New York City, November 1, 2015
A naked trail, in the middle of autumn colors. In turn, the shades of yellow and brown distinctly separate Central Park from the buildings surrounding it. Palaces like this one, on the 75th Street where I live and from where I watch the marathon when I am in New York.
Standing in front of the large glass window of my apartment, I watch, while sipping a coffee. I can clearly see the finish line of the marathon from here. I already saw the first ones crossing it. Now it’s the time of the group of participants, a river of people flowing past the finish line. A compact river, well separated from the firsts. An ensemble that effort makes swing like a swarm. A herd of sweaty and gasping bodies. A worn-out herd. A multitude.
Around me, the minimal pieces of my furnishing. The game of symmetries between the floor lamps and the horizontal shapes of the long sofa. And the paintings I bought over the years. The conceptual art of Fontana, the landscape of Fragonard. The snow of Kabakow’s watercolors The numbered serigraphy of the first series of Escher Mill. It gives me some pleasure to be surrounded by these works of art and to watch the efforts of people wearing running shoes down there, between the two rows of spectators.
They have something classic in their senselessness. Those people will never win, they know it , yet each one of them continues to run. Forty-two kilometers. As Sisyphus on the mountain pushed a stone that would always roll back, so this crowd pushed its feet on a path that does not truly allow it to advance. An absurd effort, a useless aspiration toward something that cannot be reached. And it is just that I, ten floors above the road level, I see the world.
I, the most powerful man on the board, in the big bank. The man that looks at everything from above and that from the bottom cannot be seen. I, who move anonymous troops into invisible wars, a motionless engine of today.
“From here, I’m watching the struggle of those pathetic ants wearing a bib. As if they were characters out of a novel, as if I were the author who, from the last page, looks at their vicissitudes. From the privileged position at the final act of the story, and of History. I slightly tap the cup with my fingertips, almost as if I were playing the scales on a piano.
The distances down below, too big to be filled, remind me of other distances, other figures, other abysses. Such as the slogan that pits the 1% of the elite that owns the planet against the 99% of the human race. 99% of “those who are below”, as a Spanish tribune with hair too long says. This asymmetry, this relationship between the minority and the rest, between the top and the bottom, triggered images of rebellion, poured rivers of rivers, inspired brief prayers against social inequalities, animated the voices of daring opponents of the status quo. Down there, at the finish line of the marathon, someone raises his arms to the sky, while others have no strength to do it.
Those who occupied the Zuccotti Park acted against that 1%, and so did those in Europe who fought the austerity policies. Against that 1%, to denounce the iniquity, a French intellectual wrote hundreds of pages. With contempt, that 1% is called the “Wall Street party” I fill up my cup with coffee.
Those who speak about the 99% are like Beckett’s characters: they play with the possible, without implementing it. Also the Pope now speaks of the subversion of the multitudes. They do not even realize what it meant to find the path in the perfect storm a few years ago. Face to face with the abyss of the Great Crash in 2007, when the financial squares of the West trembled.
Of course we piloted public resources to save the banks. Of course, we contributed to destabilizing the budgets of States in Europe. Of course we increased the wealth of those who were already wealthy, to avoid the ultimate social implosion.
We have avoided the “barbarism” as some would have said. And we did it because there was no other choice. It was a brutal treatment for an acute desease It was the only way to get out of it. It is normal that there were collateral damages, bruises to be absorbed. I watch how the organization personnel work hard to make the marathon runners stream away. I watch people leaving Central Park.
The monetary policies, the QEs, were powerful drugs. But in Greek, “”drug” also means “poison”. And poison must be metabolized, otherwise it kills you. For this reason, the liquidity made available had to deposit somewhere in the body. And we chose the rich, that 1%. Because there it would have not caused any damage. The accumulation of wealth is “harmless”: it does not produce inflation, it does not shift balances, and it stimulates a “healthy” growth. This is the only possible development, the one that controls the crowds, preserving a miraculous balance
”Possible” does not exist, the best that one can get is “real”. There are “no other worlds”, the only one that is certain is that of the 1%. Beyond the boundaries of reality, only disaster and ruin exist.
That is why in here and now that we model there is no future, there is no movement, there is no entropy. Only an eternal winter that preserves the civilization under a blanket of ice. The only existence still granted to the West.
From the crowd, from the park, from the street, I lift my gaze to the skyline of New York. I reconquer the height. I walk through the skyscraper tops in the afternoon light. The ingenuity of the architects in the differenting their solutions is touching, their ability to draw that with which they dare to look at the sky. I till the cup and I slip. I look in front of me, with the perspective of those who sit on a pyramid that cannot be climbed up. The perfectly smooth surface does not offer any grip.
To put it upside down, the American dream has the shape of a funnel. The social lift does not exist anymore, it was replaced by this bottle neck where everyone dreams to go in. Only a few can do that. 3% of the acceptance rate at the universities of the Ivy League, for example, where the future network of contacts is sold off as a doctrine. Or that 1%, that mirage.
Skyscrapers, in their reflections and in their majesty, still inspire respect. It was worth to sacrifice the myth of social mobility, to empty the meaning of the land of opportunity formula. It was worth it because that 1% manifests its power anyway. And if there is still an American empire and an American hegemony, it is thanks to those like us.
Tens of meters below buildings, people approach the finish line of their race, or go through it. They check their race time, the time that interest them.
We redeveloped cities. We made the construction building as a social equalizer by definition. We found work for millions of blue collars. We turned metropolises into factories. We turned New York into a construction site. If the construction building stopped, the abyss would open, because the renovations are funded by that 1% that reinvests in the city. The rat race of the 1% creates work, while the rat race of the 99% of would create inflation. The fictitious capital we create must remain in controlled circuits. Houses, boats, villas, artworks: these are not bubbles that easily burst. And even if they burst, they make the least calculable damage.
I fill up my cup of coffee again.
Easy credits. The lie, the Clinton dream of house for everyone. The Illusions of the Democrats at the White House. That was the big fraud. If consumptions of that 99% are not controlled, the planet collapses. Between emissions and overheating, it would be the end. Everything would explode, yes this time everything would explode.
“1% knows how to be rich, it is used to” cannot cause damages through its wealth. Because it reinvents it to ensure political continuity.
I turn, I let my eyes glance over the walls. The shoulders turned to the large glass window of the living-room. In the middle between the work of Fontana and the landscape of Fragonard, I look at the smaller painting. We invest in art. Nothing is more ecological, clean and noble. The private relationship with a work of art is an experience that few people can understand. It is not so much about possession rather on lonely and reciprocal contemplation. The few, can.
I turn again toward the window. I look down and I seem to see someone in the street that raises his head and gets kissed by the sun. It seems to me, it is just an impression.. But the meaning of that gesture makes me think.
Once, raising the head was synonym of rebellion, today it is just an impotent desire. At the sides of the marathon route, people continue to move away. The real trap, the only guarantee of the existing, is people’s desire to access a higher level of consumption. This is the engine of everything. Ostentation of the luxury, gentrification of cities, art market: this is what gives rise to the desire, to ensure stability.. Desires no longer have no longer a liberatory value. The last magic of the Devils is to ease the desire of emulation.
I walk away from the glass-window and enter the room. I look at my paintings: the Fragonard, the deception of Escher, and the Fontana, and the perennial winter in Kabakov’s watercolor… I think about how much money they are worth. And then, I think of the rivers of paper money injected into the arteries of finance. Finance that has the task of maintaining the continuity of the system. Because incomes support an inextricable roll of strength lines and power relationships that must not dissolve. And it is just that 1% that ensures reinvestment. If the wealth were redistributed, it would destroy that thin balance, because fictitious capital never corresponds to real wealth.
I walk toward the smallest painting, the one between the Fontana and the Fragonard. The most precious among all the art works. When I am close enough to see the details, I stop. Enclosed there, there is a green rectangle, with the name of my country written in full. To the left, a pyramid surmounted by a supreme eye. To the right, the eagle that dominates the skies. A one-dollar ticket.
Fiat money is an abstraction, where the dollar replaced gold as a reserve asset. Without the centrality of the dollar, there would only be anarchy. It would be the collapse of our world. I have to bend a little to read the writing at the base of the pyramid: Novus Ordo Secolorum. With a hint of a smile I remaining kneeled.