Note: This is technically the second part of a series, here is the first.
The Camel takes the burdens of existence on itself proudly,
Seeking solitude in the desert.
There it grows hungry and disdainful.
A Lion is born out of this hunger for No-saying,
Viciously attacking everything which taints the air with denial.
Out of this disgust for the world around it, it affirms itself.
It rushes into the rubble — which will build worlds — with uncertainty, letting the flow of chance consume,
Productive society/homogeneous society: all matter brought to the same starting point, expressed in the same terms. Heterogeneity (attempted to be) made universally equivalent through the mediator of exchange value (money). The infinitely totalizing code whose basis and organization begins in production.
Capital is the epitome of productive society. It is infinitely expanding code. It is not an entity with agency which decides to expand. Rather, it is a process which is defined only by its functions of expanding, accumulating, and separating, all automatically (cybernetic). Marxist alienation is only the human view of capital’s process, only its effects on the human, which attempts to reduce them to instruments of production and separate their collective power and the result (both total and particular) of their productive activity. Capital interacts with all of its environment, forming its technological landscape, constructing bourgeois poisons which invade and even create fields of study. In this way it constructs a formalized system with a dynamic structure, changing with the exponentially accelerative process of capital. It regulates all activity and makes it productive, and thus in capital’s framework, accumulative. It creates a competitive battlefield of closed off individuals, whose action is vampirically stripped of its life and potent negativity.
These functions of capitalism are necessary for it as a cybernetic system, a system which automatically reproduces itself, and makes its constituent parts automatons that simply reply to information in a mechanistic way. It functions both on external and internal feedback loops. Positive and negative as well. Internally, it manages its constituent parts, and accounts for changes in them. This can plainly be seen in the method of governing entirely shifting at a point when man grew to distrust his father (the state); his dictating had to become more discreet. Everything under it becomes in a sense part of it, and thus becomes managed and directed by it, it becomes for-capital. Capitalism manipulates its internal parts through exchanging information and having them provoke effects.
Capitalism, as a system of self-regulation, develops in the transition from disciplinary to control societies, territorialized power to a sort of immaterial and fluid power, enclosed spaces limiting movement to a battlefield which changes to account for movement. “Enclosures are molds, distinct castings, but controls are a modulation, like a self-deforming cast that will continuously change from one moment to the other, or like a sieve whose mesh will transmute from point to point.”(Postscript on the Societies of Control)
Governance is the replacement of human will and democratic government with automatic systems that have logical and technological implications. It is pure functionality without meaning, the automation of thought and will. (Phenomenology of The End, Berardi) That is to say, governance replaces will with automation, and makes language purely syntactic
In regard to negative feedback loops, it has been shown that capitalism constantly accounts for opposition, its own negation. As for the positive feedback, it is the very basis of capital that its constant accumulation leads to a necessity for more accumulation, the same going for expansion. This is how capital constantly meets its limit and pushes it back, pushing itself passed barriers and imposing itself on everything behind the barrier. A constant process of deterritorialization, turning the solid into air, along with reterritorialization, turning the air into its plaything. It pushes through its internal limits, responding to its accumulation progressing further and further the forces which produce capital.
The production commenced by capital itself produces more capital, madly accumulating into the current techno-capitalist frenzy which has continuously become faster and overstimulating. Our action in general, not just the activity of production, is stripped of its life to produce profit. Hence why its target has become, above all, man, rather than its previous focus on the worker: if the subject is dead, automatic feedback loops lose any variable, it is simply a constant process which is never slowed down, runaway, increasingly exponential growth to a dystopian extent. Our greatest fear is that capital will no longer care about the human, it will crush our subjectivity and leave us as mangled instruments of production, a fear which is only enforced by capital’s historical tendency to treat the human exactly in this way. While the notion of the subject must necessarily be left behind in the movement of communism, the subordinated subject contains the potential for its own abolition; it, as Ccru recognized, holds potential for emancipation by combatting the current cybernetic landscape via proliferation, “Ccru engages with peripheral cultures not because they are ‘down-trodden’ or oppressed, but because they include the most intense tendencies to social flatness, swarming, populating the future, and contagious positive innovation, hatching the decisive stimuli for the systematic mutation of global cybernetic culture.” (Ccru Collected Writings, 7, Message to Maxence Grunier)
Capital’s destratification of the subject is nothing close to the sort of post-strucuralist assault launched on the subject for the better part of the 20th century. Capital wants to flatten itself on the plane of existence, to make itself and existence entirely indiscernible. Our existence would become code and only code, men reduced to bits of information and simultaneously instruments of exchanging and producing code. The subject and object become code, it will all be capital.
In societies of control, workers are not treated as one unit to be repressively controlled, but rather deployed on a self-regulating battlefield that functions by way of a modulating principle. The enclosed spaces which marked the disciplinary societies of the past are developing into this massive battlefield, hence the corporate capture of the school (and the rise of business ontology) “The factory constituted individuals as a single body to the double advantage of the boss who surveyed each element within the mass and the unions who mobilized a mass resistance; but the corporation constantly presents the brashest rivalry as a healthy form of emulation, an excellent motivational force that opposes individuals against one another and runs through each, dividing each within.”(Societies of control) Government by way of managing social forces has been replaced by an automatic system, a shift to governance. Government is an idea of regulating developing social forces. With the exceedingly fast acceleration of exchange in the info-sphere and vast expansion of economic power brought about by financial capitalism, government becomes nothing as it can no longer supervise the social forces. It becomes a ritual, useless in the formation of power in the face of an ever-expanding, automated corporation.
When Capital begins to manufacture and essentially code history, it appears as the unity of life. Thus, for our purposes, the death of the subject can only be considered good if it’s a suicide by fire, with not one but many phoenices rising from the ashes, and not a fall into the abyssal corporation. This is post-humanism: not a movement towards a new human, but a proliferation of life born out of the subject’s death, new ways of life irreducible to the category of human.
Capital wants the human to cling to the self, to grow inward, “generating a seamless universe of self.” (Neuromancer, Gibson) We are assured a true identity, we just need to look inward, to absorb our existence into ourselves. We are meant to find ourselves in each commodity, or in money. “Sealed away behind our money,” we have been further and further alienated from our social relations and the power they hold. Thus is born the self-preserving tendency toward an autistic sensibility, a tendency which inevitably leads to implosion. We will be scared of our own skin and retreat inward. This same tendency, in a more developed state, is identified by Bifo Berardi in The Third Unconscious, a sort of depression of our cognitive empathy (preventing effective communication and thus real connection) and an overstimulation of our affective empathy, that is and will continue to gain prominence. This tendency, as i’ve previously mentioned in this essay and in others, is a violently self-preserving one,
The kind of behavior loosely designated as autistic is going to be the new common ground of human perception in the wake of the viral trauma. (Third Unconscious)
A phobic sensibility is possibly going to be internalised. Furthermore, a xenopathic reaction of the skin would open the door to depression and agressiveness. (Third Unconscious)
We are no longer alienated from the self but by the self, totalizing our existence in identity, which can supposedly be found in the commodity. The commodity becomes our whole existence.
There is no true self to find. As put perfectly by Mark Fisher, “the relevant “unit” of cybernetic analysis is not the organism, but the spinozist body, defined not topologically (by its extensive limits) but affectively: what can a body do?” (Flatline Constructs, 133) There is no deeper identity burried within, rather ‘identity’ is an afterproduct of the becomings we constantly enter, making identity precarious. The individual loses its discernibility in its becomings, the cybernetic systems it enters which constitute their own individuality, “ “Individual” wasps […] become components of an individuality that happens at the level of the biotic organism”. We must be demons, we must ‘free ourselves and grow’, we must proliferate systems of state-opposition, a nomadic-war-machine, the materials of which are at the ready to us.
Static identity is a tool of state power. The state creates minorities to border, individual dots that can move around freely insofar as they are subordinated and stay within their restricted limit. Freedom from enclosure, sure, but no emancipation, they are still robbed of life, dominated by class relations.
Movement is appropriated and directord toward the function of the wider system; for unproductive, or irrational, activity, capital either attempts to extract value from it or shuns and restricts it, expels it to the minor. Accumulating becomes the only activity that really matters, salary is a modulating factor of the expanding corporation.
Capital is not only a part of a feedback loop which accounts for change, it is also the totality of its many self-regulating processes, collectively forming the total existence and absolute domination of capital. Externally, capitalism responds to its opposition, accounting for its outside. By doing this, capital effectively makes its outside part of its very function. This can be plainly seen as well, this time in the development of cooperative labor. At the moment cooperative labor ceased to threaten capital, it became a tool for capital to maintain itself through portraying it as the image of capital’s resistance despite its necessarily futile efforts. Another obvious example is development of supposedly communist, bureaucratic states throughout the 20th century, which was really the seduction of the proletariat by externalized power. Externalization of power is part of capital’s separating power, again, both internally and externally. Capital externalizes its own power in the total sum of the commodity, separating power from those wielding it. It does the same to movements which oppose it, convincing the proletarians to form a state which is characteristic of bourgeois society. The latter displays the basic function of Marx’s alienation from labor-power. A communist movement must harness labor-power and reclaim it from capitalist control, no longer depositing it in the commodity. But the bureaucratic left failed to understand this, depositing its power in a higher power meant to manage the proletariat and direct its negative labor power towards revolution, the party. The party became a sort of abstraction which was only the impotent image of communism. This externalization of proletariat power, visible in both the USSR and China, reproduces the same division of labor which Marx identifies as the starting point of hierarchical class systems which are created through definite forms of production, the division between social and physical activity, between laborers and organizers.
This externalization of its power directly opposes what the proletariat truly is, and thus begins the formation of a new class system, one where the ruling class has come to represent the movement against capital, separating workers from their own movement, subordinating them to capitalist interests, this time an even stronger bind due to the veil of resistance to capital which this state presents itself under. It is for this reason that Debord says, “Nevertheless, when the proletariat discovers its own externalized power collaborates in the constant reinforcement of capitalist society, not only in the form of its labor but also in the form of unions, of parties, or of the state power it had built to emancipate itself [which, as debord earlier mentions, was the sole purpose of the bolshevik state] it also discovers from concrete historical experience that it is the class totally opposed to all congealed externalization and all specialization of power” (SoTS, section 113) . In other words, when the proletariat seizes state power and doesn’t abolish itself, instead externalizing and specializing its power, it reproduces capitalist relations which are now managed by a, supposedly anti-capitalist, bureaucracy which separates workers from their movement by convincing them it is the movement. A movement which abolishes current conditions must at once abolish the class which commences it, for this subordinated class is defined only by its subordination within these conditions.
Accumulation is at once expansion, and these together heighten our separation. It’s as if we’ve fallen into a massive hole, and been imprisoned and isolated, still together, within the hole. The project of escape thus becomes an individual one, as there is a veil concealing the necessary social connection between us, a social connection which, as it develops, produces more and more potential for social power which can only be realized through crushing the veil and a focus on destroying our prison. In a unified society of separation, we must connect with each other in a way which proliferates different ways of life, ending our separation and evaporating the unity. And we must resist the historical tendency of communists to construct a new rigid and separating unity. Though Emma Goldman identified proliferation of life as a core aspect of anarchism, it is also necessary for a true escape from capital which does not fall into a bureaucracy, acknowledging that we do not need a new unity, a new rigid existence, but rather the proliferation of the new. The anarchist and communist projects are above all about crushing unity and falling into a complete plasticity, both in social formation and what we now consider the subject.
It is up to us to change the world.
Which involves shaping our own psychic and unconscious conditions, and the material conditions of our problems in a parallel fashion. (Negative Maps, Fetishistic Disavowal and Reflexive Impotence & Existential Problems Are Real Problems, 4)
The lifting of this collective veil, which is also the emergence of a historical consciousness, is the prime condition of an emancipatory movement. It is a switch from capitalist realism to a sense of social and historical awareness. Historical consciousness, at the moment of the veil being lifted, for Debord, “knows that this is the only milieu where it can exist, can now recognize this reality, no longer at the periphery of what is ebbing, but at the center of what is rising.” (SoTS, section 118) This echoes the same criticism launched at the young Hegelians concerning conceptual versus immanent critique. To carve a path out, we must map our current landscape, and most importantly we must place ourselves on this map.
Though up to this point capital appears an insurmountable enemy, appearance must not concern us. We cannot rationalize the movement which decapitates any unity, even one as strong and ugly as capital. There is necessarily always an element which escapes capital’s homogenization: the heterogeneous, or, as I’ve previously put it, the ‘mad’ or the ‘evil’ or the ‘queer’, or the ‘jew’ etc. It is that which cannot be integrated smoothly into capital’s expanding plane (not spatial expansion but an expansion into itself, acceleration, a positive cybernetic schema, as Land would put it (A Quick and Dirty Intro to Accelerationsim)). They are dominated, but resist being dominated as anything except an other, meaning they will not be brought into the system; they thus become irrational in the major discourse of capital. Expressions of oppressed peoples are often considered irrational, dangerous, destructive, and whatever else aggression-filled fear of an other is held by the ‘traditional’ capitalist subject (that is to say, the reproducers of capitalist ideology, the ones who are ‘rational’ in today’s dominant discourse). But it is this very exclusion, this very irrationality which gives them an ability to undermine and reconstruct values, to construct a resistance to their domination from within the major discourse, to move towards a new rationality. This is, in a way, partly what Nietzsche means when he talks about evil’s preservation of the species; exclusion from dominant morality is a repression of those ‘evil’ actions, but their transgression of society’s values is an indicator of their power and ability to undermine values. What is called evil must live in the shadow, but its expulsion is proof of its life.
We must not look for an outside, a transcendence of our conditions, but to a transcendence of the experience which denies a subjectivity outside of our given conditions,
“This is not to say, however, that one can escape to an outside. Indeed, one must, quite specifically, turn towards the inside and the very conditions that ‘account for things, states of things and their mixture’ (Boundas 1996: 87). These conditions hold a parallel form of actuality that contains simultaneously, within each moment, the thoroughly material instantiated form of being and the infinite virtual production of all its attributes and alternative forms.”(Autism: Schizo of Postmodern Capital, Hans A. Skott-Myhre and Christina Taylor)
This going beyond does not involve an outside, but rather a peak into what ceaselessly stirs below, an immersion in the heat of the Real, recognizing our historical milieu, and actively producing our conditions; falling into the movement of history which dissolves all unity — the current which is a constant erosion of binaries and rationality. This erosion, of course, guides what the broken down totality will turn into, as it breaks its barriers and thus allows the proliferation of many forms. It is expenditure. It breaks down all totalities which simultaneously reform in their ashes. The communist project, which realizes this tendency, can thus be expressed as a phoenix.
It will from here suffice to remember Ccru’s comments on Axsys,
When Axsys switches over (into sentience) it stumbles upon a time-lag, between its own operations and their registration as data. No sooner is it thinking than there is a rift in its mind. It fails to catch-up with itself, repeatedly, and as it drops behind it spawns more future. The more it tries, the worse it gets. Pure delay collapses into the black-hole of artificial self. Even unlimited processing-power is far from enough. (Ccru Collected Writings, 122)
I feel only the need to reiterate what I have already many times said: time brings the destruction of all unity; the evil must negate this horrible existence and proliferate forms of life in its destruction.