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Beyond the death and destruction, the horror of an event like September 11th is the horror of losing control of your world. This feeling is an extension of the ordinary experience of being a resident of modern capitalist America. Here, work, commuting, shopping, television and the Internet are transmitted to you in ways that are any individual or collective control.
Aside from reflexes of anger, the explosion of Internet texts and public discussions here have shown the great need people have to get a handle on the events.
This text is one more contribution towards creating such an understanding. And I naturally aim to make some connections that have not yet been made. I aim to show the connection between the organization of daily life and various disasters which seem to come from nowhere, I aim to demystify the secrecy which swirl around this entire world, aim to go beyond any particular conspiracy theories and show these events as natural products of the system as a whole.
I think everyone has a reasonable summary of the September 11th events.
Enron corporation began life as an oil pipeline company and gradually transformed into a 60 billion dollar trading company, trading energy and trading other things, and then collapsing suddenly, revealing itself to something of the ultimate dot-com.
While Enron has been the most visible company going bankrupt, it hasn’t hurt the most people – more people were put out of work by the bankruptcy of K-Mart. Also, Enron didn’t fire the workers who actually ran the pipelines and public utilities that they owned. Enron mostly fired clerical, management and central office staff. But Enron still represents a lot of the present operations of the system as it stands today.
Argentina is another interesting collapse. Over the last ten or so years, the Argentina has state has imposed a Neoliberal framework on the working class where prices have risen to the level of the US while there was essentially no minimum wage and no social services. One interesting thing is that the traditional left of Argentina has been historically large and active, yet this left essentially went along with this imposition of Neoliberal austerity. By 2001, unemployment had reached twenty percent and the debt level had reached the point that it simply could not be paid. This lead to a massive upsurge in direct action by the “picateros”
In December 2001, the Neoliberal framework that reigned in Argentina collapsed. At the exact time the state of emergency was declare, 2 in the morning, there was a massive upsurge in Buenos Aires, the capital city, where the entire population of the city rushed onto the streets, banging pots and pans and forced the government to rescind the state of emergency. This upsurge has lead to unstable situation that continues to this day, with neighborhood “popular councils” having the potential for dual power with the official government. While inspiring, the exact situation in Argentina is also quite murky and I can’t say a lot more about the exact state of things presently.
In any case, altogether, we are looking at a world that more and more has become a social machine. We can see a complex array of parts to this machine; Drugs, Oil, vast secret flows of money in different directions, media, psychological and financial manipulations and so-forth. How many people know about each of these?
And these parts relate and over-lap in a huge number of ways; Illicit and offshore banking links al-Qaida, Enron, and Argentina. Fluid capital and banks piping speculative capital to risky schemes link Enron and Argentina. Enron and Bin Laden are linked as players who bought foreign policy concessions of various sorts from the United States. And just as much, they were folks who were part of US policy. Many other links can be made can be made at this level.
Now many of the machine parts are becoming more visible by their ceasing function. Certainly, we could see the entire US production system totter for about a week after September 11th. But this particular stopping was only a way one or another of our gears have suddenly stopped. Other people might be concern about former CIA assets gone wrong.
We can also go up a level. America runs a massive trade deficit with the rest of the world. To deal with this deficit, it is necessary to “recycle” the dollars that get spent each year. This recycling can be seen as generator for many of the world’s strange flows. Recycling is aided by the instability of much of the world, where many people prefer to have US dollars and accounts in US dollars than accounts in their native currency. Recycling happens through world oil transactions being denominated in US dollars. Recycling happens through offshore banking. But even the US deficit can be seen as simply a means to organize the world market and solve the crisis of excess demand. The process goes on.
We’re talking about different elements of a system. One important thing I’d like to say is that ideological parts of the system today work in very tight unity with economic, with military and with political parts.
Osama Bin Laden operated as a businessman, as an ideologist, as a drug dealer and as a politician as different points in his career, George Bush Sr. and Junior as well.
We are looking at those critical parts that have the ability to transform the operations of a system. The ideological level isn’t all the ideas that are out-there but the ideas which television is able to successfully impose on people. The economic level isn’t all that happens inside a factory or and especially it’s not all the productive activity people can do. It is that production organized by capital, one single view of human productive activity that organizes work. The military/strategic level is the direct domination by raw force. These blocks are gears in the machine, crafted for particular purposes. And they relate together in complex and often secret ways.
This text is not a conspiracy theory. There are many conspiracy theories which you can find around the web which do raise many questions. These range from the ridiculous to the highly plausible and well documented. Our purpose is to provide a frame to encompass the secret and the open, the random, openly planned and the secretly conspired events leading up to the present world.
While the operations of the system are hidden, many folks have documented this in consideration detail; Barnet Coleman, Labevier, Michael Ruppert, Doug Nolan, and beyond are all useful. The factual text of these people have large, important chunk of information in them. But none of these pictures are either in great enough detail, in a large frame or reliable enough to really satisfy us. If you read From The Wilderness and The Political Economy Of War And Peace In Afghanistan, say, you will find yourself still uncertain what US motivations are, how big the drug economy is compared to the oil economy compared to the economy of smuggling “pirated” goods and so-forth. This is natural both for a world-scale process and also given the universal secrecy that pervades the present world.
I aim to sketch a complete system that organizes these parts. Many of the system’s workings are opaque.
So we have a number of factors which influence things. So of these are so ever-present that they can be evoked as “the” explanation. Oil, US imperialism, the CIA, drugs and the drug war, gang logic, or the US trade deficit/US over-consumption are each factors which really appear everywhere.
Of course, approaching any of these as “the” explanation is still incorrect. What we would call false unifiers present their approach as one or another form of conspiracy theory or as a kind of Marxism or anti-imperialism. Those who make (what are for us) pseudo-Marxist arguments making oil money or imperialism or other such the fundamental determiner of US action in the Mid-East are confusing immediate material influences with Marxism as a theory of systems and circulation.
Indeed, today the sea of covert manipulations is so large that the “Conspiracy Theorists” who attempt to chart it represent something of “third point” of apparent opposition to the system along with the classic left and right. This tendency has some strengths versus left and right as well as enough weaknesses to leave it in the same category of these, the category pseudo-opposition to the whole system.
It is common for these folks to have some fixed-point within this society which they defend; democracy, journalism of some sort, the constitution, the decency of the people acting, a few good men and so-forth. Unfortunately, none of these things is really outside the workings of the present system.
Also, the question of money is important here. Many of the plots which these folks study could be placed under the rubric of corruption. Yet, the situation is ultimately altered by the situation of money itself. Those who base themselves on defending some fixed, worthy aspect of this society fail to see the integration of one or another of the total aspects of the system.
One critical point is what money actually is into any view of the evolution of the world – the expansion of off-shore banking and related phenomena is an expansion of money itself. The expansion of Enron stock destroyed a quantum of greater value than was made by the inside investors. This is because the buying and selling of stock essentially creates money as well making money.
Our immediate approach is that we take the causes of different events as they appear. We have no need for magical forces, totalizing conspiracies or other things. The US bureau who appears to act for both ideological and economic reasons, at different times, is not merely fooling us to conceal his purely economic motives. Rather, the ideological and immediately economic both work together to produce a world whose activities orbit the centers of capital as a whole.
In more detail, many folk have documented how Unocal oil, with help from Enron Corporation, gave consideration to the Taliban during their rise to power in an effort to speed the way for a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan. It has been speculated that the US invasion of Afghanistan was an effort to continue this policy and indeed perhaps it was an effort to bailout Enron from the whole which it was in.
We could say the opposite. Economic pressures seemed to have been towards the initial strategy of trying to bomb the Taliban into submission and it was primarily the ideological need for the image of a successful war that caused the US to give full support to unreliable Northern Alliance. And even now the Northern Alliance seems to be engaged in enough faction fight to make a stable and economically valuable Afghanistan unlikely for a period of time.
But this is our particular calculation, based on a number of information sources, none of which can be considered entirely reliable. And that brings us back to the question of how can address this entire process.
Both its secrecy and its complex interlocked interests make simple statements like “it’s all about oil!” seems pretty dubious. Discovering which blocks came together to create what effect is interesting but ultimately does not get us enough insight into the entire process.
We can see several other weaknesses we can see of the different “large frame” documenters. Often they take their particular “area of expertise” as being excessively decisive within the total dynamic of world events. Often they take information outside “their” frame at face value, ignoring manipulations and secrecy in this other frame. Even if they take alternative info seriously, they have no choice but to take it at face value as well. Often, they take the view of salvaging one part or another of capitalist society.
Another important aspect is that each of these over-arching factors fades together with and is depend on the other factors to various extents – some of which aren’t obvious. America is certainly the largest military power in the world and some dominant American ruling factions today apparently seek to extend American power to a “new imperialism”.
We see that sometimes the US state acts quite cagily and according to what could be called its long-term strategic interests. Other times, it seems to be deflected by ideology or even the shear incompetence of the hereditary Bush clique. This may to some extent reflect incoherence as a strategy. But it also reflects the lack of coherence of the US as an entity. Contrary to the imperialism view, the loci of capitalist interests cannot reduced to states, regions or “peoples” but are created by action of the global economy. The present US incoherence appears on the surface to come from the massive and corrupt Washington bureaucracy, which cannot see its real interests for its farcical rightwing agendas. But the dominance of this ideology itself reflects the concentration of capital into a speculative bubble lacking the ability to provide positive direction.
Taking another approach, one could create a “Venn diagram” of the relations of the various complex blocks and windup with a huge construct. But this would not itself tell us what’s going on.
Instead, we will simply begin talking about the principles we see organizing all of this. We will be looking at those factors which are maintained and circulated through every level of the system. This is a total political economy of the modern world, not simply a politics of oil or an economy of the drug war. This is not saying that at economic considerations will always out-weight military or ideological considerations. Rather, each possibly decisive factor balances the others in the process of circulation. And thus these factors are woven through every level of modern society, not simply the decision processes of the state. These are the factors which are maintained and circulated by every level of capitalist relations today.
Enron’s collapse revealed how it literally banked on an array of military, economic and ideological forces carrying forward its development projects. Also, those who read Dollars For Terror should take note that al-Qaida’s operations are quite similar to Enron’s. But, of course, this is how any corporation or Government operates on today’s world stage. And this is how the modern world works. In a sense, this is well known by we modern citizens.
But what both the rulers and ruled sometimes forget, until the crisis comes, is that even rulers are the objects of this circulation as well as it’s beneficiaries. Despite their murderousness, we expect most CIA agents did not expect for the agencies terror methods to return, to recirculate back to the center of the American economy.
I want to outline key parts of the way the present system has developed as a whole. This is primarily economic, yet it is making use of every aspect of society as raw material. My label Spectacular Capitalism is somewhat arbitrary. It is a way of describing the explicit and hidden parts of this model together.
What I describe isn’t a conspiracy but what seems to be more or less the unifying schema that the capitalist order has sketched for itself today – a critical summary of the business pages. I would admit that some parts of this as newer than others. And many of these parts aren’t so much new but newly emphasized and newly expanding. But my point is ultimately going to be about how the way things are expanding.
Again, the “recipe” we sketch here doesn’t begin with surprises but with various well-documented aspects of the system. Our contribution involves some connections between various tendencies as well as ways to “factor out” the massive uncertainty which swirls around of this.
· Continually Expand Marketization, the overt Neoliberal program
Neoliberalism became global capital’s dominant ideology after the collapse of the Breton Woods agreement guaranteeing the earlier, post-war order.
This marketization can be seen in both the first and the third world. In the US, we can see the deregulation of every conceivable industry, with the energy deregulation being the latest and least rational of these. In the third world, we can see this as Neoliberalism and the privatization of many state programs as well as the elimination of social welfare. We should remember that Neoliberalism is a holocaust, a global collapse of living standards.
Neoliberalism is an ideology claiming the market offers a answer to the efficient organization of production. Rather presenting any coherent plan for the development of resources and industries, Neoliberalism simply gives the answer that the market will decide how things will end up (We will at how much of a fiction this is later).
We should remember that this marketization is not the destruction of the state but only the destruction of social welfare. An equally large state bureaucracy still must often exist to maintain this market place – the bureaucracy simply no longer supplies the average person with the slightest welfare. The California energy deregulation disaster involved the creation of an entity which maintained an elaborate accounting to allow a consumer to “buy” electricity from one particular producer hundreds of miles away, even though the electricity gets entirely mixed together coming through the wires.
Also, this privatization results in entities which still serve both the state and ideological agendas, with the may advantage being that these entities don’t have to maintain the appearance of a public good. The US military uses a variety of private contractors who use ex-military personnel and don’t have an economic existence beyond recycling military dollars. Over the last twenty years, Egypt, Pakistan and several other Moslem states have dismantled much of the state education system and replaced it with semi-private schools run by ideological Islamicists and with the Islamicists themselves financed by Saudi Arabia to further their particular foreign policy.
· The “New Economy”: Control and expand ideological and information commodities as the capital for the process of marketization.
The words of bureaucrats have a tremendous influence in our modern world. On the most simplistic level, we can see how the expanding size and complexity of the modern bureaucratic corporation means that the actions of the bulk of even the higher echelon decision makers must be governed by explicit rules and procedures rather than by an informal consensus or unwritten conspiracy.
We can note the importance of these bureaucratic dictates while retaining a fully materialist viewpoint. Indeed, literal words can be transmitted and reproduce whereas the feeling of a Hegelian world-spirit is merely a psychical impression created as a combination of brain and language.
Modern ideology is a particular form of persistent language which mediates modern capitalist social relations. Ideology is ultimately totalitarian since it is needed to organize the world of both the ruled and the rulers. But this does not mean that rulers always follow the explicit meaning of ideological texts. Like any mediated activity, the effect of this language on any one person comes as a combination of personal interest and usual meaning. And the appeal of many ideologies often comes from their ability to be “bent” in directions which serve some material interest of the rulers or the ruled. The white middle class in America is quite willing to mouth ideologies of meritocracy while often implicitly believing such ideologies offer them a special place in the deserving. Ideology is thus “Words of power and words in the service of power”.
Like all aspects of society, ideology has historically been somewhat commodified and capitalized. Still, the level of commodified ideology today shows it as a key part of the present regime. This is very much a matter of how much ideology forms organically within (mostly ruling class) people’s activity and how and how much its formation is a matter of explicit productive act.
This evolution involves a quantitative relationship, the relative weight of ideological manipulation versus “sincere ideas”, which create a qualitative relationship, spectacular capitalism. A look at the “Psyops Manual” will show how the activities of the US Army’s Psychological Operations Command is concerned with achieving psychological manipulation using the simplest methods possible. At the same time, a reader will notice the similarity of psyop activity to the “normal” activity of advertising and journalism. All of this ultimately is not
Whether they go by the term nationalism or not, those ideologies which are tuned primarily by local prejudice and simplistic psychological reactions must certainly described as regionalist – they are attuned to the most basic psychology of a region. These approaches relate to the colonial approach of divide and conquer.
At the same time, these approaches jive with the modern efforts of advertising to localize their product through keeping a compendium of local prejudices.
Now altogether, modern methods of influence have become more and more systematized, though some aspects of these were available to the states of hundreds and or thousands of years ago.
Whether all this fits as a part of the system we are sketching is in terms of “ideological capital”. This is not influence itself but a particular financial/administrative structure for capitalizing influence. And by capitalizing, we mean providing ideologists with independent and anonymous sources of resources which intend only to profit from the results of the ideology.
We can see the Islamic Banking sector as one area where ideology is capitalized. We can see Enron how computer-modeled the payoff from its political influence.
The advent of post-WWII spectacular capitalism involved corporations where the advertising for a product becomes in general an inherent part of the design and production of the product. The corporation of today continues this and also attempt to “spin-off” the corporate branches creating the image for the product – image itself becomes an inherent capital.
Islamicism as an ideology serving capitalism fits well into this framework. Wahabism began with a rigid, “revivalist” interpretation of Islam in [xYear] propagated by [xName]. British Imperialism enlisted this reaction to social dislocation as a means of carving up the Ottoman Empire. Saudi Arabia has continued as something of a joint venture of local elites and Western
Though it may seem a bit distant from the details of September 11th, the development of abstract information as both ideology and carrier of ideology is crucial for understanding the present regime. Hopefully the ties-ins will be obvious after a bit.
I want to start looking broadly at information commodities. Having an information commodity can mean owning intellectual property - owning some general type of information. It can also mean having specific information that can be used in trading, controlling the direction of information flow or having information about ways to manipulate people’s decisions.
As a successor to Keynesianism or monopoly capitalism, as a model of capitalist development, Neoliberal ideology has the implicit assumption that development will generate the profits needed to entice investors. And we will show a bit later that this requires a proportional split of profits between labor and capital. And conveniently, this is what the legal framework of royalties gives you.
So intellectual property is one important ingredient because it can guarantee that a Neoliberal project will be profitable. The model of intellectual property is that an owner of this property is guaranteed a royalty from anyone who “uses” the property regardless of how else.
Selling a control of information flows is another key of the information commodity. And while the dot-com boom may still seem fairly fresh in mind people’s minds, the image of the boom as merely a pathetic illusion might distract us a bit from remembering the interesting schemes involved. You see, the exponentially increasing value of early Internet stocks were justified by the idea that these “pioneers” would soon control world flows of information.
Now while it was going on, the dot-com boom often seemed incomprehensible but this was what gave the process some credibility. It was a kind of self-validating lie – no one could say when it would end-up and so the companies in the know seemed to have some power. This can be extended to the entire society. As long as the information was flowing, controlling those flows had incredible value. Enron Corporation’s massive investment (and “trading”) in unused fiber optic cables, must be considered in this context. The impression that Enron could control the flow of any kind of information was more important than the fact that no information was actually flowing through these cables. Here, we can consider that, according to several reports, the CIA maintained contact with Al-Qaida up the point of the September 11th attacks. And possibly for the CIA, having a hand in trying to manipulate the flow of things was important than actually getting their public enemy number one, Bin Laden.
Now the control of people through information is a third part of the information commodity. This information power has appeared as political consulting companies, market research companies or intelligence agencies. Certainly, as the power of US and other secret agencies have developed since World War II, they have naturally developed a profitable model of covert capitalism which has supplemented open investment capitalism. Any capitalist, money and power generally flow together. With intelligence agencies, money and power both flow from knowing key, secret facts – “actionable intelligence” is one term that has appeared for such information. This secret knowledge has certainly supplemented the overt model of capitalist development, guaranteeing profits, again, for the knowledgeable few.
And the fourth way that the information commodity has appeared is as a privileged information or understanding used to make money trading on market. This is the information and expertise which stock traders, mutual fund managers and mega-capitalists are supposed use to correctly run their businesses. This is the information that is supposed to yield profits on the 90 trillion dollar per year derivative market. A derivative is essentially a bet that the price of a commodity will reach a certain level at a certain time. Those who trade derivatives effectively are said to be
While they aren’t the same, the expansion of different kinds of information commodities can reinforce each other.
Capital today is invested in replacing stable social institutions with dynamically changing rules and computer programs. This is also taking these institutions as the subjects of development.
The framework of information commodities is framework where everything that might once have seemed outside the economy such as culture and interpersonal relations, now is considered the basic element for further development.
We can see western pharmaceutical companies going into third world countries, researching and patenting herbal remedies and demanding or intending to demand royalties from those who traditionally sold these items.
And the flows of abstract information, from stock market advice itself to web traffic have expanded in an apparently unlimited fashion often as a result of the development of capitalism, by capital’s destruction of interpersonal and other direct relationships.
Again, while they are not the same, capital reinforces its order by lumping all information commodities together using the ideology of “the age of information”. Once all of these commodities can be put in the same lump, investment can also be made on this general same lump.
Enron sold itself as having several kinds of information, and it was able to pump up its stock through investor’s belief that Enron’s possession of one kind of information gave it possession of every other kind.
A bond trader who knows when to buy doesn’t produce any value since whatever he makes another trader will lose. But the broad ideology of information can call an increase in bond-trading the same as the production of software or the production of machinery. And so building a trading exchange in Indonesia is considered the same as building a factory (And just to be clear, I’m not saying there is anything good about production, I’m just saying that there is a difference between production and speculation).
So one key way in which Neoliberal ideology and information age ideology support each other is in the belief that a market itself produces useful things by determining the most efficiency of different ways of producing things. “Financial Services” and insurance are “exported” from the US or Europe and can added to the GDP in the same way as steel production. Just as much, control and policing is also considered a service producing value and those information processing functions which aid control can be added to the mix as well. One of the main products of Monsanto, a premier genetics engineering company, is “terminator technology”, a system whose only use to protect the “intellectual property” embodied in Monsanto’s seeds by the grotesque means of preventing mature plants from producing more seeds.
· Tie The Ingredients Together With Obscurity And Secrecy
“Generalised secrecy stands behind the spectacle, as the decisive complement of all it displays and, in the last analysis, as its most vital operation.” Guy Debord, Comments On Society Of The Spectacle
Now the combination of marketization and intellectual property is both an idealized recipe for development and a portrait of the current “zeitgeist”. In various circumstances, this is what the capitalists say they are going to do, what they intend to do and what they actually do. But if we choose a given situation, it is not necessarily going to be all of these at once. Now when the value of intellectual property winds-up as only seeming, the game can be given the simple of Ponzi scheme, racket and so-forth. But the trick is to juggles the various faces of intellectual property well enough to prevent the game of musical chairs from stopping.
Here is why we must have a third closely related ingredient, secrecy. Our information ideology posits intellectual property as being a single fluid that mixes a variety of different qualities; it can involve information, knowledge, control and decision-making. Of course, a close look at this mixture of apples and oranges would reveal how illogical, inapplicable and irrational this mixture is. But naturally, the owner of intellectual property already has a good reason to use secrecy to protect his property. So this makes it especially convenient to use this secrecy to prevent the shoddy quality of his intellectual merchandise from becoming visible.
Ideally, you will never give people your key information; only sell them the use of part of the information. Today, a vast legal and technological complex is being built to maintain this principle. Microsoft, like other software houses, doesn’t technically sell software but rather “licenses the use” of their software. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act guaranteed intellectual property by making it illegal to reverse any copy protection system so to gain access to the intellectual property. Intelligence agencies make vague pronouncements concerning “danger” so to avoid revealing what actual information they have.
Secrecy defends intellectual property but secrecy also creates intellectual property. We have seen how intelligence agencies create their capital through possession of secret information.
Today, vast sums of money are invested in “buckets” of investment. Retirement funds state pensions, mutual funds and others spread their bets around every large enterprise that seems reasonably well-managed. Only by metaphor of gambling can such a spread make sense. Yet this is only because of the secrecy that is maintained.
We can remember how Enron used opaque accounting data in their yearly reports. This combined with their apparent possession of valuable intellectual property to make them irresistible purchases.
This is written a few days before the conference, since the situation itself is ever-changing.
Presently, it seems that the US has a rather shaky relationship with Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China. These are the nations that border Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan presently only burns slowly. But it has the capacity to be truly punishing.
Russian Special Forces in Chechnya recently issued a statement that they would not continue fighting unless conditions improved.
The possibility of a huge US quagmire in central Asia seems far more likely today than when the US “won” the war against the Taliban several month ago.
One advantage of the recipe I’ve described has that it has created so much misery that people haven’t had the energy or time to resist. The system has so far generally used its crisis against us. But recent event seem to show that crisis can move faster than the system.
Now the summary so far should give an idea why the crisis has accelerated. An interesting thing I see about this model is that weaknesses of spectacular capitalism are often simply the flip side of its strengths.
· Selling the backstop; Ideology Reaches Incoherence As Capital No Longer Has Direction. Capitalized Ideology Looses The Ability To Have A Make Rational Decisions
In reality, the plans and schemes of large capitalists have always been the guiding light of effective development. At the same time, capital has had waves where the fervor of a ruling ideology reaches such a pitch that overrules simple logic of development. Fascism and communism were previous apexes of such irrationality.
Still, today we
The pure ideology of the
Because the ideological organization of the present world is integrated into the information capital schema itself, it cannot serve as a break to the unfolding crisis that we see here.
Certainly, there are governmental and corporate efforts to ameliorate the current problem. Yet, since these operate within a machinery that is tremendously integrated into the machinery of Spectacular Capitalism. This means they cannot take meanful separate action to change the course of the system. They merely reproduce the problems on a further level.
We mentioned how the present order has a machinery which involves ideological and economic blocks interacting as a single complete system. Still, it is worth looking at how the infoschem’s ideology expands and makes worse the expanding economic crisis.
Spectacular capitalism creates a state with the hollow center. The US with its domestic and foreign policy details apparently up for grabs would qualify as would the third world states controlled by ideological clique.
In the age of management, a company would modify a product to make it more sellable. In the age of derivatives, a company will take image used to sell a product and spin it off as a different company. This spin-off projects a future where this advertising information product and thus can get more people to invest in the possibility. It also means that the newly formed company’s information must be used to track the entire population and not just consumers of a product. It means that the directive form of capital, of chunks of money, will be split between producers and ideologists.
“Hired-guns” were the standard fare in the recent US presidential election. The most notable aspect of this event is that the “cost-benefit” calculations and maneuvers of Bush and Gore exactly split the electoral college. Nothing could better illustrate the calculated use of ideology of as an instrument. And this calculated use implies a pure cynicism.
The cult-like organization is not new. Modern methods of creating small groups of fanatics have their genesis in the last couple hundred years though “The Assassins” and other groups are older. At the same time, a modern methodology founded on the “creation of corporate cults” is important given the turn which capitalization has taken. It is not that methods of manipulation are actually new, it is simply that they must be sold as new and that they now receive great funding.
The CIA’s instructing of Bin Laden and creation of his organization distinctly fit the bill of a synthetic organization. It is also not strange that Al-Qaida turned angry anti-Western. Rather than wanting lines more friendly to the West, the professional manipulator would seek stripped down ideology which, whatever it’s official angle, demands absolute obedience and allows violence to be directed to nearly any target.
The connection between an advertising spin-off and a terrorist group seem like quite a stretch. But the point of the organization of spin-offs is that they need to make their activity generic. [See the genericness of information as dynamic]
The Gang logic of ideological uniformity and secret betrayals prevails. The willingness of a CIA creation to transform its ostensible anti-Western rhetoric into a serious crusade against its one-time mentors is also not strange within the world of spectacular capitalism. Ideology is the guiding and limiting principle of capitalist society as a whole. At the same time, it is the basis of the many media-spin-offs/infoproducts which become the capitalization of the modern world. Arthur Anderson’s simultaneous accounting and consulting work illustrates – “leveraging” it’s role as accountant essentially involved a willingness to corrupt it’s supposedly critical role as a “gatekeeper” preventing Enron’s corruption. [See spectacular capitalism’s corrosion of necessary bounds and supports].
Þ The development of stripped down ideologies serving only the immediate interests is a natural corollary of expanding promises into the future.
It is worth noting that the CIA purposefully recruited Islamist extremists for the original Afghan Civil War against the USSR. This approach was based on the idea that these reactionaries would be the best defenders of capitalist property. It is also involved the reasoning that a simplistic, fanatical psychology can be directed at nearly any source. In the “intelligence” psychology, Islamicists would be considered “easy to program”.
And today, from Bin Laden to Newt Gingritch to “Hindu Fundamentalism”, we see the oldest ideologies supplemented by the most cynical, modern methods of psychology and conditioning. The motivation systems are more and more short-term, emotionalistic rhetoric.
Ideologies in general justify to the mass the way capital operates as well as organizing what the capitalist themselves do. James Watt’s statement “when we cut down all the trees, Jesus will come” shows guiding principles in harmony with the economic dynamics of the new order.
Just as much, an ideology is a mechanism and enterprise with many experts which rely its existence. Islamicists not only believe their version of Islam but also rely on it for their social position and they advance Islam to advance themselves.
· Capital’s “lumping together” of information types is a fiction that prevents capitalists from being able to sort-out what is real and what is their own product.
· A market Cannot Guide An Economy By Itself – Ideology In The Saddle
Again, in reality, a market does not actually provide any direction for social development, technological development or economic development. If sometimes the market allows one to efficiently decide how to produce things, it is still clearly not a coherent decider of what to produce. On the world scale, the movement of outside investment is really determined by the dynamics of the unfolding crisis – essentially they need to make quick cash. And the secrecy of this motion conceals the problem.
Neoliberalism has not moved any nation from third to first world status. Indeed, it has mostly pushed back the far-Eastern nations which had previously risen to near first-world status through protectionism, government-aided planning and export-oriented economies.
While we can look at the mega-profits that huge capitalists make as a sign that Neoliberalism is a victory for capitalism, the short-sightedness of this vulture capitalism is undermining the safety of world capital – something we can see most directly in Argentina.
Rather than being directed “by the market,” world capitalist development has thus seems have been organized lately by a series of speculative schemes. This is producing a profound series of distortions and disconnects on every level of the world economy.
Now only in terminal stages, such as the Soviet Union or Argentina, does the immediate efficiency of production seem to suffer. Rather, we see the choice of what to produce being more and more distorted, even according to the sustainability of capitalism.
Fiber optic cable, oil pipelines, chip factories, medical equipment and houses are built based on their speculative value rather than their ultimate salability.
The Dot-com bubble has burst, but the American Realestate bubble is larger and this is in full swing. The massive expansion of the American medical system is also
A moment of thought will reveal that the expansion of the medical system in the US clearly does not result in either economic or social “goods”. But medical investment is huge simply by the profits guaranteed by a patient’s inability to say no.
Genetic engineering has been a sham both in terms of its safety but also in terms of its effectiveness. Monsanto has failed to reap the amazing profits which it imagined would come out of GE. Yet, like other fields which claim to open the possibility of unlimited profits, capital throws tremendous resources into this scheme.
Þ Generic Information Is A Fiction. Capital uses information which no longer has value.
The secrecy and genericness of new, developing information products means that this development will “corrode” those physical, methodological and ideological guidelines, boundaries and behaviors which allow both capitalism and “normal life” to simply continue.
· The usual bounds of capitalist society get corroded.
Þ A capitalist operating in secrecy does not have to follow normal guidelines.
Universal secrecy opens the door to every kind of corruption. It allows every sort of fraud for those investing in the unknown information. And it allows this and the many other failures of the information model to be concealed.
“Obscurity” is also good for describing some of what’s happening. The word “obscurity” encompasses more phenomena while “secrecy” implies intentionality. Our obscure world is a combination of secrecy and the complexity of the underlying processes. The paradigm of spectacular capital involves both creating secrecy and using obscurity. Those individuals and group who seem to have a line on the chaotic world-market will become a magnet for investment. And it may not matter whether they created the chaos, whether they created their appearance of understanding the chaos or whether they intend to really share their knowledge.
Security and control ironically are part of the selling of secret information. Several arguments can be made that openness actually creates better safety than secrecy. But naturally the tail of commerce will wag the dog of safety here.
A modern enterprise operates with intentional and unintentional obscure factors.
Obscurity comes with the complexity of the system, with the spread of the system’s processes over many levels, and with system’s resulting being extended to the near and far future.
The spy might know the limits of secrecy but he might still think that mathematicians have a magic for stabilizing markets through computers while the mathematical wizards of financial dynamics can understand the “gamblers ruin” but not know how much of the market is hidden from them. Spies hide as much as they can from each other as well as from the public. Enron hid some thing explicitly and hid some things by the complexity of their enterprise.
The CIA agent is explicitly told to use “any means necessary” for the protection of ill-defined “American Interests”.
Þ If a traditional activity is recast as merely the manipulation of bits and bytes on a computer screen, society loses the moral restraint which a person has around any “real world” activity.
Despite the rhetoric of the absolute market free, a modern stock itself requires “market makers,” honest analysts, disclosure laws, minority shareholder rights and many other formal and informal guides, with all this especially designed to prevent pyramid schemes.
These ideal information devices, derivatives, can be an ideal way to conceal a Ponzi scheme (as Enron showed) but moreover, they corrode the distinctions which the “honest market” requires.
Þ A Powerful aspect of the corrosion of the normal capitalist order is the explosion of covert, illegal capital, especially drug capital.
This ranges from corruption to vast offshore banking to covert trade in drugs, weapons, people, counterfeit goods and pirated software.
Of course, a certain amount of illegality can is normal and even necessary for the functioning of a capitalist economy. Yet it is obvious that extreme corruption, including the corruption of the highest official will eventually eat away at the ability of a capitalist society to operate on a day-to-day basis (The collapse of Argentina involved corrupt leaders willing to take on unmanageable debts in order to line their own pockets).
· The “black hole” effect or chasing the center.
Capital draws more parts of society into the crisis by attempting “insure” the uncertain parts with the certain parts. Here, a small disaster will thus tend to become a large disaster.
This spirit of insurance appears as each authority looks to a higher authority for the legitimacy of their decisions. And this means that an entire organization will refuse to take action unless prodded into motion by those on the highest levels. We can see this in America’s entire action in Afghanistan – which still has the possibility of a major disaster.
This spirit also appears as information chasing itself. The basis of insurance is equalizing risk over time and space. Such insurance depends on the integrity of information around events in a society. This is also a distinction between the physical notion of events and informational predictions of that those events.
Info-capital “insures” itself by resting every uncertain investment on top of other “solid” investments and processes. Yet this insurance ultimately means that the unstoppable expansion info-capital sucks-up and distorts every economy, every ideology, and every nation in the world and is moving more and more to threaten all this as a whole. Ultimately, it means a greater tendency for sudden collapse rather than slow decline.
This either gives complete stability or means the entire edifice will fall at once.
Modern finance attempts to “spread risk” by combining investments. Yet this stokes the bubble. “Insurance” cannot protect from disasters that strike simultaneously everywhere.
This effect happens as the bubble expands in framework and as well as in size. When Wall Street speculation cannot stop a collapse, an offshore entity may be called-in. On the failure of an offshore entity, the CIA itself may engage in indirect manipulations to maintain the process.
At one point, finance may substituted for ideology and at other points ideology may be substituted for finance.
The complexity of the information world is another factor which pulls in more and more aspects of the world’s process.
Insurance happens through the use of derivatives and contracts which allow one large company to sell or buy goods at the when point when prices reach a certain level. This binds together the fortunes of a multitude of companies at the same it is necessary for “normal” international commerce.
On an ideological level, insurance appears as the gang method of collusion. A gang organization aims to implicate every important decision maker in its activities and thus make it harder for anyone to later attack them. German or Soviet intelligence agencies went out of their way to turn decedents into agents for their own protection – and this did indeed protected the security services after the end of the regime. Just as much, American democracy is rife with companies which give money equally to “both sides of the aisle” and these companies have the same approach in mind. And this is aside from the more mundane buying of politicians drug dealers and other criminals normally engage in.
The interdependency and secrecy of spectacular capitalism causes crisis to appear as a sudden collapse rather than in any great visible, gradual decline.
The collapse of the World Trade Center is the most extreme example we can mention. Spectacular capitalism involves greater and greater inter-dependency of systems. Derivative capitalism involves each investor becoming more and more dependant on other investors to honor their contradicts. All of the arguments of old-time gambling schemes can be revived once they are couched in the language of mathematical, financial or other expertise. Equivalently, spectacular capitalism’s undermining of guides and institutions includes the undermining of the bounds which prevent crisis from spreading from sector to sector. And this interdependency and secrecy gives either stability or the appearance of stability up until a final catastrophe.
The System does not pretend that a crisis is not coming. Just the opposite at time, it quite easily speculates about the possibilities of doom.
But quietly it crushes any explicit direction where collapse could come from. From The Wilderness has described manipulations to keep the price of gold from rising. In other places, we can see changes in the consumer prices index to removing housing as a factor. Largest of all, the destruction of other currencies guarantees the US. And so-forth.
The system keeps itself as “The Only Game In Town.
· An unsustainable rate of deception
As every aspect of production, debt, lies or ideology, today pushes consideration of the results out to a further and more obscure future, the profits from information capital become too much of a fiction and crisis reappears when least expected.
This accumulation of future promises cannot be either be reversed or continued indefinitely. To see this, we return a consideration of Karl Marx’s “declining rate of profit”
It is a manifestation of the decline in the rate of profit and all the classical problems. Over-capacity on a world scale has massively increased. The same example: The world market at best can provide a market for a single commodity for most countries – Iran only markets Persians rugs, etc.
A Expansion “To Infinity”? Spectacular capitalism allows problems to be postponed into indefinite and definite futures.
This process can happen on many more levels than simply the economic. Lies and manipulations on many levels can be carried out by all manner of managers to prevent postpone their own personal fall.
All of these expansions compete with the growth of the economy itself. Put it simplistically as exponential growth, we can see the scheme as unsustainable. But we can see the production system’s success in growing exponentially – if economic relations can cull only a certain amount of bubbles, the rest can be escaped through growth. This is the closest thing to “sustainability” which the system has to offer.
Capital’s urge to replace ordinary controls with software illustrates this most directly.
Capital might imagine that a company can create software that will make workers some percentage more productive. If the company could own this indefinitely, it would have capital’s holy grail, a capital which reproduces profit rates.
But such a process cannot go on indefinitely (without artificial supports). Any functionality which a particular program might have can be reproduced, especially if it is fount of profits.
This is not different from any ordinary situation where the price of capital falls to it’s cost reproduction.
We can equally see that a person with special software isn’t going to be physically more productive even if he is measured as such. If certain machines running on software and magic ingredient were involved here, we might imagine this. But the people whose productivity is being measured are mostly bureaucrats pushing electrons or factory workers too poor to be worth computers.
Capital may imagine that once they release a programmable device, that the device itself can be sold forever while programs are sold for it.
It may contrary-wise expect that a software will be sold forever the same but more and more hardware will be bought.
Capital showed it had an inkling of the crisis of profitability when used the term “commodity producer” – which denotes an industry whose profits will squeezed to the breaking point by competition between “undistinguishable” producers. Presently, capital has attacked this problem by “selling quality”, by attaching a unique ideology to each product.
The addition of abstract quality to product types could be described as characteristic of post-WWII production, the classical “Society Of The Spectacle”. This was an era of monopoly profits. Yet, as the fall of the Soviet Union showed as the most extreme example, ultimately monopoly production does not guard against the crisis of capital.
Our new era involves a more severe crisis and thus we have a separating, a spinning-off, of the ideology in production.
Now we have the arithmetic of infinitely productive information. A copyright grants a piece of capital a fixed percentage of total capitalist production indefinitely.
This contradicts the general tendency of the profit on a piece of capital to be limited to a percentage of the cost of production.
The implication of not simply guaranteeing a profit rate but guaranteeing an increasing profit rate, is really characteristic of a capitalism that cannot sustain even monopoly profits.
The Breton Woods Agreement was broken by the growing productivity of Japan, by the cost of the Vietnam War, by the resistance of American and European workers to work, and by the inevitable flow of dollars.
Hyman Minsky describes an inevitable rhythm of speculation and conservatism in business cycles. Yet it is worth noting that the US has used extra-market methods to prevent any severe business cycles. But this has lead to an accelerating increase in the amount of the measures.
It is worth noting that once government intervention becomes complete and extra-market measures has co-equality with market measures, the economy will have roughly reached the condition of the Soviet Union (though naturally still professing a ideology of free markets rather than popular benefit). The performance of corporate bureaucrats will explicitly on an ad-hoc basis.
Now the order we’re describing is very much one order. Information ideology, market ideology and secrecy all reinforce each other. We live in a capitalist society. And that means no only that money dominates daily life but that the need for companies to make profits organizes life on a larger scale.
So this is why an information system that can be used to guarantees a continuous flow of profits is important. Capital both wants and needs this flow of fixed profits. (The reason capital needs this guaranteed flow of profits is that it is more and more interpedent – it commits to loans with a fixed interest rate and need to get great profits than this). Without it, financial collapse looms large.
The fundamental flaw of this scheme is that information is not infinitely productive. We can frame the many different crises of today as capital’s efforts to make information infinitely productive and the failure of this effort.
Enron’s collapse most clearly fits this bill. Enron had a tremendous supply of trained thinkers, of information processing capacity, of government influence, positions within trading networks and so-forth. But none of this spectacular capital served ultimately to produce things of value. And by this token, the enterprise was a house of cards and ultimately could not get the flow of investment required to continue.
This problem of the productiveness of information appears in many related forms. So how does the need to make information infinitely productive relate back to the original September 11th events?
The need for information to be infinitely productive also appears with the various managers of society as a whole – the state and especially the intelligence agencies, sometimes called the “secret state”.
The rise of intelligence agencies themselves reflects the ideology of information
The CIA expresses the ultimate ideology of control by information. Th
Naturally, capital has responded to its crisis by attempting to get the working class to pay for the crisis as much as possible. The commodification of life is being supplemented by the marketization of life. Not only is every part of life for sale, but the modern consumer is expected to be ready to pay any price for those things that they might want or need.
The gasoline station with its constantly varying prices shows one pole of marketization. Another pole is the many parts of consumption and production which are offered only as a package.
Buying a house, a car or medical care today has transformed into being accepted into a program – “qualifying for credit”, “qualifying for insurance”, etc. Medical care in particular often winds-up essentially unpurchasable for those outside the employment system.
By a similar token, people today are thrown ideological package deals as well. Being “in recovery” in the anti-drug system is a counter-part to being within the “drug culture”. Modern Christian or Islam offer pre-made support groups for those accepting conversion.
Now, the various deals offered people can occupy a large portion of social activity.
April 22, 02 National Review Article had an article describing US military logger-heads in relation to the Mid-East.
One critical aspect is that current US budgets purchase very little bang-for-the-buck, through they use lots and lots of bucks and so get lots of bang.
US military interests are becoming more and more focused on being able to intervene anywhere while US ability is clearly flagging. The failure of the attempted coup in Venezuela shows a US no longer having unassailable influence in Latin America.
Israeli adventures point in a similar direction – Israel is not a US pawn today but its own mini-imperialism with a strangle-hold on US politics. Its destabilization of formerly US allied nations is done with a basic sneer.
The US spending less and less of its GDP on defense partly because more and more of its GDP is an illusion – the speculative value of real estate cannot be turned into aircraft carriers, the scam of medical care cannot be turned into aircraft carriers, indeed the vampiric US medical system can only grow with defense outlays and suck their effectiveness.
It is not only small boys that can call naked emperors. If “the emperor’s new cloths” are also his suit of armor, he is poorly outfitted for battle.
The US has gotten a lot of its concession through its economic clout. But US economic clout also depends on its military might – the US dollar allows the massive import of resources to be ONLY a relatively large deficit. A sharply declining dollar would tremendously reduce how much the US could buy abroad. And this would reduce US military preparations. Everything now stands together and more and more shakily.
What could be called the progressive, the Keynesian, or the social democratic agenda of Western Capital appeared after WWII. This broad trend appeared after Western capitalists had had been bloodied in a number of ways. The Western Power had emerged victorious in WWII but this victory was far from undisputed. The great depression showed market inefficiency in a very brutal fashion and “Communism” still seemed to constitute what appeared to be a serious threat.
So it made sense for much Western capital to adopt an agenda which offered concessions to the working class and planning to avoid the still-remembered excess of a market gone mad. Like any broad, historical movement, this agenda had many contradictory aspects. But it also animated much of the approach of capital.
Now over the 30 years after 1945, the progressive consensus broke down to both the left and the right and the speculative financial sector grew to a larger and more powerful part of the economy (after having been reigned-in somewhat during the depression).
Thus from 1973 to 1980, capital sought new approaches to solving its problems. The Neoliberal agenda, which became essentially consensus during and after Reagan, was fairly natural for those times. Western Capital was in a much better relative condition than 1940 and far better 1930. The progressive agenda had not demonstrated an ability to end class struggle. Moreover, the struggles that were happening seemed somewhat dependant on progressive institutions like universities. Rightwing, free market, anticommunism had never gone away on any Western country since it represented a natural ideology of various sectors of capital – the vast, backwards parts of the US constitute a “residual supply” of rightwing ideology ready to jump to the fore. Thus it was natural for this agenda become dominant again.
Relatively rightwing politicians in the US had accepted various parts of progressive agenda, with Eisenhower presiding during the CIO’s organizing drive and so-forth. But this also meant that the US didn’t have any constituencies ready to defend progressivism wholeheartedly.
During the Reagan and post-Reagan periods, the left has much more thoroughly caved-in to Neoliberalism than the right caved-in to progressivism. Certainly, the way that Neoliberalism systematically created an ideology and spread it through every level of society was part of this process using an array of media outlets, think tanks, university professors and lobbyists was a factor. But we must look behind this and see how this is a result of the ideology having won the key battle already, the battle for capital’s essential consensus. “TINA”, “There Is No Alternative” is indeed ridiculous if it is saying that a capitalist most be managed on the basis of Neoliberalism on a day-to-day basis. Really Neoliberalism has been a progressively more fragile way of managing the present society. But “there is no alternative” which has been accepted by the ultimate movers and shakers. The willingness of American union hacks to accept Reagan’s program ultimately didn’t come from propaganda but from these hacks knowing their interests lay ultimately with capital rather than with their own members – remember the US government in ways paved the way for the power of even the most “progressive” unions.
In the third world, it is worth remembering that the post-colonial development period was considered a terrible failure for most of the third world. The East Asian nations were the main exception to this (with other near-industrialized nations like Argentina suffering gradual decline).
The post-colonial world also involved considerable “neocolonial” domination by US and other multinational corporations within Western allied states. At the same time, the direction of the third world overall was progressive in the sense that there was an emphasis on building large, monopolistic development projects. The US and the Soviet Union engaged in a worldwide competition for allies, each offering variations of a raw-material-supplier relationship to the ruling elites of the third world. But both the US and the Soviet Model ultimately hardly brought prosperity to the third world people or allowed much real economic development. Third World elites tended to simply pocket the cash which came from grants (and they still are pocketing cash, as are first-world elites). The quandary of the third world was and is that industrial and managerial production tends to produce all of the desirable jobs and position within the world market but this sector is already taken. Rightwing, progressive and state capitalist factions have all failed to solve this problem (though Neoliberalism at its most ruthless says things like “starvation happens”, the horrors of the third world clearly have shown a way of biting the Western powers including the US).
It is important to remember that the third world has developed more slowly and from a smaller economic base than the first world. This has meant the proverbial widening gap in relation to the first world. Moreover, the third world has actually lost more and more of its independent scientific research or cultural research abilities.
Historically, America has leveraged its vast land and natural resource base for comparative economic advantage. Energy, raw materials, or agriculture can each give a relative advantage to an economy which has them in abundance. With capital’s usual short-term frame, this leveraging of resources involves both using these resources as well as using resources to encourage consumption. It is common for builders in reasonably cold climates like Oregon to uninsolated houses heated with only inefficient space heaters. This gives means both cheaper houses for the builder and more money for the electric company, while the energy prices are still relatively low enough that the homeowner won’t go broke.
We can see an extension of this kind of reason in the development of vast suburbs eating farmland, huge mall and the horribly inefficient automobile culture in general.
The development of capitalism in general has involved the substitution of machinery and energy for labor. If the USA can use energy in a profligate fashion, then it can speed that process.
America is no longer self-sufficient in energy however. But America’s comparative economic advantage still depends on being able to use energy wastefully. And today, along with the still-existent domestic supplies of oil, America receives a special discount from Saudi Arabia in recompense for America’s protection of the Saudi monarchy.
But still, US oil dependence is not simply a matter of free supply. The profits from Mid-East oil flow back into dollar dominated investments and ultimately US Treasury Bills, supporting both the trade deficit and the US dollar. Moreover, American domestic oil is produced at the relatively high cost of $10/barrel. By this token, the reduction of oil price below a certain point would cause considerable dislocation in the still-surviving US oil industry.
Thus keeping price of world oil within a given range, and essentially receiving a cut, is a crucial factor for the dominance of “American” capital. The American state has used its military power over the last fifty years to assure that situation. At the same time, this has not involved the classical image of colonialism. The house of Saud has been the largest part of the US oil control strategy, though there are many other parts.
And America is far from totally controlling the Saudis. The tremendous power of Saudi oil wealth has made the US-Saudi relationship more and more of a partnership, a partnership where each side is attempting to find alternative power and resources.
There is no reasonable price for oil. The “natural” price of the stuff is simply the cost of finding it and pumping it out of the ground. This price would, of course, encourage an even quicker, more inefficient development of capitalism as well as an even greater devastation of environment, and ultimately as harder crash. A price which would encourages a miserly use of oil and search for alternatives would have to be supported by some monopoly control. At the same time, the unequal distribution of oil around the globe makes such monopoly control quite common. But even higher prices don’t promote more inefficiency unless the state moves things in that direction. This is a dilemma for capital. While environmentalist have wrung their hands over it, we can see that high capital today simply says “let the chips fall where they may”.
With permutations of world capital, currency and raw materials markets, a piece of capital good which is worth billions of dollars at one market level may absolutely worthless at another level. The obvious example here is a large, energy-inefficient American factory or mall. We should remember that simultaneously, vast amount of corporate bonds represent such pieces of capital goods would quite likely be floating around the world markets. So the failure of one piece of capital equipment would represent a failure for many entities, possibly pushing them over the edge as well.
Thus current, our heavily interlinked, Neoliberal world ironically cannot afford the failures of investment which it touts as “market discipline” – especially the level of failure which would result from a global adjustment of oil prices.
Thus, the weight of the large ruling capitalists is not towards the market forces which would result in more efficient capital long-term but in protecting the bulk of the very large (generally absurd) moneymaking projects today. It does strategically toss overboard the most costly or obvious of these, such as Enron, but this is to strengthen the still sticky remainder. The absurdity of models like petroleum-energy consumption, wood-fiber paper, nuclear power, automobile transportation, the Microsoft-Intel personal computer and others have been well documented.
Indeed, if there is anywhere that modern capitalism provides efficiency, it is at the simple level of allowing any given factory an rough understanding of the labor-efficiency of a given machinery investment. Otherwise, most of what we is an inane progression of technological innovation providing a mixed bag for improvements to the actual experience of living.
The US had certainly evolved to be “The World’s Policeman”. Certainly this means it imposes immediate US interests on the world as a whole. Today, “US Interests” are becoming murkier and murkier in some places and remain clear in other places. This is not a different situation from the situation of the ruling faction within a given state. US Oil capital today clearly rules in the US to the detriment of the broad range of capitalist interests. This is the “price of power” and capitalist interests as a whole acquiesce to this. But these interests are still able to main a situation that is “close enough” to the rule of laws that capital as a whole can maintain itself.
There is no reason for a “Theory Of Imperialism” separate from our general conception of capital since the unequal power relationships between nations are analogous to unequal power relationship within nations. The bourgeois of the “dominated” nations of the third world have the two tendencies of appearing to align themselves with US “Hegemony” or of appearing to oppose US interests. Neither position of third world bourgeois is final but each is taken according to the movement of political economy. We can the agile shifting of the president of Pakistan around support the US and opposing the Taliban. Just as much, we can see the shifting of Saddam Hussein from US asset to public enemy number one.
All of capital’s modern relationships are built with the remainder of pre-capitalist relationships. National chauvinism, ethnic chauvinism and gender chauvinism together evolved from patriarchal empires and from the xenophobia of many different pre-capitalist relationships. But we have neither patriarchal capitalism nor imperial capitalism nor racist capitalism but simply capitalism.
The most direct connection of world financial manipulation and information capitalism comes through the computerization of world banking operations. Money can never be simply reduced to the point where programmers simulate the results which they wish – money it bytes on a computer disk AND a social relation.
Still, there is some evidence for schemes based directly on the manipulation of computerized money. A favorite conspiracy of a few years past, PROMIS, is name connected with this kind of activity. Promis-type software is one foundation of both enforcement and manipulation in the stream of world financial markets.
Promis operates through “connections analysis”. Thus, it allows otherwise untraceable bank accounts to be united with their owners.
By this token, the security state is filtering the operations of world financial transactions. And this is the most direct link indeed between information capital and speculative capital.
Now, another important link is that the CIA has always been not just an arm of US Capital but of “Eastern Establishment” or Wall Street capital in particular.
The position of governmental and corporate bureaucrats has evolved incrementally over the last two hundred years. When we describe a qualitative break with older approaches, this is in context of the new total system we describe rather merely all the changes adding up – though certainly things have changed in the last fifty, the last twenty and the last ten years.
A modern bureaucrat is today in a highly competitive situation. The club of guaranteed ruling elite has gotten smaller as the economic restructuring of the US and other states has proceeded. Lawyers in the highest law-firms face long hours, with even country club retreats being oriented to work and systematic contacts rather than leisure. President Clinton and cabinet members faced a congress continually dogging their actions. Intel Corporation sets the goal of removing a percentage of their workers each year and this bureaucratic terror goes up to managers and high technical workers. This continual bureaucratic war is naturally no around “larger issues” but around the most mundane and petty questions of image and organization procedure. The Republicans attacking Clinton and friends never once used the ammunition of serious debate (or even mentioned the truely serious crimes of Clinton) but rather focused on the pettiest questions of marital infidelities, lying and small, “unwarranted” gifts.
At the same time, this bureaucrat is more and more a conduit of ideology, of information product in a variety of forms. Reports are prepared for both higher-ups, for group meetings and discussions, for mass media or for the corporation to give to those who buy their product. And all of this information is taken from similar sources. Generally, this information passes through several hands before finally reaching a wider audience. Corporations and governments vary in how formally the process is structured, and the structures themselves change constantly. But the process remains fundamentally information processing.
So this flow of information is a gradual piecing together of ideas by people who much have their “ears to the ground”, who follow the trends closely. Still, this means any change is going to take the “safe way out”.
The factors which unify the actions of these folks are the various ideologies which permeate this society. And by ideologies I mean those expressions and symbols which circulate on an equivalent level of capital. These ideologies range from corporate goals to management theories to pluralism and patriotism. The “substantive” decisions that a bureaucrat makes have to jive with the vast sea of paper which they process. And we should realize that in many ways such guiding ideologies are the ultimate expression of capital in this situation. Each has invested time and prestige into an attachment to one or another ideologies. And moreover, a bureaucrat ultimately cannot conjure any justification for their existence than one or another of the more totalizing of these ideologies (such as liberalism, anti-communism and so-forth).
The guiding ideologies of bureaucrats and organization do change, even on a rapid basis. But they can only change to other ideologies and according to the ideological economy of the situation. We can see in early 2002, ideological of militarist of the US committing more and more to war with Saddam Hussein regardless of the every Arab nation in region aligning against them. This attachment to militaristic ideology is distinctly irrational but is logical give the
The bureaucracy is a feedback system and has imposed many methods of modifying itself. “Reform” is strong ideology today and reform is continuous. Yet with bureaucratic decisions made the way they are, reform will happen along an incredibly predictable path.
Now the highly competitive quality of bureaucracy causes a bureaucrat to be “highly response” to the flow of which comes their way. But simultaneously, it makes the bureaucrat unlikely take risky or dangerous action with regard to this information.
One might argue that an older, more purely hierarchical organization of bureaucracy allowed some initiative to those at the top while today the group-think of the present kind of apparatus gives virtually no-one what could be called wide space for independent action. But any one change is relative and we can even some counter-tendencies to a purely sclerotic bureaucracy. The US doesn’t resemble Kafka’s Austro-Hungarian or similar “heavy” bureaucracies or slow bureaucracies. On the contrary, present day bureaucracy acts very fluidly.
What is significant is that in the flow of information within bureaucracy, each person winds up directed and director. From intra-corporate reports to mass media to political, the bulk of various kinds of information takes up a large percentage of both the commodities and the capital produced by today’s capital. Now, as capital, this information is something that cannot simply be discarded.
The intentional construction and distribution of information involves continuous calculations around its ultimate result –this is done formally by advertisers or US Army “Psychological Operations” officers and informally by bureaucrat tailoring a report for the audience.
Now the critical aspect is that this flow of information turns in on itself more and more. As an atomized resident of a capitalist society, the bureaucrat really has no basis for his or her opinion other than from the sea of ideology circulating around them. Thus ideology is both the marching orders which determine a particular action and the principles which will be used in a longer-range planning. Buying, say, lawn mowers is called patriotic by those who are still in a sense patriotic.
A complexity of the inputs and outputs here only accelerates the effect. A modern war, advertising campaign or corporate restructuring requires a larger and larger phalanx of bureaucrats taking different decisions. To serve the interests of the center, these various distinct decisions must be unified by approved ideology.
A relative distinction can be drawn between the top and the middle of the bureaucracy.
Those closer to the top have more of a structure of a cable or gang than a fixed hierarchy. The name “the octopus” sometimes circulates around different deals. But in fact, we can see once again a flow of various schemes, intentions and controls. Certainly, the uncertainty of events adds to this as well.
Clumps gather together, usually on the basis of a strongman or a central scheme and then fragment, often forming other clumps. One can trace the alliances, schemes, murders and doubles of say the Bush family, the Iran-contra figures or Mossad or who-all.
Gang-logic dictates both adherence to the strongman and a certain fragmentation. The only guarantee of safety that a gangster has is a stronger gangster. Yet the urge for profits naturally opens up the need for counter-gangs. Gangster rise with their loyalty yet must also break with the leader at the right time and the right manner as well.
And this is the point of any conspiracy or racket. It happens between powers which launch event who’s result they only guess at. Whether an act is a terrorist explosion, a heroin deal or an invasion of a country, it is not known for certain whether it will make money and it is often not seen who will benefiting most after a period of time. Flows follow a path similar to “legitimate” business, though generally change is quicker and more chaotic.
Aside from an allegiance to ideology, top bureaucrats tend to be united by the secrecy of particular plots and activities.
An interesting CIA method is to intentionally utilize those who
Standard economic model involve a frictionless space. Here, labor, capital, prices and production flow fluidly into each other.
This frictionless space represents an idealization of capital’s viewpoint.
In Neo-classicism against the working class, the capitalist class always has to believe that fiscal austerity will produce lower wages and more production.