An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Capitalism is Violence Against the Soul

Frank Rich's article belongs to the category of "Backhanded Apologias for Current Capitalism". It's a classic example of the genre, in fact. While seemingly a powerful denunciation of current Wall Street practice, it is in fact a subtly designed propaganda piece that supports the ruling economic class much more effectively than right-wing screeds.  

Let's start with real perspective. "The central task of the ruling ideology in the present crisis is to impose a narrative which will place the blame for the meltdown not on the global capitalist system as such, but on secondary and contingent deviations (overly lax legal regulations, the corruption of big financial institutions, and so on)." Slavoj Zizek, "First as Tragedy, Then as Farce" His ideological purpose is to contrast 'productive' capitalism to the bad, aberrant capitalism of the present. He praises Andrew Carnegie's bounty: "... some 1,600 public libraries, just for starters - but also for creating a steel empire that actually helped build America's industrial infrastructure in the late 19th century." How Andrew Carnegie treated his workers to build that empire is left conveniently unspoken.  

The inner drive that fueled AIG and still powers the record bonuses of Goldman Sachs is the same as the one that drove Andrew Carnegie. It is the constant pressure "...to expand the sphere of circulation in order to keep the machinery running, inscribed into the very system of capitalist relations. In other words, the temptation to 'morph' legitimate business into a pyramid scheme is part of the very nature of the capitalist circulation process. There is no exact point at which the Rubicon was crossed and the legitimate business morphed into an illegal scheme; the very dynamic of capitalism blurs the frontier between 'legitimate' investment and 'wild' speculation, because capitalist investment is, at its very core, a risky wager that a scheme will turn out to be profitable, an act of borrowing from the future." - Slavoj Zizek.  

Sorry, Frank, but Carnegie's capitalism and Robert Rubin's are born from the same litter. The idea that a new Pecora will clean up the mess is a recycled mythological trope intended to legitimize the beast that by definition cannot be controlled.

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