We Need Justice in Order to Have Peace: The Unjust Financial System Must Be Changed

The title of this blog is Dance for Peace.  It has focused on protest against the brutal and illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and on the consequences of the coup d’etat that put the current regime in power and continues to dismantle the US Constitution.

In the recent weeks of economic crisis, I have only alluded to the crisis and emphasized the implementation of martial law in this country and the savage conduct of the occupations, trying to keep these issues in the forefront while the corporate media are burying them beneath the financial news.  I knew that I wanted to connect the dots between the financial system and the brutal militarism, but I couldn’t decide how.

An article in Le Monde speaks to these matters very eloquently.  Written by a distinguished professor of philosophy, Alain Badiou, who has also written fiction and plays, its eloquence reminds me of the French tradition that created the great sermons of Bossuet, delivered by that prelate to the court of Louis XIV.  It is a call to action as well as a cogent analysis of the situation.

Le Monde is the most prestigeous newspaper in France.  I cannot imagine the New York Times, which has become a propaganda organ for the regime here, printing such an article.  In fact, any voice in the US to suggest some of the things Badiou does is silenced, never appears in print, is beyond the pale.  Badiou criticizes the European press and governments, justifiaby, but once more, I am struck by how relatively free they still are compared to the US.

Below is my translation of the article by Badiou which you can read in the original French by clicking here.  I suggest you take anything you like from this and leave what you don’t.

What Real Crisis is this Show About?
by Alain Badiou

As it is presented to us, the global financial crisis resembles one of those bad films concocted by the factory of formula successes that is today called the “cinema.”  Nothing is lacking, including the huge swings that terrorize us; black Friday is inevitable, everything is collapsing, everything is going to collapse.

But hope remains.  In the forefront of the scene a tight group as in a catastrophe film, haggard, the little squadron of the powerful, the firefighters of the monetary fire, the Sarkozy, Paulson, Merkel, Brown, the Trichets and the other central bank heads, force into the central breach billions of billions.  “Save the banks!”  This noble humanistic and democratic cry rises from all the political and media throats.  For the actors of this film, that is to say the rich, their servants, their parasites, those who envie them, and those who laud them, a happy ending I believe, I sense, is inevitable, given what the world and politicians are today.

Let us turn around and look rather at the spectators of this show, the crowd of the beaten down who hear like a far away noise the hullabuloo of the banks at bay, who guess at the harassed weekends of the glorious little troop of heads of government, who see the equally colossal and obscure sums being thrown about, and who compare to them their own resources that compose the basis both bitter and courageous of their own lives.  I say that that is what is “real” and that we will not understand it until we turn away from the spectacle on the screen and consider the invisible mass of those for whom the catastrophe film, including its rosy ending (Sarkozy embraces Merkel, and everyone weeps for joy) has never been anything but a show of shadows cast on a screen.

There has been a lot of talk these past weeks of the “real economy” (production of goods).  Opposed to that is the “unreal economy” (speculation) from which all the evil has come, given that its agents have become “irresponsible,” “irrational,” and “predators.”  This distinction is obviously absurd.   Financial capitalism has been a major factor of capitalism in general for five centuries.  As for the owners and actors of this system, they are, by definition, only “responsible” for profits, their “rationality” is measurable only in gains, and not only are they “predators,” but they have a duty to be predators.

There is nothing more “real” in the storehouse of capitalist production than its market stage and its speculative hold.  The return to the real cannot be a movement that leads from bad, “irrational” speculation to sane production.  It is rather an immediate and conscious return to the life of those who inhabit the world.  It is from that point that we can observe capitalism without flinching, including the catastrophe film that it is imposing on us at this time. The real is not the film but the audience.

What do we see thus turned around in the right direction?  We see, what is called seeing, simple things that have been true for a long time: capitalism is nothing less than banditry, irrational in its essence and devastating in its unfolding.  It has always paid for short decades of savagely unequal prosperity with crises where astronomical quantities of value disappear; with bloody punitive expeditions in all zones it judged to be strategic or menacing; and with world wars where it heals itself.

Let’s leave to the crisis-film, seen in this light, its didactic power.  Can we still dare, faced with the life of the people who are watching it, to boast of a system that puts the organization of collective life on the basis of the lowest impulses: avarice; competition; unconscious, mechanical egotism?  Praising a “democracy” where the leaders are the servants of the privatization of wealth with such impunity that it would astonish Marx himself, he who already a hundred sixty years ago qualified governments as “founded on the power of capital?”  To affirm that it is impossible to plug the hole in basic social programs but that one must, with countless billions, plug the hole in the banks?

The only thing that we can hope for from this affair is that this didactic power can be found in lessons drawn about the people from this dark scene, not about the bankers, the governments that serve them, and the media that serve the governments.  I see two levels articulated in this return to the real.  The first is clearly political.  As the film shows it, the “democratic” fetish is only the interest of the banks.  Its real name, the technical name that I have proposed for it for a longtime is “capital-parlementarianism.”  It is suitable then, as myriad experiences during the last twenty years have already begun to do, to organize a different political order.

This new order is, and will be for a long time, very distant from the seats of power of the State, but that doesn’t matter.  It is beginning at the level of the real with a practical alliance of those most immediately available to invent it: the working class people newly arrived from Africa and elsewhere, and the intellectual inheritors of the political battles of recent decades.  It will grow as a function of what it can do, step by step.  It will not undertake any kind of organic alliance with the existing extremist parties, nor with the current electoral and institutional system that give them life.  It will invent a new discipline, a political effectiveness, and a new idea of what can be their victory for those who have nothing.

The second level is ideological.  The old verdict according to which we are at the “end of ideologies” must be overturned.  We see very clearly today that this supposed end has no other reality than the objective “let’s save the banks.”  Nothing is more important than reviving the passion for ideas, of opposing to the world as it is a general hypothesis, an anticipated certainty of another course of action.  To the malfeasant spectacle of capitalism, we oppose the real life of people and of the existence of a right use of ideas.  The motive of an emancipation of humanity has lost nothing of its power.  The word “communist,” which has named this power for a long time, has certainly been vilified and prostituted.

But, today, its disappearance only serves the holders of the old order, the fevered actors of the catastrophe film.  We are going to revive it in its new clarity.  And with it its old virtue, what Marx said of communism that it “broke with traditional ideas in the most radical way” and that it brought forth “an association in which the free development of each person is the condition for the free development of all.”

Total rupture with capital-parlementarianism, a political system invented at the level of real people and of the sovereignty of the idea– everything is there to prise us free of the crisis film and lead us to a fusion of living thought and organized action.

Alain_Badiou.jpg

Professor Alain Badiou

Instead of such ideas, we US taxpayers will contribute both directly and indirectly to huge bonuses for the people responsible for the failed banks which the Regime is bailing out with our money.  You can read more here on this matter.

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3 Responses to “We Need Justice in Order to Have Peace: The Unjust Financial System Must Be Changed”

  1. nancy Says:

    Barbara sends this quotation by way of comment:

    Our planet is blessed with vast natural treasures. If we use them wisely, beginning with the elimination of militarism and war, every human being will be able to live a healthy, prosperous existence.
    The Dalai Lama of Tibet

  2. nancy Says:

    David sends this eloquent statement:

    In a free market economy, the economic decisions which affect all our lives are not being made by those whose duty it is to put the economic well being of the people of our nation first, nor by those who have any such concern.

    In a free market economy, the economic decisions affecting all our lives are made by those who have one and only one concern, their own economic interest, insofar as they can calculate it, and their short term interest at that; in short the immediate gratification of their greed.

    The persons making those decisions are not even those who necessarily have the best understanding of the market system, but are those who have the most economic power and wealth at their disposal, enabling them to devote their time and energy all day, every day to make and act on their decisions to assure the immediate gratification of their investment goals and their own economic security. The decisions they make determine in large part the economic fate of every one of us, but those decisions are not made with that concern in mind.

    The persons making such decisions are not bound by any legal, moral or ethical guidelines, and they often feel free to violate any legal, moral and ethical guidelines which might exist at their own whim, trusting in the belief that they are not all that likely to be caught, or to be severely punished even if their deeds are discovered. Even persons possessing an in depth understanding of that market, unless they are in a position to spend their entire days and energy to attend to their economic portfolios, and have the economic might, i.e concentrated economic wealth, to insulate themselves from the daily vicissitudes of such a market, are at the mercy of those with the position and power to act on their whims.

    PERSONS LIVING IN A FREE MARKET ECONOMY ARE LIKE PASSENGERS IN A VEHICLE DRIVEN BY A DRUNK. If that vehicle goes off the edge of a cliff or swerves into oncoming traffic, the passengers are trapped inside, and are at the mercy of the circumstances of that mishap. That is the position that the people of the United States and to a great degree the people of the western world, indeed the entire developed and developing world, are in now. We are reaping the fruits of the economic philosophy of Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand and their minions. The free market economy has never produced and is incapable of producing an economic situation consisting of anything other than BOOM AND BUST. That is the economic history of the United States from its founding up until 1929; and that is our experience again today.

    As I have said before, free market capitalism is like a herd of wild horses. Horses must be bridled or harnessed to be useful, otherwise they are a danger to all that get in their way. Capitalist buccaneers must be regulated, and strictly regulated, for the protection of all of us, as well as for their own protection from themselves. Either the capitalist buccaneers will control our economic destiny in a free market or we the people will control our economic destiny in a properly regulated, governmentally controlled, and planned economy

    Any rational and reflective person who has ever observed the operation of a stock exchange in NY or anywhere in the world should have great pause when they witness the hysteria and frantic frenzy of the economic decisions affecting all our lives, every moment of the work day that that stock exchange is in operation. Such decisions are on the spot decisions, made in a tumultuous situation, in the frantic frenzied hysteria of the moment, evidencing no reflection or contemplation, only the singular tunnel vision concern of the investors’ immediate gain or loss.There is no more economic rationality in such an environment than their is spiritual rationalilty in the rantings of pentecostal preachers in a glossalia service. Their is no rationality, no reflection, no calmness, no Good Orderly Direction in either such environment.

    Trusting our economic destiny to such investment bankers, corporate CEOs and Wall Street trader types, is like privatiizing social security and putting social security benefits in the hands of Enron swindlers, only on a more massive and comprehensive scale.

  3. nancy Says:

    An article in the Inter Press Service by Julio Godoy remarks on the rise of sales in Europe of the works of Marx, Keynes, and Galbraith in the past few months. People are obviously looking for solutions.

    Read the article here:

    http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=44615

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