Landscapes of Global Capital
tv globe icon link to home Market heaven

A 2001 NASDAQ ad opens with the resonance and timbre of a sacred chorale. The screen opens with the glowing light of a new day creeping across the arced curvature of the planet. Earthrise. A new era is dawning. The solemn, reverential voice of the narrator combines with the religious overtones of the choral performance to set the all-important tone. The spoken text is itself a powerfully condensed piece of writing, it is an ideological narrative worth exploring.

"One day everyone in the world will be able to invest in any company in the world.
Trading across international borders with an ease and speed and economy that can only be imagined today. There is a place where this technology is now taking shape, laying the groundwork that will open the wonders of Internet to investors all over the world. NASDAQ, Stock Market for the digital world."

The claim here is that a digital marketplace will eclipse the State as the institution capable of delivering a democratic civil society. Since this story is set in the future, current matters of poverty, disease, class disparities and global inequalities can be conveniently set aside and ignored.

Still, one has to wonder how capitalist market forces which have historically figured so prominently in Global wealth disparities, could ever generate the Universal Bourgeoisie necessary for this vision?

NASDAQ05-01 A glorious new era of prosperity, peace and enlightenment will soon be upon us, a function of that grand combination of technology and capitalist financial markets. This beautifully picturesque moment of sunrise (given its location at the beginning of the narrative) symbolizes the market heaven where all will be able to prosper. Welcome to market heaven, made possible by building a technology "that will open the wonders of the Internet."
Unlike all past markets that have been historically dominated by the few, this is represented as an all-inclusive, democratic market which places no barriers to participation. Neither race nor gender nor age nor nationality present any bars to inclusion. NASDAQ05-01

The ad answers this question by implicitly introducing a theory of neo-liberal capitalism. According the Nasdaq ad, what distinguishes the old capitalism from the new capitalism is the latter's reliance on new technologies to produce unlimited growth and wealth. Technology annuls class conflict in this scenario because it moves the axis of relationships from their old place in the labor-capital relationship to a new institutional space afforded by stock markets - where everyone can be an owner/trader.

An integrated growth economy, rather than a chaotic economic system seems to be the result of a technological revolution in general, and the proprietary technology of NASDAQ in particular. The velocity of abstract data flows suggests a Market transformed from noise and chaos into a smoothly functioning system of screens and holograms.

The stock market is conceived as the flows of data that stream in unending beams of light. If we are to perceive any economy at work in this ad, it is here in the flows of data -- this is the heart of the economy and the linchpin of the New Economy.

NASDAQ presents itself as anchoring the perfect civil society (see Norbert Elias) where the conventions of civility seem to be embedded in the aura of the new technology.


New Economic Formations
Commodification
Social Relations of Production
Information Economy

Electronic market sign wars < Previous

Next > A theology of market forces

© Copyright 1998-2003
Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey