Thursday, August 30, 2012

The politics of magical capitalism

Of course, you know I've written for the exceedingly glamorous, well-funded Jacobin magazine before, and will be contributing in future. For the time being, though, in addition to all my other duties I will occasionally blog at Jacobin as well. Naturally, you still have to come here, to the mother ship, for most of my blogging. But here is my first piece for our American sans-culottes:

"A question, then: are profits like ‘golden eggs’? Does surplus value arise, seemingly ex nihilo, from the mysterious thaumaturgy of the City? One is constantly exhorted to believe so. Save your money, you are told, or invest it, and it will just magically increase in value. Buy a private pension scheme for a fraction of your weekly earnings, and when you retire you can have a lavish, hedonistic lifestyle that would make Mitt Romney blush with noble envy. Better yet, save enough money to use as start-up capital, become a capitalist and one can, with sufficient nous, acquire enough dough to get the Kardashians’ telephone number. Something very nebulous and mystical about the process of abstaining from immediate consumption, and entering this money into circulation as money-capital, causes it to produce a ‘surplus value’, above and beyond what was originally invested. In fact, one isn’t even abstaining from consumption as such. To become a capitalist is to consume commodoties, qua variable and fixed capital, at a definite rate. It is actually in the very act of consuming a set of commodities, that one magically makes the profit appear."