Guest Lecture: Systemic Fear, Modern Finance and the Future of Capitalism

Guest Lecture: Systemic Fear, Modern Finance and the Future of Capitalism
Nitzan, Jonathan and Bichler, Shimshon. (2010). Presentation at a Conference on "Crisis of Capital, Crisis of Theory," Organized by the Forum on Capital as Power, York Lanes, Room 280N, Keele Campus of York University, 3:00-5:00 pm. 29 October. (Lecture / Presentation; English).

Full Text Available As:
HTML (Invitation)
PDF (Invitation. File size: 88 KB) - Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader or other PDF viewer.
PDF (Presentation handout. File size: 470 KB) - Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader or other PDF viewer.
Other (Video file. MP4 format, File size: 305 MB)
Other (Video file. WMV format. File size: 350 MB)

Abstract or Brief Description

Is capitalism about to collapse? Like every other mode of power, capitalism rests on confidence in obedience: the confidence of the rulers in the obedience of the ruled. Emperors are sure of their rule over obedient subjects and slaves; lords are certain they can rule their obedient vassals and serfs; and capitalists trust the obedience of their underlying masses. The confidence of rulers is mediated through their dominant dogma: when the dogma holds, the rulers are hubristic, steadfast and ruthless; when the dogma disintegrates, the rulers, gripped by systemic fear, become hesitant and lose their ability to rule.

Systemic fear often culminates in systemic collapse. The downfall of the last Babylonian emperor, Belshazzar, the collapse of Easter Island, the French Revolution against the ancien régime, the fall of Soviet Union and many more such episodes were all preceded by systemic fear: for whatever reason, the rulers lost faith in their dogma and confidence in their subjects’ obedience. But their systemic fear remained elusive: we know of it only anecdotally, subjectively, and always retrospectively – after their mode of power lies in ruins.

Modern finance has made systemic fear transparent. For the first time in history, we have an objective, numerical measure of the rulers’ confidence in obedience – and this measure is available not in retrospect, but here and now. The indicator in question is forward-looking capitalization: the financial ritual with which capitalists discount to present value their expected future profit. This ritual stands at the heart of the modern capitalist dogma, and it is currently broken: for the past decade, capitalists have been looking not forward to the future, but backward to the past. In other words, capitalists no longer trust their own dogma: they are no longer confident in the obedience of the ruled or in their own ability to rule.

DATE/TIME/PLACE: Friday, October 29, 2010, 3:00–5:00 pm || York Lanes, Room 280N || Keele Campus of York University

VIDEO DURATION (Presentation and Q&A): 2:04 hours

Language

English

Publication Type

Lecture / Presentation

Keywords

asset pricing capitalization capitalism collapse complex systems confidence in obedience discounting dominant ideology fear of death financial markets forward-looking modes of power peak oil systemic crisis

Subject

BN Civilization & Social Systems
BN Money & Finance
BN Conflict & Violence
BN Ideology
BN Methodology
BN Psychology
BN Power
BN Ecology & Environment
BN International & Global
BN Region - North America
BN Business Enterprise
BN Capital & Accumulation
BN Policy
BN Value & Price
BN Crisis
BN Macro

ID Code

299

Deposited On

17 November 2010



Commentary on:
Systemic Fear, Modern Finance and the Future of Capitalism
Bichler, Shimshon and Nitzan, Jonathan. (2010). Jerusalem and Montreal. July. (Mimeograph; English).

Commentary/Response Threads