The market is all of us

Image: Mike Chai


The powerful discourse about the “market” works as a soft power to determine the political and economic destinies of society

Taking the part for the whole or the whole for the part can be responsible for semantic changes in words. This could be a common linguistic move, a planned discursive strategy, or both possibilities. The market, a concept in economic sciences and a fact of everyday reality, comprises the set of exchanges of goods and services and the physical and virtual environments that ensure them. The financial market is a tiny part of the whole that is the market and, for technical reasons, the expression “financial market” should not be simplified to “market”. There is no naiveté in this simplification.

The expression “financial market” does not enjoy the same neutrality as the term “market”, therefore, whenever it is convenient for an agent, simplification is used to promote the financial market. The needs of financial market agents are conveyed as the voice and feeling of the “market”, thus another modification is operated by the personification of the financial market. In this way, market agents or their representatives set up a scene that makes it difficult to distinguish between the ventriloquist and his puppet and announce everything that the “market” wants. Thus, this new “market” entity, the result of simplification and personification, no longer has any relationship with the economic sciences, but with the restricted interests of financial capital.

The powerful discourse about the “market” works as a soft power to determine the political and economic destinies of society. However, this is not the only strategy to promote discourse about the market. To be hegemonic, this discourse needs to be reproduced in all social strata. Two different events contributed to the hegemony of this discursive practice: (a) the explosion of financial products that reach almost every consumer; (b) the expansion of the concept of entrepreneur, which now also includes any individual entrepreneur.

The granularity of financial products glues the fate of the “investor” to the fate of the financial market. The hidden premise is “Anything that threatens the market, threatens those who benefit from it”. This unites the owner of a share on the stock exchange and the owner of billions of shares, for example. The reflection that the financial gain of (nano)investors is insignificant in relation to the deterioration of the public space, when the financial market is prioritized, is never provoked. Collapse of the collective is an acceptable risk on behalf of the “market”.

The expansion of the entrepreneur category reduces the old contraposition of capital versus labor. Between those who owned money and the means of production and those who had nothing but their workforce. The old discourse of class struggle was defeated within the field of discursive practices, becoming anachronistic. The reflection on who exploits and appropriates in relation to the work of (nano)entrepreneurs has not yet found a clear framework in which it can be transformed into a militant slogan, as was the one that called for union among the exploited.

The simplification of expression for the market, the personification of the market with the voice and feelings of its agents, the voluntary collaboration of those who lose a lot in the name of a small gain and the illusion of belonging to a privileged group in society form a solid ideological set of respect for the market as a supernatural entity that cannot be contradicted. This hegemonic thought block is what favors interpreting a fall in stocks or a rise in the dollar as caused by a specific attitude of a political agent and not as a speculative reaction by financial agents.

Hegemonic discourses are those that dispense with any critical thinking because they reinforce, clone and co-opt all levels of society and all powers. There is an indoctrination that is reproduced everywhere. It's ubiquitous. To use the language of the movie The Matrix, to embrace the hegemonic discourse about the “market” is to choose blissful ignorance (the blue pill) that brings no apparent pain or sacrifice. The matrix world, built by market discourse, has been showing déjà vu and constant “mistakes” (for example, the financial crisis of 2007-2008) but it does not lose followers. It is a robust speech. This text is a failed resistance!

*José Machado Moita Neto is a retired professor at the Federal University of Piauí (UFPI) and a researcher at UFDPar.


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