Ref. :  000033206
Date :  2010-04-21
Language :  English
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The Philosophy of the Crisis

A contribution to a theory of the Globalisation (1)

Author :  Endre Kiss


It might seem, that the exit of the Soviet empire, as well as Gorbatschow's renunciation of imperial, but also of the world ideology aspirations of the Soviet Union becomes the last fact, from our perspective, of the observable world history. This turn appeared as ultima ratio, which may always appear different, certainly, in the interpretations following on each other, which last world-historical validity of, speaking for them well, can however hardly lead to other processes, which may appear as more effective and crucial than this validity.

Undoubtedly, for the end of the first decade of the new millennium, this last fact of the history has certainly not lost its last validity, it seems however, that even this macroscopic event is not the last fact of universal-historical importance, it appears itself from always several perspectíves as a component of a still more extensive process. The shade of September 2008 projected itself on September 2001.

The outrageous abolition of the splitted world, the disappearance, like a flash of lightning, of ideological vocabularies make us aware today of the first developments of a new world, those of the vision of the selfdestructive society.

While the Gorbatschow's variant of the "end of the history" brought the moment of truth, first of all, for the system of the real socialism, the ironic attitude of the history also confronted the western world with new truths. The failure of the big opponent would have almost provoke, here and there, that the image of the western society be issued in this frame of the so long decisive bipolarity, which expressed so strongly the eternal and comforting superiority.

The immediate near past of the selfdestructive society was determined by the general good intention and by a confidence spread in the future, farther also from elements of a consensual humanism, which was partly composed of the communicative essence of the coming out affluent society, and partly of the generally become optimism, with regard to the power's overall solutions of the human rights neoliberalism. Under philosophic, let alone under ethical-moral aspects, these facts can be several times interpreted. The historical distance to these philosophical or ethical questions is, still today, not at all existing. It still belongs to the problems of the historical distance, that we ourselves want to use the notion and term of the selfdestructíve society as of neutral evaluation, while the attribute of a specific type of autodestruction is immanently contained in the structure of the global society(ies).

The true definition (and free of value and evaluation) of the selfdestructive society consists of a critical proportion of indebtedness of the state. This proportion keeps the economy from being able to pay the debts of the state itself in the most optimal "normal" conjunctural situation. Achill does not catch up the tortoise. This basic criterion constitutes the selfdestructíve society taken in the true sense of the notion, which predecessor was in the historical consequence of this affluent state, which got ready to take over, or to solve, at a high level of the civilization development, complex civilization and social tasks with the financial means and instruments of the state. In this condition, the notion of the selfdestruction means, that the state cannot face any more its own projects because of its inevitably arising indebtedness.

When in a coalmine due to not profitable production the work is stopped, no social autodestruction follows. If, however, the state at the already reached level of the social performances and the participation in the social reproduction gets out of the school- or healthsystems, the selfdestructive consequences become then structurally visible. It is cynic to characterize as a "reform" such a situation of getting out of the social reproduction, which became necessary due to the lack of efficiency in the concerned field, even if it happens every day. The promise (also entirely emphasized) according to which " depending from where the state gets out, the private capital will be involved ", is regarded as being absolutely naïve.

For these reasons, the always economic situation (and the statistics showing its current state) is not considered as the decisive information about the selfdestructíve society, this problem is however also not identical with the question of a usual economical recession. The recession can be replaced by an impetus, the autodestruction of a critically indebted society can be ejected by no impetus directly from its lane. It is hardly a "good" conceivable economy, which would have a real chance to solve immediately the problem of the critical national debt.

It may at no moment be forgotten, how this proportion of the state indebtedness has also specifically something to do with the globalisation. Both phenomena are not identical. There is national debt without globalisation, there might also be globalisation without any national debt. The globalisation brought however with itself, that the action field of the economy (above all, the one of the multinational groups) has hugely increased and put on its feet the specifically monetary concretisation of the global deep structures of an economy, in which the money could also function as the most important wares. This took off the carpet of the tangible evidence of the increasing national indebtedness still more intensely.

Under such circumstances, values are changing. Neither the state nor the society will be able to carry out and manage the reproduction at the level of the historic period of time even in the model case (and still less in the reality of the international relations, the international competition, the universal communication and the unequal contest). The various members of the society will always have more reduced possibilities to lead, with their own forces, their own destiny or the situation of the society to a better condition. The value-producing work does no longer determine in principle the social existence. The already accumulated civilisation and humanistic values are in such a situation not only not increased, the assurance of their survival usually already becomes a provocative problem.

The self-image and the identity of the state, of the bourgeois and of the intellectual is qualified under this aspect. Neither the state, nor the bourgeois or the individual have no longer the possibility to increase the existence of the genus values accumulated up to now. They consume these values, however, this period of the values' consumption does not last long, some time later they must start to destroy, withdraw, devaluate this survival of the accumulated genus values or at least to reduce publically and definitively their validity field. All participants, the modern state and the modern society co-included also see themselves confronted to a new situation.

The decisive side of this new dimension does not appear for fundamental reasons, i.e. not from the lack of equivalence with the reality of any fundamental expectations or tacit regulations. The decisive and, therefore, also dramatic side of this new situation is a consequence of an historical situation. Since the whole situation does not run out in the fact of the national debt, also not in the necessary other international, European, global and differently constituted other ramifications of this phenomenon. The decisive fact is, that in the continental development, it is not the communist, the fascist, the conservative or the liberal state (about the so-called. "prosperity state" – to leave totally untold), it is the one, that has taken the enormous load of the whole-social reproduction on itself, and that also still up today carries these responsibilities, but the one that, without any further attribute of modern European state, that has appropriated to itself, at least since Bismarck's time, this proportion of the whole-social reproduction.

An economical crisis, which breaks out at the world level aggravates again dramatically the global problematic of the state, or the permanent reproducing national indebtedness. This is a point, which shows this context maybe under a most of the time minimized aspect. A worldwide economical crisis (as the one which broke out in 2007-2008) is first, of course, the one of the global economy, which must be categorized essentially as a "private" economy (independently from the separate importance variants of this category under the current global conditions). The crisis is therefore, so trivially it may sound, essentially one of the private economy, which goes together with a lot of losses and disadvantages. These losses increase, however, the responsibilities of the state already indebted before the crisis. A crisis of the (world) economy is practically identical with a potent crisis of the (national) state.

This context manifests itself very saliently in the post-socialist world. Since these states (now strictly speaking of them as states) have had to solve two tasks fundamentally opposed to each other. On the one hand, it was their historical task to develop a solid working democratic system. On the other hand, they also had to try to reduce the multiple differences between this sphere and the Western Europe, when they had not to get also through gradually. The national indebtedness overwhelming this process from the beginning made the solution of these both tasks, opposed to each other, almost impossible. If we again include the consequences of the worldwide economical crisis, we then may require the metaphor according to which, the once already increased crisis of the state was once again increased, namely through the post-socialist factor. If the worldwide economical crisis puts the indebted state in every hemisphere in front of a multiplied proportion of challenges, this proportion, in the case of the post-socialist world may increase again. This situation designs the contours of a new focus of the condition humaine of the globalized world, the one of the social survival.

The emergence of the whole problematic of the social survival brings the development course of the post-socialist liberalism back to reality. As Michael Polányi emphasized it in the context of the 1956 Hungarian revolt, a post-socialist movement lets itself be interpreted necessarily (and not only in its own linguistic expression) as a second birth - even not a new birth of the democratic liberalism as a new historical quality. The line fitted into each other of " indebted state " - " post-communist double function " - "worldwide economical crisis" distorted critically this historical mission of the liberal second birth and distorts it still. Perhaps it is effectively so, that the magnificent swan of the world-historical second birth changed imperceptibly in the ugly duckling of Andersen's fairytale.

The moments of the national indebtedness, of the post-communist transition and of the worldwide economical crisis actualize equally the problematic of the modern state. The problematic of the state is not initially theoretical- presentist, i.e. its solution is not on the first line of a task for competing analyses about the best among all states. This whole problematic is in fact an historical one. To visualize it, the help of historical thinking is essentially necessary.
The present state, endangered by a triple increase, achieved the multiplication of its missions and legitimizations in the course of a century-old historical process. It collected tasks, functions, legitimizations with the help of which it played not only a crucial role in the modernization, but also practically could control almost the whole social reproduction. Once the hypertrophization of its functions revealed itself as a civilization event, we are not far from thinking today, that also its dismantling becomes a civilization event.
The long-term historical processes and the actual elements of the present analysis grow diversely into each other. So, we might say that the current worldwide economical crisis breaking out in 2007-2008 has only increased the inside tension of the global world with the indebted states. As it is generally just the case in the real processes, the crisis grows up from the same economical and financial processes, which have carried out the real history of the world becoming global together with the post-socialist transformation. Considering the real processes, the crisis is no independent phenomenon, rather a provisory end of a relatively unambiguous and rectilinear development. As it has still to be taken as subject of discussion, the current economical crisis raises that the economy, after a long trip in the virtuality on the ways of the divine money currents, lowered itself again on the earth.

The crisis is therefore finally only an increase of a long-term process, which lasted during the time of the whole history of the till then globalized world, without having been fully identical with this history. It means also, that the enormous change in the context of and in relation with the neoliberalism also then should have to be reflected and perceived, if eventually the worldwide economical crisis does not break out.

The crisis is then not the symptom of a structurally strongly charged global development, but - essentially - the continuation and the provisory end of this development, and as such, with all probability, still the introduction of a new independent phase of the global development.

After their world-historical victory, the neoliberalism stood as a regulator and Moviens of the global development only on the ideological-political world stage. As an hegemony, it became in the political consciousness identical with the whole of the economical social world system. As an hegemony, it embodies the mutation of the earlier liberalism and the dialectic of the earlier modern age. Straight as an hegemony, it cannot however also go past the necessity and responsibility of emphasizing the new forms of emancipation.

The lack of a new emancipation, even the lack of qualifiable efforts to emphasize new forms of emancipation are however not the single negative phenomena in the worldwide economical crisis of our days.

The new forms of the pseudo-emancipation are almost noticeable. They play then their role, which by no means must be underestimated, even in the current worldwide economical crisis. In this finance- and credit system crisis, the demand also became namely the focus of attention. This dimension can be identified in its core as a necessity of welfare and this need can be separated - hardly essentially - from the imitation of the original necessity of emancipation. We see therefore in the necessity of welfare an expression of a desire for emancipation, so inaccurately this identification under a deliberate aspect might also have been.

On the other hand, this necessity of welfare calls in the life for a proper welfare politics of the economy, of the politics and of the media. The dispatching financial politics of the governments stands here, on an almost matchless trivial point of view, at the first place. This necessity of welfare is one of the most relevant components of the populist politics of our days. The street image of poor countries is adorned by a lot of modern cars, which number has no relation with the corresponding statistic numbers of these countries. Worldwide, the press reports regularly on the consumption hysteria. The credit for a desired object of consumption is immediately accepted in the big shopping center.

In this type of consumption intoxication, a distorted form of the general need of emancipation can undoubtedly be recognized. Neither the media nor the politicians can be considered as responsible for the purchasing and credit panic phenomena under the conditions of the modern life world. The strength and the permanence of these phenomena stands apparently in no relation with growing dismissals and exclusions, rising prices and inflation figures. The short term desire for welfare and need fulfilment pushes the careful deliberations of the reality sense collectively aside.

Welfare need, welfare politics, welfare communication or welfare mediation change the life world quickly. Spaces for the society, for the community or also the work (!) are transformed into spaces forthe welfare acquisition. Leading sport events become multi-functional cults, which generate enormous collective welfare by each football victory and call for the immediate need for festivals and carnivals. If we accept, the current economic crisis is a crisis of the credit system, so we must add, that there were from welfare hunger driven families and individuals, who took these credits, also if their financial situation would not have allowed it.

As far as the historical distance is concerned, appears this welfare need as to be a concomitant phenomenon of a world-historical transition, a transition of a general prosperity which leads to a general distress, even poverty. The consciousness form of a consumption attitude without any real and continuous consumption seems to fit into the here opening gap. So, the worldwide economical crisis arouses since 2007-2008 not only economical-philosophical or democracy-theoretical, but also value-philosophical problems.

The line "globalization with indebted states" - "post-communist Transition" - "worldwide economical crisis" distinguishes a line, which carries out, as natural, a challenge for new analyses. The analysis and the reactions to this situation are distinct according to separate big global poles.

In the analysis, the supremacy of the short term action is for the USA simultaneously characteristic. Even the unsuccessful George W. Bush is in his place on this line. Behind this strategy, stands a society of the evidence of the unchangingness of the ways of life and the conviction of the optimality of peculiar access means. The relevant question and challenge is for America the changeover to long-term thinking, which is compatible with the immanent long-term of the new historical phase introduced by the new crisis. The real difficulty for the USA is certainly not the intellectual or psychological side of this potential changeover, rather the absolutely pragmatic moment, that the USA raised and raise as constantly clear advantages just from the short-term of their politics. The continuation or non-continuation of certain lines could be subordinated here to the short-term current situations. To maintain a continuity or to interrupt it, the freedom granted an above-average freedom of movement.

China's strategy deviates fundamentally from this model. Its interpretation is unanimous, if not completely secret, its acts are long term ones, its strategy seems, also in the coming historical phase, to be consistent and coherent. The immanent long-term experiments with a combination of isolation and expansion. Therefore, appears a certain probability that the present crisis and the following historical phase will not concern relevantly China. The chance of the selfdeclaration of the objectives is thereby granted for China.

The mediation system of the analysis of the situation and the historical action appears again different in Europe. The European analysis of the situation does rather not exist in a well articulated and relatively directly perceptible way. Europe gives answer to the crisis like to any challenge with the password "Europe", not noticing that this call already acts tautologically. The functional-bureaucratic existence way continues, Europe tells Europe, that new ideas and criteria do not appear, while, besides, the fundamental and already as an eternally outstanding legitimization of Europe also erode. The current crisis generates the question with elementary force, that a Europe, not able to reach the first line of the global world,cannot protect its population against the distress of the present disorder.

The economical core of the current crisis is the landing of the economy on the earth, the rendez-vous of the "normal" bank with the "normal" customers (who have been led in many cases by the welfare propaganda of the welfare need). This is, among other things, also a chapter in the very complicated history of the duality "virtual money economy - real economy".
In the colloquial language, the designation "crisis" is not inappropriate. Generally, however also theoretically, it is assumed that, in the globalization the border between "normality" and "crisis" is much too fluenter than in every earlier period. Purely theoretically, the global imbricated worldwide economy is never in the crisis : for what appears here as a crisis, appears on the other side as a normal redispatching of resources. We must of course make a distinction from the theoretical model and the social reality, we must however never forget, that even the semantics of the crisis became different in the globalization.

For the world-political and world-economical reality, it is not certainly without interest, that in the USA today banks also get help from the government. This can however not be also considered as a theoretical criterion of the worldwide economical crisis, since also in this context "crisis" and "normality" stand in another relation than in the preglobal world, in which the crisis was related, in this point of view, to an historical subject (the USA or Europe). Such an excellent perspective does however not exist in a seriously considered globalization. Anyhow, it is absolutely relevant which importance we ascribe to the "subject" of the crisis, about which the crisis can become a topic of discussion.

Certainly, we could even still reverse this logic of crisis. Instead of as a "crisis", we could just put the current situation as a "normality", while we clearly underline, that it is possibly just the "normality of the specific global relations", that the self-regulating power of the markets can no longer realize its huge capacity.

By the landing on the earth of the virtual world economy, we can still perceive another experience. The society, to which this near-earth economy with transactions between bank credits and young married couples returns, is no longer this society, which finally the lofty thoughts of the global virtuality began from. This society lives and does not act any more as approximately two decades ago. The active welfare need is only an example of it.

The economical system reacts however in a different way than two decades ago.The monetary globalisation (in the colloquial language: the structure of the neoliberalism) has not only reprobated every intervention, which wanted to stimulate the economy, the growth or the consumption, already the pure idea of the acceleration of the economy released a sane indignation against deviations. Today, the anglo-saxon countries are the not unegoistic pioneers of the state intervention for the rehabilitation of the peculiar economy. A dialectic of the neoliberalism can start, in the core of which a new notion of the survival will possibly appear.


(1) This lecture is based on the results of a many years research work. See about that point the references with informations on the specializedl literature : www.pointernet.pds.hu/kissendre


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