Blackspot

Let Them Fail

Saving the banks is not the only option.

The U.S. government has spent $4,600,000,000,000 on the corporate bailout thus far. According to ABC News, this is more money than the "total combined costs in today's dollars of the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the entire historical budget of NASA, including the moon landing".

How could such an inconceivable expenditure go through without even a glimmer of dissent? In a recent Le Monde editorial, celebrated French philosopher Alain Badiou explains that the only ideology left today is: "Save the banks!". World leaders, journalists and respected intellectuals all seem to claim the same thing: only by saving the banks can we save the world.

But for Badiou, the economic crisis is a spectacle that diverts attention from the reality of daily existence. He encourages us to step back and, turning away from the screen, to gaze not at the crisis unfolding in the news but the crisis unfolding on the street.

Badiou writes, "So what do we see, if we turn things around in this way? We see [...] simple things that we've known for a long time: capitalism is nothing but robbery, irrational in its essence and devastating in its development. Its few short decades of savagely unequal prosperity have always been at the cost of crises in which astronomical quantities of value disappear, bloody punitive expeditions into every zone that capitalism judges either strategically important or threatening, and world wars that brought it back to health."

Badiou's passionate editorial is a call to question the basic assumption underlying the trillion dollar "bail out" whose function is merely to delay the sinking of our overspent, debt-ridden consumer society. If it is not the banks that need saving, is it "the people"? Or is it the environment... or is it something else? What are the real priorities and who should we really be trying to bail out?

(Badiou's full editorial is online here.)

Micah M. White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist. Micah is currently writing a book of philosophical meanderings into the future of activism. He lives in Binghamton, NY with his wife and two cats. www.micahmwhite.com

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Comments on the article “Let Them Fail”

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Anonymous

I believe that there is plenty of dissent as well as anger amongst the average citizens - but can they realistically do anything? Therein lies the rub. Congress place the issue of the bailout before the american taxpayer for a vote, and if they had, whose to say that some Supreme Court justice would have invalidated it, e.g. California Initivatives against Gay Marriage. Come on -- as citizens, do we really have any power? And if we did, are we willing to use it? I think not. We ARE being made complacent by the Matrix of power and influence. Do we have a choice? “Choice is an illusion, created between those with power, and those without” -- The Matrix

Anonymous

I believe that there is plenty of dissent as well as anger amongst the average citizens - but can they realistically do anything? Therein lies the rub. Congress place the issue of the bailout before the american taxpayer for a vote, and if they had, whose to say that some Supreme Court justice would have invalidated it, e.g. California Initivatives against Gay Marriage. Come on -- as citizens, do we really have any power? And if we did, are we willing to use it? I think not. We ARE being made complacent by the Matrix of power and influence. Do we have a choice? “Choice is an illusion, created between those with power, and those without” -- The Matrix

Tanas Gimet

These men can do nothing if they think that the way to save a broken system lies within that same system. A growth economy relies on a positive percent growth of the economy; if it grows three percent on the previous year then actual growth is exponential. And so we have witnessed exponential growth for a few hundred years. But the earth is finite as is the universe; exponential growth can’t exist for long in a finite system – in fact all exponential patterns in nature end in a crash, every time. And, of course, we are nature; we belong to it and are about to find out it doesn’t exempt us. Despite thousands of years of our culture pretending it is separate and superior from the rest of existence the truth is even better: we are together with the rest of life. But, realize it or not, they know that the system is fundamentally flawed, and yet still don’t know what else to do to save their power. These people understand what sound finances are, they are businessmen after all, this spending isn’t a sign of recklessness; it’s a sign of pure terror. We have had exponential growth; there simply are no instances in which a crash doesn’t follow. About choice- Step by step, we can help each other choose a new path to walk down. All we have to do is be together and to trust each other. Corny, maybe, but people are too isolated – that’s why there’re so trapped.

Tanas Gimet

These men can do nothing if they think that the way to save a broken system lies within that same system. A growth economy relies on a positive percent growth of the economy; if it grows three percent on the previous year then actual growth is exponential. And so we have witnessed exponential growth for a few hundred years. But the earth is finite as is the universe; exponential growth can’t exist for long in a finite system – in fact all exponential patterns in nature end in a crash, every time. And, of course, we are nature; we belong to it and are about to find out it doesn’t exempt us. Despite thousands of years of our culture pretending it is separate and superior from the rest of existence the truth is even better: we are together with the rest of life. But, realize it or not, they know that the system is fundamentally flawed, and yet still don’t know what else to do to save their power. These people understand what sound finances are, they are businessmen after all, this spending isn’t a sign of recklessness; it’s a sign of pure terror. We have had exponential growth; there simply are no instances in which a crash doesn’t follow. About choice- Step by step, we can help each other choose a new path to walk down. All we have to do is be together and to trust each other. Corny, maybe, but people are too isolated – that’s why there’re so trapped.

James David

Micah, thanks for the link. I was talking with someone just yesterday about Badiou's response to the Obama election, and I'm curious to read his reflections on the financial crisis.

James David

Micah, thanks for the link. I was talking with someone just yesterday about Badiou's response to the Obama election, and I'm curious to read his reflections on the financial crisis.

Eric

Don't you see? As a capitalist, I actually agree with you! Let them fail. Capitalism is about risk and reward. Why must the federal government get rid of the risk.... and as a result, the reward?

Eric

Don't you see? As a capitalist, I actually agree with you! Let them fail. Capitalism is about risk and reward. Why must the federal government get rid of the risk.... and as a result, the reward?

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