On the Inescapability of Capital (Revisions) — UNFINISHED
Some time ago I posted my first real attempt at writing something theory related called On The Inescapability of Capital. Months later, this problem hasn’t left my thoughts, and — to put it bluntly — I feel my response to it was insufficient at best. And so this essay will be both a second (hopefully refined and more developed) attempt at tackling that problem as well as an attempt at self critique.
“The continuous increase in funding-and as a result, power- of repressive state forces such as police and the military is just the surface of conditions that paint capital as a seemingly inescapable force. […] The less easily observable changes in conditions and the psychological effects they’ve had is the topic at hand here.”
Immediately I made 2 mistakes. The first mistake — the most glaring — was my immediacy in excluding repressive state forces from the analysis. How impatient of me to not even consider these institutions passed their obvious function. To not take into account the effect these institutions have on our existence as a whole, it doomed the paper from the start. They are not at the surface; there is no “surface” when it comes to Capital. It always digs its teeth as deep as it can; ingraining itself everywhere; poisoning everything. My project was destroyed from the start by my ignorance of the mental suffering reproduced by what I called repressive forces. How could I have tried to deal with a system that imposes itself as a totality while ignoring integral parts of it. It was like attempting to understand the function of a circuit after ripping an important piece out. Capital makes itself everything, so we must include everything in its analysis. Everything is made into a machine that functions within Capital, in accordance with its logic. The process, Capital, is manifested in the function of each machine. To neglect any of its machines, let alone some of its most brutal and powerful ones, spelled my defeat in only the first paragraph.
The second mistake isn’t far from the first and may have even been the foundation for why I made such an error. My characterization of repressive forces as a separate entity from ones that have a psychological effect. As I said, Capital uses everything and sinks its teeth deep. Its tools are exhausted to their fullest potential and used in every way possible to serve its purpose, i.e. self-maintaining and accumulating. And so, presenting these machines as a dichotomy between ones that have a purely psychological effect and ones that act purely repressively lead me to a reductive and inaccurate view of the process of Capital.
Interestingly, in the essay I bring up Capital’s ability to represent itself as the entirety of our existence: “The presentation of reality that’s given to us in almost every way shows capitalism as natural and inescapable system. The issue here is that our perception of reality is influenced by our conditions and capitalist realism”. I did this yet still opted to neglect one of the ways in which this is imprinted in our minds. A fear of what happens when we don’t comply, when we truly transgress, constantly works as a limit on our action. Much of what I originally characterized as repressive forces represent a kind of actualization of this fear; an answer to that question of what happens.
With that said, now I must return to the question: is Capital inescapable? The answer is no, but we must be willing to leave ourselves with it. Entangled so deeply in the poisonous logic of infinite accumulation and converting everything into code, humanity must be left behind and moved beyond to advance passed Capital. After all how could we have ever expected the historical being to survive the end of history? Our desires have become Capital’s fuel, all action stripped of its life and turned into a dead abstraction of itself. Capital may be the climax of man, but this isn’t some pessimistic admission of defeat. Rather it’s a call to open ourselves up to something fundamentally new, to truly become new. It has moved passed the problem of deeply sunk teeth, we are becoming only a tool for Capital to tighten its grip on existence. From the beginning, its motion was one of consuming everything, of making all matter exist within it; man is only the last thing coded, the last piece of heterogeneity brought to the starting point of economic production. It intertwines with the forms of perception themselves to present itself as preconditional, as a necessity for our existence and existing everywhere we can look.
We once thought only the proletariat must abolish itself for a triumph over capitalism; that was before humanity became its plaything, and it embraced contradiction; before it murdered the bourgeois, leaving only the disgusting smell of its carcass, and let us move freely so long as we stay in its immovable structure. Man is the subjugated class of an autonomous Capital. Even man’s cognition functions similarly to Capital; wanting to contain everything in the mind, homogenizing every object of knowledge. Look no further than Descartes’ attempt at a universal measure or Leibniz’s attempt at universal language, and you’ll see that men have always been trying to do the work of Capital: to make it all code, to make all commensurable.
I alluded to this free movement in the original essay as well, “While there is an illusion of freedom and equal exposure of information on the internet, one can only assume that the massive corporations in control of social media would not sustain this ‘freedom’ in the face of what they view as a true threat to their power.” But I failed to understand it, or even properly identify it. I emphasize the role of “massive corporations” rather than trying to map this structured battlefield of “free” motion and appropriated action. I pose this idea of a freedom we are given which can be taken away, but the freedom in question is in no way liberating regardless of its possibility of being taken away. Our development away from the enclosed spaces of the past has only made the hold of the structure stronger. Less tight, allowing for freer motion, but nonetheless more powerful and impossible to exist outside of. For this reason we must not search for a place outside of Capital, a space that hasn’t been ravaged by its chaos and infected with its venom. For there is no outside. Capital functions by expanding and consuming all that was once outside. The moment any threat of something exterior to Capital appears, it is made a part of it.
As its power increases, a community ceases to take the individual’s transgressions so seriously (Nietzche. Genealogy of Morals)
True power is not held by a strict limit on movement, but rather the ability to allow free movement and the structure not be hindered. Each action does not have to be regulated, because the threat of each action need not be taken seriously in a truly powerful structure.
Throughout the essay I continue to refer to some group of people in power, but what does this mean? Is there really some group of people in power that can be blamed for the reproduction of our conditions? As my description of the Bourgeois as a dead carcass may suggest, the answer is no. There is no real ruling class. No group could manage the social forces of today; they’re too erratic, too spontaneous. An autonomous Capital cannot be lead or appropriated, for it is the dominant appropriating force. Nothing can bend Capital to its cause; Capital presents itself as the ultimate, highest cause. There are people who have benefited more, gaining power being one such way, but as it stands there is only the dead body of what once was. It isn’t gone, as we can tell from its inescapable revolting smell, it fell victim to a familiar process — homogenizing, creating a pool of indistinguishable profit-creating machines, bringing everything to the same starting point — its life was sucked out like all else in Capital.
The point is not to get out of this place but to cannibalize it (Culp, Dark Deleuze).
If a temple is to be erected, a temple must be destroyed. (Nietzche, Genealogy of Morals)
We do not want to construct something new on top of what’s already here, nor do we want to look for a place we can escape to. The goal instead is to find the cracks and exacerbate them until they have become a void large enough to consume Capital, dragging man and everything he’s known with it. No project can be purely constructive, for each construction must take something’s place. Thus, any project that parades itself as constructive entails complete destruction in its process. Not to repair what’s broken or cling to everything Ideal we can find in this world, but to destroy, to dissolve barriers and create an outside to Capital whose pressure is enough to crush every disgusting aspect of this unity, leaving only a triumphant posthuman and the ashes for him to create new worlds — that is our aspiration.
The development of Capital is interiority’s dance with the exteriority it advances towards. It pushes back the limit, consumes it, channels it back into profit, but in doing so increases the size of its explosion, the pressure on it intensified. Exteriority isn’t the other side of this limit, it isn’t some external world that is delivered and crushes the interior world. Rather it is the limit itself, increasing the pressure on this world as we move closer to its logical conclusion. It is a collision that ruptures any duality of interior/exterior. It is what can’t be included in capital’s unity; chaos, plurality, destruction of unity, the limiting and consequent destruction of productive forces. It is the clash of heterogeneity and homogeneity, while the history of capital is a dance between them; homogeneity subsuming heterogeneity, maintaining itself through the limit rather than colliding with it.
The threat could be considered inner in the sense that it’s contained in Capital’s logic but I call it outside because it is not actual, it’s something lurking; functioning and effecting but nonetheless not really existing.