Private Lynch story was fake, that the US deliberately provoked an insurgency in Iraq to have an excuse to occupy forever, that the treasury wasn't going to buy "toxic assets" from a range of banks with the tarp funds, that US intelligence was involved in Mumbai, that the US was blocking aid to haiti earthquake victims, every one of these things, unless printed by the most sober white man in the most sober pub (say, Greenwald) sets off the shrieks of conspiracy theory! conspiracy theory!

    I begin to feel that I can't take anyone seriously who uses this term anymore.




    those who are just stamping their feet insisting that nothing is planned, that they personally could really outwit the US imperial overlords if they wished - these are the people who actually fir that caricature of the greasy nerd in the tinfoil hat on the plaid sofa. The person who has to whinge about "conspiracy theory" every time someone informed raises points about ruling class strategy.

  52. Reember the Pentagon actually ANNOUNCED IN THE PAPER they were going to arrange death squads in Iraq. THEY ANNOUNCED they were going for "the Salvadoran option". The sent Negroponte, expert, to Iraq.

    A few lonths later, there are the deathsquads at work. Their deeds are reported in the press. And these bruilliuant leftists, sober rational reasonable analysts, are informling us it must be IRAN!! And you say to them - look, these are negroponte's death squads, look ehre in the msms three months ago they said they had to go for the "salvadoran option".*

    Oh no, chabert, not another conspiracy theory!

  53. Kenoma - one of the things Gowan stressed was that the big financial crises - Mexico, Asian crises, Argentina - happened with considerable time between them, one at a time, but that this was just how it happened to occur. There was no reason for this. But because it happened this way, the bailouts were possible. But had two happened at once, it would have been beyond repair. So they learned that inevitably there was a crisis coming that could really fuck them, from which they could be losers, sooner or later. And the solution was their "disaster capitalism" way of thinking - what if we make the crisis (which we can do) instead of trying to prevent it (which we may not be able to do)?

  54. "something I think you'd recognize from the pages of the NLR"

    yes, and weirdly the worst afflicted is the supposed "political marxist", Brenner.

    yeah there is an absurd misreading of marx here beneath it all -something whose many effects are analysed by Charles Mills .

    Rather probably not a misreading so much as a nonreading. I am pretty sure now that a lot of these celebrity marxists have read very little marx. Like althusser they have picked up famous chapters and passages, but never read capital, really have no idea what it's about or what it says. And what they have read they take in this strange pomo solipsist way, as a kind of allegory of their own experiences of consuming cocaculture.

  55. "But the stupidity/hubris thesis is just tacked on as bald assertion, and seems to be compelling"

    one thing that has to be conceded is that it is complicated. look back at a great series in the New Yorker about one of these insider trading trials related to drexel. The prosecution had to spend the first two months just teaching the jury about investment banking so that they could understand the charges, and what was illegal.

    A lot of the bourgeois left dissidents, too, are unusually ignorant for their class. ("Conspiracy Theory" can often mean "I wouldn't have thought of that." Well you're a professor of political theory at UCLA and not head of development for Bertlesmann North America; what you ordinarily think is by no means the limit of what can be thought by people with command of vast social resources and knowledge.)

    The pundit left spend their lives in academia, which they take for a microcosm of the world (for Foucault, a prison was a kind of school). They have no idea how competent people really are at upper rungs of big companies.

  56. h and WK about "conspiracy theory" and its critics on the left.

    Don't you think the critics of "conspiracy theory" who worked so hard to incriminate religious muslims for acts of terrorism and to demonise and pathologise anyone who merely stated that were not persuaded that cases had been proven against these fiendish evil people, and who thus really helped establish the climate which has allowed for the mass round ups and tortures in the vast US gulag - tens of thousands of victims - may not really be the best judges of what kind of conversation is safest for "the left" to have? Since their own idiotic utterances have demonstrably assisted in enabling mass murder and torture?

    I don't want advice from those people who believed that preposterous anthrax story about what is rational and what makes the left look ridiculous. These people have the critical faculties of toddlers entranced in front of disney cartoons. They are krackheads of kultukewlness. They do not think, they worry about how to present themselves. What they say has nothing to do with what they deem actually reasonable and true, but what they think will make them seem reasonable to an audience that is a figment credated by Murdoch. And these people are not even ashamed to admit this is their criteria because they have no notion of what's wrong with it. Opportunists who can argue ferociously and viciously for positions they don't believe as easily as for those they do. They are "politics as pr" and they promote plenty of "conspiracy theories" like the nefarious plot of the "liberal multiculturalists" they peddle following zizek which he got out of the protocols.

    They will happily see everyone who they think might taint their kewless by proximity strapped to a table and shocked until smoke comes out of their ears.

  57. Those pesky multiculturalists! Closing nurseries, selling schools and sacking ambulance drivers!

    You just had to bring up Zizek, didn't you? He'll go the way of the hoola-hoop soon enough.

    BTW interested in that PDF you offered.

  58. sent it from alphonsevanworden - 5 attachments

  59. And I'm not a theorist of conspiracy theory (? or whatever they're called). Plans as plain as the nose on one's face are there for all to see, if you just drown out the 'commentary'. That's why I quite like the term 'covert spectacle'. Not much is actually that hidden - it's just shouted down via media. Layers of 'interpretation' ie. fog. I was a 'troofer' as soon as I switched on the TV on 9-11. That great Spectacle that erased everyone's memory of last week's news. The world shit a brick as soon as Bush was 'elected', and his more insane plans weren't doing too well in MSM or congress, until they all bowed in unison after the bullshit avalanche. Why the hell else would they drastically extend the duration of classified documents? The fuckers live longer now.

    Our recent 'regime change' in the UK is obviously conspiratorial. News International, bugging, banks, taxation plans, Gordon brown's mental health etc. etc. Peter Mandelson putting the kibosh on police investigation. The Tories and their masters knew they couldn't win with likability or policy. As for Blair - awfully convenient times to die for Mo Mowlam and Robin Cook, no? Especially when you consider their potfolios, or certain other 'experts' who suddenly decided to crash planes and slit their wrists. All those talentless, charisma-free insiders who just thrive in politics - from Gerry Ford to Jack Straw. Always the most convenient middle-men for the Ruling Class. The fall guys are the ones deluded enough to think they're in charge - from Tricky Dick to Brown. They're the 'temp staff'.

  60. This comment has been removed by the author.

  61. wrote a long comment here, got swallowed up, dammit. will resend .. but Molly, can you send me that derivatives book in the meantime? been looking for something like that. thanks