Monday, December 07, 2009

the mysteries of money

I feel like, last month's entry was just a garbled dialogue about money. Was there any point to it?

yes, the point is, the Conservative party are probably coming back in the next year, and, even though I'm not exactly in love with New Labour, the present time offers an opportunity to give a verdict on the effects of previous Tory economic policy. I mean the effects in a technical sense. Everyone remembers the rotten social consequences of their policies: thousands made homeless, the destruction of UK manufacturing, virtually a state of depression in the North for years, McDonalds jobs, fucking Sky. But, the whole thing was, that they were meant to be benefitting the economy as a whole, admittedly at the expense of the greater part of the population. This is the ideological line that they were happy to defend, and which has carried over into popular culture. They were "tuff choices", to sack binmen and rehire them on two thirds salary, or to sell off the utilities at a discount , and in effect hand the banks a sack full of public money. But these "tuff choices" were meant to have benefitted total output and total income. I think we could prove that these choices actually harmed the economy, and that this was done quite deliberately.

Doesn't Naomi Klein prove this in "the Shock Doctrine"?

Maybe. Maybe David Harvey does, or even Francis Wheen.

But this isn't "official" enough, in some way?

The whole question of what's authoritative and what's heterodox is played out in a peculiar way in a culture dominated by neoliberalism, in which operative political science hides, as it were, behind the constructs of an ersatz popular culture. I think it was right to see neoliberalism as having three aspects: practical policy, theory, popular appearance. It's fairly easy to get value out of attacking the "popular" aspect of the "trinity": to demonstrate the absurd consequences of the popular forms. This can even be extended to attack the theory itself in some places, and attack it effectively, as in Linder's Anti-Samuelson, but this doesn't effectively refute it.

the popular aspect?

Like, Glenn Beck appears in the Observer, here with this

"I am the most enthusiastic capitalist since Adam Smith," he said on one recent show, "If I could sell sponsorship on this chin right here, I would. It would say: 'third chin sponsored by Goodyear'

Glenn Beck does not know what a capitalist is. What he actually wants to be, according to his speech, is not so much a capitalist as a commodity, or more realistically he wants to feel that his existance as a commodity is vindicated by a theory he has never read. Also, he seems to think that capitalists make money by accepting sponsorship from eachother. Even Adam Smith himself, assuming he could make time away from supervising his factory hands, would struggle to explain how such an arrangement could possibly generate profit systemically.

So, the thing would be to look at the theory and practice of modern capitalism in a more direct way, without such comic asides?

yes, probably. And this is why it's crucial to get to the bottom of the mysteries of money.

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