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Senile Economics: Bubble Ontology and the Pull of Gravity

by Fabio Vighi
The entire banking system is closing in on folding, which is why it so desperately needs new inflationary liquidity to keep afloat. The Great Reset is our owners’ authoritarian attempt to respond to this systemic threat by taking control of the collateral (our lives) and remain in the driving seat. All the rest is perception management.
Senile Economics: Bubble Ontology and the Pull of Gravity
Debates
By Fabio Vighi
[This article posted on February 6, 2023 is available on the Internet, https://thephilosophicalsalon.com/senile-economics-bubble-ontology-and-the-pull-of-gravity/.]

What are the drivers of senile capitalism? I will list five of them in no particular order, and then proceed to discuss their interconnections:

Debt. The only road into the capitalist future continues to be signposted by liquidity creation programs. Creating cash “out of nothing”, and setting it in motion as credit, is the elementary monetary strategy that keeps our societies from staring into the abyss – like the cartoon character who, having run off the edge of a cliff, floats in mid-air before acknowledging gravity. However, the pull of gravity is now irresistible, and the descent has begun with a violent bout of currency devaluation.
Bubbles. Financial bubbles, inflated by cheap credit feeding a delusional mechanism of perpetual motion, are the only meaningful measure of wealth-production left. Nothing but keeping the bubbles from popping matters to the minions of the “beautiful machine”. While the financialized economy balloons away from its social bond, human existence turns into collateral for the speculative algorithm.
Controlled demolition. Wage dumping and downward competition for fewer and fewer jobs is the necessary other side of the bubble paradigm. For the speculative markets to persist, the “work society” must be gradually downsized, since today’s artificially inflated financial assets and real demand are mutually exclusive. Simply put: Main Street is a liability for Wall Street, which is why consumer capitalism is now morphing into the management of collective immiseration.
Emergencies. Our existential condition during the terminal phase of bubble-to-bubble capitalism is an intrinsically terroristic meta-emergency ideology, a perma-crisis that must accompany us from cradle to grave. In this respect, the pseudo-pandemic of 2020 was only the icebreaker. Let us not delude ourselves: a world that is set on defending so fanatically its own implosion has many more shockers in store for us.
Manipulation. Media propaganda in the age of digital hyper-connectivity comes naturally, so it is only natural that senile capitalism, sensing its collapse, makes the most of it. A stubborn confluence of blind stupidity and cynical calculation is at work here. As George Orwell predicted well before the internet, it comes down to telling lies while believing them: ‘The process [of mass-media deception] has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt.’[i] Jean Baudrillard called the result of this process ‘hyper-reality’.

Capital’s perpetual-motion machine

Having run out of monetary tricks, the financial elites have painted themselves into a corner. The debt-based speculative system they have pumped for decades through money printing and artificial suppression of interest rates can no longer be sustained without significant “collateral damage”. Bourgeois economic theory’s illusion that money can move autonomously, as if through a perpetual motion machine, is finally being exposed. The current inflationary spike is the first obvious symptom of a cancerous disease rapidly spreading through the social body, forcing a large share of the population – including the increasingly insolvent middle classes – to choose between putting food on the table and paying the bills. By now it should be sufficiently clear that any money-creation program – which are desperately needed to prop up the financial sector – will cause further erosion of purchasing power, therefore requiring new creative methods to control the impoverished masses. The alternative to this scenario is for Central Banks to keep on raising rates until the market bubbles pop – which would get us straight to the hard-landing scenario.

The illusion of financial perpetual motion works as follows: the expansion of credit pulls money into risk assets whose valuation grows as demand increases; soaring financial assets then serve as collateral for more borrowing, setting in motion a feedback loop where credit feeds asset valuation feeding collateral feeding credit. Under the illusion of eternal liquidity expansion, leveraging capital to buy assets to use as collateral for more credit is all that matters. And as long as the self-fulfilling loop holds, debt-service obligations can be rolled over. But if interest rates rise and collateral drops in value, suddenly the borrower begins to sweat and starts selling assets, which soon turns into herd behavior. With the deterioration of collateral, assets are at risk of dropping below the outstanding debt, which causes liquidity to dry up and, eventually, bubbles to pop. This is the stage we are approaching, where the fake wealth-creation loop reverts into a death spiral: asset valuations fall, collateral shrinks, credit collapses. The paradox of our time is that the speculative money inflating the bubbles has no real value substance; but if the bubbles burst, all hell breaks loose.

It is worth reminding ourselves that in the globalized West we have already pawned everything we own. That is to say, we (states, businesses, families) own nothing but our debt, which is falling underwater. And, as the global casino threatens to go bankrupt, our puppet masters understand all too well that they must act swiftly if they are to retain power and privileges. Crucially, they know that their only chance to continue to flood the markets with the necessary amounts of artificial liquidity requires controlling (through authoritarian measures legitimized by emergencies) the free-fall of the real economy as it shrinks into stagflation. Inaugurated in style by the pseudo-pandemic, today this process continues to take place under the coordinated watch of Central Banks, whose rate hikes only tickle inflation but further depress real demand.

In this respect, the recent rise in the cost of energy must also be viewed contextually as part of the wider attempt to decompress a highly flammable system – the equivalent of carefully defusing a bomb. The sanctions to Russia have been a farce and, for Europe, a masochistic exercise from the start, for the simple reason that Russia sells its oil and gas to China at a discount, and China then exports them to Europe at a premium. Similarly, the aim of the corporate-led “fight against climate change” is to impose lower living standards upon those working and middle classes who, until only a couple of years ago, were still lured into embracing the utopia of endless growth and mindless consumption. Ukraine can be seen as today’s tragic symbol of such controlled economic downsizing: thanks to a cynically prolonged proxy war, the country is facing the obliteration of its industrial infrastructure. Significantly, on December 28, 2022 Larry Fink (BlackRock’s CEO) and the deified Volodymir Zelensky agreed to coordinate investment to rebuild Ukraine, confirming the familiar pattern whereby the devastation of an entire society is an opportunity for financial expansion. Here is a reason why the West is sending hundreds of billions of dollars to the Ukraine, rather than peace negotiators.

A controlled demolition of demand in the real economy is now essential if the financial aristocracy is to prevent and postpone the de-flagration of the speculative bubbles. This means that capital can only self-reproduce by widening the gap between a handful of super-rich owners (the “key financial players”) and the impoverished plebs, who are expected to 1. Own nothing and also be happy; 2. Sacrifice their personal freedoms (including the freedom of speech, increasingly stifled by a grotesquely hyper-regulated cultural discourse); 3. Surrender their right to exist to the State, whose bio-political role is to administer such right on behalf of transnational capital. Unfortunately, this dark phase of “crisis capitalism” has been vastly underestimated – to use a euphemism – by our “radical” left-wing intelligentsia (from Noam Chomsky to Slavoj Žižek) who, like Pavlov’s dogs, have greeted the “return of the State” as a sign of emancipation. Their reluctance to grasp the elementary nexus between a global economy hooked on growing mountains of credit without substance, and State authoritarianism, suggests they are now embracing a very sinister form of conservatism.

The depressing short-sightedness of the left was particularly painful to observe as the recent global health emergency unfolded. COVID-19 was not the Bubonic plague of the new millennium, but a financial coup enabled by the largest and most spectacular brainwashing operation ever experienced by humanity. It served to hide the fact that the system was infected by terminal sickness, not the global population. Ironically, or predictably, what the left seems unable to accept is that capitalism itself, with all its familiar categories, is fading into obsolescence, and can only fake a life it does not have by mobilizing fear to beat the immiserated masses into obedience. COVID-19 was most of all a pandemic of fear, whose damaging consequences on the human mind and body remain unknown. With “vaccines” mandated as a magic bullet (95% efficacy we were told!) against a disease with a 99.8% survival rate, how could anyone fail to smell a rat? By the same token, none of our anti-capitalist gurus felt perturbed when Pfizer admitted they did not have a clue whether their serums actually stopped transmission – when stopping transmission was sold to the public as the indisputable scientific truth behind the discriminatory mandates. Similarly, no outrage when the “Twitter Files” where released (on December 26, 2022), revealing the pressure exerted by US government agencies to manipulate the scientific debate on COVID-19 and silence critical journalism. How far right has the radical left moved if it fails to recognize the criminal sleight of hand of emergency capitalism? By supporting global discrimination and destruction under false ethical pretenses, most of today’s left does the job of the right more efficiently than the right itself.

While the awareness of mass deception is now slowly emerging, most people prefer the head-in-the-sand solution: better not to know than question their levels of gullibility. And yet, there is little point recriminating. What instead remains crucial is to remind ourselves that Virus was the invisible shield utilized to avoid a banking & financial crisis that would have put 2008 to shame, while simultaneously ushering in a pan-emergency strategy for the coordinated management of mass impoverishment – not only in the peripheries of the capitalist world, but also in its center. It is especially revealing that we are now being persuaded to accept the economic free-fall as fate: a somewhat mythical stagflation originating in external and largely uncontrollable triggers (the pandemic, war in Ukraine, climate change) rather than in the rotting away of our economic model. In retrospect, one could even appreciate the evil genius of a system that conceals its massive social, economic, and cultural implosion behind a tiny, invisible scapegoat.

Wobbling bubbles

Many critical issues have threatened the global financial casino during 2022. In total, equities and bonds lost more than $30 trillion. The Nasdaq index closed the year at – 33%, its worst performance since 2008. The global volume of negative-yielding debt shrunk from $18.4 trillion in December 2020 to $686 billion in December 2022 (which, despite misleading media reaction, is bad news for the global debt bubble, as it means that bonds are tanking). Naturally, rate hikes are being held responsible for the loss of market value. The latter, however, took place against the backdrop of record-breaking corporate buybacks (which artificially increase share prices while also boosting corporate profits). Ergo, while taking a hit, today’s markets continue to behave like casinos on the Vegas strip, with Central Banks happily playing the House (who always wins). With the Quantitative Tightening regime currently in place, the system is stalling. Yet, the central bankers’ cavalry will return with more sustained monetary injections as soon as deemed necessary – most likely, under the protective shield of the next emergency.

Moreover, if the global liquidity index is now deteriorating fast (after more than a decade of artificial growth) the last day of 2022 registered an all-time high in reverse repo deposits at the New York Fed: $2.5 trillion by 113 counter-parties. This means that, as we ordinary people try to figure out how to pay mortgages and bills, investors park inordinate amounts of cash at the Fed as the reverse repo facility guarantees higher returns than market investment (the current repo rate stands at 4.3%). While it would only take a small increase in counter-party risk for this repo business to backfire, it still means that large volumes of insubstantial liquidity, carrying a massive inflationary potential, are trapped in the financial markets, thereby not appearing directly as real demand – precisely the strategy that, since the 1990s, was employed to keep inflation suppressed. However, this stopgap has now passed its use-by date, for the heap of fictitious capital has swollen to a magnitude that can no longer be contained. In fact, it has long started cannibalizing the real economy.

For quite some time, global capital has been dancing to a “bubble-to-bubble” tune. Since the start of the millennium our world is captive to the cloning of financial bubbles, from tech to housing to sovereign bonds, each of which depends on frantic liquidity creation and bond rate suppression, courtesy of Central Banks. More importantly, the above is what keeps real capitalist production (i.e., our societies) going. The original logic is therefore inverted: speculative bubbles are now systemic drivers, while in the past they were isolated phenomena both in time and space. Their current ontological character makes them incomparable with, for instance, the Dutch tulip bubble of the 1630s, or the South Sea Ponzi-scheme of 1720 (built on profits from the slave trade), for when those bubbles burst, they gave way to new cycles of real accumulation – i.e., new mass exploitation of labor-force – while today a popping bubble can only morph into another bubble. The main implication is that an enormous share of real production is already part of the speculative process. At the same time, the financial conveyor belt has reached near-total disconnection from the work society. We have been kidnapped by an invisible self-perpetuating mechanism, whose abstraction is so great that its comprehension eludes us.

Let us recap the key point. Bubble inflation requires “hot air” in the form of borrowed liquidity. The lung capacity of the system is its bond market, the place where debt securities are traded. If capital needs to be raised for asset investment, or to finance State expenditure (including wars), bonds are issued, which obliges the issuer to repay their cost at a negotiable maturity date and interest rate. Corporations issue bonds, and so do governments. Our system is now existentially dependent on skyrocketing piles of bonds, through which investors secure the credit they need to speculate in financial markets. Borrowing aggressively in order to invest is the risky strategy known as leverage that makes up the DNA of contemporary ultra-financialized capitalism. In 2019, the bubble economy was, again, on the verge of a nervous breakdown due to toxic derivatives behaving hysterically and interest rates rising steeply in the repo market. COVID-19 was the answer to this cataclysmic risk: a cynical response to a looming financial Armageddon. A recent data dump by the New York Federal Reserve revealed that a total of $48 trillion in term-adjusted cheap loans were given to distressed mega-banks during 2019-2020 – well beyond what the looniest of tinfoil hatters could have possibly imagined. This would not have been achieved without lockdowns and other restrictions helping to ‘insulate the real economy from deterioration in financial conditions’ – to borrow from the BIS paper published in June 2019.

We are now approaching what for bubble-capitalism is an existential moment of truth. The fuse to the next bomb de-flagration is the debt market, and it has already been lit. Bonds are no longer “fairly priced” in line with a by-now mythological law of supply and demand. According to this law, when a bond is in high demand, its price rises, while its yield (and therefore its repayment rate) falls; conversely, when bond demand drops, its price also falls, and its yield (and repayment rate) rises. Higher bond rates should provide a release of “hot air” in any asset bubble, for less affordable bonds lead to a liquidity drain. That is to say: the bond market is supposed to blow off steam when bonds carry high rates, thus preventing the economy from overheating. However, the entire financial meta-verse is now systematically distorted by Central Banks, who, through the massive liquidity injections of the past decades, have created a Frankenstein monster they can no longer control. The current heavy turbulence in bond markets across the world, with yields showing signs of structural instability, suggests that Central Banks are running out of glue to cover the cracks in the credit-doped system. If in principle there is no end to credit creation, the consequences of uninterrupted artificial asset inflation are no longer manageable through economic policy alone. As COVID-19 should have taught us – including those pseudo leftist academics and intellectuals who have long retreated into the safe haven of “culture wars” – the elites are preparing for total social warfare.

The destructive potential of the debt avalanche is immense, to the point that it can no longer be hidden. Or rather: it is so threatening that it has to be hidden. Last December, the BIS issued a warning relative to a staggering $80 trillion-plus off-balance sheet debt held by financial institutions and funds – an amount greater than the total stocks of dollar-denominated Treasury bills, repo and commercial paper in circulation combined. This is derivative debt that is not being captured through regular statistics: mostly complex speculative instruments like foreign exchange swaps and forwards. The BIS claims that this invisible debt has grown from $55 trillion to $80 trillion in a decade, with daily foreign exchange (FX) swap deals totaling a whopping $5 trillion a day. US financial institutions and pension funds have twice as much FX swap dollar obligations as the amount of dollar debt listed on their balance sheets. Foreign banks have $39 trillion in derivative debts that also are not showing, which amounts to ‘more than 10 times their capital’. This debt burden is a ticking time bomb at the heart of the global economy.

While in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis the Fed claimed it started running stringent stress tests for the Global Systemically Important Banks, the BIS disclosure of undeclared derivative debt brings us back to Alan Greenspan and his Fed Chairmanship from 1987 to 2006, when Wall Street was allowed to build the pile of toxic derivatives which blew up in 2008. That nothing has changed is an open secret, for credit bingeing has been the system’s modus operandi of the last four decades. In an interlocked environment, however, contagion is always lurking. At a time when dollar-denominated debt is more expensive due to rising interest rates, the default of a globally interconnected bank, or a fire sale of financial assets, are concrete possibilities, and so is the ensuing meltdown. For this reason, the system must find reasons to keep itself liquid at all costs, while also managing the consequences, including currency devaluation and recession.

In fact, the only option left for a debt-soaked bubble regime would seem to be currency debasement. As some financial analysts have been forecasting for a while, the prospect we are facing is that the greatest bond heap in history will be washed away by a tsunami of mouse-clicked liquidity. Despite the central bankers’ current hawkish posture, they might soon be forced to destroy their fiat currencies in an attempt to protect the bond markets. Then, a debt bubble morphing into a monetary bubble could pave the way to the widely announced CBDC-based system. In fact, more inflationary money printing is already with us, as evidenced not only by the slowing pace of rate hikes but also by the Fed’s injections of repo liquidity, which already dwarfs Powell’s timid Quantitative Tightening (-2.4% in 2022, compared to +76.7% in 2020 and +18.9% in 2021). The bottom line is that our social bond remains hostage to the astronomical expansion of speculative liquidity. In this respect, the crucial problem faced by transnational entities like the BIS, the WEF, the IMF and the World Bank, is how to save the wobbling bubbles while selling us the story that the contraction of the real economy (which in truth is a slow-motion collapse) is the consequence of an unfortunate series of events.

A sense of perspective

The real paradigm shift within capitalism occurred a few decades ago, when a new type of financial capital emerged, one that is qualitatively different from its precursor.[ii] Since the 1980s, financial abstraction (i.e., speculations on asset prices) is no longer an appendage to a thriving and expanding “real economic abstraction” – the socio-historical discourse based on the correspondence between a given amount a labor time and a given amount of monetary compensation (wages). Rather, the financial “industry” is now both the driver and the escape route of the social narrative that around five centuries ago founded capitalism – when labor-power first appeared as a commodity exchanged on the market. As discussed above, there is now a growing cleavage between the massively stretched credit chain and the total mass of value originating from labor, which means that keeping up appearances is increasingly problematic. Since 2001 we have seen a huge transfer of liquidity into the bond and real estate markets, generating unprecedented bubbles not only in the US and UK but also in China and Europe. This created a qualitatively new mix between speculative growth and the economy based on the real production and consumption of goods.

For a period of incubation, the escape into the future of insubstantial credit did not generate inflation. Today, however, it is absurd to continue to believe that the mass of fictitious and speculative capital remains trapped in the financial sector. Rather, it has colonized the real world, eroding both our purchasing power and the model of capitalism we still believe we live in. The internal limit to real accumulation acts as an external propeller, pushing capitals toward the virtual space of transnational circulation of financial assets, which is powered by growing stacks of self-cannibalizing debt. This is not a pathological corruption of the original capitalist model, but the logical consequence of its structural crisis: the overall fall in the mass of surplus-value is larger than the increase in the relative surplus-value of individual capitals competing with each other through reductions in the cost of labor-power.

This means that the capitalist discourse is now broken, having irreversibly damaged the pillars of its socio-historical narrative. Starting with the Third Industrial Revolution in the 1970s, the productive use of cost-cutting technology has made productive wage labor increasingly redundant, thus inhibiting the creation of new surplus-value and triggering an implosive spiral. Since then, the financial supplement to the work society has turned into its basis and raison d’être. Financializing the economy was the historical answer to the demise of Fordism. Today, our lives remain hostage to the grand illusion that, while making its original formula obsolete, financial capital is capable of turning into a perpetual motion machine. Yet, because global unproductive labor has crossed a critical threshold, currency devaluation is inevitable – an economic shock that is bound to turn into a violent shock for social consciousness in general.

A bubble-system of the current magnitude cannot coexist with real growth, i.e. flourishing mass consumption and mass production. If today’s volume of fictitious capital were to circulate freely in our societies, it would spark hyperinflation – which so far has been exported to the neglected peripheries of the globalized world.[iii] The endgame scenario we are in is the result of the extraordinary growth of credit-dependence during the 20th century, which means that money could not preserve its previous form, i.e. its convertibility into a hard asset. Already WWI showed it was no longer possible to finance a war with gold-backed currency. The increase of debt that came with WWII and the following Fordist boom eventually lead to the decision, in 1971, to abandon the gold standard. At this stage, money lost its substance, something which bourgeois economic theory (or neo-classical economics) could never quite comprehend in its radical implications. In this respect, even Keynesianism was merely an attempt to save capitalism from itself, specifically through deficit spending: more State debt supposed to reignite the labor economy. At the same time, Marxist labor movements never fully assimilated Marx’s critique of value. Instead, they focused on struggles for redistribution, but always within the ontological horizon of capital. After 1971, money as a “store of value” became a mere convention without objective foundations in the social bond. The logical and inevitable consequence of this loss of value-substance – which under neoliberalism led to the ideology of “jobless growth” – is structural devaluation: either inflation, or a violent deflationary wave triggered by a market crash.

This trend is irreversible. No sector of the economy can reignite real growth and bring us back to something even vaguely similar to the Fordist period, itself already powered by extraordinary injections of State credit. When the Fordist accumulation cycle hit the buffers, no new mass re-absorption of labor could be mobilized, which is why fictitious capital today has achieved ontological status: it compensates for the permanent loss of surplus-value creation. The dream of constant growth sustained by mass consumption is turning into a nightmare, with most of today’s consumers already tapped out. The dystopian capitalist phase we have entered is characterized by productivity without productive labor, which means that the work society as a whole is dying. Many businesses, of course, will continue to compete by making use of increasingly sophisticated technologies, while exploiting the immiserated workforce; but the social bond organized around wage labor can only continue to disintegrate.

Gaining a sense of critical perspective on the implosion of senile capitalism requires, as a fundamental precondition, resisting the onslaught of deception and distraction relentlessly churned out by the info-sphere. Mainstream media will never inform us about the causes of a structurally insolvent economy, for the simple reason that they are a branch of that bankrupt system. On the contrary, they will try to persuade us to look elsewhere: pandemics, wars, cultural prejudices, political scandals, natural catastrophes, and so on. While the reactive media can no longer hide the downfall, they have learnt to blame it on exogenous events. In truth, our economic predicament is the second installment of the 2008 crisis, part of a systemic collapse so acute that its cause is now systematically displaced on ideologically manipulated, or fittingly manufactured, global emergencies.

Arguably, understanding our condition requires the effort of thinking against ourselves, since, as a rule, a subject who ‘organically belongs to a civilization cannot identify the nature of the disease which undermines it.’[iv] Conformity and wilful ignorance are infinitely more contagious than the strength needed to overcome the biases of our time. Most of us are determined to remain asleep, preferring to believe that what we are experiencing is only a temporary glitch. Yet, we must gather the courage to see through the smokescreen that hides the decaying substance of our world. Defensive reasoning crushes the vitality of thought. It colonizes not only consciousness, but especially our unconscious attachments to the obsolete categories of a collapsing civilization.

Every civilization immunizes itself by drawing a line between its own constituent order and a malevolent other. Evil-doing must be projected outside the dominant social body if the latter is to retain the illusion of its consistency. Yet, a global civilization on the verge of defaulting on its own value (the self-valorizing value called capital) can no longer rely solely on fighting localized enemies – it must unleash global and ubiquitous villains. This is why, having replaced the pandemic, the Ukrainian war was from the start portrayed as a kind of synecdoche for global conflict: we must constantly be reminded that a “Dr Strangelove moment” is always behind the corner. The fear of Virus has been replaced by the Doomsday Clock. This way, the war really turns into the ideal continuation of Covid: an ideological screen dissimulating the painful everyday reality around us, from recession to structural inflation and mass corporation layoffs. Furthermore, the war allows both monetary expansion by financing the military-industrial complex, as well as systemic self-immunization via re-drawing the line between us (morally and culturally superior) and them (the barbarians). In this respect, the geopolitical tension between the US-led globalized Western model and the multi-polar world in the making (BRICS+) is, strictly speaking, an effect of the ongoing economic collapse. The “new Cold War” in the making has already been factored-in, as none other than Morgan Stanley claim that rewiring for a multi-polar order is now a priority.

Regardless of where you are on the geopolitical chessboard, the common problem faced by every capitalist state and its overseeing transnational aristocracy is, and will continue to be, how to control the waves of mass discontent stemming from increased immiseration. We only need to browse the recent G20 Bali declaration, or the latest WEF program at Davos, to see that the elites’ main concern is to make sure the growing levels of global poverty are met with “global solutions” ranging from digital IDs linked to vaccination programs, to the releasing of Central Bank Digital Currencies. Global cooperation is the ideological catchphrase of the jet-setting ultra-rich who seek to regiment the increasingly stagnant world population. In this regard, the neo-feudal spirit of our time is best captured by the “lockdown model”: on the one hand, we tend to forget that millions of socially excluded humans were already living under “lockdown conditions” before the pandemic, confined to suburban slums and rural peripheries of the world, without access to work and basic goods; on the other hand, iterations of the lockdown model will be extended to most of us in the near future, allegedly to protect us from global threats.

It is crucial, then, to realize that we are facing total socioeconomic breakdown. Those who drive the financial gravy train will continue to promote conflicts and divisions of all kind to hide systemic collapse. Every conflict, geopolitical or otherwise, begins and ends within “crisis capitalism”. The demise of Socialism in the 1980s lifted the veil of Maya. Since then, as a Buddhist would say, “duality is a delusion”: there is only One socioeconomic dogma, and it is no longer working. Keeping consumer capitalism alive while also expanding debt toward infinity is now impossible. The pile of IOUs is reaching beyond what we own as collateral (essentially, our assets, labor power, and lives) while fiat currencies have long started their journey to the land of rubbish. The entire banking system is closing in on folding, which is why it so desperately needs new inflationary liquidity to keep afloat. The Great Reset is our owners’ authoritarian attempt to respond to this systemic threat by taking control of the collateral (our lives) and remain in the driving seat. All the rest is perception management.

Notes:

[i] George Orwell, 1984 (London: Penguin Classics, 2018), p. 216.

[ii] See Robert Kurz, Schwarzbuch Kapitalismus. Ein Abgesang auf die Marktwirtschaft (Frankfurt: Eichborn Verlag).

[iii] Hyper-inflationary cycles in the globalized world took place in Bolivia (1985), Argentina (1989), Peru (1990), Nicaragua (1991), Bosnia (1992), Ukraine (1992), Russia (1992), Moldova (1992), Armenia (1993), Congo (1993), Yugoslavia (1994), Georgia (1994), Bulgaria (1997), Venezuela (2016), Zimbabwe (2007/09 and 2017), Lebanon (2020-present), etc.

[iv] Emile Cioran, The Temptation to Exist (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1968), p. 48.

The Author

Fabio Vighi is Professor of Critical Theory and Italian at Cardiff University, UK. His recent work includes Critical Theory and the Crisis of Contemporary Capitalism (Bloomsbury 2015, with Heiko Feldner) and Crisi di valore: Lacan, Marx e il crepuscolo della società del lavoro (Mimesis 2018).


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