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

Nicholas Ruiz III editor at intertheory.org
Tue Apr 28 22:59:14 EST 2009

hi bw...many thanks for your rejoinder...it is probably a mistake to attempt to carve 'trade' out of 'speculation' or vice-versa...and ultimately, exchange always involve speculation and trade...And as for the Law and Aristocracy, I maintain that Laws as compiled currently and historically, have been written and continue to be written by a particular segment of interests most represented by an Aristocracy. In the modern sense, I feel this is a long standing tenet of Frankfurt School-style social theory, the negative criticism of Aristocratic law that needs little revision here. But in ancient antiquity, a largely positive criticism of Aristocratic law was held, and such a view was easily held by early philosophers in Greece and Asia, and beyond, establishing what would become the greatest hits of religio-philosophical political theory. But I would be interested to know your view?

 Nicholas Ruiz III, Ph.D
Editor, Kritikos

From: brian whitener <iwaslike at hotmail.com>
To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 6:07:10 PM
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] On Currencies, Capitalism, and the Fed



two quick points and a rejoinder.

in the first parapgraph, it feels like you're taking a critique that was made on the level of the system (ie of a specific type of economic system) and moving the discussion to the level of personal involvement: "you spend and earn capital." obviously, these two levels are not isomorphic, and shouldn't be collapsed. 

in the second paragraph, i'm uncomfortable with the two moves. first, the elison of differences between financial trading and art ("It sounds like you would outlaw financial trading...would you outlaw
trade in art as well?"). these two areas of the global economic system have very specific contexts and histories, and are differently integrated into the leading edge of capital in important ways which should be attended to in any serious discussion. also, it is possible that your characterization of brian's position as wanting to "outlaw" trading is missing the point of the discussion, which (as i read it) was concerned with the idea of whether "the free market system is historically a failure." 

those are small issues, however. 

the rejoinder, and this is one wherein i think we could actually have a discussion is: 

"A more realistic approach, I believe is to acknowledge one's complicity
in exchange, and to argue for appropriate rules and regulations
regarding the trade of whatever objects we have agreed could and should

i would argue that acknowledging complicity in exchange and placing one's faith in regulation or the Law, is not enough. exchange is not a transhistorical category. as you have written a book entitled The Metaphysics of Capital, i'm sure you are familiar with Marx, and that Marx would argue that the key is not exchange, but rather value and the relation between exchange value and use value. this relation continues for me to be a central issue, especially after the most recent financial crisis. 

i think it would be important it to diferentiate in this discussion between 'speculation' and 'trade'. i am not sure if complicated financial instruments would fall under your definition of Mesopotamian trade.

for my part, i would be interested in hearing more about the relationship you are positing between the law and the Aristocracy ("The true questions revolve around the Law, wherein, unfortunately, an
Aristocracy stacks the odds in their favor, in every industry, and in
every fashion"). 

brian whitener

> Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2009 12:03:13 -0700
> From: editor at intertheory.org
> To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] On Currencies, Capitalism, and the Fed
> bh...let us be fair ...i'm sure you spend and earn capital, so the idealization and/or criminalization of a legal and legitimate livelihood seems petty and trite...and an organization like Goldman Sachs employs tens of thousands of people, so why pick on all of them, when your issue probably applies to a handful of aristocracy across a number of institutions, financial and otherwise...and the phenomenon of greed applies to everyone in every discipline...that is what rules and laws are for, no? 
> It sounds like you would outlaw financial trading...would you outlaw trade in art as well? A more realistic approach, I believe is to acknowledge one's complicity in exchange, and to argue for appropriate rules and regulations regarding the trade of whatever objects we have agreed could and should trade...in fact, this is how it works, and it is what we have done over the millenia, since Mesopotamia, at the very least. The true questions revolve around the Law, wherein, unfortunately, an Aristocracy stacks the odds in their favor, in every industry, and in every fashion...better law-making and not, 'egg-throwing' will serve all better in the long run, no?
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Brian Holmes <brian.holmes at wanadoo.fr>
> To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Sent: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 6:40:52 PM
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] On Currencies, Capitalism, and the Fed
> 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
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