”Financism”, the Supreme Stage of Development of Capitalism
“Poljarnaja Zvezda”, 06.04.2000, Translation by Martino Conserva
1. In which sistem of coordinates to examine the phenomenon of “financism”
Does financial capitalism represent just a random variant of the common essence of the development of the capitalist system ? Or is it rather the definitive incarnation of its whole logic, its triumph ?
The answer to this question can not be found within the classics of economic theory, their horizon being limited to the industrial phase of development – the general trend and the full economic significance of which they (and above all the Marxists) did investigate completely and correctly. Post-industrial society is still in many ways an obscure reality.
In its analysis there are no adfirmed classics, although many authors have cast a deep-searching look upon this phenomenon. The task of understanding “financism” is ours, whether we like it or not.
Even to move the first steps in the direction of a consistent overview of this theme, we have to consider the whole history of the economic paradigm, and individuate there the place of “financism”- not just from the point of view of quantitative chronology, but from the point of view of the qualitative relevance of this phenomenon in the general development of economic models.
And yet, even here, at the zero-stage of formulating the problem, we come across an element of uncertainty undermining the frame of the analyisis. Is there really one and one only history of economics? Such a history did exist indeed, but in two (or three?) alternative versions. There is an acknowledged history of economics from the Liberal position (capitalism as the expression of the modern and most progressive paradigm in economics), as well as from the Marxist position (socialism and the overcoming of capitalism as the expression of the modern and most progressive paradigm in economics). And further, there existed one third orientation (i.e. economic “heterodoxy”), which absolutely declined to evaluate the economic paradigm according to this rough formula (progressive – unprogressive), as the classical economists used to do. But this “third way” economic school (a report on which I made in the “Economic-Philosophical Collection”) remained marginal, in spite of the presence of first class economists and philosophers in its ranks.
2. A problematic evalutation of financism in the Marxist perspective
The events of the last decade have shown a clear-cut success of the historical trend of Liberal economics. And precisely in the context of Liberal economical and philosophical thought the first theorizations on post-industrial society were born. Socialist thought remained instead completely within the borders of the industrial paradigm, and the dramatic fall of the Soviet system introduces unmistakeable accents in the story of this scholarly disputation.
The Liberal systema was capable of
– eluding the socialist revolutions;
– dissolving the proletariat:
– preventing it to consolidate itself intoo a revolutionary party acting on a worldwide scale;
– winning the ideological war against the socialist field.
From all these aspects, the Liberal model successfully defeated the Marxist threat.
Apart from the position of tactical advantage, we are confronted here with a most relevant conceptual conclusion. I can understand people sharing a certain set of weltanschauungen will hardly accept this conclusion – and even the thought of such generalization might be disturbing to some. Nevertheless, a large number of factors is driving us to think that the Liberal paradigm – that is, specifically, consistent Capitalism – is just the economic paradigm which incarnates in itself the true spirit of modern world. Liberal-capitalism, more than socialism (and of “third-way” economic models), proved to be the most up-to-date economic regime
Being such the state of things, it would be wrong to decipher a posteriori the Socialist systems as proving less adequate, while sticking to the modern economic paradigm. Everything is much more complex: the anti-capitalist orientation and the philosophical premise, lying just at the roots of the socialist economic model, appear as a species of anti-modern tendencies relative to economy – but not only relative to it. It is not a blind alley, but the last fight (though veiled and externally stylizeded according to the look of “modernism”) of the anti-modern paradigm of a weltanschauung which finds expression in economic theory and praxis (see A.Dugin, “The Paradigm of the End”, Elementy n.9).
Nowadays the socialist position is not worth a dime: not only Marx’s predictions about the transition of the industrialized West to socialism proved to be true only in the Eastern agrarian-asiatic mode of production; even the last Marxist argument was beaten – the fact of the existence of Marxism (of the winnning, realized Marxism – although in a voluntaryist, blanquist-leninist way) in many areas of the world.
How to conclude – from this starting point – that socialism itself represents a more “progressive” phenomenon? How to signify that the real course of world history (the infamous historical necessity) runs precisely in its direction? It is impossibile. A fact emerges, more and more clear: that socialism has been the outcome of a resolute general effort – not a product of the objective course of histoty, but precisely of the insurgency against this objective course – the effect of an heroic insurrection and of moral deed of heroism, in which the maximum of tension tied up both the revolutionary élite and the national mass.
In this frame, the geographical and cultural peculiarity of the countries where socialism succedeed does not appear anymore as a random element, but as an important though not determinant factor. Geopolitics does correct economic policy (see A.Dugin, “The Paradigm of the End “, cit..).
Socialism won in the countries of the East as an enemy – cultural, historical, ethnical, and religious – of Eastern orientations and priorities. The russian eurasist (and orthodox jew) eschatological messianism of the bolshevik commissars proved to be a much more weighty argument than the sophisticated abstractions of political economy. Marxist universalism did not prove to be comparably valid. And as a conceptual common language, Marxism fell to pieces together with the Russian-Soviet Empire.
Today’s attempts to decrypt the fhenomenon of “financism” in a Marxist orthodox perspective are clearly doomed to failure, since orthodoxy itself was destroyed. Orthodoxy is confronted – first of all – with the most serious challenge of providing a non contradictory Marxist explaination of the paradoxes of the XXth century – and above all of the tragic fate of socialism in its last decade. Only after performing this task, it would be possibile to move further on. But, having performed such a task, would orthodox Marxism be the same as before? This is hard to believe.
In this way, Liberalism has the qualities to analyze “financism” according to its own peculiar perspective. The movement towards a purely financial economy will be in this view the movement towards a more modern and “progressive” stage. Since capitalism itelf is regarded as modern and “progressive”, so much modern and “progressive” will be financism.
3. “Real domination of Capital”
Liberalism assimilated from the socialist (and even Marxist) weltanschauung what from a paradigmatic point of view did not contradict the foundations of capitalist logic, and destroyed all remaining forms – those really alternative – at the end of an ideological, economicall and geopolitical war.
The post-industrial stage of development of capitalism – during which its transition to a purely financial stage of the economy did happen – coincided with the globalization and totalization of the liberal paradigm itself. Financism is a stage module of development of the capitalist paradigm. Besides, it is a module linked to the metamorphosis of this paradigm into something that has no alternative. Financism is a logical limit, towards which the most self-sufficient development of Capital is attracted.
In the unpublished Book VI of “Capital”, Marx offered a description of this stage as the eventual cycle of “real domination of capital”, which would set in the event that the alternative, revolutionary proletarian subject had not won the battle in the previous stage of “formal domination”. This Marxian theme of the non-predetermined nature of the final outcome of the world struggle between Labour and Capital is something that orthodox Marxism always feared just as much as any living being fears fire. (see Jean-Marc Vivenza, “From formal to real domination of Capital”, Elementy n.7).
Hence the suggestion to situate “financism” in the eschatological zone of the economic history of capitalist development. Such an approach will be perfectly correct from the perspective of the main tendency of capitalist development – the progress of alienation. First the alienation of the product of labour from producers, then the alienation of the whole sphere of production into the system of banking credit, finally the translation of the whole economy into the mode of virtual financial speculation.
4. Liberalism as alienation, “progress” as decay
Financism is the crown of capitalist logic and represents in itself the last, highest stage of alienation.
In this process of total alienation, the natural course of historical development is clearly shown from the perspective of traditional society. But a theme constantly emerges in Tradition – that of Heroes, Prophets and Saviours, resisting against historical enthropy, agaist the gravity force of the Existing. (Marx and the Marxian doctrine can quite rightly be counted as analogous to this “pre-eschatological” insurgency). But sooner or later this initiative also falls under the grindstone of fate, and apocalyptical conditions grow worse.
This traditionalist perpective views “progress”, “natural course of history”, “modernism” as fate and evil, as the inertial fall of a weighty mass, as a consequent coolness of Being. History is alienation, according to traditionalists.
The history of civilization is seen as alienation by Rousseau (the “bon sauvage”, wasted by society), Hegel (“alienation of the Absolute Idea”), and Marx (“estrangement from originary communism”).
The happy turn (“right democracy” in Rousseau, “Prussian State ” in Hegel, “World Revolution ” in Marx) happens notwithstanding the inertia of history.
So the “end of the world” (this ontologically positive event, according to Christians) follows the era of the anti-christ. And the coming of the anti-christ is detected as the unmistakeable sign of the approaching Second Coming. But of course, this does not mean that the certain announcement of the Second Coming getting near can reach also the “prince of this world”. There is only one good thing in the climax of alienation – once this lethal process has reached its limits, it shall be eradicated by the punishing right hand of the transcendental principle.
5. Financial economy and the dialectics of evil
Liberalism is the natural trend of development of the “philosophy of economy”, autonomized, separated from all other social structures of value in its qualitatively modern incarnation. Financism represents the peak of development of the modern economy. That is – the invariance of the “status quo”.
One different issue is the way we evaluate “financism”, and, more in general, the “liberal-capitalist” path of economic development. If we see “financism” (“real domination of capital”) in dark colours, then – whether consciously or not – we find ourselves on the opposite side to the spirit of modernity. This cannot be disguised behind the talk about “progress”. The natural course of history (also economic history) does not suit us; we consider historical enthropy as immoral, and we want to set ourselves against it. In this case, we have to turn ourselves – in a voluntaryist, leninist way – not only to the outfit of “non-financist” views about the economy, but also to all economic models which are non-modern, anti-modern, based upon the “heroical” (according to Werner Sombart’s definition) impulse to overcome the evil course of contemporary world.
“Financism” is not a question of mechanical deviation from the economic paradigm of capitalism; it is a normal stage of its development – the stage of its world-wide triumph.
It is stupid and irresponsible to complain about the fact that the mass of financial speculation on the world stock markets by far exceeds the budgets of developed countries, or that fictitious transfers of capital through computer nets undermine the development of material productive sectors, shifting investments to the sphere of a virtual economy. Alienation of finance from the productive sphere, virtualization of the economic substance are the normal final chord of capitalist development.
6. The indemonstrable imperative of revolution
We can fully agree with all extremely catastrophist prognoses being made by impartial analysts about the ethical significance of these trends. As a matter of fact, increasing the virtual economy to the prejudice of the real sectors of production inevitably leads to economic disaster. The informational element in post-modern societies aims to definitively substitute reality, by replacing it with its illusory but still powerful operating system. This will prove lethal, at a certain point.
And yet – according to the traditionalist views of society (and to other non-liberal and illiberal doctrines) – this is the absolute logic of every immanent process, in which a transcendent principle either does not intervene, or can not intervene, if it does not want to. Capital (as the utmost alienation, as a total reduction to the materialist quantitative principle) has been struggling for a very long time to become the one and only subject of human history. And it made it with “financism”. As a representation, he obtained a much easier victory than in its original form. Virtual, fictitious economy puts the principle itself of reality under exploitation – just as it puts under exploitation the reality of economy and its onthology (though this ontology cannot be independent, it necessarily stems from the more general supra-economic metaphisycal and social form).
The antithesis (even theoretical) to “financism” could be manifest in the previous stages of capitalist development.
Economics is but a language, by which any message can be formulated. The liberal model of the economy (“economics”) is the message of triumphing alienation and enthropy, of the atomization of the social, political, cultural and historical whole. Such is the message of “modern spirit”, the message of Enlightment. “Leftists” (radical democrats, Rousseau, socialists, communists) and “rightists” (fundamentalists, traditionalists, integralists) long time ago interpreted the liberal gospel (in philosophers like John Locke, Jeremy Bentham, John Mill, and in economists like Adam Smith and David Ricardo) as the incarnation of evil in this world, as the dissolution of any organic essence. This is the deadly, nihilistic spirity of modernity, based upon the “exile of the Gods” (M. Heidegger), upon the “death and assassination of God” (F. Nietzsche), upon “exploitation” (K. Marx).
“Financism” is nothing absolutely new, it is Liberal-Capitalism in its purest form. It is “modernity” having totally overcome its antithesis.
This is why protesting against “financism” on a national or world scale is impossible without a global revolution of consciousness, without an excellent revisitation of every anti-liberal ideology, without the expression of a new integral Alternative – and what is more, an Alternative not only against the result (“financism” itself), but against its cause (“capitalism” “liberalism”, ” modern spirit”).
Searching for such Alternative within the limited sphere of economy is unthinkable. Such Alternative will have to transcend the whole set of modern discourses, the whole “language of modernity”. Only after that, when the global philosophical paradigm of Final Revolution will have been forged, that alternative will get an economic form – as the pragmatic way of stating a transcendent imperative, inductively indemonstrable and empirically unevident.
This is the role of the “new prophets”, the “new saviours”, the “new heroes”.
Anti-financism is but the most exterior level of the deepest and most radical struggle against capitalism and liberalism, the necessity of which does not spring out of pragmatic interests, but from the depth of the dignity of the human subject as a species – a subject who, even into the abyss of being forsaken by God, rejects any reconciliation with the blood-stained world, and stands up for a higher ontology, for a new sacrality, for justice and brotherhood, for freedom and equality.
Tags: Aleksandr Dugin