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(en) The Commoner N.7 - Spring/Summer 2003 - escaping neoliberal governance The "Governance" of Imposed Scarcity: Money, Enclosures and the Space of Co-optation

From Massimo De Angelis <m.deangelis@btinternet.com>(http://www.commoner.org.uk/)
Date Sun, 13 Jul 2003 11:46:09 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

- George Caffentzis. The Power of Money: Debt and Enclosure.
- Matthew Hampton. The Return of Scarcity and the International
Organisation of Money After the Collapse of Bretton Woods.
- Coady Buckley. Neoliberal Governance and Social Resistance: A Chronology of Events.
- Massimo De Angelis. Neoliberal Governance, Reproduction and Accumulation.
- Les Levidow. Governance of Genetically Modified Food.
- Andrew Robinson and Simon Tormey. New Labour’s Neoliberal Gleichschaltung:
the Case of Higher Education.

Grounzero movements
Amory Starr. J23. sacramento 2003. action report/fieldnotes

Reviews and Letters
from cyberspace, international debate on John Holloway's book, Change
the World withtout Taking power.
Peter Waterman. The International Labour Movement Between Geneva,
Brussels, Seattle/Porto Alegre and . . . Utopia.
News from noWhere
Evidence of Programmes of Weapons of Mass DistrAction

> Introduction
In this issue we present two contributions on money and four
contributions on neoliberal governance. What do money and
neoliberal governance have in common? The Commoner suggests at
least one thing: they are both different but complementary ways to
organize our lives around the rat race of global competition. In the
first article, George Caffentzis writes about the power of money,
the ideological underpinning of this power and, most poignantly, how
without moments of force and violence, money would have remained
a marginal aspect of human history. He also argues that "the
cultivation of hostility, suspicion, competition and fear of scarcity
(especially the scarcity of money)" are the means though which to
enclose spaces for collective discussion and understanding of
desires. In this way, money can appear as the only means left to
create its own meaning of coincidence of desires.

To have fear of scarcity in a world of plenty like ours, scarcity must
be produced. Matthew Hampton's paper explores capital's
production of scarcity through an investigation of the international
organization of money after the collapse of Bretton Woods. What
many critics refer to as the irrational "casino economy" of massive
speculative flows, is shown to have its own perverse rationality in
its link to the flesh and blood substance of capital's accumulation:
boundless work through competitive relations among people.
Through the continuous allocation of risk, punishments and rewards,
financial capital movements across the globe discipline the people
of this planet to work harder and demand less, whether they are in
homes, fields, factories, or offices.

The discipline of capital however has its own contradictions. A
central one is the crisis of reproduction of our bodies and minds, our
communities and our ecologies. In the last quarter of a century, the
combined effects of neoliberal strategies of enclosures and
reconfiguration of state provisions away from social welfare into
corporate welfare, has coincided with the deepening of these crises
and a consequent rapid development of diverse social movements
across the globe. It has also created an archipelago of diverse
organizations of what is called "civil society". These movements
and organizations, in spite of differences and contradictions, act in a
multiplicity of ways to intervene and copying with the crises ¾
whether through struggles, campaigns, education or directly
intervening in the reorganization of reproduction where the market
and the state left a desert.

The effect of this ferment has been to put back on the agenda of
public debates the question of meeting the variety of needs of
reproduction independent from the needs of the capitalist market.
Left on its own devices, this ferment re-opens a space for the
collective discussion and understanding of desires, and the
definition of the ground for their coincidence independently from
accumulation. What a shock for the neoliberal proponents of the
pensée unique! One important strategy used by neoliberal capital
to deal with these emergent demands is called, in the modern
rhetoric, "governance". In his contribution Coady Buckley provides
a wealth of web links and a chronology of the parallel development
of social conflict and the emergence of governance discourse.
Massimo De Angelis explores some of the intricacies of
governance ¾ or better neoliberal governance ¾ and argues that
it does not represent a paradigm shift away from neoliberalism.
Rather it is a discoursive practice, a strategy that emerges as
capital's second line of defense vis-A-vis struggles against
enclosures and crises of reproduction. It is a space in which the
needs of reproduction are acknowledged by capital, but commons
are deterred or forestalled through the hijacking and entrapment of
the values, the words and dreams of the commoners. In governance,
the environmentalist value of sustainability is turned into the
financial value of sustainable profit, social justice is turned into
corporate compliance with pitiful minimum wage regulations,
democracy and participation is turned into partnership among
stakeholders who must accept competitive market norms as de
facto unchangeable mode of human interaction.

A detailed example of how these governance strategies develop as
a result of social opposition to policies, is studied by Les Levidow in
the case of Genetically Modified Food. "The paper exemplifies
governance as process management. For the trans-Atlantic
governance of GM food, new procedures were managing conflicts
among state and non-state actors, while potentially facilitating
regulatory harmonisation of a controversial technological trajectory.
Consumer NGOs did not welcome the advent of GM crops, yet their
regulatory demands led their representatives into a political logic of
governing these technological products. In that sense, governance
provides a neoliberal means to manage socio-political conflicts by
incorporating dissent into a collective problem-definition, while
excluding other accounts of the problem. Yet it remains a difficult
task of process management, whose outcome still depends upon
political struggle."

That governance discourse can be used to entrap social flows of
desires and creativity into market values and accumulation is also
clear in the contribution by Andrew Robinson and Simon Tormey.
The authors discuss the recent UK labour government White Paper
on higher education, heavily permeated by the language of "Third
Way" and "partnership" and in which universities are portrayed and
constructed as competitors within a global market and thus must
learn to behave like corporations do. "Instead of academics working
across international boundaries to improve knowledge and well
being", note the authors, "academics need now to ask themselves
not what is the value of their research, but rather what is the
`exchange value' of their research? If research cannot be `spun-out',
`transferred', used as an `incubator' or in some other exploited by
`local and regional partnerships' then the clear message it is
research that is not `worth' anything, and should be stopped. The
desire to make `breakthroughs' is not itself a valid reason for
undertaking research." Hence, when Charles Clarke ¾ the
education secretary ¾ says he wants to `mobiliz[e]… the
imagination, creativity, skills and talents of all our people' and `to
help turn ideas into successful businesses' . . . , it is clear that he is
engaged in a logic of entrapment. Creative energies are to be
harnessed, for a single goal: capitalist control" and the "reduction of
the educational ‘commons’ to the status of vocational
training for the needs of business"

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