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Re: <nettime> Mark to Mars (U.S. Congress rolls over on Bailout Bill)
Keith Hart on Sat, 4 Oct 2008 22:05:14 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Mark to Mars (U.S. Congress rolls over on Bailout Bill)


Keep at it, Ed. This is stirring stuff. Your way of talking about
capitalist transparency and feudal fetishism reminded me of one of
my favourite books ever: George Caffentzis Clipped Coins, Abused
Words and Civil Government: John Locke's Philosophy of Money (1989,
Autonomedia, New York).

Locke believed that democratically accountable government was
undermined by the linked debasement of money and language. You
couldn't tell if coins were what they were supposed to be and
politicians never said what they meant. He got his friend Isaac Newton
appointed to the Mint, where he came up with a sovereign that 'rings
true' if it hasn't been adulterated, and he launched the dictionary
movement as a counterpart to his political philosophy. Transparency as
a political and economic virtue still has something to be said for it,
but the concept itself, like much else from the liberal revolution,
has been corrupted by its contemporary use for purposes opposite to
those originally intended.

Surely, what is new about neoliberalism is the perverted use of
liberal ideas to mystify the reversion of capitalism to its feudal
origins. Marx understood that capitalism was feudalism in drag: that's
why he coined the expression surplus value. But, in his anxiety
to rush to the next stage, he also subscribed to the notion that
capiralism had replaced feudalism. This idea of history as a line of
discrete stages is a major obstacle to thinking through the present
crisis.

Bush capitalism is literally the Old Regime: autocratic rule,
unhindered looting by the big corporations, colonial war, torture,
abuse of civil rights -- the whole package, George III and the East
India Company all over again.

My mentor, CLR James, used to say in the 70s that there were only two
world revolutions left: the second Russian revolution and the second
American revolution. The fall of the Berlin Wall certainly felt like
the former at the time. It might be farfetched to think of the present
political and economic crisis as the latter or its antecedent. To
endorse such a view would be to imply that the American people still
have the dynamism that Tocqueville found in them. I think they do, but
that makes me pretty unique in my circle and probably on this list.

Keith

On Sat, Oct 4, 2008 at 1:58 AM, Ed Phillips <ed {AT} cronos.net> wrote:

> Folk wisdom of the Freddy Jameson bootleg variety has it that the
> Bourgeoisie brought reason in the form of open and free markets to a
> dark world of rattle shaking and fetish, of feudal opacity.  No
> sooner, however, so the wisdom goes, did opacity and obscurantism
> return again in the very form of the product itself.
>
> Transparency is a word one hears much of






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