A house of cards, the “House of Wirecard” (Dan McCrum, Financial Times), has collapsed. The market value of a Dax company has been destroyed. 1.9 billion euros somehow disappeared or were never there. A film about the scandal is in the works. There are still pending convictions against individual persons, but names are not important here.
The characters in this story are guys who scrape along clichés. A Chief Executive Officer who acts as a “man like an algorithm” (mirror) and who, by the way, quotes Martin Heidegger or Hannah Arendt. A Chief Operating Officer whom his mother calls a “prepotent big shot” and who allegedly likes to have sushi served on naked women\’s bodies. A management consultant who had to resign from his office as Federal Minister because of a doctorate obtained by fraud. A state secretary who held a management position in a large investment bank before taking office. A senior member of the securities supervisory authority, who had previously been involved in cum-ex transactions of a bank. A head of a regulatory authority whose main occupation seems to be to declare himself not responsible.[“Whoever thinks of the most obvious thing with this staff – felt! -is wrong. Felt is a robust pressing material consisting of tightly intertwined fibres. Here, everything is connected to everything else, nothing can come loose, everyone is involved and everyone keeps tight. Unlike the world of finance, felt is completely unimaginative. The seductive power – and also the scandalousness – of the financial world is connected with the fact that it channels fantasies and directs them towards the future: the fantasies of financial jugglers who open up business fields or build castles in the air, the fantasies of investors who hope for rising prices and yields, the fantasies of politicians who want to go down in history as enablers and not as administrators. Those who do not play this game are considered to be spoilsports, sceptics, down-to-earth pigheaded people or simply fools who miss a bargain. To this game of greed belongs the inclination to break the rules as well as with humans don’t mind the inclination to cheat. “]
The question of whether Wirecard is an individual case in which generally applicable rules of good business conduct are violated by way of exception is so recent that it is actually unnecessary. This question has been clarified since the last financial crisis. The answer given by Alexander Dibelius, then head of Goldman Sachs in Germany, in 2009 to the question of the Spiegel interviewers as to whether his industry had “criminal energy” is unsurpassable proof of this: “No, but there are individual cases like Bernie Madoff, which have been able to flourish on fertile ground. This is a surprisingly convoluted answer for a man of this caliber. What is most revealing are the contradictions biting their tails: No, yes, but …
In the end the “fertile soil” remains, i.e. the information that the supposed “individual cases” are not. This soil produced many poisonous fruits at that time, and it is still fertile. The rise of Wirecard cannot be explained without complicity, collaboration, company blindness, good faith, wishfulness and wishful thinking on the part of various parties involved. If you take a step back, then three questions arise: Why is the pull of the financial world so strong? Why is the counter-suction so small? And what will the fluid mechanics of the future look like?
The power of the financial world, to which the FinTech company Wirecard belongs, is demonstrated among other things by the fact that it can break with physical laws. It puts the lever with which people are set in motion in a place where there is no counter support, no abutment: in the non-place of the future, where all fantasies are concentrated. In comparison, the giant Atlas, which could have unhinged the real world, looked really old, because he still needed a fixed position outside this world and was not in virtual space.
The financial world seems so attractive because it operates with a double promise. At the macro level, it promises dynamism, growth and profit. In order for this promise not to be smeared from the outset as an exclusive offer for the privileged, i.e. in order for it to work at the micro level, it must be written in a language that everyone understands and is accessible to everyone. That is the language of money. Anyone can do something with money – because it works like a universal weapon: It stands for a promise itself – to be able to transform itself into anything you can think of or want – and is calibrated to deliver on that promise. This is how greed becomes mass effective. Those who have money at their disposal can enjoy – as the philosopher Georg Simmel said in 1900 – “absolute fluidity” and “full of obsessive potentiality”. This explains the feeling of power of Wirecard\’s COO, who in a chat with a confidant fantasizes about wanting to buy a Caribbean island or Lake Starnberg. But this also explains why such a guy is not declared crazy and has been swimming along in the mainstream of socially acceptable desires for years.
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