3.14.2009

Interesting Notes On Changes In Capital

Some great notes to a talk I hope someone will archive somewhere (before summertime).

At the risk of coming off like the only thing I have ever read in my lifetime is the first chapter of Simulacra and Simulation, I can't help but feel there must be some comparison between speculative capitalism and the concept of the simulacra as laid out in that work.  In the same way that the map covers and then replaces the physical real of the territory it used to merely depict, the world of finance capitalism, speculative capitalism, seems like an edifice built on nothing.  It is a purely intellectual construction, based on a collective belief in values that are not tied to a physical reality, the same house gaining and losing value while the rights to collect on the loans are traded a thousand miles away.  

In a sense, the choice to sever the tie between paper currency and gold can be seen as the real beginning of the current era of finance capitalism, a faith-based economics.  In this context, the language of bubbles and bursts seems so unsatisfying.  There seems to be this idea that there is some sort of real value to return to, when value itself is speculative.  The stock market is a very costly mood ring.

Maybe.

Also noted in the linked-to article is the IKEA model of the transferring of collective work back to the individual.  No story of this decade can be told without a significant section on how DIY was inverted from a seemingly anti-capitalist gesture into the apotheosis of capitalism itself.  What unifies the seemingly disparate narratives of, say, the record-making process, MySpace, and grocery shopping is that at the same time as some sort of middle has been cut out, debatably, another level of alienation has been added.  It is useful to think in threes, for instance:

1.  Raw materials.
2.  The added value provided by physical and intellectual labor.
3.  The act of purchasing or consumption.
and

1.  The global realm of the undifferentiated.
2.  The realm of mediation.
3.  The individual.

The story of this decade is the story of the loss of "2", and the transference of the labor of "2" on to "3".  

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