[Marxism] Special issue tripleC: Capitalist Crisis, Communication & Culture
Waistline2 at aol.com
Waistline2 at aol.com
Mon Aug 30 04:36:01 MDT 2010
Computing and the Current Crisis: The Significant Role of New Information
Technologies in Our Socio-Economic Meltdown David Hakken pp 205-220
Actually, David Hakken article is a technical description of Professor
Perlman video presentations on modern economics.
20 years - August 1990, ago this article would have been impossible for me
to grasp, and probably could not have been written in the first place. The
social consequence of the new non-banking world wide financial architecture
- the rise of speculators to dominance over finance capital, has taken a
full twenty years to be understood.
This new financial architecture exists based on a new technology regime,
which according to the article evolved post 1970. David Hakken describes the
technical basis of this new non-banking world wide financial architecture
"Computing is heavily implicated in the emergence and trade of all these
new commodities. Given their complexity, none of them, nor markets in them,
could have existed without it. . . . .
"In short, to the extent that computing was essential to these commodities'
creation, and that market failures in these new financial commodities were
central to the crisis, computing caused the crisis. These computered
financial instruments strongly afforded the elaboration of national markets for
capital into a virtually global single market. Just as a desire for new
commodities to trade in, so that more money could be made, drove computing
development and implementation, so the development of international computing
networks strongly incentivized creation of an unboundried market in
capital. Indeed, the two go together; prospects for profitable trading in the new
financial instruments were directly related to the extent to which the
reach of the capital market could be scaled up."
Some elements of Marxism describe the essence of the above as "over
production of the means of production" as these "means" function as capital and
are monetarized. That is capital seeking a maximum profit or an expanded
value based on investment. Others understand this stage of finance capital as a
particularly intense phase of monopoly. Neither explanation unravels the
meaning and impact of a new technology regime and the emergence of capital
as a notional (imaginary) value, rather than an expression of surplus value
It is the rise of these now financial products (instruments) in an
environment of the so-called "scattering of the points of production" or
de-industrialization of America and revolution in the means of production (generally
understood as intense falling rate of wages/profit) defining our moment of
Various views on changes in the form of finance capital are expressed as
body politics. Yesterday - August 28, a demonstration led by the Uaw, Jesse
Jackson Sr. crew and the Democratic Party establishment had as its lead
demand "jobs" with banners demanding "fair trade." That is "bring back my job
boss, so I can work."
Even if bringing back jobs to America was possible, the factories that
would be built creating a mass of commodities would be so advanced and the
wages so low that restoration of the "great American industrial middle class"
on the basis of capital reproduction is impossible.
II. In his own language Hakken describes capital as a notional value.
"3.1. Asset Value Unknowability as the Core of the Current Crisis
In at least three additional important ways, the computerization of
financial instruments led to a situation where assets' values became ambiguous
and increasingly unknowable."
Leaving aside the issue of "mark to market" or the last selling price of a
financial instrument or commodity, Hakken captures the essence of capital
as a notional value:
"In short, a unique, perhaps the unique, characteristics of the current
crisis is precisely these huge, persisting socio-economic spaces of
unknowability. Given that a huge proportion of economic activity (Tett estimates
some 80%) was financialized, this unknowability is lodged at the center of the
reproduction of contemporary capitalist social formations. The consequences
of the lack of fit between the particular forms of computer-mediation of
financial assets, on the one hand, and the wide swathes of unknowability to
which their use led, on the other, have been amplified by the substantial
upping of the scale (e.g., the "globalization" of markets in capital) at
which some aspects of social formations (but not all) are able to be
reproduced, further increasing the difficulty of establishing what specific value
any given asset has. Indeed, it seems to me that the crisis will continue as
long as a substantial body of difficult to evaluate assets persists."
III. Hakken describes what it is that is new to capital reproduction that
exists based on the new technology regime, which could not exist prior to
the development of this new world wide financial infrastructure.
"2. Computing is heavily implicated in the emergence and trade of all these
new commodities. Given their complexity, none of them, nor markets in
them, could have existed without it. Nor was computing's role merely one of
creating the possibility of doing such things. Only a few of the forms of
financialization that were possible to computerize were actually developed
2009b). Those financial commodities that were developed and marketed were
given the properties they had via what computer people call
"affordances"-inclinations that, given existing preexisting developments or "path
dependencies," are likely to follow, unless action is taken to prevent them.
Indeed, many of the AICTs that made these new commodities possible were developed
precisely in order to create things like them. This path dependency was a
consequence of the particular mix of the entrepreneurial and technical
built into contemporary education in and the practice of computing. In short, to
the extent that computing was essential to these commodities' creation,
and that market failures in these new financial commodities were central to
the crisis, computing caused the crisis. These computered financial
instruments strongly afforded the elaboration of national markets for capital into
a virtually global single market."
Much of Hakken's material is new but all of his conclusions are old and
discussed in varying degrees on this list at least six years ago and most
certainly when the investment banker and economist Henry CK Liu regularly
contributed to the list. One comrades asked a few years ago what "new" did one
gleam in Mr. Liu economic writings.
The answer which was apparent years ago is universally acknowledged today:
CAPITAL AS A NOTIONAL VALUE AND THE RISE OF A NEW NON-BANKING FINANICAL
ARCHITECTURE BASED ON A NEW TECHNOOLOGY REGIME.
More information about the Marxism