Wednesday, November 05, 2008

An Event of Immense Signifcance

1. All, or almost all, are in agreement. Everyone from John McCain to Oprah Winfrey understands that the election of Barack Obama is an event of immense historical significance. Who can deny the pride, the achievement, the vindication, felt by African-Americans, after 450 years of discrimination, slavery, betrayed promises, Jim Crow, rapes, lynchings, assassination, police brutality, economic exploitation, in the victory of a man of their own color? In a man of intelligence, knowledge, insight so far superior to that of those, all those, opponents within his own party and within the Republican Party, that if, if, the US bourgeoisie chose their representatives on merit and by ability, the presidential election would have been declared no contest?

It is not, however, merit or ability that moves the bourgeoisie to accept, to bankroll, to embrace a candidate as their candidate. Sometimes, color, or more precisely, the lack of color is enough. And sometimes not. Whenever, whomever, the bourgeoisie embrace, whenever the bourgeoisie do anything, they are counting, and they are counting on their man, their candidate to reconstitute the mechanisms of accumulation. Nothing else matters to the bourgeoisie, or at least nothing else matters until that mechanism, that accumulation is restored.

2. All, almost all, will tell you that we live in an era filled with event of immense historical significance. The "terrain," ideological and material, of capital has changed. So we've been told.

In the past twenty years, history has witnessed the disintegration of the USSR and its allied countries and their reconstitution as nodes of capitalist accumulation, changing the terrain

In the past ten years, history has recorded the emergence of the "newly industrializing economies" of Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Brazil, India, and of course, China, changing the terrain.

For the past nine years, the theorist/merchants of "peak oil" have flogged their particular brand of entropic apocalypse (for the third time, I might add, in lockstep with OPEC price spikes, as if the third time was the charm), changing the ideological terrain, not just for capitalism, but for any advanced economy.

For the past five years, the professional journalists and economists of capitalism have trumpeted China's emergence as the new "superpower," with its destiny one of replacing the United States as both the industrial and financial linchpin of the world markets. China's "market socialism/state capitalism" was an event of immense significance, changing, levelling the uneven terrain of capital,

For the past four years, we have read about the "North-South" divide; the increase in "South-South" economic strength and independence from the behemoths of North America and the European Union. "Decoupling" was an event of immense significance, changing the terrain of capital.

For the past four years, we have watched the decline of the dollar/ascent of the euro, further evidence, we know, of an event of immense of significance, the decline of the United States .

For three years, until 2007, history recorded the immense significance of "risk management," "mark to market valuation," and tranching, parcelling of reward, changing the terrain for the accumulation of capital.

For a year and a half, we have witnessed the waning of capitalism's paper moon, the debasement of all that was virtual, the destruction of assets.

For three months we have witnessed the events of immense historical significance as the bourgeoisie everywhere try to delay the immense and significant margin call of history, dumping money into the pits called banks, when the real event of immense historical significance is that money is no longer exchangeable with time.

3. All, or almost all, capitalists will tell you "time is money," but we know that that is not exactly right. Money isn't time, it is alienated, expropriated time. Time is not money, but money is the absolute loss of time, just ask anybody who works compulsory overtime.

Finance, the ability to finance, to supply credit, is generated in the expansion of capital as it realizes the labor time it has aggrandized with the purchase of wage-labor. Finance is generated in the metamorphoses, the circuits of capital, from money through commodities to mo'money.

From its point of initiation however, finance and credit, function in the hesitations, the interruptions, the lapse, the delays in that circuit of expansion. Credit and finance sustain reproduction in those interstitial moments when expanded value has not yet been realized.

Credit is supposed to buy time, or if not actually make the purchase, get a short term rental until realization of value catches up with extraction. And once the metamorphosis has occurred? As with everything else, as with all of capital, credit can only exist by starting all over again. Everything that has once been realized immediately disappears, becoming only a point on larger circle that must be traversed again. Finance is nothing. Refinancing is everything.

The assumption of debt amounts to not only a claim of future earnings, but embodies the extinction of all current values, as those values are insignificant when and if expanded reproduction does not occur. Collateral is damage.

Debt, credit, bridge the periodicity of capital, and when reproduction staggers under the burden of accumulated capital values, it burns those bridges. The assumption of more debt under these conditions, the attempt to buy the time, extend the time, for expanded reproduction fails; either credit is withdrawn, or the compounded debt accelerates the destruction of preexisting values. Money can no longer buy time.

4. All, or almost all the events of immense historical significance, "changing the terrain of capital," have fused the accumulation of capital, the buying of time, with the assumption of debt, with the destruction of assets, with the preservation, not the erosion, of the primacy of the United States in the capitalist network. What appears as capitalist expansion does not occur without preparing the destruction of the preexisting, and future, social assets.

So the Soviet Union's productive apparatus is demolished with the economy reduced to monoline production, while life expectancies decline by twenty percent. The terrain for capitalist accumulation is restored.

So "peak oil" becomes one more argument of "supply and demand," and profits soar for the oil bourgeoisie, as the price of oil drains profits from other corporations and into the oil companies. The terrain for capitalist accumulation is reconstituted.

So China, the new superpower, holds US debt instruments not as leverage over the US, but as an index to its own uneven development, its inability to fundamentally alter its gap between city and countryside, between agriculture and population. And in that gap, the mechanism for capitalist accumulation is reconstituted.

So with the dollar in decline, the US increases its capital equipment exports, its agricultural exports to new records. The terrain for its capitalist accumulation, its dominance of the world markets is restored.

So the asset-backed securities, which banks and bankers all over the world purchased as instruments, vehicles, for profit accretion, were in fact the products of simultaneous overproduction and reduced reproduction, and the debasement of the paper securities is only the mechanism for accumulation turning on itself as time runs out.

So that event of immense historical significance, with time running out, the election of Barak Obama, is the attempt to alter the terrain of capitalism, and find a way to reconstitute the mechanism of capitalist accumulation.

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