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March 23, 2012


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Excellent and thought-provoking. Is there an inverse relationship between wealth and uncertainty, so that increasing wealth at one end of the scale necessarily requires increasing uncertainty at the other end? This week's budget would appear to support the idea.

As both wealth and uncertainty (i.e. inequality) grow, does this increase the attraction of an authoritarian/fascistic alternative - i.e. one that reconciles great wealth for some with greater certainty for the majority?

Perhaps the long-view criticism of George Osborne will be that that he was reckless and irresponsible.


It's certainly the case that wealth brings greater certainty regarding the future - should one want it. Individuals with large amounts of capital can erradicate certain contingencies, or moderate their effects. But then they may also have to spend large amounts of money in casinos and elsewhere in order to re-discover some uncertainty. And the inverse is also true: poverty must be stressful and tiring partly because it introduces constant contingency that needs managing.

There may be something similar that could be said about firms. Apple's capitalisation doesn't guarantee that its innovations will succeed, but it gives it the time and space to deal with the contingencies associated with R&D.

Re authoritarian solutions, clearly there is something in what you say. If you read Agamben's State of Exception, he makes the point that radical politicisation (such as Fascism) has often thrived as a result of monetary crises in the past. Evidently this was true of Weimar Germany and Hitler. The money economy comes to appear entirely chaotic and untrustworthy, which political leadership offers the ultimate alternative to.

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