30 July 2012
2. Beginnings…some reading material
'If we begin with a look at the current European landscape, we find Germany to be the only happy place at the moment. The Greeks, the Portuguese, not to mention the Irish, were happy some years ago and have now suddenly changed their mood, while the Germans have not. Why is this the case? Because German banks have stored Greek time, Portuguese time, Irish time, and now they are asking for their money back. Something in this exchange is not working, but how can we locate the problem?
This is precisely the necessary enigma or secret within the age of financial capitalism—but is it a secret or an enigma? We can say that the secret is something that is hidden in a box. If you find the right key, the secret will become truth. On the other hand, an enigma has no key and no truth. Christian Marazzi would say that financial capitalism is constructed as an enigma—you cannot find the truth because it is based upon the fact that the truth has dissolved. It is no longer there.
In his 1976 book Symbolic Exchange and Death, Baudrillard wrote that the whole financial system is falling into indeterminacy, for financial capitalism is essentially the loss of the relationship between time and value. In the very first chapter of Capital, Marx explains that value is time, the accumulation of time—time objectified, time that has become things, goods. It is not the time of work, of working in time, that produces value, for it matters little whether one is lazy or efficient. The important determination of value concerns the average time needed to produce a certain good.
All of this is clear: value is time, capital is value, or accumulated time, and the banks store this accumulated time. Then, all of a sudden, something new happens in the relationship between time, work, and value, and something happens in technology. Work ceases to be the strong, muscular work of industrial production, and begins producing signs—products that are essentially semiotic. In order to establish the average time needed to produce a glass, one simply needs to understand the material labor involved in converting sand into glass, and so forth. But try to decide how much time is needed to produce an idea, a project, a style, a creation, and you find that the production process becomes semiotic, with the relationship between time, work, and value suddenly evaporating, melting into air.'
Source: Franco 'Bifo' Berardi, http://www.e-flux.com/journal/time-acceleration-and-violence/
' "How do you expect me to make a living?" Bouazizi cried in front of the local governor's house. What was a question in Tunisia yesterday is a question across much of Europe today. The insecure economic world in which Geremio lived – and died – is back with us again, after a half century during which we thought we had made its return impossible.'
'The retired pharmacist overnight has become a symbol of resistance for those who perceive austerity politics as unfair and ultimately self-defeating. For many Greeks trapped in a fifth year of grinding recession, Dimitris Christoulas's death has not just been seen as an act of despair but one of fortitude in a world with little light at the end of the tunnel.'
Source: Helena Smith, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/05/greek-suicide-dimitris-christoulas-protest
'The so-called negotiations between the Greek Government and the Troika (European Union – International Monetary Fund – European Central Bank) have come to the prescribed result. A cut on the minimum wage of 22% (and up to 40% for the rest), which means that people in Greece will have to live on a 400 Euro monthly income, combined with a 15% cut on the already extremely low pensions and the dismissal of 150.000 public servants, has been decided.'
Source: Stavros Panagiotidis, http://roguemedia.org/crisis-and-the-people-in-greece/
'Britain 2012: a country where wanting people to be paid the national minimum wage for their work makes you a "communist", according to George Eustice MP.'
Source: A comment made on facebook by a friend in response to:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17164079
'the contemporary institution of art depends on money, and the market and collectors will not jeopardise this power; what all of them have in common is the ideology of neoliberal capitalism and its good life. As Suely Rolnik said, they are all caught in the vicious circle of “luxury subjectivity production”, of being part of the middle-class elite, travelling between art festivals, eating and drinking well, and having fun.'
'The possibility of the privatisation of the general intellect was something Marx never envisaged in his writings about capitalism (largely because he overlooked its social dimension). Yet this is at the core of today’s struggles over intellectual property: as the role of the general intellect – based on collective knowledge and social co-operation – increases in post-industrial capitalism, so wealth accumulates out of all proportion to the labour expended in its production. The result is not, as Marx seems to have expected, the self-dissolution of capitalism, but the gradual transformation of the profit generated by the exploitation of labour into rent appropriated through the privatisation of knowledge.'
Source: Slavov Zizek, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n02/slavoj-zizek/the-revolt-of-the-salaried-bourgeoisie
'Whenever I think about Howard*, which is quite often in the light of the Occupy movement, there are words of his that always resonate in my mind. They are his call to focus our attention on “the countless small actions of unknown people” that are the foundation for “those great moments” that ultimately enter the historical record without the countless small actions of unknown people that created them.'
*Howard Zinn, US academic, playwright and social activist (1922-2010).
Source: Noam Chomsky, p.23, Occupy, Penguin, New York 2012, http://www.scribd.com/doc/94635038/Chomsky-Noam-Occupy