September 26, 2008

"The neoliberal dominance of the State" (cont'd)

One can only share the exasperation of Ads Without Products about the rash of articles describing the current bail outs of financial institutions as constituting a leftward turn. It's puzzling how "a massive transfer of public wealth to the private sector", how the State buying up bad debts without getting any equity in return, could be considered the return of leftism. It's capitalist realism by other means: the only kind of state intervention that is "possible". This kind of "nationalisation" could only happen to protect the interests of the speculator class. As Jodi Dean puts it:

    This is the subjection of the state to the demands of finance capital. It is not the state taking control of banks, markets, finance. That's why there were no provisions in the initial 2 page plan for oversight or accountability. That's also why it was written by a former head of Goldman Sachs. That's what Wall Street is demanding.

    This isn't socialism. It's the triumph of neoliberal dominance of the state.

What we're seeing is not the collapse of capitalism, but the disintegration of the illusion that capitalism is about the untrammeled free market. The developments over the last few weeks only underscore Alex Williams's point that the State, far from being exterior to capital, is a "vital element of stabilisation" which prevents capitalism from accelerating to the point of self-destruction.

Which isn't to say that nothing is happening. It could well turn out, as Larry Elliott argues, that this is a sea change moment. "For Middle Britain," Elliott claims, "the traders who bragged about their 1,000 bottles of Krug have now become as loathed as the bolshie shop stewards of the 1970s." New political movements require a shared object of loathing, the emergence of which indicates a symbolic shift at the level of the political unconscious. The uneasy dreamwork alliance of neoliberalism and neoconservatism has depended on a shared object of revulsion: the nonproductive outsider, the asylum seeker/ welfare recipient. Could a new settlement emerge organised around the symbolic abjection of the figure of the profligate trader?

Meanwhile, as excruciatingly compulsive as watching David Brent, Sarah Palin explains it all (via):

Posted by mark at September 26, 2008 12:32 PM | TrackBack