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The philosopher and the current financial environment

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  • Gary E. Davis
    In Die Zeit 06.11.2008, JH is interviewed at length. I hope that a reliable translation is available soon. I would expect it via signandsight.com, which quotes
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 15, 2008
      In Die Zeit 06.11.2008, JH is interviewed at length. I hope that a reliable translation is available soon. I would expect it via signandsight.com, which quotes from the interview, below.

      Though I hope for that translation, I don't have much sympathy for JH's view in the following quote. Habermas' views are interesting to me because his philosophical-theoretical work is interesting. But I seldom agree anymore with his views of current events in the U.S., though he always identifies important issues (taking a stand that I often disagree with)

      JH: I hope that the neoliberal agenda will no longer be taken at face value, but will put up for
      negotiation....

      G: Taken at face value by whom? Anyone who reads a major newspaper regularly would feel a normality of contentiousness in political economics and a lack of homogeneity of policies, both deliberate (by organizations) and implied (as emergent explanation of activity). Show me any two writers on neo-liberalism who agree on what it is, let alone ascribing a singularity of such to the political economic environment. A good question, then, is: To what extent can the notion of a neo-liberal agenda be explanatory of anything relating to the current financial environment? Is Habermas wanting a global control of economic policy such that negotiation of an agenda becomes possibly efficacious at the scale of the real economy (which is a sea of national and global dynamics)?

      JH: "...The entire programme of uncontrolled subjugation of everyday life to the imperatives of the market must be put to trial...."

      G: Is JH's imperative
      about government-based pricing of goods, rather than market-based determination of prices? I look forward to reading the entire interview.

      JH: "...The screens flickered with the Hopperesque melancholy of an endless loop of abandoned houses in Florida and elsewhere � with 'Foreclosure' signs on the front lawns. Then came the buses full of prospective buyers from Europe and Latin America followed by estate agents who gave guided tours of bedrooms ransacked in fits of anger and desperation...."

      G: This is frivolous. We should need to show some appreciation of the complexity of "irrational exuberance," which is a collaborative dance, so to speak, of good risk and bad risk, astute investment and gullibility, opportunity and opportunism, etc.

      JH: "...After my return I was surprised at the difference between US jumpiness and the business-as-usual equanimity here in Germany."

      G: This reminds me of an interview I saw last night,
      involving the economic historian Niall Ferguson and others. At one point, Ferguson says:

      F: "I think there's some really rich hypocrisy coming from the Europeans when they try to lecture the United States, because at the center of this crisis has been excessive leverage in the banking system. Banks have allowed their balance sheets to explode in relation to their capital base. But guess which banks are the most leveraged? Not American banks, but, in fact, European banks. It's actually the German banks that come out on top when you look at measures of leverage, of bank indebtedness. And I think the Europeans are rather complacent at this point. I think they underestimate the extent to which this financial crisis poses much bigger problems for Europe than to the United States.

      G: By the way, the entire discussion with Ferguson and others is a great introduction to the real situation of the G20 meeting today. Here's yesterday's discussion
      (start reading after the heading "Managing the ongoing crisis," if you're familiar with the situation):

      "Global Leaders Search for Financial Reforms at G-20 Summit"
      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/july-dec08/g20summit_11-14.html

      It's common to talk about "regulation" and "stimulation" whole cloth, with "the economy" being a placeholder for what is stimulated and (almost unrelatedly) what is regulated, without much cognizance of the fact that economies are already, to an important degree, self-stimulating (given confidence and trust) and already-vastly-regulated environments (providing confidence and trust)---not that targeted stimulation and further regulation is not needed. But get realistic in talking about economics. Get over the socialist (statist) rhetoric about how economies work.

      The G20 have issued their communique, which does indeed go beyond public relations rhetoric, if you read far enough (� 9
      onward):

      "Statement From G-20 Summit"
      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/washington/summit-text.html?pagewanted=print

      I would love to see Habermas transpose his call for negotiation into the parameters of the G20 statement. The theory of cosmopolitan society might need more economics and less politics, as economic health is necessary for democratic life.

      We're at a kind of Ground Zero in the evolution of the world political economy (that mix of finance capital, WTO-gravitating commodity markets, IMF/Millennial development, and entrepreneurial chaos), which requires, for the short-term, changes at the scale of the G20 Action Plan (� 16 onward) and seeing the bottom of the global recession (late-2009?), as well as requiring a new multilateralism in Washington, come January (as a "post-American world" continues to need progressive and reliable U.S. partnership).

      Long-term, a truly global conversation is in process on how to
      define economic democracy at the global scale, especially at the somewhat-ultimate interface of energy and environment. Nobody is sitting in a think tank with the answer that just hasn't been appreciated yet. The global village and its 24/7 news cycle is looking at a frontier born from itself, bootstrapping recovery from recession only to face accelerating global warming.�

      What, beyond polemic (and beyond critique that's not yet serving innovation), can philosopical-theoretical inquiry contribute to the 21st century Conversation of Humanity? Anyone happen to know the way to hydrogen-fusion generation of electricity?


      .


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    • Matthew Piscioneri
      Gary, respectfully, you may be a little out of date in your attachment to neo-liberalism. ... face value, but will put up for ... My guess is your posing as
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 26, 2008
        Gary,

        respectfully, you may be a little out of date in your attachment to
        neo-liberalism.

        > JH: I hope that the neoliberal agenda will no longer be taken at
        face value, but will put up for
        > negotiation....

        My guess is your posing as the discursive other is somewhat shallow
        and perhaps even entirely indicative of your heartfelt political
        nature. There comes a time when practical dialogical consensus (ie.
        elections) overrules the academic pretence of automatically 'taking
        the other side'. My guess is that the vast majority of subscribers
        to this List actually agree with Habermas's position. There comes a
        time when the conventional dialectical rhetoric of an open ended
        communicative posturing needs to acknowledge CELEBRATION. Otherwise,
        in terms of praxis, it's all been a technical exercise. And, I don't
        believe it has. The election of Barak Obama has been vindication of
        what so many of us on this list, I believe, get out of bed for: a
        sense of potential, a sense of hard won discursive validity for what
        is the expression of the democratic rationale.

        all the best,

        matthew
      • Gary E. Davis
        Matt,   I don t understand, evidently. My questioning of JH s point was that lumping the current environment into the neoliberal box isn t constructive,
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 26, 2008
          Matt,
           
          I don't understand, evidently. My questioning of JH's point was that lumping the current environment into the "neoliberal" box isn't constructive, NOT that I want to support a neoliberalism, WHATEVER THAT IS. What is it, such that the label is constructive for evaluation of the real economic environment?
           
          M> My guess is your posing as the discursive other is somewhat shallow and perhaps even entirely indicative of your heartfelt political nature.
           
          G: O, good, I'm going to get my shallowness deepened now! I want to learn from others. What's critique for?
           
          M> There comes a time when practical dialogical consensus (ie. elections) overrules the academic pretence of automatically 'taking the other side'.
           
          G: OK, let's look at the current economic environment in the real terms in which the Obama team is portraying it. I'm an Obaman all the way.
           
          M> My guess is that the vast majority of subscribers to this List actually agree with Habermas's position.
           
          G: Which is?
           
          M> There comes a time when the conventional dialectical rhetoric of an open ended
          communicative posturing needs to acknowledge CELEBRATION.
           
          G: Then, there comes a time to stop posturing. I've NEVER subscribed to dialectical rhetoric and neither does Habermas. Habermas is not a dialectical philosopher.
           
          Earlier this month, the U.S. went through vast celebration of the Democratic sweep of the U.S. elections, as did the entire world (except the terrorists). Now, the work of shortening the global recession is the focus. Got some insights here? 
           
          M> Otherwise, in terms of praxis, it's all been a technical exercise.
           
          G: But alienation from technical competence---not apparently differentiating technicality from technicist posturing---leaves one with no way to *constructively* constribute to problem solving. It's like the tendency to the critique of scientism to foster scientific illiteracy.
           
          M> The election of Barak Obama has been vindication of what so many of us on this list, I believe, get out of bed for: a sense of potential, a sense of hard won discursive validity for what is the expression of the democratic rationale.
           
          G: Amen. So, watch and listen to what he's doing. He's already taken over the presidency, and his technical competence is amazing.


           













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