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Rogue Economics, Adam Smith & Twin Peaks Twenty Years On.

By Richard Marshall.


Rogue Economics, Loretta Napoleoni, Seven Stories Press 2008

The labellum of an orchid is shaped like a lower lip. It is an arboreal landing platform for pollination that in episode 12 of series two of the Lynch/Frost TV soap production Twin Peaks is a sign of romance. The ultimate secret there is the secret of knowing who killed you. The soap fused subterranean occultism with small town Americana that knowingly splices dream capitalism with prayers to bordello slaves and a good coffee grind.

Everything goes by faster and it becomes difficult to know what to believe. Gambling, drugs, extortion and numbers are the basis of everything visible. Not every salient thing is. Thoughts creep secretly close and sometimes they merge so people are hideously neither one thing nor the other. Belief in secrecy leads to restless sleep and uneasy dreams. Two and two don’t always add up to four. Pawn to King 4. A mysterious chess opening is mysterious because it resurveys the land, sets up inspections and finds money. The dead are sometimes self-willed, other times robbed.

Psychic and financial problems merge in a fire that reminds a lover, disguised as a potential Japanese business partner of the implicated Ben Horne, of Nagasaki. Musicals to this stranger are troubling and unmusical. Mike is an inhabiting spirit but Killer Bob is the terror and the hellish one. Bob had once been a Familiar of Mike. Where he came from cannot be revealed. Bob is eager for fun, wearing a smile. Everybody runs.

A parasite attaches itself to a lifeform and feeds. Bob needs a human host. He feeds on fear and pleasure. They are his children. One chance out between two worlds. Fire walks with him. Few can see Bob so he is an invisible naked force. Terror and its link to institutions that appear to be neutral is what the drama might be about. It all happens in spaces and buildings between trees. We can ask whether there is a human essence that this drama assumes and articulates. An argument between Foucault and Chomsky in a 1971 broadcast on Dutch TV available on Youtube makes this point of dispute easily available and marks its contemporary relevance. Foucault argues that essences are class-based and found only within the civilization it critiques. Chomsky thinks that there are fundamental elements of human nature that don’t depend on any relativity to social reality.

The Youtube summary treats it like a boxing match and seems to favour Foucault’s ideas, but I back Chomsky’s approach because it gives substance to the ontology of Killer Bob in Twin Peaks. The summary goes: “In 1971, American linguist/social activist Noam Chomsky squared off against French philosopher Michel Foucault on Dutch television…the program was entitled ‘Human Nature: Justice vs. Power’ and offered sharp contrasts between the more traditional view of ‘human nature’ and what would become a postmodernist perspective…Chomsky, following a rationalist lineage going back to at least Plato, believes that there is a foundational ‘nature’ and that its positive aspects (love, creativity, recognizing and embracing justice) must be realized, while Foucault remains skeptical of any such notion… for him, the issue is not so much whether ‘justice’ or ‘human nature’ ‘exists’, but how they have historically (and currently) function in society … in regard to justice, he says (this is not included in the clips): ‘… the idea of justice in itself is an idea which in effect has been invented and put to work in different types of societies as an instrument of a certain political and economic power or as a weapon against that power…’ The point of any political struggle, for Foucault, is to alter the ‘power relations in which we all find ourselves…”

Foucault developed an idea of a society that was about disciplinarian coercion, that its institutions- such as prisons, schools, hospitals and the army- were all institutions where discipline was exerted over contained, confined individuals. Bentham’s Panopticon architecture instantiated the principles of this idea. For Foucault, we live in tight spaces and are always surveyed, like the Pope in a Bacon painting. Deleuze refined this idea and argued that the society of discipline has been replaced by a society of control. We are allowed to roam free but are still controlled. The corporation, the school and the university control the individual over a dispersed space and a dispersed time. Everywhere and at all times there is continuous surveillance, audit, training, improvement happening in zones of shapeless porousness, unlike the fixed cage envisaged by Foucault. Deleuze likens it to a gas, a spirit, an amorphous shapeshifting higher-order production, buying stocks and selling services owned by coded figures transformable and deformable, the ghastly essence of Killer Bob in Twin Peaks. It is a fire hell.

Bernard Stiegler thinks that we are moving towards an economy of contribution opposed to an economy of consumption. He thinks that by playing with Deleuze’s spirit, we escape it. Participation is being privileged through a focus on Web 2.0 technology but nothing is really different. Killer Bob is co-opting us into his deadly routines. The demonic spirit of liquid fire in Twin Peaks is a metaphor of the essential mode of the viral control society. Perhaps it is the phase of contribution that splits Agent Cooper at the White Lodge and takes demonic, Bob-like form. All this is spoken backwards by the dwarf whose original idea was conceived in Werner Herzog’s film about a confined disciplinary state in his black-and-white feature Even Dwarves Started Tall. Bob is entertainment’s lusts.

Napolenoni’s book Rogue Economics is a couple of years old now. But it helps calibrate the frenzied nightmare of Killer Bob with our real life spirits. The secrets of an alternative, fugitive economy remain because mainstream news seems incapable of seeing it. The imagination is needed. Twin Peaks carries some vital messages.


The Berlin Wall held ‘Killer Bob’ from the Soviet bloc. Prostitution, and its criminal heartlands and hinterlands, was largely non-existent in this Eastern space before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Demand was low because sex habits were very liberal and abortion was readily available. Supply was low because there was full employment. The communist sex workers that there were catered for foreigners, mostly businessmen. So, for example, the Budapest of 1982 had only two clubs where foreigners from outside the Soviet bloc could buy sex with women. Pimping was a serious crime. Women kept their own profits. Although top Soviet officials may have had access to women, they did not demand them in such quantities as to generate any large economic impact.

The fall of the Soviet Union brought poverty and this hit women harder than men. Mid-1990s unemployment among women was 80% in the former Soviet Union. Women made up 80% of single parent families. In 1998 over 50% of all children in the former Soviets lived under the poverty line. The supply of Russian women for sex, once so very limited, rose. The same thing happened in the Slavic region where again the supply of Slavic women rose. Areas that had formally been strongholds of women workers became enclaves of sex workers. Napoleoni discusses all of this, commenting that “Employment in former communist countries was distributed according to the industrialized and regional structure of the command economy.”

So in Russia 83% of the textile industry was concentrated in certain areas such as Ivanovo Blast, Chebroksary and the Chuvash Republic, and because this was predominantly an industry dominated by women workers, they were known as women’s regions. From 1990 to 1994 there was a 67% decline in textiles. They become hooker regions.

Napoleoni writes about the sudden supply of highly educated Russian and Eastern European women because sectors of work that had previously employed them were now retracting hugely. These middle class women created greater profits for the criminal gangs running the numbers across Europe and the world. In Russia, women’s jobs had been in textiles and medicine, education, science, planning and accounting, and these were all areas hit by the economic crisis of the 1990s.

From about 1989 the sex industry began to expand globally. A small example of this sudden huge explosion in the market of women for sex – many of them bought and sold as sex slaves by various mobs – is Bubi on the Czech Highway E-55. In the time between 1989 and 1997, the place became a multi-thousand dollar industrial centre for selling sex workers.

This makes the point that talk about prostitution as being the oldest profession, of being something that is always with us, belies the specificity of the new formation of the industry. Such comments anaesthetise us against its deadly new reality. Like crime, like wrestling, like farming, like music, like football, it is no longer a rather jim-crack affair catering for quaint prurience and thrills, with a needy whiff of seedy glamour (a la Paul Raymond) and working class heroics. It is now industrialised and globalised, scaled up into dangerous territories of human trafficking, corrupt mafia politics and the re-emergence of slavery.

According to Napoleoni, Israel is currently the largest importer of Slavic women, importing between 3000-5000 women annually. Israel has something like 300 to 400 brothels where women are traded for $8000 to $10000 each. The overall money generated by this industry is huge. From 1990 to 1995, four billion dollars of profit was invested in Israeli banks from this sector. Another $600 million were laundered into real estate.

Nissan Ben-Ami, co-director of the Awareness Center, an NGO specialising in women and prostitution, says that in Israel, “You see a lot of prostitution and a lot of very, very religious men, because these men need sex but the women in their society cannot give it to them when they want it. They also cannot masturbate because they cannot waste sperm. So they have to do it with women.” The Slavic women are shipped in, and are especially popular because many are blonde and light skinned.

It was after the Berlin Wall fell that the trade burgeoned and the Russian mafia took over hooker trade. This is an invisible and significant part of global economics and fuses with the invisible politics of globalisation too. The Middle East, for instance, is stereotyped as a nexus of oil politics but human trafficking for the sex industry is also essential to its identity.

According to Napoleoni, sex traffickers for Hamburg and Berlin are controlled by the Lebanese mafia. In Cologne it’s the PKK – aka the Kurdistan Workers Party. These gangs leach onto the numbers game with a protection racket. Armed groups and prostitution rings work together. Slave women from the women’s regions in Russia and other regions get in to Israel via the Gaza strip using Palestinian and Egyptian militia gangs.

The economic reality is helped by a change in attitudes to prostitution. The mantra establishing it in collective wisdom as a universal and harmless byproduct of civilization, where the stereotype of the ‘happy hooker’ thrives and gains popular support from Hollywood films such as ‘Risky Business’ and ‘Pretty Woman, and the new respectability of pole dancing joints organised for corporate business belies the reality. In this stereotype, prostitution is a game for sassy women working a ballsy rom-com routine. Creeps paying for sex with slaves are all Richard Geres, offering happy endings.

The global sex industry relies on this change of morality that condones prostitution. It has been rebranded as part of the entertainment industry. 10% of men in the UK have paid for sex with a prostitute, and the phenomenon of middle class prostitution has added value to the women. The industry creates a web of illusions, is the house of different souls the one-armed man in Twin Peaks has visions about, is Laura Palmer’s life and her self-dreamed murder. The back catalogue of Creation Books anatomises these key elements and becomes essential reading. The unavoidably brilliant Stephen Barber‘s oeuvre figures out some of the complexity.

Syphilis rates in Russia have risen now to levels comparable with those of the AIDS-ridden sub-Saharan regions. A crisis of STDs threaten a global infection. A long-term effect of this will be fertility rates. The link between prostitution and entertainment has meant that by 1997 a survey of 15-year-old Russian schoolgirls found that 70% wanted to be prostitutes. Napoleoni makes the point that “the fall of the Berlin Wall and rise of global prostitution underscores [the] impact of economic transformations.”

Lynch’s Killer Bob is the darkness in the soul of people that entertainment fulfils. ‘One Eyed Jacks’, Twin Peak’s nearly invisible whorehouse, is Lynch’s other economy, the rogue part where in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king. So much of what is visible is underpinned by the invisible. Russian privatisation is a story hidden in plain sight. The Russians wanting Thatcherite free-markets is the darkness of Laura Palmer desiring her own rape and murder.

Before the end of communism, Russia used two currencies – rubles and beznalichnye vouchers. The Soviet economy worked outside the rules of the market and had a non-monetary nature. The state fixed prices because it owned everything. Real money was not needed because the state bought and sold everything. Rubles, however, had a real cash value because rubles were used on the black market to buy stuff not officially available. The other currency, the beznalichnye, was not convertible into cash rubles because Russia’s central bank wouldn’t convert them. But they were used on the black market at an exchange rate of one beznalichnye to ten rubles.

Privatised companies needed to trade abroad and so needed cash. Rubles were too expensive and the Russian central bank was cash poor. In 1987 Gorbachev allowed some privileged financial institutions to convert beznalichnye into rubles. In order to generate cash some entrepreneurial individuals organised beauty contests and rock concerts to raise beznalichnye. These entertainments raised money that was then exchanged for real cash with mainly timber-based export companies that had plenty of foreign exchange. This newly acquired hard currency bought computers into Russia. Rubles were then sold in Russsia for beznalichnye, giving a six-fold profit for people in charge of this process, people like Khodorkovsky. This was not a process that was brokered by the government so it brought no boost to the national economy, and instead went into pockets of oligarchs.

The sinister element of the entertainment industry lies like demonic Killer Bob does in the grieving weirdness of Laura’s possessed father Leland Palmer. The Russian beauty contests were linked to the recruitment of women for the sex industry. The IMF and the World Bank supervised this privatisation of Russian assets. Napoleoni wonders why they didn’t know about the recruitment. The ruthless oligarchs in the Russian treasury and the gangsterism at the heart of Russian economy must have been invisible. This is both wondrous strange and menacing. The judge in Twin Peaks also describes the woods as both strange and wondrous, but although there is an unbearable sense of menace throughout the show, the judge makes no mention of it.

In 1992 Yeltsin turned Russia into a stakeholder society and divided it into three bits: one bit for the state, one for foreign investors and one for the people. People got a handout voucher but inflation during 1992-4 meant that one third of the population fell below the poverty line. 1992 witnessed the first peak in the sex trade industry and the supply of Slavic women and sex slaves. Oligarchs secured 90% of the vouchers given to the people by legally setting up stalls so people could sell them at a fraction of their value. By the end of the 1990s, only 8% had used vouchers to buy shares in the companies they worked in. The rest were owned by oligarchs.

Russia had crossed the border from communism to capitalism. By 1995 capitalism had made Russians poorer. The life expectancy of Russian men had dropped by something like twenty years. The GDP was reduced by roughly 50%. The state was broke, salaries went unpaid and so did pensions. In this dire situation the government brokered a deal with the new oligarchs to pay the debts and ended up unable to pay back the loans. All shares went to the oligarchs and so they ended up with further riches.

The invisible global entertainment industry has grown exponentially since then. Internet porn is part of the global industrialisation of the sex industry run by mafias from all continents. Internet porn is prototypically an offshore operation. Until recently the HavenCo Island oil rig in the Channel Islands hosted one of the biggest porn servers. The biggest paedo-porn is in Russia and run by the Russian mafia. Clients are predominantly Belgian and German.

Cool technological innovation used on the web was developed in order to make the porn industry more profitable. Porn influenced the development of online advertising. Video technology developed in order to deliver better resolution and faster speed porn. Google, Youtube and other web innovators relied on porn-driven innovations. Familiar online ads and fast streaming videos are the hallmarks of porn. So since the 90s, the legitimate digital world has been developed in the wake of a pornography industry involving the sex traffic and slavery of women and children in the hands of globally organised criminals.

Jerry Ropelato reports that the “Yearly internet porn revenue [in 2005] was $57 billion, larger than combined revenues of all professional football, baseball, and basketball franchises in the US. US porn revenues exceed the combined revenues of ABC, CBS and NBC ($6.2 billion). Child pornography generates $3 billion annually.” Women and children are just meat on a hook to these people.

A porn channel Play TV distributed by Sky has a monthly turnover of 200,000 Euros. In the UK porn channels are part of the BT Freeview package. This indicates a change in attitudes. Thirty years ago pornography had to be found; now it is an unavoidable part of mainstream terrestrial TV, as well as the biggest and most lucrative presence on the internet. Although obvious, it is rarely visible in economic, political or cultural discussion. The invisibility again suggests it has an occult ability to penetrate reality like its soul.


Costs have declined, making it cheaper to make and distribute. Nalpoleoni explains that attitudes changed towards pornography before its global expansion and industrial scale fusion with sex-slavery and its global criminal networks. He writes, “The battle to make pornography acceptable was fought in the 1960s and 1970s by porn magazines, mostly in Italy. In 1966 the Italian publisher Saro Balsamo launched the magazine MEN, which showed women in bikinis. The magazine was very successful and created a buzz. Police confiscated the first seven issues from newsstands on the grounds of obscenity. Balsamo circumvented the law by posting the next issues, so that by the time the court order was ready, the newsstands had sold out of the magazine, and the issue on display carried a new date and required a new court order.”

In 1971, in what was dubbed the ‘Battle of the Tits’, court orders were issued but not enforced. In 1973 penetration was shown for the first time. OS was the first truly porn magazine and used a black spot to cover images of penetration. This spot got smaller and smaller until it disappeared. By the end of 1970s, Ora Verita launched a daily porn newspaper with a distribution of 180,000 copies. In the 1980s, celebrities started in on the act, boosting distribution to 350,000 copies.

But then came the internet. The changing conditions that produced increased demand also brought increased supply. The internet destroyed the meat-world magazines. The new market changed the possibility of pornography. Its symbiotic relationship with criminal activity restrains the idea, plausible thirty years ago, that pornography can be a feature of political, psychosexual liberation. Still, the issues are complex. The ability of some women to use sex as a form of power and income is not obviously delusional but often the enormous hinterland of sex slavery is either just being ignored by these entrepreneurial types or being cynically used.

It all leads to further questions. The one-armed man in Twin Peaks asks, “Since when is selling shoes against the law?” The rogue economy is where we all go home together but don’t talk. E-piracy costs Hollywood $8 billion a year: $3.1 billion of this is caused by bootlegging; $1.82 billion is due to illegal copying; $2.99 billion is lost to internet piracy. China, Russia, UK, France, Spain, Brazil, Italy, Poland and Mexico are the main culprits. It is estimated that there is a potential loss of 93% of the movie market in China, 62% in Thailand, 51% in Taiwan, and 29% in India because of these activities.

Laws are ineffective because they don’t look at the new situation in a way that connects anonymous brains together. New markets have been constructed by rogue entrepreneurs. This is a market around people’s pure entertainment wants. It’s like no one is shining a bright light.

Second Life sex bars are just a sign of this reality. Online sex is crossing new frontiers. At the 2007 Davos World Economic Forum there was much talk of ‘haptic interfaces’. Second Life was developed in 2003 by Philip Rosedale at the San Francisco Linden Lab, and inspired by Neal Stephenson’s seminal novel Snow Crash. In early 2007, the Financial Times reported that there were one million users and 10,000 online at any one time.

Linden dollars are the currency of this virtual world and can only be used in Second Life. Second Life’s GDP in 2006 was $60million. It has an annual growth of 15%. Wages are paid in stipends called ‘Dwell’ and are earned by the amount of traffic attracted to resident-owned destinations. In 2007 IBM invested $100million in Second Life. Anshe Chung is so far its most successful entrepreneur. In this pure world of entertainment Anshe Chung is Ailin Graef without medicine. Anshe Chung was a Chinese-born teacher in Frankfurt and had an estimated turnover of $2.5 million, having started in 2003 with an investment of less than $10. This is where living space and dreamlands are developed, no matter the dream. One chance space between two worlds. Few can see the true face. The gifted only and the damned. Anshe Chung outsourced to China in 2004.

The world of pure entertainment is the pure spirit fire world of Killer Bob. Killer Bob lives off people’s drive for their entertainments and their fears games bring about. In this world there isn’t anarchy because it is a world structured by a desire to be entertained and to entertain. And nothing else. Such a cyberpolity is not democratic but utilitarian. Napoleoni thinks that virtual authority is weak because it lacks instruments of enforcement. Tyrants can’t thrive because everyone can just move somewhere else. Loyalty is the big force and it is a loyalty based purely on entertainment. The market state is absolute. Politics and culture don’t exist in this world. There is the nightmare of wish fulfillment.

Rogue economics operate as if they work in a pure market state like ‘Second Life’. They find legitimacy in satiating desires without the structures of politics and culture that have powers to constrain them. Take fishing. Fish for eating are fish as entertainment. This attitude rules. It has murdered much of the real fishing industry and replaced it with a Second Life, Killer Bob app industry again controlled by criminal mafiosi. One third of all fish consumed in the UK is poached from the Baltic and the North Sea. At the beginning of 2007, the Norwegian coastguard predicted a 30% rise in illegal fishing and stolen sea stock. As with the traffic in Slavic women for the sex industry, this is an operation in the hands of the Russian mafia.

They supply half the fish in the UK fish markets at Hull and Grimsby. Murmansk processes the illegal drain of cod, red fish and halibut and, at its height in 1987, this was over 7 million tons of cargo. Now in Torguga, a key pirate’s haven, 100,000 tons of cod above the 480,000 allowed quota are processed. Boats elude the law by flag hopping. Norway is concerned but the UK is not helping. It is a rarely discussed issue. Again, it seems as if it is magically invisible. Fish stocks are in trouble as a result. Birds Eye and Igloo don’t care either, so if they don’t know what is happening the invisibility of all this is due to a powerful magic.

The Patagonian toothfish and the bluefin tuna are valued at $10,000 and $15,000 each. Both are now threatened with extinction. The international hub for this is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. It processes 400,000 tons of fish and nearly all of it is illegal. Tracking stolen fish there is nearly impossible. Napoleoni writes: “Fish stocks have always been vulnerable to too much fishing, but wide-scale overexploitation really started with the development of the distant water fishing fleets of the Soviet Union in the 1950s, which in the 1970s was followed by the development of similar fleets in Japan, other Far Eastern states, European states and the USA.” Once the Soviet bloc collapsed and industrial-level illegal fishing started, organised crime took over the Soviet fleet, as happened in China.

The result is overfishing, pollution, eutrophication (nutrient enrichment of the water caused largely by agricultural run-off), climate change, oil spills, bottom trawling and all this remains off the front pages. David Lynch thinks that killing an ant is a traumatic thing, and that if each fish had a name then this would change the spirit of this.

His example isn’t actually a fish but a bee: “…when you put a name to them they kind of separate out and it’s true, you could look at a bee called ‘Riley’ and the bee would take on a certain character. A bee named ‘Bob’ would be unique.” This is what lies behind his occult theory of human being and, therefore, the stories in Twin Peaks. He thinks ants may have just one soul that applies to a whole colony but humans have a soul each. But he also thinks at a deep level that there is a common soul. “On the surface there is diversity but at the source is unity, so at a deeper level, we’re all one…like in the garden, there’s all these different kinds of flowers, all so beautiful but different, but they’re in that one soil.” This helps us to understand why Lynch uses language to convey sensation. The invisible rogue economy requires sensational words. Perhaps also prolific words, like a happy Van Gogh. This is the thought that Lynch has that Van Gogh might have produced more sensational work if he had been happier. He thinks that if Van Gogh had meditated, he might have done more and kept both his ears but Lynch still admires his driven quality.

The economic crisis hits the poor hardest, and women and children in particular. Fishing is now an industrialised crime. It says a lot about new economic scenarios. High fuel costs have led to low prices. There is a need to catch more to survive. Bluefin tuna are being pushed to species-death by Italian and French pirates in the Mediterranean to feed the sashimi market in Japan. Libya and Spain are part of the tuna square. This is an extinction process.

Napoleoni says that the pirate crews are virtually slaves. They cannot escape and are treated badly. They are poor men desperate to survive who have fallen into the hands of evil forces. The phrase ‘fire walk with me’ is associated with Twin Peaks, but actually came first from the Blue Velvet time, although it isn’t in the film. Lynch says that “…if Frank Booth had a tattoo it would have been that…it would have been that phrase.” Frank Booth is another version of Killer Bob, the spirit of entertainment that is being identified here as the unconstrained market force, the malign Second Life spirituality of burning bush. Illegal fishing has resulted in sweatshops on the high seas. We can imagine pirate captains all having the tattoos Lynch discusses.

The three most important fishing importers are Japan, Korea and China, with the latter becoming the biggest by far. In the last ten years, imports to China have grown by 200%. From 2000 to 2006, the volume of total fish and seafood has grown by 76%. The loss of fish is invisible because not only are fish generally invisible being in the sea, but so are the forces removing them.

The Chinese involvement in West Africa was revealed in the 1990s and suggests that Chinese investment in African infrastructures is primarily designed to help them extract the loot. The Chinese organise the racket of shark fins and abalone, and Napoleoni says that “Illegal fishing became the first major business of Chinese organised crime in South Africa and allowed the Chinese Triad to establish a presence in the country.” Abalone, a kind of shellfish, is worth $32.5 million. Pirates are estimated to be making $16 billion.

The rogue economy is a sort of erasure. Both Robbe-Grillet‘s novel The Erasers and Lynch’s Eraserhead contain this idea of a dualistic world involved in an inner conflict in which the line that divides these worlds unifies them as well. Perhaps this explains the difficulty of looking at the whole picture.

In ‘On Curing the Individual’, Nietzsche writes that “He should begin with the nearest and the smallest and determine the whole extent of dependency into which he was born and brought up. Then comes the next step: the attempt to fashion an ideal. This precedes something higher: to live this very ideal. He must work his way through a succession of ideals.” This is something that is not happening often enough in the way we write about the world and the way things are reported. It is the key work of artists. The resistance of entertainment.

It becomes clear that nearly everything that is happening in one zone is toxic. 47% of all European rubbish, even the stereotypical clean digital world’s ‘e waste’ is toxic. Europe produces 20 to 50 million tons each year of toxic waste. A UN environmental programme sorts out waste into recyclable and non-recyclable categories. The recyclable is sent out to India and China, the non-recyclable is sent to Africa. According to Napoleoni, the ‘Basel Action Network‘ reports that 75% of all electronic material that reaches Nigeria can’t be recycled. So it just rots in toxic piles. Somalia gets millions of tons. When the December 2005 tsunami struck, the junk was flushed out into plain sight. This strange world of floating toxic waste is the alternative world of our own unhaunted space.

The pollution in the seas arrives in our food cycles. Phthalates and nonylphenols feminise fish. They cause male fish to produce the protein vitellogenin that usually only female fish produce. Our bodies are now decomposing slower in morgues because of food preservatives. In 2005 – the year of hurricanes Katrina and Rita – oil prices soared. In that year, ExonMobil reported the highest-ever annual profit for a company, a profit of $36 billion. And yet ExxonMobil, BP, Amoco, Shell, Chevron and Texaco contribute 10% of the whole world’s carbon dioxide.

One third of all fish eaten is farmed. In Chile fish farms are worth $1 billion and this type of farming causes massive pollution. The idea of fire coming from the sea, food as entertainment not subsistence, is part of the mystical aura of this situation. Lynch resists the modernist convention of literature’s narrative revolution, whereby linearity and perspective and time are broken up. Boris Groys writes “… he has discovered his own cinematographical discourse by transposing the static time of visual arts onto film and thereby inevitably setting it in motion.” This is something Adam Smith thought a great deal about.

Adam Smith thought that ‘wealth’ was a term of virtue and that there are two human natures that are always competing. Smith’s idea is that neither side gains ascendency. So this new world of rogue economics that Napoleoni talks about is something that makes the flip side a kind of relic for a while. The old style – small-scale crime, pornography and fishing – are just relics of a losing age, like the funky strip bar designs in Lynch’s Twin Peaks that are memories of what is being corrupted. There is a naivety that those older styles have now been amplified by new globally industrialised criminals. When Smith talked about the ‘wealth’ of nations, he wasn’t talking about pure greed for cash. He wasn’t talking about predation. ‘Wealth’ was his term for ‘flourishing’, a sense of well-being that included ethical, aesthetic and political aspects.

The right-wing monetarist think-tank The Adam Smith Institute calamitously misunderstands this even to this day. Smith was a moral thinker but no one really understood what he was writing about until very recently. He was born in 1723 but many of his notebooks and lectures weren’t rediscovered until they were found in Glasgow in the 1970s and edited in the 1980s. Nearly half of his writings were unknown until 30 years ago. So Adam Smith is a Lynchian ‘distorted nude’, as in the Mulholland Drive period, and for much of the time he has drifted around in the background.


He is not just an economist; his essays and philosophy are important as well. He went to the University of Glasgow when he was 13 and was good at maths. Alan MacFarlane says that Glasgow was the Shanghai of the 18th century. Smith was a student for ten years. He had a mental breakdown. He liked English civilization. He lived in Kirkcaldy. He couldn’t do joined-up handwriting and stammered. There are no portraits of him but there are idealised stone statues. He changed the British Empire. The wealth of the new USA puzzled and interested him. The economic status of China, India and Japan also interested him. He witnessed the end of the wild Scots and the decline of Calvinism. He witnessed the growth of science. In France, England and Scotland, he saw the decline of the societies of predation and the growth of the societies of production. He saw the move from pastoral to commercial in southern Scotland. He was part of the philosophy of Hume and the Enlightenment French philosophes, engaging in conversations with Voltaire. He assumed the then conventional four stages of human civilization: hunters and gatherers, pastoralists, settled cultivators and commercial societies. For Smith there was no industrial age because it hadn’t happened yet, even though James Watt was at the same university at the same time, just down the hallway from him. The impact of technological innovation was a rare blindspot for Smith.

Smith identified Killer Bob’s spirit. Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks is a version of Smith. Smith assumes two human natures, each working simultaneously. One drive is a kind of selfishness, a desire to play games and be aggressive. It is the spirit that requires entertainment: fire. Yet there is another human nature, a nature that Smith calls virtue, and this is the desire to be loved by others. Smith thought that civilization comes out of that clash. David Lynch was doing drawings in the 1960s of mechanical women, part machine, part flesh, and his work replicates this mood. He also likes human heads on dogs. Gogol‘s The Nose is a favourite story of Lynch’s. It’s about a nose who dresses up as a general. So Lynch and Smith share a viewpoint. Lynch talks about giving individuality to bees, although his favourite insect is a stinkbug, and Smith liked the parable of the bees in Mandeville.

Smith was a Newtonian. He started with an analysis of the facts then induced general laws and then went back to check the facts against the laws in a kind of pendulum, a to-ing and fro-ing. So Smith thought there was an everlasting tension between fact-gathering and hypothesis-making because of this process of testing each by each. And Mandeville’s ‘Parable of the Bees’ said that private vice ends in public virtue because of the law of unintended consequences and the Hidden Hand.

Smith thought that there were paradigm shifts long before Kuhn made the idea popular. Smith’s example of this was the history of astronomy. He said that the Greeks had a theory, the medievals destroyed that, then Newton destroyed theirs. This is just Khun’s idea of the relativity of theoretical systems.

Smith had a theory of the chains of causation and the need for a comparative method that draws on the whole of the known world. He used analytical models that gave simplified models of reality. He thought that conjecture was vital if we were to understand ourselves. This was something an earlier biography of Smith by Stewart brings out. To understand the past we have to guess then test the guesses against what facts we have. This is a theoretical methodology linked to invisible hand and its unintended consequences.

Smith thought that the world is a machine and so his is a kind of functionalism which assumes that if everything is a machine then the question to ask of its parts is what function they have in the machine. So for functional parts the task is to understand the laws of motion connecting all the parts. In this way serious analysis is possible.

Smith thought that all else being equal, societies will evolve towards wealth. The secret is to remove inhibitions. He thought that to arrive at the highest opulence from barbarism, all you need is peace, easy taxes and a tolerable administration of justice. Wealth will come from this. People want to make money, they like to barter and exchange one thing for another. He didn’t think we have a crude profit drive, but rather thought that we are game players and like to maximise. He believed that reason and speech derive from this. He thought that what we love is to persuade others to do what we want them to do. We like persuading others to give us something, to win the argument, for them to be of our opinion. The entertainment spirit is lodged in this. Speech and thought is this spirit. Killer Bob lies in this somewhere.

Of course he’s famous for his theory of the division of labour, although it wasn’t invented by him. The ancient Greeks had it first and it’s in Mandeville’s Parable of the Bees. But Smith made its sense clear in the new modernity. Dividing tasks up into separate parts was a kind of magic. Why did it increase productivity? Smith thought the magic was explained in terms of it increasing skill (dexterity), of it cutting out time wasting involved in a single person moving from task to task, and of it requiring analysis of the overall task to figure out how it all works and how it might then be divided up. He rightly thought that machinery and micro-inventions come from this. This explained the growing efficiency of technology that lay behind economic growth.

Yet for Smith wealth was not money but rather the opposite of Ruskin’s ‘illth’: whatever contributes to life is wealth. Happiness, freedom, education, equality and so on were all wealth, alongside GDP. He thought well- mannered people were traders. His example was the Dutch. Shopkeeper virtues may lead to dull people but they are polite, he thought. He agreed with Sam Johnson and Keynes who believed that a human is never so innocently engaged as when making money. He thought that arts and crafts and decent living came out of affluence.

For Smith, this is the virtuous nature in predominance. But there is the other side, the other half which wants to subordinate and predate on people. Smith lived at a time when the virtuous economic sphere was uniquely visible. For most of history this has not been the case. Usually barbarous states are found to be continually warring, making economic development extremely hazardous and difficult to isolate as economic. And the usual state of societies is one where it is extremely difficult to prevent predatory groups stealing wealth, therefore preventing the kind of diffusion of economic wealth across populations that would bring about proper well-being. This theory of Smith’s was shared by the 16th century Islamic historian, Ibn Khaldoun, and Smith’s friend, the great David Hume. Its most powerful modern representative was the genius Ernest Gellner, one-time teacher of China Mieville.

Smith looked at the stationary state of China, probably the richest empire in the world at the time but stagnant economically, and saw a useful contrast to England, which was about to become the richest nation thanks to the Industrial Revolution. Smith saw his contemporary world as divided into three zones: zone one was the USA which was racing ahead; zone two was England, about to be the richest place on earth quite dramatically; and zone three was Europe, where even in Holland, things had reached a high level of equilibrium. Italy, Spain and Portugal were declining and great civilizations like China were stuck. China was at the time well-governed, peaceful, had fair taxes and a fair judicial system but was still stagnant. Since the 15th century, it had decided against overseas trade, and had built a wall and maintained itself. Its agricultural system was too large a part of its economy and rice always leads to dense populations of hard working and intensive Geertzian farming with a class of exploitative landlord mandarins creaming off the money. For Smith, this anticipated the Irish potato famine.

Smith recognised that towns and emergent towns were very important in developing away from stagnation. Smith didn’t like the shopkeeper mentality but knew shopkeepers were hub of economic development. How did they emerge? Normally wealth that accumulates gets stolen before it can establish itself. This is the theory that Ibn Khaldoun, David Hume and Ernest Gellner propose as key. But if the king allows free towns to grow up because he fears the lords, then by the time they all come to steal the wealth of the towns, the towns are too powerful to be destroyed. This is largely what happened to Henry VIII. Weber saw this in his book on the development of cities when he asked how it was that England was so wealthy. He thought it was because it had a strange social structure with a large craft population and a middle class not easily intimidated by foreign threats because of the country’s island nature.

It had easy taxes, by which Smith means they were predictable and fair, despite England having the highest taxes in Europe at the time. Smith believed decent bourgeois types didn’t mind paying taxes. Smith thought the model of the nightwatchmen state was the ideal state, being absolutely essential for defence, large institutions and the judiciary. He thought that the state should leave people alone after looking after all that. Smith was a pessimist about how humans could escape from agriculture because he didn’t anticipate the impact on technology. He thought the division of labour leads to misery. So he got this right and wrong. But what he mainly got wrong was the idea that the economy was the key element in all of this.

Killer Bob’s spirit is murderous, predatory and vicious, an a priori lust for entertainment, game, a pure economy of greed. It is a drive for entertainments of the fire soul as hardwired as virtue. Smith lived at a weird time in that economics really did seem to be the only game in town. But the weirdness is over. This Scottish Enlightenment view of the world feeds into Marx. The European Enlightenment refracted the absolutism of European states into its version, but the Scottish Enlightenment of Smith and Hume didn’t see absolutism as its problem and was informed much more by the commercial bourgeois. He shares the same mistake with Marxists who also believe that there is an economic substructure explaining societies.

Marxists have two options: change Marxist content or don’t. Is there an economic substructure? Gellner thinks it is a mistake to give economics priority. A social system must be concerned with reproducing material conditions of life but that isn’t in dispute. What is disputed is the mechanism for this. For most of history, predation has been more important than economics. Power is the crucial issue. The Soviets had no idiom to discuss their problem of power because they were constrained to discussing everything in terms of economics.

These errors of Marx, its Jewish and German biblical Hegelianism and its prophetic element, link him to Smith and the English/Scots Enlightenment. The error is peculiar because in the 18th century the predators were not effective. The economy and the polity were very visibly separate. This was not generally true before and is no longer true. A concrete example is Nepal, which changed from slash and burn to rice growing, from shamanism to Hinduism without a radical change in the economic infrastructure, but rather depended on a massive change in power structure. In Nepal the ruling class provided the leadership and ideology for the change. According to Alan Macfarlane, the technology had always been there. Top Greek scholar, Findley asked once why Aristotle didn’t write about economics as a separate subject. But the really strange thing was that Smith thought that there actually was a separate subject called economics to write about. In Marx, class is defined in terms of the ownership of the means of production. But classes can in many crucial cases be defined not in those terms but rather in terms of ownership of the means of predation/coercion.

For Gellner, understanding social reality requires understanding the realms of economy, of coercion and of ideology, and he is very skeptical about any hierarchy imposed on these realms. At the moment, perhaps coercion seems more important than politics and ideology but this need not be a fixed reality. Gellner tells us not to indulge in speculative history disguised as an idea of a stable structure. Institutions can appear stable but not be. Functionalism said we don’t need to know origins to explain sustainability, but there were origins and how they occurred does need studying. Situational logicians are economists and the idea that the maximization of something clearly specified is very untypical. It is an idea that has misled classical and Marxist economists.

When in the 1970s, Maurice Godelier talked about slavery in ancient Rome, he hardly thought the issue of slavery one of contemporary urgency. The rogue economics described by Napoleoni is the economics that is not constrained by politics and ideology. It is the pure fire of entertainment. It feeds a kind of hellishness into all our systems. We need politics and ideology to counter the deep forces in play.

In Twin Peaks, series two, episode 14 is the hinge. The sun goes up and down each day. The river goes out to the sea. Love, don’t go away. Love come back and stay.

We don’t know what is going to happen. There are owls in the roadhouse. First a white horse appears to a crawling woman coming down a staircase later quoted in the Japanese horror classic The Grudge. It’s a Wonderful World – the record has ceased but continues to turn on the turntable. Tell your heart I’m the one. We’re hurt inside in a way we can’t figure out. Horror sounds like the low-end rumble of a dog’s growl amplified in white. Letters are being placed under the nails of the dead women.

So finally, we stare at the end of worlds. Global warming will be of benefit to the Northern hemisphere as southern landmasses drown and billions of poor people die. Rich people will buy their way out of the death zones and run away. Rogue economics will follow the disaster. Northern states are currently going after the land that warming will reclaim for use up in the North Pole. In 2007 Russia claimed a portion of it. The USA, Russia, Norway and Canada are currently in a land grab, each fighting for undersea regions of the North Pole that Napoleoni labels ‘the new Great Game’. China has placed a research station on Spitsbergen, a Norwegian island and moved its icebreaker, ‘Snow Dragon’ from Antarctica. Icebreakers are now a booming industry. In 2006 ‘Aker Finnyards’, home of quality icebreaker construction, started making profits again. Icebreakers cost $90 million a piece. Russia recently bought three.

If the great powers are expecting to stop global warming, why would they do this? The answer is that they aren’t. They are anticipating the melting of the poles.

That’s why Twin Peaks is still speaking. As Killer Bob plays, Agent Cooper’s vision-giant mourns:

‘It is happening again. It is happening again.’


Richard Marshall
is still biding his time.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, December 2nd, 2010.