[-empyre-] On Currencies, Capitalism, and the Fed

joseph tabbi jtabbi at gmail.com
Thu Apr 9 22:51:26 EST 2009

Re. 'neo-liberal bullshit.' Nothing in the posts by Jeff Pierce
supported a neo-liberal stance, that I could see. But Jeff is capable
of defending himself. What I want to note is that I myself have
sometimes been surprised when that epithet is thrown at me, by people
who might imagine that, by choosing this term of abuse, they are
somehow outside neo-liberalism.

Once, while organizing a conference, my colleagues and I were accused
of supporting the academic turn to 'neo-liberalism' because we did not
offer to cover the cost of travel for all attendees and co-organizers.

Another time, as editor of a literary journal, a scholar refused to
send me, or have his publisher send, a book he had published with an
academic press (that interested me and I was pretty sure I could find
a reviewer for the book). The author wanted my journal to buy the
book, or at least give a 'promise' that it would be reviewed. That's a
promise I cannot give, knowing that not every reviewer comes through
every time: most of the time, they do, but if I insisted - well, we
don't pay for reviews so I'm in no position to insist, but to do so
would be a breach of professional conduct, as I've internalized such.

Small things, in the general run of a long career of conferencing,
editing, writing, and publishing in various media, commercial and
scholarly. But such misunderstandings on the scholarly front, I
notice, are becoming more and more frequent. I recognize that what I
understood at the start of my career (maybe half-consciously) as a
scholarly gift economy, is now mostly gone. Younger authors tend to be
much more savvy in negotiations, they have numerous granting
organizations (as well as their tenure committees) to answer to, and
they want guarantees. Few independent, self-motivated editors, unless
they are backed by powerful institutions or generous grants, can
afford such negotiations.

As the scholarly gift economy contracts, the nature of scholarship too
has changed - and this is where in my opinion the effects of
neo-liberal ideology are felt. Scholars capitulate to this ideology
when we artificially increase our productivity, and when our articles
begin to be formulated in a certain predictable way, especially in the
'cultural studies' sphere that emerged along with economic
neo-liberalism: "immerse yourself in current hot topic, add
appropriate theoretical 'approach, publish in niche journal." This is
"just-in-time" scholarship (in the words of John Durham Peters at
www.electronicbookreview.com). Often such scholarship is brilliantly
critical of neo-liberal ideology, but its mode of production
nonetheless is consistent with the just-in-time delivery of goods
under neo-liberal capitalism.

In the creative sphere, where I used to get a relatively few number of
publishers sending me books by authors they believed in, who they
thought should be covered in a journal like The Electronic Book
Review, now I get (relatively many) direct approaches from authors,
who increasingly are taking on the promotion of their work. In
electronic media, this seems not just to be 'increasing,' it is the

This self-promoting practice is a sign of a transformation, and I
don't want to pre-judge what's happening here despite my own deep
suspicion that creators cannot be entrepeneurs at the same time.
There's a certain benefit, to the functional differentiation of
spheres: let publishers publish, and let creators create (and confine
the creators' negotiations to publishers, not to one another).

But with electronic communications, attitudes are evolving and
boundaries are being redrawn in spheres of activity that formerly
strove to maintain a certain functoinal separation (even the spheres
of 'art' and 'commerce.')


On Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 5:40 PM, Brian Holmes <brian.holmes at wanadoo.fr> wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 10:26 PM, jeff pierce <zentrader at live.ca> wrote:
>>> I'm so tired of hearing
>>> about "centralized this" and "globalization that" as every time I hear it in
>>> the media I get the feeling that they're just warming us up to what will
>>> eventually be. Governments are too big to begin with, as they are a big part
>>> of this problem. They can't handle their affairs on a national level, what
>>> makes anybody think they can handle the affairs at a world level. The
>>> thought alone makes me shiver. Where would you hide if you didn't like the
>>> system that is in place?
> Nowhere as far as I can tell. At this point (and for about the last ten
> years) the same consensus rules the entire Western world. Asia and Latin
> America are of course different, so try your luck. Maybe you will find a
> place where entrepreneurs are allowed to commit climate change and
> foster horrendous social inequality without any oversight. You might be
> happy there, if you are rich and willing to have armed guards of course.
>>> At one point between
>>> October-December it was so hard to trade and carry any positions over the
>>> weekend because we (traders) feared some type of government intervention
>>> over the weekend which would cause the markets to move in totally random
>>> ways. This is still very much a concern, but it hasn't been as bad as of
>>> late.
> This is really neoliberal bullshit. You think the markets are "free" for
> your petty day-trading greed? That's foolish. The "big government" you
> abhor (with the very terms that Reagan, Thatcher & Co. taught you to
> use) has created the markets that you now complain they are regulating
> in your disfavor. Under neoliberalism, Big Government and Big Business
> are one and the same.
>>> This is not a free market system.
> Of course not. The free market system is historically a failure: it has
> big crises and starts big wars. Is that what you would like to see now?
> After Greenspan spent his entire tenure as Federal Reserve chief pumping
> up the financial markets, only a fool would say this is a "free market."
>  To even use such terms is embarrassing.
>>> Who are the government to decide which
>>> companies are bailed out and which ones aren't.
> And who are you to decide what matters?????? When all that concerns you
> is how much filthy money you earn?????? I would rather see companies
> bailed out than entire populations left starving (I refer to companies
> that actually employ people, not Goldman Sachs etc). I think that
> regulating the economy is a responsibility of everyone to their fellow
> human beings. It can be done decently, if people only devote a minimum
> of care to this most important human task. The kind of government that
> claimed to be there to get government off our backs has actually brought
> us to the present situation. Those who use exactly the same language
> apparently do not have the sensibility to be ashamed all on their
> lonesome, so it is important to point out that they and the major
> business interests who invented their ideology have been totally wrong.
>  Last time I checked the
>>> survival of the fittest in the business world was the model of choice. If a
>>> company wasn't profitable, then they should fail. End of discussion. Don't
>>> use taxpayers money, print unlawful amounts of money, and destroy the
>>> currency in the process.
> On this logic would you kill your friends when they don't have enough to
> eat?
> I could comment on the rest of this mail, but the whole thing is so
> lamentable that I prefer not to. Over the past 30 years, the idea that
> people should collectively make an effort to ensure that their fellows
> do not die from "natural selection"  aka cutthroat competition has lost
> a lot of ground, mainly because no one stands up for that simple idea.
> Well, I do. There is a lot to criticize in governments of all kinds, but
> to criticize the very existence of government is to buy into exactly the
> plan that the big oligopolies have pushed through big government over
> the last thirty years. This plan of so-called "de-regulation"  (or
> really, re-regulation in favor of the rich) has brought the entire world
> to the brink of disaster and all you people on the list are saying,
> great conversation, etc. No, it's not a great conversation. It's
> ignorance repeated and accepted as dogma. Wake up and think about the
> world thirty years from now, and not thirty seconds from now when your
> next trade is finished. On the thirty-second line of reasoning, we will
> all be dead in thirty years, probably due to war over the gross
> inequalities in the world, and not even to global warning which will be
> slightly slower. It's not acceptable to go on maintaining in public that
> your freedom as a small investor is a workable benchmark for the
> functioning of the global economy. As a small investor you are a
> privileged pawn, end of story. Telling about the disappointments of your
> personal greed in public. I don't care to hear about it anymore.
> Wake up and throw eggs, empyreans!
> best, BH
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

More information about the empyre mailing list