In case you missed it, the financial market is currently in the midst of an internal spat. Redditors have taken collective action against hedge fund managers, for their conditioning of the market; hedge fund advocates have hypocritically accused the aforementioned action of being the real conditioning itself; Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz have temporarily united to put the blame on the actions of trading platform Robinhood; as for us anti-capitalists, we’re mostly just rubbing our hands together and grinning maniacally.
But in all seriousness, this saga provides ample exemplification of what we’ve been saying all along regarding the current contradictions and injustices of our financial system.
First and foremost, there’s the hedge fund question, and for this, I would humbly thank the redditors for calling attention to their malpractice. Shorting stock into oblivion, as was attempted with GameStop, is a deliberate attempt to sabotage a company’s financial situation, for the sake of profitability. Fair enough, GameStop isn’t the most crucial service of our generation, but the phenomenon isn’t just limited to the game retail industry.
The point is, tactically utilising private investment through such methods to manipulate the market shows the mercilessness of capital towards anything non-profitable. People who have the time and will to actively manage their money, and people who pay hedge fund managers to do it for them, may treat this all like a game of how the get the line charts to move in the direction that makes them more money, but with this game comes the power to destroy jobs, and wipe products or services from the market. Active speculators care about the short-term profits, and so the markets they go on to influence do too.
Then there’s Robinhood, and the US reaction to freezing GME (GameStop stock) trades. What an outrage it must be, the means of exchange siding with the hedge funds to sabotage the sabotage of the sabotaging! Yet it makes total sense they would do this – Robinhood earns their own profits by selling trading data to those very same hedge fund interests, so it’s little surprise that the profitable decision is to side with their real customers.
By all means, redditors and congress can get angry as they like at profiteering interests or private ownership of the means of exchange, that’s great, but they have to realise that this isn’t an anomaly. Through commodity fetishism and speculation, people influence the market for their own profiteering interests – and the more you are able to accumulate, the more one is able to increase that influence, and the cycle continues, at a faster and faster pace.
Owning capital is all about accumulation, some might say it’s only about accumulation. If you accumulate through a savings account with a bank, your interest probably originates from the exploitation practiced by whatever private enterprise has taken out a loan, in which a boss or CEO expropriates profits from production they did not participate in. If you accumulate through the stock market, the value of your stock is a consequence of the scale of capitalist expropriation; if you accumulate through bonds, your returns are a consequence of state capitalist expropriation. As hard as it may be for the capitalist to come to terms with, this is what makes your precious numbers go up and down in the way you like.
The whole gripe of the redditors and the US government is that they ultimately strive for an illogical, utopian capitalism, in which everyone has equal opportunity to accumulate and partake in private ownership. But they crucially don’t recognise that these practices themselves are what makes this ideal impossible, and that capitalism has never really been about the ideal – it’s always been simply a vehicle for fulfilling the interests of the capitalist.
Image: Moe_via Creative Commons