Tuesday, 14 July 2015

24. Creditors v creators: matriarchy, patriarchy and then... the almost happy ending

What on earth links the responsibility of a creditor with concepts of matriarchy and patriarchy?? The short answer is the creation and extension of dependency. 

If you got it by now, you can stop reading, because what comes next is the long answer which I'm not so sure clarifies the topic any further. 

This entire entry will focus on the problem of the creditor and its responsibility to make a deal of equals as very closely related to the problem of parenthood and the patriarchy stage in which we are all immersed in. With this I don't mean to say that the debtor is not responsible for their part. But the debt crisis is the "approved narrative" that gets repeated and goes on unquestioned.

Looking down on the debtor: the guilty one

I find this article in The Independent "Greece referendum: the Monty Python sketch that (sort of) explains the Greek debt crisis" very interesting in many ways. I'll pick upon one of the minor comments it makes: 

One of the key economic ideas in German philosophy — and, to be fair, that of other cultures as well — was that there was something unnatural about debt, indeed immoral. The German word schuld means both debt and guilt. As Foreign Affairs pointed out this year, one of Nietzsche's big works looked at the relationship between shame and debt. "In On the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche looked back to the 'oldest and most primitive' personal relationship between creditor and debtor as the origin of how 'one person first measured himself against another,'" author Kenneth Dyson wrote.
When we look at debts, the cultural narrative (not the pure economic one) points out at the debtor as the one that is inferior, the guilty, the one that "needs", that can't provide for himself and owes. It is the creditor's narrative, which will always exclude itself and its behaviour of lending too much and thus creating debt as means of creating dependency instead of being a genuine investment. Watch Ann Pettifor Interview by the Renegade Economist.

Beyond this, when a language shares the same word for debt and guilt, we should reflect on how this language construction affects the way we perceive and build our inner narrative, the one that explains the world. At the end of the day, a word is a brick.

(What follows is a big leap, but bear with me, it will all come together at the end).

Matriarchy, Patriarchy and then...

When thinking about dependency, we should think at the oldest, most primitive personal relationships of dependence: the matriarchy. Here I need to clarify that I consider myself a feminist and the matriarchy a stage on the individuation process, as much it is the patriarchy, even if the latter comes with a heavy bill for women to bear.

First, the matriarchy
Since we are in our mothers wombs we are fused to their psyches. From the moment we are born, a long process of individuation starts: the one in which we slowly realise we are our own person and are free to make our own decisions and to write our own history. But it takes some time. For the first years of our lives, our mothers organise with their words our consciousness, with their silences and disapproval, our shadow. Her narrative (even if it is patriarchal script) is the virtual womb in which we are immersed until we are born out of it by recognising it as foreign.
During these first years, she provides food, comfort, attention. We are dependent and she has the power. This is the matriarchal stage. Eden. 
During this stage, she is perfect to our eyes. This is "the reign of the perfect mother". 
But of course, the mother is not perfect and we need to be born out of the matriarchy to develop our own independence to become free.

Then, the patriarchy
At this point the perfect mother dies. The patriarchy kills the mother (the good mother). 
God expels us from Eden. We fall. 
In almost every fairy tale, the real story begins when the "good mother" dies because this is the beginning of the hero's story, when we have to learn to make decisions and earn our bread. We cannot separate ourselves from the good mother and that's why this false perception of perfection has to die. We need to challenge the narrative we have received from her so we can build our own.
In fairy tales, the good mother and the stepmother (or witch) are two halves of the same person. When the good mother dies we start to see our mother's shadow, the side she does not acknowledge of herself: the stepmother (not completely emotionally invested) or the witch (eating children, a narcissist "feeding" from children). In this demonisation, we find the strength to destroy some of the things we have inherited and are not ours or are not useful to us. Up to this point, fused to our mother's psyche, we could not see this shadow because our mother was blind to it. If she could not see it, neither could we. The fact that we start to see it, is a sign that we are becoming independent.

This stage is the patriarchy, because a father figure is the one the invite us to go outside the world of mum and penetrate the external world. During the patriarchal stage (which is by no means the final one), we need to learn four main things:
-Listen to our instinct 
-Re arrange our unconscious world, our beliefs 
-Feed ourselves (our basic needs... you shall earn your bread)
-Learn to use our resources through the development of self-discipline and self-mastery
Basically, to become independent.

(all these steps tend to appear in stories as animals talking, Goddess guiding the hero, princesses doing a lot of cleaning up, battling evil forces, finding food in the forest, etc).

When a princess marries a prince at the end of the story it has little to do with "only a man can rescue a woman". It is in fact the princess integrating her masculine side, the one that allows her to focus her energy and with a sword cut the dependency with the evil stepmother.
But of course, the mother is NOT evil. And the father is also castrating figure and we need to be born out of his narrativewhich is blind to its own shadow too. We need to integrate the father role by being able to build our own structures instead of depending of external ones.

And finally... the almost happy ending
Of course here comes the happy ending for the hero. We did our hero's journey: "we loved, we hated and we became". And we are all at the verge of the end of the patriarchy.

But this entry was about the creditor's point of view. The step-mother and the King in our fairy tale. What happens when they see the empty nest? Do they know how to create again? What's their own mission and purpose? Do they remember how to feed themselves? 

Patriarchal inertia - Creditors v creators

For a while, there is a patriarchal inertia that will try to extend dependency through debts. A king needs feudalism and the rentier economy to feed from. Or else, it will empty the coffers. It will keep on demonising and disempowering anything considered social (maternal), citizens and democracies (accusing any policy of populist if it works in their interest), and crashing start-ups and entrepreneurs, that if left unchecked will destroy countries. Mothers under patriarchy (and states under current thinking) are left lost, disconnected, not knowing where to feed from (austerity, austerity). The patriarchs (bankers, insurance companies, hedge funds, private equity firms, big corporations) will pass a bill to the next generation, to the children

These creditors create a unpayable debt to extend a state of dependency and avoid addressing their own emptiness. This is not "conspiratorial" thinking. It's mostly survival behaviour, that in some cases turns into predatorial eg Hedge Funds arguing in favour of sacking teachers and close schools in Puerto Rico to avoid a default that would affect them. This behaviour is only possible within a particular structure of institutional and social order. I said before: The creditor's narrative will always exclude the creditor and its behaviour of lending too much and thus creating debt as means of creating dependency and concentrating power instead of being a genuine investment, with its rewards and its risks I should add

Blue scream - Survivor series
Jaco Van Der Vaart
The first problem with this creditor is that does not know how to create himself. Does not know his own purpose. He depends on extraction of wealth or others creating for him. He has the resources but in reality does not know how to use them or what for. The liberal tragedy is that it fought to become independent from the monarchy, only to concentrate as much wealth as the monarchy and start to behave similarly: unquestionable, with some sort of divine right.
These creditors do not lend to equals. They need "empty" people fearing for their survival to capitulate their power: 

  • a robot/slave (the one that does not think for itself and follows orders), 
  • a "prostitute"/a corrupt (the one that sells him/herself to survive), 
  • a coward (the one that fears the fight/cutting the dependency), 
  • a child (the one that is/feels dependent).

The second problem is that this creditor does not assume the responsibility nor the risk (s)he tookDuring the development of capitalism, there were many steps taken to lower the risk of investment in order to encourage it (Societies with limited responsibility were created, the figure of stake holders that can own stakes only for minutes, isolated bankers etc). In the case of Greece, they were able to issue debt at the same rate as Germany (even if the difference of strength of the economy was always big), because banks assumed Germany would bail out Greece, should it ever defaulted.

It's what Zizec described as the age when we want a soft drink without sugar, bier without alcohol, love without the fall and -I would add- sex without children and investment with no risk. But we reached a point where responsibility is almost out of the picture entirely, producing a social fracture. Watch Gillian Tett interview by Renegade Economist.  

The third issue is that they are unable to see their own emptiness (or insolvency).

Translation: The blue child (by Rep)/ Hole / The temptation of falling into the hole / But who was the first to fall into the hole? / The hole.
Blog de Rep: NIÑO AZUL

The true economist knows this. They know that sometimes creditors lend too much and borrowers take too much. Debts must be restructured with a clean cut, insolvent banks need to fail as it was done many times before
But we are not looking at economic issues with economic lenses. We are looking at them with cultural narratives that are passed on with trans-generational codes that are castrating the next generations and their ability to be and create for themselves. 

At this stage the narrative must be reversed: we need to stop speaking about debt crisis and start to speak about the lending crisis and the issue of lending as a false production.

Only speaking about the lending issue will turn the mirror to the narrator which will enable us to make progress.


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