1. Of what does financial abstraction consist?
Bifo: I call this the conjunction of financial automation that subjugates real life and production, emptying them of energy and political power.
2. In what sense does financial abstraction empty political power?
Bifo: It is something very obvious that we have all understood in recent years: the institutions of political democracy cannot do anything against the priority of abstract finance. The downfall of the Greek prime minister, Georgios Papandreu, the same day that he proposed a referendum on the European Central Bank’s “plan of help” for the Greek state in 2011 was the final declaration of the annulment of democracy on the European continent. The humanistic and enlightenment traditions were also swept aside in a stroke that same day.
Bifo: Humanism is essentially the movement whereby human will emancipates itself from divine tutelage. On the one hand, the Enlightenment proclaims the superiority of Reason and of the Law over the force of the “animal spirits” of economic egoism. Well then, God is back, the higher power of the divine over human will returns, but now in the form of finance capitalism. Laws do not have any force against the global circulation of financial algorithms, nor before the deterritorialized power of global businesses.
4. But has it not always been so in the history of capitalism? Why is this unique?
I believe that the financial class is distinct from the class that in the modern centuries we have know as the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie enriched themselves thanks to the exploitation of the working class, but also thanks to the production of goods used for social life. It is a class that accumulates surplus value through a process of production of useful goods. Without a doubt, the financial class – or rather, the conjunction of financial automations – enrich themselves through the destruction of productive value, through privatization of the commons. The capital gain of the financiers is a negative value from the social point of view.
On the other hand, the bourgeoisie had a strong citizen territorialization, while the financial class is a class totally deterritorialized, incapable of identifying themselves with any specific location.