Brian Holmes on Mon, 11 Feb 2002 01:44:30 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Enron's Matrix

A wonderful coincidence in names, or perhaps what Hegel would have called
the ruse of reason, links the popular film Matrix, with its Baudrillardean
simulacra-theme, to the popular disaster of Enron, the occult engine of the
virtual economy that sucked all our blood in the 1990s. The matrix, as any
movie-going adolescent could guess, is a computer that adjusts reality to
serve the needs of a few very powerful postmodern vampires. The endless
numbers churned by this machine may have proved Hegel's old dictum, that
the rational is real. But does anyone still believe that the real is

_Hard Money, Strong Arms And 'Matrix' 
How Enron Dealt With Congress, Bureaucracy_

They called it "the matrix" -- a computer program that brought a scientific
dimension to Enron's effort to seduce politicians and sway bureaucrats.

With each proposed change in federal regulations, lobbyists punched details
into a computer, allowing Enron economists in Houston to calculate just how
much a rule change would cost. If the final figure was too high, executives
used it as the cue to stoke their vast influence machine, mobilizing
lobbyists and dialing up politicians who had accepted some of Enron's
millions in campaign contributions.

"It was a new thing to be able to quantify the regulatory risk," said
economist Gia Maisashvili, who helped Enron develop the system.

"We were the pioneers."

The matrix illustrates the brash, calculating methods that Enron managers
used to play Washington politics. The company that made headlines by
erasing rules and ignoring convention in the business world applied the
same principles in Congress, state capitals and the administration,
bragging that its shrewd political tactics blew past customary constraints.

Enron's lobbying techniques grew so aggressive that a key member of
Congress reportedly exploded in anger when the company's chief executive
pressed him on deregulation matters. They began, however, with a vigorous
application of the most time-proven method: lavishing campaign money on
politicians.... [snip]

By Joe Stephens
Washington Post
Sunday, February 10, 2002

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