August 07, 2004
My attempt to begin to consolidate an anti-capitalist position has been posted at k-punk. It would have been OT here, since there isn't really an explicit hyperstitional component.
(btw, Hyperstition has really arrived now: I've just deleted our first piece of Viagra spam....)
Posted by mark k-p at August 7, 2004 10:39 PM
mark - Agree with a surprising amount of this.
Posted by: Nick at August 8, 2004 02:41 AM
Guess i'll have to suspend the Halliburton-funded project to lure you over to the dark side for the time being ;)
lol ... just deleted the rest.
Posted by: Reza at August 8, 2004 05:51 AM
lol ---- though seriously, that's brilliant Nick --- be interested in what you DON'T agree with --- but think the way things are going is highly productive ----
Posted by: mark at August 8, 2004 10:19 AM
>>> but think the way things are going is highly productive ----
Posted by: Reza at August 8, 2004 03:08 PM
Yes, I wonder how effectively this blog fusing different thoughts with each other without consolidating them along one path.
Actually Nick, think there is a very serious point about dark libido/ devil has all the best tunes...i.e. on the face of it, it's difficult to make positive (i.e. NOT k + but zerotic) practices enticing...
Conversely, though, it just involves not being aestheticist/ theoretical/ idealist about it; i.e. concentrating on practices not descriptions. Reminds me of that m. satai post on CM a while back talking about a factory producing useless tin cans forever... Tho weirdly similar to the Nazi phantom economy (i.e. unemployment eliminated by having one group to dig a ditch and another to fill it in), this is the nightmare picture of complete Kaptial take-over.
Can see this is deliciously, malevolently sumptuous from a certain speculative POV, but on another level (i.e. the level of practice) it is simply boring.... Who cares if it's exciting for Kapital? Why wd that matter except from an idealist POV?
btw, think that in addition to their stuff on work, we need to keep alive the sit thing on boredom (Nick you and I had lots of interesting conversations on this back in the day)... and actually, Nick, as you yrself once said, making money is boring!!!
maybe we can start to postulate a boredom/ excitement dp?
Posted by: mark at August 8, 2004 06:58 PM
Mark, this is the nightmare of Capital Management (a pathetic attemp to ground or humanize Capital); the first thing that burns when the planetary Capitalism initiates its cataflight to reach its Cosmodromic openness is the image you just portrayed. Boredom is the theological (mainly Christian) consequence of an economical or a survivalist encounter (affordance or economical openness) with Capital; to see how Capital palpitates with xeno-excitations (they know nothing of boredom), first we should find a way to strategically subvert and sabotage our economical, grounded, survival-based and somehow too homeostatic, too regulated confrontations with Capital ... (think of the Z-Crowd)
Posted by: Reza at August 8, 2004 08:38 PM
I don't see how being bored in a factory or an office is a Christian thing quite honestly ... are you saying that non-Christians are excited by working on a production line? And maybe 'owning snack time' (a phrase used last week by some corporate puppet to justify a new advertising slogan) and other such unspeakably tedious management consultancy flummery is exciting if you're not a Christian, I don't know...
I still don't see how you are addressing my fundamental point about idealism. Surely you can see that what you are saying is straightforwardly idealist? Yes, as a process to think about and abstractly desribe, capitalism is exciting --- but then so are solar flares in other galaxies, all matter is fascinating if you zero on it -- but surely we can't lose Marx's fundamental insight that there's nothing more idealist than theories of matter...
think there's a peculiar notion of anti-humanism going on here, the point is you can't just leap out to identification with non-human process, destratification of the human is a slow process ----
point is, capital might not know anything of boredom (good for it) but its effect on human populations is to numb and disintensify them, blocking contact with the Outside. After all, it is capital that humanizes (no humanism prior to capital).
Posted by: mark at August 8, 2004 09:26 PM
Mark, sorry but you didn’t get any of my points; first, your semi-Taylorian image: This kind of particular image is especially happening in the West and basically comes from a classical (purely thermodynamic / deferral-cyclic) approach to capital. Come here, travel to Tehran and see how Capitalism produces what kind of xeno-excitations in this Mega-polis.
Well, sorry but your point about idealism is the consequence of your theological (and grounded) encounter (or very economical openness) with Capital; ‘A-Good-Mealian' approach or a similar strategy or course of communication needs to latch onto Capitalism and draw a line of flight from Boredom (a survivalist defense mechanism against xeno-excitations; boredom is not exclusive to Christianity -- i correct my previous words -- but fuels Christianity to the core). The idealism comes from a conservative communication with Matter. As long as you use such communications the boredom is imminent.
>>> the point is you can't just leap out to identification with non-human process, destratification of the human is a slow process ----
the identification with non-human process needs creativity, sorry but it needs something that you cant find in Marx books. The identification should be strategic; the ancient Zoroastrians got it through paranoia, the cult of Druj conceived it as strategic xeno-Calls and Yazidians put the strategies into their everyday life.
Sorry, Mark but I think we can’t communicate efficiently / effectively on the idealist / boredom-complex ... maybe later.
Posted by: Reza at August 9, 2004 06:30 AM
Seems to me it's Man that's boring - whatever social system it inhabits
Posted by: Nick at August 9, 2004 07:17 AM
That's why i think a lot of this argument is rehashed Rousseau vs Hobbes - does society quash some marvellously intense human potentiality, or does it rather express the sad stratic specimen inherited from 3 billion years of organic depotentiation of molecular machinery (cowardly, conservative, resonating and choked with revolting primate characteristics)
Goes without saying i'm with Hobbes all the way
Nick, many thanks for your comment.
However, let’s quit this thread for now, since I suspect this debate presupposes our initiation into unmerciful anti-hyperstition mages, something that all of us try to evade. Currently, there are some exciting threads on this blog which merit our full attention (Book of Paths for example). Anyway, thank you Mark.
Posted by: Reza at August 9, 2004 08:15 AM
Reza I agree. I will quit, but only - be fair - if I'm allowed to say that you have totally straw manned my views.
Posted by: mark at August 9, 2004 08:59 AM
And one final final question (what is the last glass for the alcoholic? lol) --- Nick, why the double pincer of Hobbes versus Rousseau, and why not Spinoza who as you v well know cut right through both thes positions?
Posted by: mark at August 9, 2004 09:37 AM
Reza - agree that 'the Kapital question' has bizarrely swallowed the blog libido - a little ironic perhaps! Also think that unmistakable signs of diminishing returns setting in.
Obvious danger of taking a vow of abstinence about it is that it will creep in to the other threads instead (repression rarely works)
Mark - think the Sits etc. (anticapitalist mafia) are FAR more Rousseauistic than Spinozist -- just don't understand what is being "numbed and disintensified" if not an 'idealistic and utopian' assumption of innate human creativity (of which history gives not the slightest indication) -- before Kapital arrived on the scene Europeans spent their time digging in the mud, chopping each other up with bits of metal or crawling around on church floors
Absolutely don't agree that Hobbes/Rousseau is a 'double pincer' - Hobbes is right, Rousseau is wrong
Anyway, think Reza basically right that we're bogged down in trench warfare in this zone, so let's at least get stuff moving elsewhere simultaneously
Posted by: Nick at August 9, 2004 09:52 AM
>>> Obvious danger of taking a vow of abstinence about it is that it will creep in to the other threads instead (repression rarely works)
LOL ... you are absolutely right; it was just my personal view; we will return to this after taking some breath ;)
Posted by: Reza at August 9, 2004 10:32 AM
Think this comment from the lovely Paul Meme at k-p is worth reproducing here (hope he doesn't mind):
I'm not an economics expert, but I've studied it a few times and applied it in business heaps. I'm not on top of the hyperstition stuff -- made a conscious decision not to invest time there being days (hours???) away from the new baby. But I'd point out a few points that seem reasonable to me:
* "markets" aren't "capitalism". Markets are a seriously ancient human institution; capitalism looks to me like a fairly recent form of economic organiation that probably won't be around all that long.
Posted by: mark at August 9, 2004 05:31 PM
* I kinda see what Simon means by "microcapitalism" but it's a bit loose -- shoulda said "traders" or "economic agents" or something but none of those terms are really satisfactory
* that said "micro-capitalists" within the music biz really are very likely to be ripping people off along the way
* trade, especially international trade, could be great. Free trade is a good idea -- I'd welcome it enthusiastically if someone were to seriously propose it. There's not much of it about, at least where poor countries are concerned
* free markets are fantastic! I've seen very few of them -- i.e. markets whose efficiency is not destroyed by thing like negative externalities (look them up!) -- think roads / cars; not a free market at all.
* people who slag off marketing do not, in the main, understand what marketing is.
* the left needs to do a bit better to convince people that left politics can feed / clothe/ house the world than (pace John Eden) banging on about abolishing money.
well - as you say - a lot there. Instead of trying to address every point I will try to zoom in on what seems to me most important...
from your initial post and your reply I think there is, in fact, much that we agree on - the main difference is that you are using the term 'markets' for all that you affirm and support while wanting to restrict capitalism to certain negative 'anti-market' tendencies .
This is of course a strategic decision - as we've said - and different strategies serve different purposes - ultimately it all depends on who you are talking to...
but, though I have also used the markets vs capitalism distinction in the past, I am growing increasingly dubious about its usefulness (perhaps this is partly influenced by being in China where the distinction is forced upon you). However, I'm beginning to suspect that the lack of clarity and simplicity in the distinction reveals a certain weakness or lack of theoretical rigor.
I will try to explain what I mean by being extremely crass (apologize for this)
First, one can imagine a social system that relied solely on self sufficient pods (each unit building their own shelter, producing their own food etc... ) if this were to have ever existed (I doubt it has) it would be a pre-market or non-market society.
One step beyond this is when pod A and pod B start to trade with each other. As soon as they do this markets immediately follow (with all their obvious advantages). In this sense markets have existed (almost) always and everywhere - even the harshest forms of totalitarian communism have been unable to stamp them out completely - they are thus in themselves clearly not sufficient in defining capitalism.
It is, I believe, the next step which is crucial in determining the difference between markets and capitalism. This occurs when one of the traders - acting entrepreneurially - seeks to do something to improve their position in the market. This can involve, for example, finding ways to make production more efficient, aiming to increase distribution channels, making their stall more attractive etc... In order to do this the entrepreneur needs two things -- and here the analysis of Boehm Bawerk is crucial -- time and capital.
It is with time and capital that the entrepreneur is able to innovate . And it is this 'fundamental impulse... to create new consumer goods, new methods of production or transportation, new markets, and new forms of industrial organization....' that, as Schumpeter says, 'sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion.' In other words it is through capital (and the time that it provides) - that technological innovation and planetary transformation are made possible - - it is surely the intensity of this process that cyberpunk celebrates. It is not markets but capitalism that feeds and supports technological advance (Marx's blindness to this is the key to critiquing his analyses in Capital -for more on this see Boehm Bawerk).
As far as I can see the capital that is required for entrepreneurial innovation can be produced in one of two ways - either by the despotic state or by capital markets - it is the latter that in my mind defines capitalism as system (this is why I raised the stock market issue earlier)
All this is not to say that there are things in the contemporary global economic order that merit criticizing (though I think it is important to delimit these precisely and not just condemn 'big business' etc - after all it is you who taught me that there is a great deal of false consciousness in deriding McDonalds when what you really want is fries and a shake).
Anyway think we agree that what most needs to be singled out is what DeLanda refers to as anti-markets ( probably worth remembering that he uses this term instead of capitalism). Amongst the most despicable of these are the organizations and processes - as you point out - that block lines of openness and trade - the restriction in movement of labor, monopolistic and protectionist practices of various kinds etc. But to me how these are related to 'capitalism' is still a very open question.
p.s. if you haven't already HIGHLY recommend checking out de Soto's book 'The Mystery of Capital'
Posted by: anna at August 11, 2004 01:53 AM
Anna, this is brilliant, could do with a bit more 'crassness' on this site IMHO lol
This is the final piece in the jigsaw for me in getting a provisional anti-capital picture together.
The money quote lol is obv the Schumpeter one:
'the fundamental impulse... to create new consumer goods, new methods of production or transportation, new markets, and new forms of industrial organization....sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion.'
Exactly, that's what makes it a 'cybernihilistic anti-plateau' --- you have now provided a rigorously non-humanist machinic account of the way in which capital is fundamentally, integrally and irreducibly 'never satisfied'
Now we can't confuse this with the constant craving (cf K-punk) that capitalism installs in its slave-consumer-reproducers, although obv the one requires the other...
So: why the fetishism of the 'new'? You have to think carefully about yr investment in this IMHO.Think it is exactly NOT cyberpunk, indeed the opposite, it is Prog Tech SF Capital in person.
Cyberpunk after all is about making use of (what in the chronolinear prog temporality is considered to be) superceded tech --- course on the plane, there is no 'progress', it's all about intensities and potentials ----
on the level of Spinozist cyberotics it's about accessing Intensive Now, (cf John effay's extremely helpful comments on k-p), creative involution, lessness, k0...
To get concrete: blogging versus share dealing. Blogging actually costs me money ie. in buying materials to write about, from the POV of RAT, it's madness --- not only am I, ludicrously, spending money that could be invested, I am also spending time that could be used acquring more money which could be invested etc.
But that's SF progtech speaking. In reality, what happens is a conversion of money into anti-capital, i.e. into (for instance) collective network production, a making do with less practice that has nothing to do with guilty abstention obv --- on the contrary, let's face it, it's what you and Nick DO, much more than the rest of us stim-addicted consumers....
Share-dealing by contrast is about investing time and effort into what can never be realised -- we have to hold onto Deleuze's key point that Kapital cannot be 'realised' only converted into for instance cash --- in this way, capitalism is also anti-hyperstitional -- i.e. not about fictions making themselves real but about the real becoming unrealisable.
think a lot of the problems I have with the pro-cap wing are its unreconstructed escha-teleology. As Ray was saying to me the other day, what this seems to assume is that somehow it's easier to be a better Spinozist now than in the 13th century. (I hope Ray doesn't mind my repeating his comments here btw !) Again, this is SF, this is Prog Tech. But as Ray also said, there is good and bad eschatology. The only apocalypse counts is the one that has/ will always count: Apocalypse now.
Posted by: mark at August 11, 2004 01:57 PM
in other words:
enough is as good as a feast
Posted by: mark at August 11, 2004 03:58 PM
this is definitely a groundbreaking post in terms of clarifying things. Hope I don't refog it all, but a couple of things immediately occur to me:
(1)Firstly, as long as we interpret Schumpeters’ “fundamental impulse” as an inbuilt human or social impulse we fall prey to naturalizing capitalism rather than treating it as something alien that ‘takes hold’ of a society in a historically contingent singularity. Could it be less the case that the entrepreneurial trader spontaneously ‘wants’ to create market advantage, and thus seeks out capital and time resources to do so, and more that by isomorphically articulating value as time as money, everything _outside_ the market is suddenly miraculated as an apparent _resource_ of time and money crying out to be ‘employed’; thus underproduction-anxiety is present _before_ capitalism as a function of some specific stage of monetarisation ? Can't see any alternative to this except 'human greed' as driver of K'ism. Also connected with the primitive societies ‘warding off’ of capitalism – don’t they do this precisely because once let in IT will consume everything instantly and in advance? This whole thing needs to be addressed insofar as it impinges on the question of capital as positive motor = capital as oedipalising lack-engine.
(2)It’s definitely a matter of time-orientation, yes – cyberpunk sets itself the problem of making _now_ intense; progtech imagines a future that will inevitably be intense and sets about creating representations of it. Cyberpunk is pragmatic-procedural and starts in the middle in order to create futures, whilst progtech is prophetic-narrative and starts at the beginning or end in order to describe a future.
(3)Given mark’s description of blogging which could with sufficient ill will be interpreted as some kind of community potlatch, we need to spend time rigorously distinguishing anticapital as intensificatory process from mere dissipation/thermostatic release, otherwise drinking beer and watching zombie movies at home would also be ‘anticapital’. This is obviously to do with something like: AntiCapital as reality-production vs Capital as unreality-production, each of which are already somehow twistedly operative inside each other – ie in some sense you couldn’t get to blogging w/o going thru M$ (which brings us back to the fundamentalist D&G position wrt profound ambivalence of the process).
Posted by: undercurrent at August 11, 2004 04:57 PM
Local vs Global - This is just an amplification of the cyberpunk begins in the middle thing, but what also strikes me is how mark's post shows blogging as an example of a participative molecular collective of truly K+ processes (ie buying materials to write about so other people reply and recommend other things which you then write about....), whereas what seems to be celebrated by progtech-procapitalism is a totalising, universal K+ process that is always happening elsewhere so that the only possibility of 'participating ' in it is by means of an ultimately hermetic autohypnotic druj-gnosis.
Posted by: undercurrent at August 11, 2004 05:03 PM
Obv agree about the pub/tv zombie thing -- but couldn't this be seen in terms of the energy economy thing? i.e. sorcery of energy --- the more exercise you take, the more energy you have etc --- whereas the pub/ tv/ zombie thing is just about consuming/ energy drain. It's a question of what belongs to the labour/ convalescence of capital and what belongs to the economy of anit-capital. Think this is a concrete pragmatic question: i.e. Kantian categorical judgements like 'never watch TV' are silly, the Spinozistic question is how much TV can I watch whilst still maintaining an economy of intensification?
Also: obvious there are examples of blogging which ARE part of capital's subjectifiying emiserating machine. Marcello is an interesting case here --- part of it is impersonal enthusiasm, but, sadly, it all too often ends up reterritorialized as egoistic expressionism. By contrast, the network surrounding this, blissblog and k-punk is a desubjectifying network - not a 'community' of autonomous subjects.
To get concrete about this: if my last post was a breakthrough, it wasn't because me the genius 'thought' of it, it was the collective machine had processed stuff such that the position could emerge. Obv the difference between that and abstract culture forum subjectifying katak frenzy AND - equally pernicious - compromise between allegedly autonomous subjects is important...
Was thinking yesterday actually about China in relation to all this. Obv know absolutely nothing about China, but it was interesting talking to Rob and Cathy last night that they were saying that when they visited, in spite of all the gleaming modernization etc it didn't 'feel' capitalist. Starting to wonder if my western story that the Chinese model is 'really' capitalism, or a staging post to capitalism is actually deeply inadequate . i.e. what if the story that 'this is a cynical ploy by communists to introduce capitalism gradually' isn't a super-subtle ploy...
Question might be: how little do we need to marketize/ modernize? As opposed to Kapital Prog Tech: we can't do anything until there's fifty seven skyscrapers, eighty seven layers of management consultants, and 104 tps cover sheets, business plans and mission statements lol
Posted by: mark at August 12, 2004 11:42 AM
Thing is: who do we know who spend minimal amounts on clothes, furniture and other consumer goods? Who spend as little time as possible in paid work (i.e. as part of the Kapital reproduction machine)? Who devote nearly all of their spare time to intensity production (=anti-capital) and none to kapital's emollient convalescent opiates?
k-punk practice but pro-capitalist ideology? In the most important Marxian sense, surely they are on our side. lol
Posted by: mark at August 12, 2004 11:02 PM
Also think that as conceived above - i.e. accurately IMHO - capital's libido is essentially defined as lack ----
ie what is lacking now that will be provided later by the kapiteleology?
Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 01:02 AM
I like the idea of 'how little do we need in order to...'
MORE=LACK? (nick can do the numbers for us ;)
Posted by: undercurrent at August 13, 2004 09:07 AM
UC in response to that more=lack thing, I'm crossposting this from k-p:
'Think of the sheer multiplication of works of art available to every one of us, super-added to the conflicting tastes and odors and slights of the urban environment that bombard our senses. Ours is a culture based on excess, on overproduction: the result is a steady loss of sharpness in our sensory experience. All the conditions of modern material life - its material plenitude, its sheer crowdedness - conjoin to dull our sensory faculties. And it is in the light of the condition of our senses, our capacities (rather than those of another age), that the task of the critic must be assessed.
What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more to hear more, to feel more.' (Sontag, 'Against Interpretation')
Developing more feeling precisely entails being reliant on less external stimuli. Kaptial = progressively less from more. (see Downham on k-p) Anti-kapital = more from less.
Posted by: mark at August 13, 2004 12:17 PM