Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Jairus Banaji- fictitious capital & imaginary communities,

Full disclosure- Though the ontologically dysphoric turn in Marxism- which I attribute to male soixante-huitard retards  failing to take the next & dialectically necessary tri-vikrama step forward from the ardors of the barricades of '68 to the froward rigors of petit bourgeois bedrooms for 69-  greatly predates Prof. Banaji's  oeuvre, I nevertheless feel his works will attain a permanent niche in the Leftist Pantheon provided we all agree to pronounce his surname Bananaji. 
As a first name, Jairus, on the other hand, is perfectly  fine as it stands- Bilblical yet kinduv Reggae?-  and  way way cooler than Billy Bunteresque names like Jam-shed or Jam-assp or  Whoa there Jeejja-boy or whatever.

In his 2012 Deutscher Memorial lecture, (see the video below) Prof. Bananaji appears to be saying something interesting- well, interesting in a purely Scholastic or Stochastic sense- when he speaks of Money advances to opium growing ryots in Nineteenth Century India as being a case where Capital subsumes Labor Power rather than embodying itself as an accretion to the Means of Production. In other words, money advances cause Labor to exploit itself more intensively without any increase in physical capital or natural endowment thus permitting the interest rate (considered as the gross return upon a money advance) to rise because, in a sense, the marginal efficiency of Capital has risen. 
However, Bananaji downplays the coercive element in British agricultural policy in India- indeed he explicitly says that the ryots could have chosen to grow something else, which is not true- and this utterly vitiates his own argument because, clearly, the same thing would happen if Labor endogenously raised its propensity to save in a steady state Economy by reason of ontological dysphoria. In other words, under Bananaji's assumption of freedom to contract- it makes no difference whether I take an advance from a Capitalist or if I decide that my present consumption is an advance from my own now ontologically dysphoric self- i.e.  I internalize my own Capitalist Tajir or Tekhedar preparatory to a hegira from this Universe - because the outcome is the same- viz. a rise in the interest rate has perversely accompanied a rise in the savings rate. This can be broken down into a real component- a sort of reswitching whereby the marginal efficiency of Capital rises by a self-abnegating act or re-apportionment by Labor- and a Wicksell type nominal effect such that the increased demand for Savings means that the price of 'Savings goods' (i.e. things either autonomously bracketed or else inter-subjectively packaged and marketed as 'Savings' rather than Consumption vehicles) rises in relative terms.
Since, for purely ergodic reasons, steady states are impossible- i.e. ex post and ex ante will never coincide- everything Bananaji highlights would occur without the intermediation of Merchant Bankers, or, indeed, Marxist Wankers and the systemic hazard they pose by reason of a habitus of culpa levis in concreto. In particular, since there is no 'real' distinction between Capital and Consumer goods and since the future is unpredictable- which means the value of Savings is uncertain- it follows that the term 'fictitious Capital' has only an evanescent instrumental, but no heuristic, worth. 
Indeed, since what we are speaking of is Money- that is Credit, that is Faith, that is Belief, that is Expectations, that is Imagination or its parlous lack, that is the same Ontologically dysphoric stuff  as drives Mimetic epidemics, Moral panics, Idolatry, St. Vitus dances, Children's Crusades and Bogomil daisy chains of Sodomy- it therefore follows that what Bananaji's lecture actually displays is a moment in the crisis of Credentialist over-accumulation of a specific type of Bourdiesian Capital- one which we irrationally consign to a repugnancy market though, indeed, like the East India Opium trade, it finances our own shining City on a (preferably Raisina) Hill where Right Wing Hindutva bloggers like myself can roundly denounce and threaten with punitive buggery other Right Wing Hindutva bloggers more exactly like myself.

In fairness to Bananaji- a nice Parsee guy from a very posh family- he does suggest that there is a way to distinguish 'fictitious' from 'real' Capital by referring to learning effects- the former is memory-less and in that sense Satrean 'serial'.
Interestingly, along with Indian Leftist parties, all of whom he considers no longer capable of learning or knowing, he also thinks 'Hindu' and 'Muslim' are fictitious, i.e. memoryless serialities.
 He said in a recent interview- Let’s be clear here: it’s not as if the ‘Hindu community’ or the ‘Muslim community’ are real entities. They are imagined communities, and they are imagined in a way which presupposes the grip of an unyielding seriality. The mass of any population remains unorganized into groups of their own making, groups they have formed as an expression of their own collective aspirations. In this state of complete dispersion, most ordinary people feel hopelessly isolated, powerless, and indifferent or even hostile to each other. It is this state of isolation and powerlessness that the SanghParivar preys on, offering the ‘masses’ the illusion that their mobilization by the VHP, etc. is a form of empowerment, when it is actually just manipulation by powerful organized groups that have their own agenda. The kind of manipulation that leads to the savage pogroms that we saw in Gujarat in 2002.
So there you have it. Perry Anderson, in the pages of the London Review of Books, very kindly informed us stupid Desis- especially those of us wot didn't go to Harrow or Cambridge- why only posh people can make History.  Now Bananaji helps us fill in the blanks by explaining that that no community we can imagine ourselves part of is capable of learning effects- it is mere seriality- so, it's coz u r real stupid and probably not posh at all that u thought us Hindus had come a long way in terms of not burning widows and balking at crossing the black water coz we r too capable of collective learning effects and positive 'psychic capital' accumulation- I mean, isn't it a remarkable fact that we can now get along to the extent that erudite  Iyers like myself no longer routinely try to eat Bengalis, mistaking them for a type of aubergine, or ride Punjabis in the belief that they are a superior variety of donkey?
For which I personally blame David Cameron.
That boy ain't right.
Mind it kindly.

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