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Re: <nettime> Debt Campaign Launch
Ed Phillips on Wed, 23 Nov 2011 21:15:06 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Debt Campaign Launch

Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far to this thread. I'm
not satisfied with any of your responses. Perhaps Brian's come
closest, however, to capturing how difficult the situation and the
subject is.

Mark presents an interesting and, I think, ultimately too one-sided
answer. Perhaps he is being playfully ironic when he uses such words
as slave and system, because I gather he knows as much as anyone on
this list that the slave is the one who actually grows. The masters or
the midgets who pantomime the place of the master in our era are
frozen in no-growth grimaces and they only have the sublime zeros of
their balances to ballast them.

The system, if it still warrants such a name, or the markets such as
they are, are indeed deadly destroyers of meaning even as more and more
frenetic and purposeless activity is demanded by the logic of global

In the vein of Mark and in my opinion more honestly, for who among us
is not a wage slave in some sense or has not been a wage slave, the
only advice anyone can give a young or old person is to
STRUGGLE. Whether that struggle means dropping out or engaging in wage
slavery is up to you.

Mark tips his hand when he recommends that we read former nettimer
Doug Rushkoff, who though a good writer, neither properly understands
the logic of capital nor recommends anything that cuts deeply enough
into that logic. He is to be admired for the STRUGGLE that he is
making and for raising his voice and promoting himself enough in the
market to have his struggle heard.

I'd be more interested in seeing Mark write about Schumpeter or
business cycles or about how he completely missed the debt supercycle
and the crisis of financialization that we are in. The wage slave side
of Mark has apparently done some research on Schumpeter and business cycles.
I'm no so much interested in the the oversimplifications and misreadings of a
Rushkoff, although I welcome anyone who can present something along
his lines that cuts deeply enough into 'actually existing social relations.'

The struggle of OWS is more interesting than a rehash of Hakim Bey and
TAZ, in part because we don't know where it will lead. TAZ is one
response to current conditions, one that many have already
incorporated in various ways into their lives. By all means, I say,
take production and your own life into your own hands as much as you
are capable of doing so. The slavery you choose or you convince
yourself that you choose is more bearable than what you do not choose.

The struggle, however, continues. We are in the EZ and US in the midst
of "debt revulsion" and deleveraging whilst policymakers are
trying to support and stabilize a rent-seeking bloated financial
system by socializing the obligations. There is a pathos to it. I do
think Marty Wolf of ft.com , for example, is quite sincere when he says that
deflation and liquidation that will fail the banks and crush asset
prices is too cruel. Sadistic is what he called it. Without a backstop
and without monetary support, bailout, opacity, off balance sheet
trickery, and suspension of accounting rules, many of the major banks in the EZ and US
would fail, resulting in cascading failure and a deflationary spiral.

He makes no mention, however, of the bloat, the lies, the rent-seeking
and plain ripoff that have accumulated during the great
moderation. There seems little chance of ever getting to anything
close to real wages and real prices for real producers in this great
system of lies. Policymakers, I
would gather, know this and yet they in some fable of the bees dream
think it better to just let the chicanery continue. Or, perhaps, they
have the "status quo" bred into the bone.

To Sascha I would say that debt revulsion and debt repudiation is
already baked into the "system" (nasty word) even to the point of
mainstream economists recommending that people walk away from their
homes. If student loans were not full recourse, then perhaps they
would recommend that as well. It is no threat to the "moral fabric" if
you do walk away from your debt. Better perhaps to not incur it....

A bigger quandary for policymakers than debt revulsion (which they
are seemingly prepared for) is the problem of a sustained "demand
shock" during this inevitable deleveraging that threatens to result in a "system" that
even nominally does not earn its "carrying costs." They may not be
able to even gin up "nominal" inflation in such a situation. And the
logic of capitalist finance demands inflation or growth by any other name.

The most broad, across the spectrum, struggle of people seems to my
intuition to be for dignity and purpose in an absurd system flooded
with an abundant supply of junk-food goods and services and in which
"demand" has been ginned up and pumped with steroids. Wage slavery can
be a temporary respite from the struggle of facing meaninglessness and
pointlessness. Showing up to a redundant job that pays the bills
allows the mind to wander with the belly fed. But even that boring,
redundant job is at risk now as it hardly was during the great
moderation. The rub of it is that even wage slavery is at risk
now. "I'm lucky to have this dumb job," etc.

I am still stunned by how plainly asymmetrical the risks and rewards are. How
is it that we can see monetary easing and fiscal tightening at the
same time?. How is it
that many feel lucky to have meaningless jobs at poverty wages when
money is free to those who take risks with no recourse (banks and
their employees)?  Even an inarticulate walking out into the street
and occupying a space with the idea that this is not sustainable is a
worthy response. It is a struggle.

On Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 10:30:24AM -0500, Newmedia {AT} aol.com wrote:

> Martha:
> Living "outside" the LAW means DROPPING *out* of the "system" of
> WAGE-SLAVERY -- which is the basis of going to college (where little
> productive  is learned) in order to get your "ticket" to the RAT RACE.

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