“Financial asphyxiation” is going to be a buzz word that will be popular with politicians (silently) and activists (openly) in future… I guess. Why? I will briefly and emphatically state that the core message and implication of the Wikileaks saga so far is: if you act against the interests of the owners of global and national political economies, legally or otherwise, your efforts will be annihilated through the mechanical ostracism of financial institutions. This is the story and anything else is neither secondary nor tertiary but at best quaternary.
In a world where fund-raising is paramount for fuelling the efforts of both those for and against the visible and invisible agendas of political economies, the big stick is no longer smear campaigns, assassination, imprisonment or intimidation etc. (even though they may be still used effectively where necessary and possible), it is now “financial asphyxiation”. Exceedingly convenient, clinically efficient, democratic, legal, bloodless, morally indeterminate, politically expedient, economically omnipotent, ideologically costless… financial asphyxiation is the new tool of maintaining the status quo. Financial asphyxiation will create costs that will enforce severe conditions of helplessness and incapacity on its targets. What an incredible innovation of institutions.
Put in economic terms, Institutionalist thinkers will have a quite a challenge reconciling this mean innovation while New Institutionalists will be congratulating themselves for a job very well done; transaction costs when raised high enough forces organisations into extinction or at least reduces their efficiency significantly. The transaction costs of activism are going to very high from now on. But so is the cost of lobbying and politics because activists have an overwhelming incentive to reduce the transaction costs of running the entities they organise and will inevitably have to evolve capabilities to remain in the game. Or become extinct; that is the price. We shall see.
In our globally connected and financially over-determined world, the days of “S/he who pays the piper calls the tune” have been radically been supplanted by “S/he who facilitates the payment of the piper calls the tune”.