"New Normal"? On bankers' communication attempts to normalize misery

The latest Danske Bank’s communication strategy is full of images of unrest; the Occupy movement, protestors with stones and Greek flags against the police, images of slave workers in the world’s production lines, pictures of despaired citizens from across the globe. Danske Bank, Denmark’s biggest bank institution surfaces behind these images with the slogan ‘new Normal’. What does it mean? Perhaps the normalization of the times’ ambiguity is the campaign’s target, avoiding references to the causes of global unrest, and bypassing critical explanations of the growing citizens’ discontent, related to systemic injustices caused by financial and industrial strategies to exploit people and the natural environment, or the anti-social policies of austerity that the neoliberal sharks pursue with a fundamentalist zeal in Europe and elsewhere, as ‘essential’ (‘essential for what’, we need to remember to constantly ask ourselves and others).

In a way, the particular campaign verifies that banks are also frustrated by the broader volatile situation all over the world. After four years, the global economic crisis is still deepening due to the failed neoliberal doctrines and crisis-politics that governments follow. The bankers and other members of political-economic elites know that political interventions, along with a new ideological configuration of how we understand ‘normality’ and what ‘the normal’ is, might (possibly) guarantee the continuation of economic growth in capital’s terms. In that sense, poverty, unrest, insecurity, fascism, a depleted physical environment, the commodification of everything and the subjection of everything under the narrow logics of economics, need to appear as normal, or ‘natural’. Capitalism itself has always been naturalized, while the unequal social relations characterizing all forms of established power, are always objectified as ‘normal’.

At best, the particular campaign is aestheticising protest as well as a growing popular frustration among citizens, and makes a spectacle out of it, a spectacle that the banks can exploit to legitimize their position of domination in the world, a position that was symbolically challanged by mass social movements. The particular campaign is a concrete attempt to make capitalism appear ‘cool’; as Jim McGuigan (2009) argues “Capitalism is legitimized today through the extraordinary incorporation of dissent” : http://contemporaryculturalproduction.blogspot.de/2010/09/normal-0-false-false-false.html

What the bankers and other appologists of capitalism are targeting with such communication campaigns however, is to hide the responsibility of the global banking system over the immiseration of everyday life for the majority of the people everywhere. The bankers’ answer to the capitalist crisis is an autistic one: a crisis caused by capitalism is supposed to be resolved with even more capitalism!

An intensified capitalism to emerge out of the crisis context, will mean more intensification of labour, more exploitation of humans and the natural world, and less revenues for the people that are still able to have some kind of a job, as well as less social, political and human rights for the majority of the people in the world. The configuration of a post crisis capitalism will rely on a new social and personal ideology accompanied by new political constitutions, where injustice and human-caused catastrophes will appear to be ‘normal’.

The post crisis world, in a senario that is favourable to the capitalist class, focuses in neutralizing the remainings of liberal democratic social and political rights, in expropriating and proletarianizing the middle and the lower classes, in forcing major parts of the humanity out of any hope for a dignified life, in trashing the earth and our common resources and wealth, and in forcing into redundancy and uselessness great numbers of people, while preaching morals on competitiveness, entrepreneuralism and other neoliberal fantasy ‘solutions’ that are meant to only create the ‘new normal’ of a post crisis capitalism.

As liberal democratic institutions are no longer functioning for capitalist growth, more totalitarian and chaotic senarios emerge, for the future recycling of the capitalist process. Citizens need to accept as normal, a situation where nothing will be guaranteed. The post crisis capitalist economy will be based on a form of social Darwinism, a Hobbesian society where one will antagonise the other, and no peace or stability will be an option for any aspect of social and private life, for the majority of the people. The new normal of a post crisis capitalism, is a permanent state of emergency, a state of permanent mobility, a permanent state of exception, where anything is possible and where everyone should be prepared for ‘anything’. Excluding any sense of public or communal care, the ‘new normal’ will be supported by laws and institutions that will adjust to the shifting needs of a hyper-neoliberal economic process.

A change of political paradigm and of social ideology, will mean deep changes in the Scandinavian social system. As the Occupy Washington DC notes “Here it seems Danske Bank wanted to brand globalisation, working mothers without access to daycare, factory working, and 1st world protests as “the new normal” as a cool thing. In a country that used to pride itself on their social justice, commune living, daycare for all, factory work with reasonable hours and local community. Is the new normal being really out of touch with the people who used to bank with you? I’m saying “used to” as I expect people to move as much money away from you as they can right now, as loudly as they are complaining. Else they too might be a tad hypocritical.”

The Occupy Denmark launched its own video, in response to Danske Bank’s communication strategies :

Some further comments on the pretentious efforts of the Banking system to hide its parasitic existance in the world:

http://october2011.org/blogs/kevin-zeese/danish-bank-uses-occupy-imagery-advertising-campaign-new-normal

Danske Bank’s campaign caused a lot of critique against it in the Danish public sphere, with critical articles appearing in both mainstream and alternative Danish media. In TV2 news of 27/11/2012 Knud Romer said : “The ‘new normal’ is a pervertation of reality because it incorporates the protests against the bank – occupy wall street – as part of the bank’s own profile. Do they want to nationalize the bank? They are actively working against any regulation of the bank market. It’s a hypocrisy and cynicism so insane that the bank is in fact pulling down its own pants.”

Some further links on the debate in Danish mainstream media can be found here:

http://www.dr.dk/TV/se/deadline/deadline-202#!/
http://www.buzzfeed.com/copyranter/700-billion-bank-exploits-occupy-wall-street-im
http://adland.tv/adnews/danske-banks-new-normal-provokes-punters-using-occupy-imagery/1353865033
http://politiken.dk/tjek/penge/ECE1823353/vrede-over-reklame-hallo-banktyper-tror-i-vi-har-glemt-at-i-er-berskurkene/
http://nyhederne.tv2.dk/video/index/id/60716830/