By Dr Tafataona Mahoso
IN the August 22 2014 instalment, the attempted but failed trashing of Zimbabwe to cause illegal regime change was shown through images of empty shelves; “border jumpers” scrambling for visas to white Anglo-Saxon states; heaps and heaps of mounting trash on our streets; and scores of purchased stooges of the white empire being paraded as Zimbabwe’s rare heroes and heroines and being showered with prizes, visas and gifts.
Through externally induced crisis, Madzimbahwe were being forced to escape into the arms of counterfeit heroes and heroines, and to embrace the regime change project.
In this instalment, I seek to show that the same economic and financial terror which produced the effects demonstrated on August 22 2014 has produced, through mass media and certain political and financial sector institutions, a counterfeit view and definition of the economy which Madzimbahwe again are forced to embrace as their last viable escape from crisis.
At the height of the African land reclamation movement the slogan was “Land is the economy; the economy is land.”
Later this was refined into a majority empowerment and indigenisation manifesto.
Now, through media-orchestrated threats of a repeat of the economic and financial terror of 2008-2009, Madzimbahwe are being forced to reduce and restrict their discussions of the economy and development to a pre-occupation and obsession with the interests and demands of finance capital.
This is the escape route being promoted, using the obvious deprivations and scarcities created through sanctions.
The counterfeit escape route being offered is called financialisation of the economy or simply financialism.
In all the media justifications of financialisation and financialismat the expense of the people’s economy, the events of 2008-2009 are blown out of size until they overshadow the entire history of free Zimbabwe from 1980 to-date.
In her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein paraphrases Jean Baudrillard’s The Power Inferno in order to underline the purpose of terror: to induce escape, the acceptance of a counterfeit route as a way out.
The usual media jargon is roadmap. According to Klein:
“Any strategy based on exploiting the window of opportunity opened by a traumatic shock relies heavily on the element of surprise.
A state of shock by definition is a moment when there is a gap between fast-moving events and the information that exists to explain them. (This is often called excess reality)… Pure event, raw reality unprocessed by story, narrative or anything that could bridge the gap between reality and understanding. Without a story we are … intensely vulnerable to those who are ready to take advantage of the chaos for their own ends.
As soon as we have a new narrative [our own story, our own explanation] that offers a perspective on the shocking [2007-2009] events, we become reoriented and the world [Zimbabwe] begins to make sense [our sense] once again.”
But before we can make that home-grown sense of what has happened as a result of the 2007-2009 financial terror, we must define the counterfeit “way out” which has been offered:Financialization and financialism.
In The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, David Korten defined the problem very well:
First, neoliberal capitalism hides behind the ideology of the market, but the last thing it can do is to tolerate real market forces, to obey market rules and subject itself to fair competition at market prices. In the case of Zimbabwe, illegal sanctions are one of the grossest forms of violation of market rules.
“The most advanced of neoliberal capitalism’s pathology is known as finance capital or finance capitalism. At this stage the ownership of capital becomes increasingly separated from its application to production as power shifts from entrepreneurs, inventors, and industrialists who are engaged in actual productive activity to financiers and rentiers who live solely from the income generated from the ownership of financial assets…”
In other words, the counterfeit escape route offered from the effects of illegal sanctions and from the financial terror of 2007-2008 is for us to accept without question the drive by global and local financial interests:
To redefine and conflate the Zimbabwe economy as synonymous with finance and financial interests.
To redefine finance and financial interests as drivers of economic policy rather than services for facilitating production by the productive sector and the people.
To spread the doctrine of financialism as an all-encompassing ideology which blinds the nation and its policy makers to the risks of financialisation.
To develop and refine dubious measurements and valuation strategies which misrepresent more and more of the total value of the economy and of economic activity in terms of speculative finance and financial services so that the finance sector emerges as the biggest, best paying and most important sector; and
Deliberately to hide and confuse the difference between productive investment which produces rooted wealth and extractive investment which makes money through speculation solely meant to establish claims on the real rooted wealth of the tangible economy.
One recent and direct result of the increasing power of financialisation and financialism is the creation of a neoliberal economics propaganda organisation called New World Wealth which in January 2014 published a document called Wealth Statistics in Africa.
The document tells an open lie in three ways:
It does not distinguish productive investment from extractive investment;
It does not distinguish rooted national capital from mobile speculative capital; and it uses meaningless aggregated values such as alleged wealth per capita, wealth per capita growth, alleged total wealth for each country, and alleged GDP per capita growth.
The effects of financialisation and financialism on Zimbabwe are demonstrated most graphically through the bankruptcy of business and economic reporting whereby:
The only “economists” and “economic analysts” who are recognized and quoted as such are those who work for or are associated with finance: banks, insurance, discount houses;
Debate on the need for a Zimbabwean national currency has been conducted mainly from the viewpoint of financial interests and not all sectors of the economy;
The supposed health of the banking sector is generalised to conclude that the rest of the national economy must also be healthy since banks seem to be ok; and
The alleged economic recovery in the third quarter of 2014 was solely based on small changes in the finance sector and on “investment flows” which are not differentiated between productive and extractive.
In future instalments I mean to demonstrate how economic and business reporting has fallen victim to financialisation and financialismand thereby lost sight of the whole economy and the whole people.
When banks and the few companies on the stock exchange take a position in the interest of a minority, it is assumed that the whole economy, the whole nation, has spoken.
Research such as that being done by Professor Ian Scoones on the land revolution is not normally used or cited in so-called “business sections” of the press which are now wholly given to financial speculation and financialisation.
What is often called urban bias in the media is a reflection of this problem.