Flight to safety, flight to liquidity, flight to quality.
September 4, 2013 7:34 PM Subscribe
posted by whyareyouatriangle (53 comments total)
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This is the majuscule axiom — the maxiom, let us say — for revolution. Revolution is a total thought, a thought of the totality; they are necessarily entangled. Reform, repair, regime change, recuperation: all of these are the politics of the partial, of isolating specific problems as if they admitted of independent solution. Ezra Pound said that the epic is a poem that contains history. What matter that we might amend the last word, a minor amendment at that, a swapping out of inseparable concepts? The epic is the poem that contains totality.
Totality is, after all, historical. The totalizing force we now confront did not turn out to be any great ideology or grand narrative but a very small diacritical mark, a seeming afterthought in the formula M-C-M ́ which compels the expansivity of capital. Moreover, we are in the midst of a crisis that is in some sense total: the end of the U.S. imperium’s “Long Twentieth Century” in a descending double-helix of hegemony unraveling and global economic crisis. The United States is a name which should be understood to designate a mode of capitalism, a regime of value extraction, managed by a nation-state of the same name. In Giovanni Arrighi’s account, it follows the proto- and properly capitalist cycles of accumulation led in turn by the Italian city-states, the United Provinces, and Britain. Like those long centuries, this has reached its limits; it tumbles from crescendo to entropic stasis. We are, as it were, between centuries — and there is no serious question for art or politics other than what stance to take in relation to this.
In the autumn of 2008 — and here we remember Fernand Braudel’s great description of financialization as a “sign of autumn” — in the autumn of 2008, as total crisis burst into panic, investors raced to re-locate their assets in safer havens, cash foremost among them, while creditors called in their debts. This is what constitutes a panic. Capital fled its own speculative catastrophe, grabbing what little it could and down to the ships and away from its cities on fire. But toward what did it fly?