Towards a Common Ethical Platform against Casino Capitalism

-Restate Human Security, Human Development,
and Human Rights Coopted by Gamblers-

Kinhide Mushakoji

"Greed and Fear are the two human emotions
most evident in the day-to-day behaviour of
the international financial system today.
Mad Money is the result."
Susan Strange

Casino Capitalism is irrational, led by fear and greed of a few, leading to insecurity and impoverishment of many. It is, therefore, basically anti-social and unethical. It profits a small group of financial agents who are engaged in the global 'mega-competition' . It intimidates States, who are unable even if they wanted, to be 'welfare Stetes', since they have to play the role of 'welcome States' inviting in foreign capital who agree to come in only when the will of the financial market support their investment. More generally, the Casino Capitalism affects the state of mind of all who participate in it, or who live under its volatile rule. People are made insensitive to the loss of human security of all classes and social categories exploited by or excluded from the Casino Capitalist 'mega- competition'. Essential social justice is overlooked by the Casino Capitalism, which neo-liberal belief justifies any 'bet' provided that it is profitable to the gambler.

Casino Capitalism is turning the production economy into a speculative system of commodities which are treated as 'bets', as 'guarantee' and as 'paiment'. It affects production which 'fundamentals' do not limit the range of market fluctuation as it did before. It orients investment not where it promotes production but where the expected financial gain is maximized. The workers and the consumers involved in the production/consumption process live under constant threat to loose their jobs and their capacity to purchase subsistence goods, by the volatile financial process which changes, overnight, the patterns of the redistributing of the surplus in the global economy. The technocrats, in banks, States, and international institutions, are unable to understand and control the turbulent Casino Capitalism since they can not understand the irrational effects of greed and fear on the fluctuations of Casino Capitalism. This adds to the problem, both by letting loose the gamblers, and by leaving without any protective regulatory mechanism the citizens, whose means to survive is limited, and often force them to choose between joining the informal sectors, the criminal organizations, or the 'rebels'.

The Casino Capitalism is, thus, fundamentally unethical, both socially and psychologically. Socially, the above-mentioned maldistribution and insecurity accompanying it are unacceptable consequences of neo-liberal 'economic development' on human development and human security. Psychologically, the speculative culture of the Casinos is propagated by the global media, and creates a culture of fear and greed. This global Casino culture, is in a sense, a counter-culture of the oppressive rational technocratic culture which tries to escape from the indoctrination and surveillance of the well-planned technocratic global order. For many of the citizens docile participants of the public and the corporate structures, it is a psychological necessity to find an outlet for their suppressed identities, and a free space where they can express freely their greed and their fear in the world Casinos. This irrational Casino culture allows everybody to seek wealth not through hard work but through gambling. This irrational reaction to technocratic regimentation takes often an anti-social form, easily linked to racism and other forms of discrimination as an escape from technocratic rationality. Such escape leads sometime to the transnational organized crime.

The Casino Culture is, in this way, an informal complement of the official technocratic culture. It is based on fear and greed, two 'irrational' and therefore 'illegitimate' factors constantly occluded by the formal technocratic culture. Fear and greed motivates the speculative activities of the 'hedge fund' actors, and spread over the Casino. It spreads, further, to all the social strata influenced by the global media. In this way, fear and greed are the cause and consequence of Casino Capitalism producing and reproducing the Casino Culture.

Casino Capitalism generates a funny kind of democracy. The will of the people is faithfully reflected in the economic decisions and the political and social policies informed by these economic decisions. The will of the people, however emanates from the Casinos, not from the people of the country concerned. The Casino democracy reflects faithfully the will of the people in the Wall Street, in the City, or in Kabuto-cho. The 'hedge fund' and their collaborators, rule the globe, not only by their 'bull' or 'bear' decisions, but also by forcing all States, big and small, to take measures not in terms of the will of their citizens, but of the Casino players whose will affects theireconomic viability and therefore has to be constantly taken into account. As the faithful subjects of absolute monarch did, the States have to read the mood of the Monarch 'Casino' and prevent his will in any decision they take.

Casino Capitalism integrates transnational criminals into its mega-competition. The official technocratic culture treats the Casino Capitalism as a legitimate legal and rational economic activity, and therefore misses completely its deep roots of fear and greed, which make the transnational criminal actors the hidden partners of political and business leaders, under the cover of anti-criminal regulations. Consequently, all the measures they take to combat crime are only band-aid measures without true effects. They take apparently drastic policies to fight transnational organized crime which is becoming a strong competitor for the welcome States. They take anti-criminal measures while welcoming them informally, in view of mutual services including bribery and financial transaction of laundered money. Their interaction with the criminal sector of the Casino economy is not based on any criminal intention. It is only a rational move to increase their competitive power. To control transnational criminal agents so that they do not become too strong competitors, but treat them as competing partners in the global game of mega-competition is not at all a contradictory policy. The global sex industry, regulated but tollerated, is a good case of this ambivalent connivance.

Casino Capitalism generates as its complement a global military/police security system, often in the name of 'human security'. The Casino Capitalism needs to minimize investment risks and maximize global financial security. The financial market is fond of democracy and human rights. This is not because of its ethical preference but because the various conflicts and interventions in the name of democracy and human rights, and now in the name of 'human security',publicized by global media intensifying global opinion fluctuations, bring to the global financial markets an ideal pretext for speculative activities. Democracy and human rights, human development and human security and other such values supported by the international civil society is in this way coopted, commercialized and made into objects on which to bet. The recent cases of such commodification of human righst can be found in the financial market quick reactions to Kosovo and East Timor. To be fair, however, we must admit the fact that the Casino Capitalism is not only commodifying these values. It needs to promote democracy and human rights, human security and human development, as well as other civil values to the extent that they help reduce the 'country risks' in different 'undemocratic' countries where the Casino Capitalism operates. This is the reason that a 'new Constitutionalism' is supported by the 'industrial democracies' under the U.S. hegemony. More generally, all forms of terrorism, illegal migration, and other factor of disturbance to the Global Casino Order are made the object of tight surveillance, control and punishment.

In spite of this pseudo-ethical aspect of the Casino Capitalism which use ethical values as objects of their greed and tool for their fear reduction, This Capitalism is devoid of any genuine ethical concern, since the global speculative competition is based on unethical principle that winning justifies anything. It is crucial for the humankind to develop a countervailing force which fights against the unethical commodification of ethics by the Casino Capitalism. Otherwise, this Capitalism will develop further this unethical global civilization based on fear and greed, which birth has been accompanied by the Asian Financial Crisis, This is why it is essential, at this turn of the Century, to build a broad-based alliance of all the social forces which want to fight back against the unethical and demoralizing forces backing the Casino Economy, and to reaffirm the true nature of democracy, human rights, human security and human development, and all other values coopted and distorted by the Gamblers in the Global Casino. A common front based on shared interests in not being commodified, exploited or excluded, and on shared values of democratization, human rights, human security and human development, should be organized. Such common front requires that the labour unions and the civil movements join hands with all the peoples' movements organized by the social categories victimized by the Casino Capitalism, the feminist movements, the movements of the 'poor', the indigenous peoples' movements, the movements against Dhalit, Buraku and other status discriminations, the migrant workers' movements, the ethnic self determination movements, the religious minority movements, and so many other movements of the excluded peoples. Such alliance has to be global since the Casino Capitalism is supported by a global hegemonic alliance. It has to be based on an ethical resolution to change the course of history towards a more just and equitable world. Human rights, hguman security, and human development should be unambiously interpreted 'for the last child walking on this Earth' as Ghadiji has stated, not for the affluent gamblers who make unbearable misuse of these values.

Facing the Casino Capitalism, we must also be ready to gamble. Our gamble, however, should not commodify others. We must gamble on the possibility to build an alternative world order which does not commodify women and men, nature, and money. The different social forces joining the global alliance fighting Casino Capitalism will be composed by a variety of groups with different interests and experiences. Each will have a different vision on the preferable alternative future. The search for a common vision about an alternative to the Neo-Liberal Casino Capitalism will not be easy. Only a strong ethical sense of urgency supported by a common sense about the present historical crisis will enable us to surmount our short-term divergencies between unions and NGOs, organized and unorganized minorities, etc..

To define the targets of our immediate common action is easier. We want to oppose the greed and fear which animate Casino Capitalism. We must agree, to begin, on a common platform about the regulation mechanisms against 'greed' which must be established on the national, regional and international levels. Such mechanisms will have to include restrictions on capital mobility, taxation on speculatory earnings, guidelines on business practices, etc..

Against the 'fear' at the basis of the Casino Capitalism. Our common platform should try to regulate the media and the ciber-communication which selective transmission of distorted reports cause unrealistic hopes and fears in the financial markets and among the general publics. It is necessary to build an ethics of accountability and transparency among the agents of government and of the corporate sectors. It is especially important to reduce the fear of the great majority of humankind which is used as bargaining chips, and whose sense of insecurity causes so many military conflicts, intensifying market fluctuations. The States claim to protect human security by exercising their power is an additional threat to human security, so long as it is exercised by welcome States under the influence of greed and fear, and incapable to understand the true sources of the insecurity of their citizens. These States try to prevent any disturbance of law and order through the tightening of surveillance, control and punishment. This approach to human security, which is only a justification of the States' attempt to guarantee Casino security, multiplies the sense of insecurity of those who are excluded from the Casino Capitalism, and are often listed on the black list of the States as potential disturbers. An alternative way to guarantee the security of the peoples, especially those vulnerable to the effects of the Casino economy, must be supported by all the social forces who join the anti-Casino global alliance. This is why a radical alternative to the use of the military and the police forces of the welcome States must be part of the commo platform.
The common platform has to be based on a commonly agreed set of ethical principles. We must conclude this paper by proposing with more precision what we mean by 'ethical'. We do not give to this term a Confucian meaning of moral precepts given by 'Heaven'. We rather use this term in the sense that Capitalism which had originally some ethical sense, a 'sense of sympathy' has lost it now that it reached its 'Casino' stage. The states who had an ethical sense when it was aiming at becoming a 'Welfare State' or a 'Social State' have lost it when they became 'Welcome States'. Now is the time when the old social movements like the Trade Unions, the new social movements, the civic movements, and the emerging social movements representing the social categories most exploited and excluded from the profits generated by the Casino Capitalism have to realise that they are the only hope for humankind to regain some amount of ethical commitment. Not the lip-service to democracy and human rights which covers the game of the Hegemony playing the game of Casino Capitalism, but an authentic commitment to the security, rights and the development of all the peoples of the world, especially of whoever is victim of commodification by the Casino Capitalism.

Such an ethical commitment can become the tie linking different movements alerting them to the fact that they form a common historical bloc. Such ethical common front is now emerging in different parts of the world. The new alliance of the 'poor' from Thailand to Brazil receives a broad support from the working classes and intellectuals. The People's Tribunals provide a place where the common ethical concern of different social interests is manifested. International movements like the CCC (Clean Cloth Campaign) are proposing a Code of Conduct to regulate the transnational corporate sector. An international campaign opposing MAI have shown the capacity of the international civil society to mobilize opinion.

In brief, Casino Capitalism calls for a radical ethical response from the concerned peoples of the world. To respond to its demoralizing effects requires that a remoralizing campaign be organized. The campaign should build a Peoples' Tribunal against the unethical practices of Casino Capiutalism. Alternatives proposed by different exploited and excluded groups should be the object of a global dialogue forum. A radical answer to Casino Capitalism must be given. Radical, in the sense to go to the roots of the Casino world order, which is to take the point of view of all the women and men who call for justice around the world against the Casino Capitalism.