NEOLIBERALISM, FINANCE CAPITALISM, AND
THE ANTINOMIES OF GOVERNMENTAL REASON
Let me begin with a reference to that familiar speech from a fictional icon of American cinema, Mr. Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas in Oliver Stone’s 1987 film, Wall Street. The infamous scene, no doubt screened for scores of first-year MBA students over the past two decades, features Gekko addressing a group of shareholders in the Teldar Corporation, a paper company he intends to “liberate” from its management executives—“bureaucrats with their steak lunches, their hunting and fishing trips, their corporate jets and golden parachutes.” The shareholders, Gekko insists, are the real owners of Teldar, those with an actual stake in the company. And Gekko pleads with them to reclaim what is rightfully theirs, to take Teldar back from the cronies who are calling the shots, by, ironically, delivering the paper company over to his corporate raid and readjustment. He concludes the speech with what are now among the most memorable lines in the history of American cinema. Here is
Gekko: Greed—for lack of a better word—is good.
Greed is right.
Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolu-
Greed, in all of its forms—greed for life, for money, for love,
knowledge—has marked the upward surge of mankind.
And greed—you mark my words—will not only save Teldar Paper, but
that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.