2014-08-23

The Bank Always Wins

Classic wars had at least two sides: the good and the bad, depending on the observer's perspective. Today the situation has substantially changed. The global empire of capital, particularly in the context of a huge level of indebtedness and a fiat currency only backed by oil and the Pentagon, requires fighting a permanent war against those regions with these resources or not obeying the imperial dictatorship (David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years, 2011). In these circumstances it doesn't make sense any more to speak of good and bad, but rather about the mechanisms used by capital to take over the body of the earth and the degree of resistance that the local people can oppose. Categories such as nation-states, militias, insurgents, separatists or terrorists have also lost their univocal sense, considering the power of capital to put them at its service, and take advantage of that to mask its own violence in the face of the public opinion. Today it doesn't make any sense to ask about the winner in these imperial wars. In the ongoing wars of capital the bank always wins. 

But the economic logic of war is accompanied by the most sophisticated "symbolic exchange", carefully designed by intelligence agencies to manipulate the public opinion. This is the case of the recent set-ups in which terrorist groups covertly supported by the West, stage media beheadings. Here we can find all the ingredients that allow us to understand these acts as sacrificial rituals: the alleged victims are Westerners, relatively young, innocent; the sacrifice is more or less announced in advance; the staging of the characters is clearly coded --executioner on black, masked; victim on orange--, codes well known by the public --Guantanamo prisoners as reciprocal characters, as alleged terrorist victims of the West--, codes that are inverted in order to achieve the greater "symbolic yield". Jean Baudrillard predicted four decades ago the political significance that these phenomena would acquire

"Hostage-taking is always a matter of the same scenario. Unanimously condemned, it inspires profound terror and joy. It is also on the verge of becoming a political ritual of the first order at a time when politics is collapsing into indifference. The hostage has a symbolic yield a hundred times superior to that of the automobile death, which is itself a hundred times superior to natural death. This is because we rediscover here a time of the sacrifice, of the ritual of execution, in the immanence of the collectively expected death. This death, totally undeserved, therefore totally artificial, is therefore perfect from the sacrificial point of view..." (Symbolic Exchange and Death, 1976).

After alleged beheading of James Wright Foley by Islamic Emirate (2014) [fu/fd], US marine [ua-fu/fd]  and Guantanamo prisoner [ua-fu/fd].