Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Alain Badiou on the Financial Crisis

These are just a few excerpts from the much longer article. Some parts are amusing and even illustrated with photographs such as Sarkozy kissing Merkel! The whole article is at cinestatic.
His point about the practice of calling the financial system as not part of the real economy is telling. The same clowns tell us that finance is the life blood of capitalism. Badiou points out that it is absolutely necessary to bail out the financial system and money is found for that but on the other hand if we need to bail out social security or increase pensions there is no money for that!
Badiou is a French philosopher. See wikipedia.

18 October 2008
badiou on the financial crisis
[Hot off the keyboard, a quick translation of Badiou's piece from yesterday's Le Monde. Translation by myself and ICR.UPDATE: Badiou actually originally wrote this as a longer piece (which is here). We have added in the extra sections/noted changes in bold. As you can see, the original is quite a bit longer and includes a discussion of housing. Badiou on mortgages! Who'd have thought it?]Of Which Real is this Crisis the Spectacle? Alain Badiou, Le Monde, 17/10/08. As it is presented to us, the planetary financial crisis resembles one of those bad films concocted by that factory for the production of pre-packaged blockbusters that today we call the "cinema". Nothing is missing, the spectacle of mounting disaster, the feeling of being suspended from enormous puppet-strings, the exoticism of the identical – the Bourse of Jakarta placed under the same spectacular rubric as New York, the diagonal from Moscow to Sao Paulo, everywhere the same fire ravaging the same banks – not to mention terrifying plotlines: it is impossible to avert Black Friday, everything is collapsing, everything will collapse...But hope abides. In the foreground, wild-eyed and focussed, like in a disaster movie, we see the small gang of the powerful – Sarkozy, Paulson, Merkel, Brown, Trichet and others – trying to extinguish the monetary flames, stuffing tens of billions into the central Hole. We will have time later to wonder (the saga will surely continue) where these billions come from, given that for some years, at the least demand from the poor, the same characters responded by turning their pockets inside out, saying they hadn't a cent. For the time being, it doesn't matter. "Save the banks!" This noble, humanist and democratic cry surges forth from the mouths of every journalist and politician. Save them at any price! It's worth pointing this out, since the price is not insignificant. I have to confess: given the numbers that are being bandied about, whose meaning, like almost everyone else, I am incapable of representing to myself (what exactly is one thousand four hundred billion euros?), I too am confident. I put my full trust in our firemen. All together, I am sure, I can feel it, they will succeed. The banks will be even greater than before, while some of the smaller or medium-sized ones, having only been able to survive through the benevolence of states, will be sold to the bigger ones for a pittance. The collapse of capitalism? You must be kidding. Who wants it, after all? Who even knows what it would mean? Let's save the banks, I tell you, and the rest will follow. For the film's immediate protagonists – the rich, their servants, their parasites, those who envy them and those who acclaim them – a happy ending, perhaps a slightly melancholy one, is inevitable, bearing in mind the current state of the world, and the kinds of politics that take place within it............

In these past few weeks we have heard a lot about the "real economy" (the production and circulation of goods) and the – how should we call it? unreal? – economy which is the source of all evils, in that its agents had become "irresponsible", "irrational" and "predatory" – fuelling, first rapaciously, then in a panic, the now formless mass of stocks, securities and currencies. This distinction is obviously absurd, and is generally immediately contradicted, when, by way of an opposite metaphor, financial circulation and speculation are presented as the 'circulatory system' of capitalism. Are heart and blood perhaps subtracted from the living reality of a body? Is a financial stroke indifferent to the health of the economy as a whole? As we know, financial capitalism has always – which is to say for the past five centuries – been a major, central component of capitalism in general. As for the owners and managers of this system, by definition they are only "responsible" for profits, their "rationality" is to be measured by their earnings, and it is not just that they are predators, but that they have to be......

The ordinary citizen must ‘understand’ that it is impossible to make up the shortfall in social security, but that it is imperative to stuff untold billions into the banks’ financial hole? We must sombrely accept that no one imagines any longer that it’s possible to nationalise a factory hounded by competition, a factory employing thousands of workers, but that it is obvious to do so for a bank made penniless by speculation?.........

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