Thursday, September 25, 2008


Speculators, regulators, and treasury officials all gaze anxiously into their magic eight balls as a message becomes distinguishable: “Signs point to that we are fucked.” Banks fail, homes and pensions are lost, and as the economy spirals into what may be its terminal crisis, panic grips financiers and helots alike. Bush and McCain provide comic relief to the spectacle. The former, in a statement that will eventually be considered among his most absurd, opines publicly that “Democratic capitalism is the best system ever devised.” Devised? By whom? All for the best in this best of all possible worlds. McCain, on the other hand, continues his campaign by pretending not to, supposedly returning to Washington to deal with the financial crisis, even though he is the last person one would want behind the curtain, pulling the levers that have at any rate ceased to provide even the semblance of control over a system of world capital that has reached a velocity that threatens to send it off the tracks. Congress quibbles about moral hazard while those who comprehend the extent of the crisis, if not its nature, make desperate calls for bailout funds, hoping that enough liquidity will prime the pump of valorization. Some observers on the left (those who haven’t capitulated to pragmatism and joined forces with the lion tamers at the Fed) understand the rescue plan as socialism for wealthy speculators at the expense of the working class. While it is undoubtedly true that class relations will determine the “winners” and “losers” in the newly emerging configuration of global capital, this interpretation rests on the assumption that capitalism will survive the crisis, an outcome that is by no means certain. What seems clear is that governments have begun to roll the dice at the table where they once placed side bets, desperately wagering future GDP on the attempt to kickstart the motor of valorization that sits stalled on the tracks, staring into the headlights of the collapse bearing down on it. Government’s greatest hope may be to control the rate of contraction, or postpone it until preparations are completed for population control and suppression of dissent. Even now, U.S. army brigades are preparing for “Homeland tours,” training for crowd control by adapting techniques developed in Iraq, flouting the Posse Comitatus Act while touting repression as the “most noble mission.” Even if the rescue plan succeeds, it seems to merely prolong the definitive crisis of capital. The abolition of the labor/value doublet is more urgent then ever: if capital is allowed to reach dizzying new heights it will only increase the damage of its fall when the valorization of value comes up hard against its internal limits.