Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Now is the Time for Politics

The current financial crisis is not a natural disaster or an act of God. It is a result of the way that we organize our societies, economically and politically. It is a result of the "hands off" attitude of our government that has allowed financial institutions to speculate on bad investments on credit. Therefore we must reject President Bush's call to "rise above politics". It is precisely politics that we need right now! This crisis is not a scientific problem; it will not be resolved by technicians. It is a problem of inequality and of our government protecting big business instead of protecting working people. The resolution of this crisis will be a matter of our elected officials taking sides with either the working people or with the financial elite, depending on the terms of regulation and relief for homeowners that are ultimately decided upon.

I'm very interested in the ideological function of the figure of the Wall Street executive in this. Both Obama and McCain have emphasized that they don't want irresponsible Wall Street executives to be rewarded with large severance packages for this. This of course is terrible hypocrisy on McCain's part: he wants to limit CEO packages to $400,000! I guess for a guy with over a dozen houses and eight cars, $400,000 is just chump change. Anyways, emphasis on punishing Wall Street executives (or not) hides the fact that this crisis is a systemic failure, and not merely the fault of a few individuals. It is 'objective' violence, not 'subjective' violence, as Balibar and Zizek would put it. The issue is not whether a few individuals will be unfairly rewarded with large severance packages, but whether our government will continue to be a government at the services of the financial elite and the bourgeoisie or if it will be a government of working people.