Friday, May 16, 2014

The deep perspective

Imagine a criminal conspiracy. How do you know how powerful it is?

By seeing how it changes the legal authority of the area.

Consider the following article. The subject of the article is the Obama administration's 'shrug' policy response to Putin's annexation of Crimea. It's supposed to say that Obama is cool. It's supposed to have the feeling of a movie, our hero just bluffed a masterspy. See Obama, his eyes closed and his chin up, adjust his jacket and quickly shrug it off. Cue appropriate music.

But notice the article is really not about this at all:

This has been so effective, and has apparently taken Putin by such surprise, that after weeks of looking like he could roll into eastern Ukraine unchallenged, he's backing down all on his own. Official Russian rhetoric, after weeks of not-so-subtle threats of invading eastern Ukraine, is backing down. Putin suddenly looks like he will support Ukraine's upcoming presidential election, rather than oppose it, although it will likely install a pro-European president. European and American negotiators say the tone in meetings has eased from slinging accusations to working toward a peaceful resolution.
Most of this is economic. Russia's self-imposed economic problems started pretty quickly after its annexation of Crimea in March and have kept up. Whether or not American or European governments sanction Russia's broader economy, the global investment community has a mind of its own, and they seem to have decided that Russia's behavior has made it a risky place to put money. So risky that they're pulling more money out.
A lot of that may have come the targeted sanctions that Obama pushed for against individual Russian leaders and oligarchs. Those targeted sanctions did not themselves do much damage to the Russian economy. But, along with Russia's erratic behavior in Ukraine and the lack of clarity as to whether Europe and the US could impose broader sanctions, it appears to have been enough to scare off global investors — the big, faceless, placeless mass of people and banks who have done tremendous damage to Putin's Russia, nudged along by the US and by Putin himself.


What happened here? Well, very rich individuals with very deep investments and large amounts of capital decided that Putin was on the wrong side. So they acted decisively to punish Putin economically. It has worked: Putin is backing down.

The article goes on to tell a great story. The story is simple. Money decided Putin was wrong and punished him. —No, wait. Not money. Russia imposed its own punishment. No, it was the impersonal bureaucratic and market systems of circulating money. Not even, it was specific oligarchs. —Wait.

How simple is this story? Why is this not being corrected by an editor? Who decided? Who acted?

Here:
1. "Russia's self-imposed economic problems"
2. "the global investment community has a mind of its own, and they seem to have decided"
3. "Obama pushed for against individual Russian leaders and oligarchs."
4. "off global investors — the big, faceless, placeless mass of people and banks who have done tremendous damage"
5. "From Obama's perspective, the beautiful thing about this is that the US doesn't have to take any big risks to punish Russia for its aggression, because Russia is being punished by the impersonal forces of the global economy (this has the added benefit of not giving Putin a propaganda tool, which US sanctions would do)."
[This is a great sentence. It's not just Russia punished by those impersonal forces of the global economy. It's that this is what we're imagining is Obama's thoughts about Russia. On that account, even if this were a strategy of Obama, it will still work for them not as well as it is presently working in the actual situation where it's not a strategy of Obama. Obama is so cool he doesn't even need to pretend to shrug. He actually is shrugging non-strategically.]
6. "the global economy doesn't like it when you go invading"
7."This is something that economists and political scientists have been predicting since World War One: that integrating all the national economies into the global economy wouldn't just make all of us richer, it would make war more economically painful for the people starting it and thus less likely to happen."

And, there you go. The ideological smokescreen is now complete. The true story here is that it's not Obama being a master strategist, nor is it that the global economy has refashioned the concept of mutually assured destruction into an economic weapon—weaponizing an economy is what colonialism was all about, so it's a natural evolution that the 20th century saw weaponizing economies evade the massive infrastructural problems nation-state imperialism caused, by instead creating trade as its own culture. In order to participate in the global economy as it is currently governed by a specific cultural group, you will need to adopt that culture. This sounds like a conspiratorial thing to say. But, be honest: why did you not think that precisely after reading 7? Who is the us? Who is richer after the world integration? I don't remember getting rich. Do you remember getting rich? But they richest are definitely much richer now, comparatively speaking.

Ah, but that's not the Vox writer means, you say. Yes, of course: the Vox writer means we're all better off, even the slumscum among us, because this one world integration prevents war, because it prevents persons from starting wars.

You are supposed to believe we're better off because there's no more war. And we're supposed to thank the system that brought about the one world group of peaceful nations.

But, look carefully through the agents in those sentences.
Russia does it to itself. A community with a mind of its own, a very hybrid generalization from the trinitarian three-persons-in-one-being to n-persons-in-one-being, does this. Obama does this to oligarchs. Global investors do this, which are a mass of faceless persons and banks (communities with minds of their own), so a collection of communities of minds with their own does this. The global economy, the exchange of goods and services as a reality distinct from the persons, communities and collections, does this. The global economy is what provides us peace. Russia only does it to itself. You made me do this, only I am the global economy. I am the new nature. I am a law of nature. I am nature itself.

Derrida once made a comment I liked, about mondialisation being the French word and globalization being the Anglo word. The suggestion goes that a world is something we live within, while a globe is something we live upon. Why do the different communities use different terms to describe how we as different communities are sharing a space together? Well, let's just consider the ideological work being done here in this Vox article. The article fuses all of our worlds together on the basis of the shared reality we have upon the globe, and it obscures this forceful imposition of some other worldview upon all our worldviews with 'globe', the shared reality. There is only one globe, but there are many worlds. Not anymore. There is now only one world, the world of global economic players. You go against the world, you're only doing it to yourself. The writer casually abuses the facts about who is doing this to Russia, weaving all the different layers of persons into one vertical identity. The oligarchs are Russia are the faceless mass are the imaginary Obama's imaginary others are the community of global investors are the global economy. Can you get it right?

Yes, we can. It's the players, not the game. They are the ones who are playing the game. They are the only ones playing the game. So, no, do not hate the game. Hate the players. If they simply stopped, then we'd have peace with them. Are you playing a game? I'm not playing any games. It's so pervasive in how we talk about the world that the Anglos of Westeros are obsessed with games for thrones, just when Stringer Bell in his black frustration goes off revealing the games beyond the games bigger than the games we learned to play—infini—just after Kanye in his black frustration (it builds to the 18 minute mark, then listen to him say this is like the French Revolution) learned hard that there are games within the games to exploit all the way down—rien. If the players playing these games with nations just stopped playing the game, then there'd be nobody playing the games at all. The game at that point does not materially exist any longer. And, as Anselm and Pascal and Tversky and Kahneman argue, existing in hand is always better than the idea of existing better, despite however juicy or joyful the imagination's happiness of the inexisting thing. Once the game is no longer played, doesn't exist in play, but only exists in the imagination—who will gamble for that hell again? Only them, brother, only them.

So, yes, hate the players.

And who are the players?

Well, who backed down? Who pulled his string? Who called his bluff?

It wasn't Obama. The point of the article is that Obama is cool precisely because he's doing nothing at all as strategy. We can all be cool that way, too. It's a real sit-down philosophy, something I hear often is what changes the world. But I agree with brother Malcolm about sitting down non-violently: sometimes it seems to change the world when we advocate violently separating ourselves into the mode of no longer playing y'all's game. Sitting down not to occupy. To own. There's a difference, a line that King could not cross but only with verbal flirtations at times. Well, if that's how it is, all this explains Obama's entire Presidency so far. Obama is so not-acting-violent, he's not even violently separating himself into non-violence, he's non-violently sitting this one out non-violently. He doesn't march up into the water cannon or stand firm to the dog just as it lunges to remove skin and leg and hip on behalf of someone else. You know, what Jesus did, what we're supposed to do, according to his ghost. Now, Obama is better and more modern than that. Obama is cool.

Obama is so cool he models for us all what it's like to just submit pathetically and without principle. Clinton was cool then only because he smiled and through that smile we knew he was fighting it out inside, but he showed us how to be non-violent in the face of outlandish and partisan, dirty-tricks attacks. Obama is cool now because he is the irony of non-violent gestures in a game of mutually assured destruction. Obama has done nothing to prevent the forces within this administration, this nation, this culture, this manifold plurality of worlds interwoven together, from moving us all violently towards the one world economy by holding the globe and our fears hostage. He is a slave to them, so are we, but he in all that power within slavery still manages to get his shrug in, yet the world is literally burning up. A shrug in the face of the urgency climate change places upon all political and human divisions. It's cool to shrug at the end of the world, because he cannot do anything. There you go: Obama's slogan was built precisely to divert us from both the subject and the verb: No, he can't.

That only leaves one group who pulls the strings of powerful nation-states. And it has no subject. It has every subject. It has a few subjects. It has many conglomerations of subjects acting as one subjects.

What is this, if not a transdimensional criminal conspiracy?

No, seriously. Since it is clearly not that, then what is it?

This is the deeper Pascalian Wager.

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