Search This Blog

Monday, 14 November 2011

'Karl Marx would have made a fantastic hedge fund manager'

 At first glance you start to think that this is another example of one of them wacky titles that are just there to get attention and are completely devoid of any real substance. But then when you read it, you are pleasantly surprised by the heaps of common sense it makes.

Occupy London Stock Exchange protest

Activist-turned-financier Brett Scott argues that protesters can become more effective by educating themselves about finance. Recently he wrote an article called: Has the Occupy movement considered subverting global finance from within? In it he proposes that activists complement traditional forms of protest with a novel strategy he calls "impact anthropology". It involves, he wrote, "submerging oneself for the explicit purpose of internalising the rules and inner codes of the system you wish to impact. Gaining access allows one to obtain internal knowledge, and that leads to legitimacy within the system. This leads to an ability to create an impact."

 It's an intriguing idea: not to make the long march through the institutions to change the system from within, but to gain inside knowledge in order to target the system and influence the people in it from without. How would that work?

"I've discovered that in some senses there's this artificial dichotomy between 'bankers' and activists. In the anarchist movement you've got really smart and hyper-critical people on the one hand, but you've also got a lot of group-think on the other. It's the same thing in finance. If you look at hedge fund managers, the really successful ones are often the type of people who dare to think against the grain, constantly looking for divergent, big-picture views and ideas. That's why I think Karl Marx would have made a fantastic hedge fund manager."

If there's one change Brett would like to see, it is that we "drop the myth that finance is terribly complicated". That misconception actually serves the interests of the industry, he thinks, and activists seem to find it comforting too. "Just count the number of times that the term 'derivative' comes with the word 'complex' attached to it. This creates a barrier to knowledge."

What he's primarily suggesting is a kind of Trojan Horse movement where the power of financiers and capitalists could be subverted from within. Wouldn't that be amazing if it could be pulled off? It would certainly give a new meaning to the notion of corporate responsibility and responsible governance.

Read more:

No comments: