All of these stories collectively pointed to the same thing: These banks, which already possess enormous power just by virtue of their financial holdings – in the United States, the top six banks, many of them the same names you see on the Libor and ISDAfix panels, own assets equivalent to 60 percent of the nation’s GDP – are beginning to realize the awesome possibilities for increased profit and political might that would come with colluding instead of competing. [...]
Rolling Stone goes on to say:
[...] Moreover, it’s increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system.
Now since 2008 and the worldwide credit crunch, it would seem we have all been in a partial state of a residual and low-level war of attrition: the Occupy movement has, for example, characterised it as being the 99 percent lorded over – even literally “occupied” – by the 1 percent. Some evidence would perhaps suggest that the top band is rather wider: let’s say the top 6 percent are actually represented by our current political actors. No matter: whether 1 percent or 6 percent, the result is the same for the vast majority of the rest of us. As Rolling Stone underlines:
If true, that would leave us living in an era of undisguised, real-world conspiracy, in which the prices of currencies, commodities like gold and silver, even interest rates and the value of money itself, can be and may already have been dictated from above. And those who are doing it can get away with it. Forget the Illuminati – this is the real thing, and it’s no secret. You can stare right at it, anytime you want.
No wonder our current crop of politicians are looking to monetise our lives: they, and more importantly their sponsors, are clearly dab hands already at gaming the system in question. If life were anything else apart from money – you know, socially acceptable things like compassion, support, caring for and loving people – they’d be lost. But when it comes to crunching the numbers and doing the paperwork, these coldly clever souls – people able to argue in a court of law that nowhere in our laws, processes or procedures does an obligation for banking corporations to compete with each other figure at all – are cruel intelligences capable even of taking our joyfully collaborative sides and corrupting them to such an extent that the act of collaboration once again means a cowardly and long-running war against freedom-loving human beings.
Collaboration under the regime of these 21st century fixers is clearly regaining its wartime connotations. And that they should dare to sully the name of free markets in their self-enriching objective to fiddle whilst the rest of us burn is something we should not accept – nor dismiss as a reality everyone suspected.
For in truth, we are all collaborators in this nightmare. We all must use and transform money to survive these days. And it’s precisely money whose functioning is (apparently) being rigged. So no. This is not Nazi-occupied Europe – but it is a world where we must collaborate on the terms of those who are gaming the system that rules our lives.
A land of conspiracy theories? Nah! Like a flock of birds which changes direction all on its lonesome, patterns that are convenient may operate out of self-interest, without any explicit communication or agreement between the parties. And I think, more generally, that’s really what’s happening here. Human beings are very clever at analysing the implications of such patterns. Have you never been at school, struggling with a mathematics exercise – answering the questions correctly without understanding why? This, then, I would suggest, is what we are getting here. That is to say, the massive and overarching skill of human intelligence to analyse a system and check out its weakest elements, without necessarily comprehending everything about the system itself. What we are being taught to interpret as evil loophole-avoiding is, in fact, what we are all qualified to do – and will do whenever we have the opportunity.
The avoiding of loopholes, the hacking of computer systems, the furious blogging and social-network persecution of inaccurately misleading government and political statements, the collusion of Libor rates, the colluding behaviours described by Rolling Stone … all of this, everything we are seeing today, is exactly what should make us proud of what we are as a species.
What’s wrong with what’s happening isn’t that these individuals have gamed the system. What’s wrong with what’s happening is that they’ve managed to game it against the needs of a much broader humanity. They are right to use the analytical tools they use: they are wrong to do with them what they have done. Our species is going to need these skills at gaming. For we will more than likely have to game nature quite shortly, if we are to survive another century.
What we need to engineer is not an avoidance of gaming. What we need to engineer is a gaming which benefits the 100 percent.
Wartime connotations? Nope. This is currently war itself. An internecine civil war where the powerful are destroying their own.
And that’s where we’re at, right now.
And that’s what we need to recognise.
The enemy is within, even as it flocks so admirably.