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April 21, 2010


Ian Christie

A fascinating post - thanks for this.
You're right about the problem for Marxists - it's not a crisis of over-production (though there have been elements of that elsewhere in the globalised sectors) or of diminishing rate of profit in finance (quite the reverse). It is a crisis perhaps of what the systems theorist and historian Joseph Tainter ('The Collapse of Complex Societies') calls 'diminishing returns to complexity', which (he argues) are the sign of over-extended empires of all kinds. Monitoring, evaluation and feedbacks are overwhelmed by complexity (aided and abetted by complacency about the solidity of the organisation/empire/ideology).
Saskia Sassen is also surely correct - what is the system (of description and norms) outside the financial system by which we can understand and judge it? The end of Marxism and the acceptance by all Western mainstream political forces of the financialised capitalist paradigm as 'the real world' make this a potent question. Environmentalists, anti-capitalist Christians and Muslims have answers to this: they form the sole surviving political counter-cultures. See John Milbank - Philip Blond's intellectual guru - on a Christian challenge to secular sociology in 'Theology and Social Theory'. See also theorists inspired by the works of Rene Girard, the Catholic anthropologist and theoretician of 'mimetic desire', which goes a long way to explaining the 'animal spirits' of the financial services cults.

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