Happy Mortal

This life, well-lived.

Frozen Credit Markets: Dragons to Blame?

What do dragons and the frozen credit market have in common? A lot. Maybe. Just tag along with the analogy for the moment, I think it ends up revealing interesting qualities of capitalism and the standing reserve.

The deal is this. Dragons don’t like to spend money. What do dragons like? Pillaging, burning villages; eating toasty, roasted knights in shining armor; amassing large piles of gold, jewels, crowns, your basic treasure collection. Now, Reaganomics suggests that this treasure is like clouds. Once the dragon’s horde is big enough, coins start to form like moisture and rain down on the poor, disenfranchised villagers.

Here’s the rub. The purpose of a dragon’s treasure (aka standing reserve) is most certainly not market liquidity. The dragon has no interest in spending the mass of capital. This is the unconscious neuroticism of Western Capitalism: capital is not a means to an end, it is an end in itself. Capitalism (big “C” Capitalism, note I am not talking about the simple fact that human beings work and consume) is a posture of transformation. The often unspoken point of it all is to transform resource to capital. It is worth noting that this posture is preceded by a way of seeing: the world as resource.

That’s the analogy–the gaints of capitalism are like dragons. It is not their nature to liquidate their resources. In fact, because Capital is an end in itself, these giants have no resources, only standing reserve. Standing reserve is not for spending, it is for having. There is no economic purpose to the standing reserve. It is a neurotic posture that stems from our antagonistic relationship toward the world. In short, it is a misappropriated fear of death.


  1. Boy you’ve got it bad. If a person has a million dollar house, they bought it from someone or they paid someone to build it for them. That money is in circulation. If a person has a couple of million in the bank, it’s available for the bank to lend to somne poor deserving person. Anything that the rich man hoards he has purchased from somone that money is in circulation.

  2. The Reaganomics trickle down effect has not proven itself a useful theory for our society. The wealthy only represent approximately 5%-7% of our society. It is the middle class that is more likely to purchase more good and supplies since they represent the largest mass of the population, thus stimulating the economy. They should be the ones who have the tax break, not the wealthy. History has shown that having a 2 class society is not good for the people and does not bode well for the rich. We are quickly becoming a 2 class society, the “haves” and the “have-nots”.

  3. That would be true if the desire to accumulate wealth was transparent. It’s not. Let me go a little deeper than economics for a moment. Heidegger appropriately parses Nietzsche’s will to power as the circular effort to secure and enhance. If you are without shelter your first effort is to secure shelter, once secured, your effort translates to enhancement–and so on and so forth. It continues ad nauseum.

    But there is a wrench in the system. The will to power is a misappropriated drive–i.e. neurotic–in that while on the surface it is the rational effort to secure and enhance, underneath, it is the drive to avoid death. This is why the construction of Heidegger’s standing reserve is so insidious. It is a neurotic desire to avoid death, and ironically, by absolutising the effort, it makes it harder and harder to live.

    So, if, as you say, it was a simple matter of economics, then the rich circulate wealth. As it is, the effort to accumulate has little to do with a desire to spend (circulate). It has everything to do with a neurotic desire to avoid/suspend death.

    The dragon metaphor still stands.

  4. Well spoken. We would all do well to realize that our well-being depends on those around us.