Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Capitalism is a SERIOUS joke.

Anna Tsing's Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection presents an interesting account of the problems that arise due to the 'friction' surrounding the rainforests of Indonesia. One of the most fascinating annectdotes in her work is the narrative and history Bre-X, the Canadian mining company who conjured spectacular amounts of capital on just a promise. This promise, a spectacle engaged on the scale of the globe resulted in a process that Tsing Defines as Spectacular Accumulation. Tsing exposes the terrifying notion of this mode capitalism. She states, "Spectacular accumulation occurs when investors speculate on a product that may or may not exist. Investors are looking for the appearance of success. They cannot afford to find out if the product is solid; by then their chances for profit will be gone...economic performance is conjured dramatically" (75).
While this model is extremely helpful in addressing the task of reconstituting the terms of the global and globalization away from a "conflict" or "clash" of cultures towards "friction" her diagrams do not. These serious but joking diagrams make this reconstitution nothing more than a serious joke. In attempting to play away from some absolute declaration, this step causes the argument to be opened to unnecessary weakness. I am not entirely sure if we are to take her work seriously. But who am I even joking...

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