This amazing critique of economic thinking is by Jacques Fradin. I cannot claim responsibility for either the English translation or the distribution of the text – credit should go to my comrades at No New Ideas Press.
We’ll consider the economy (of) capitalism, its “economic” character even more than its “capitalist” one, as the major force of destruction of spaces and forms of life (ecumenes).
The economy-capitalism as an expansive bloc of colonization—of bodies as well as minds.
The economy considered, therefore, as a laying-waste.
We’re going to start by positing the sameness of capitalism and the economy, of what we’ll call economy-capitalism (and not capitalist economy). Or to be perfectly clear: economy=capitalism.
And I’ll add this statement: there’s no non-capitalist economy or alternative economy, whether social or socialist, nor is there a communist or any other (alter) economy. Non-capitalism is non-economy, and communism is radically non-economic.
Further, to put it differently, there doesn’t exist any recoverable economy behind or underneath capitalism.
Starting from this proposition, we’ll arrive at the idea that the economy is a wrecking machine, and that in order to combat this destructive bloc it’s necessary to leave the economy, live communism and deploy anarchy.
This destruction can present itself in various ways: continuous primitive accumulation, internal civil war, extermination of non-economic forms of life, etc.
But it’s crucial to recognize that economy is a devastation: social or socialist economy is just as disastrous as economy-capitalism, as the capitalism that is thought of as “vampirizing the economy” (imagined to be above the economy, as a cancerous or parasitical superstructure besetting the “good economy”).
Economy is constituted and develops through the annihilation of every non-economic form of life, since for its regular operation economy needs a reduced, well-formed type of human, self-seeking and thus predictable individuals who can be counted on and are accountable for their actions. Reliability and accountability are the twin necessities for functional economy.
Of course economy implies a fanatical utilitarianism, but it requires much more: universal calculation, the penetration of the accountable mental form into the most intimate regions of every human being, transformed into (self-evaluable) capital. What is sometimes called the “religion of money” is more radically the “religion of economy”, of the rational scientific evaluable self-evaluable.
The struggle against this devastation of free forms of life implies that we exit from economy, implies political heresy or social secession.
It implies the solid construction of fighting communes and not the cobbling together of alternative economies, be they social, socialist or even communist, or other market socialisms or social market economies.
The economic alternative is not adequate to the situation, being unintelligible and hence dangerous, as is shown by the repeated failures of alternatives organized around an “alter” system of production, obviously still economic (and hence capitalist). The huge failure of socialist economy, and of its capitalist involution, should serve us as a warning signal.
Fighting against the economic devastation implies the construction of non-economic communes. The an-archic communism of these communes is the red thread with which this intervention is woven.
The main theme of devastation and exit from it will be laid out in six parts.
- The economy is a despotic political regime that was set in motion by the economic liberalism of the Physiocrats (the economists of the cult) as early as the 18th
- This political regime has been actualized, beginning in the 1930’s, in cybernetics or in the idea of the authoritarian technocratic government of experts (the core of fascism).
- Economic technocracy can be presented as the power of the committee of “industrial” engineers, engineers working for the well-being of humanity.
The Saint-Simonian industrialist Second Empire, defined as the French origin of European fascism, is the moment when economic technoscience identified itself with the political technoscience of the engineers. This authoritarian moment is decisive, in particular for the attraction it will exert on “social reformers” and “philanthropists” as diverse as Proudhon or Le Play, committed reformers, drawn to practical projects in the social justice domain.
- The finest flowering of this technocracy is planning, planning via the
market, which we can call neoliberalism.
I prepared this paper for the forthcoming National Communication Association conference for a panel on affect. As with a much academic writing, I followed fairly strict disciplinary constraints; in this case, I am bridging rhetorical theory and advances in affect studies from other fields. The argument is not terribly original, though I make a few important distinctions that weed out inadequate interpretations of affect and establish the political stakes of affect theory (from a Marxist perspective). I will cut out roughly 3/4 of the material (to about 1200 words) to reduce it to a 10 minute talk.
My purpose today is to update the rhetorical studies theory of subjectivity. I argue that ‘affect theory’ should replace the older psychoanalytic model of interpellation. To concretize my argument, I analyze banal rhetoric; namely, the cybernetic subjectivity produced by “stock listings, currencies, corporate accounting, national budgets, computer languages, mathematics, scientific functions, [and] equations” (Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, 80).
Before I dive in, let provide you with a short preview of my argument. I begin by considering an essential axiom of critical rhetoric theory: “rhetoric produces subjectivity.” The prevailing theory is that subjectivity is an ideological effect of an implied audience (Charland, “Québécois”; Delgado, “Chicano Movement”). The most popular explanatory mechanism is interpellation, which draws on Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory of symbolic mediation (Althusser, “ISA,” 162). I argue that this model is no longer appropriate, for as Eugene Holland argues, “what Althusser actually describes is not the ideological constitution of the Subject, but only of the citizen” (“Schizoanalytic Critique”). The consequence of my argument is that rhetoricians explaining subjectivity through interpellation limited their focus to the State and relations of obedience/disobedience.
Second, I explain how banal rhetoric reveals modes of subjectivity beyond the citizen-subject. My claim is that rhetorical power now “speaks, communicates, and acts ‘assisted’ by all kinds of mechanical, thermodynamic, cybernetic, and computer machines” (Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, 29). I analyze “the language of infrastructures” to show how rhetoric solicits subjectivity without constituting a people or even addressing a subject (Pasolini, Heretical Empiricism, 63; Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, 61). As such, I do not celebrate affects as a challenge to abusive power; rather, I follow in the footsteps of Frédéric Lordon, who argues in Willing Slaves of Capital that joyous affects are the very means of our contemporary exploitation.
Lastly, I suggest two consequences from studying banal rhetoric: one, artifact selection need not be tied to rhetoric that hails “the people,” invokes an identity, or provides a symbolic program of action (McGee, “The People”; Charland, “Peuple Québécois”; Delgado, “Chicano Movement”); and two, the political search for rhetorical resistance need not emerge from distinct counter-publics or out-law discourses (Warner, Publics and Counter-Publics; Sloop and Ono, “Out-Law Discourse”).
Briefly restating my roadmap: I begin by discussing interpellation, continue with a discussion of affect, and end with the consequence an affect theory of subjectivity for future scholarship. Continue Reading »
On the one hand: the Paris attacks are obviously the work of a fascist ideology. Identifying it as fascism usefully illustrates the inadequacy of national responses, as they share the common cause of ethnic chauvinism. Digging deeper, it also reveals the hidden aporia of humanism, which harbors the liberal fascism of recognizing only those who believe in the project of univeralism as part of the universal.
Continue Reading »
Krzysztof Kieslowski: I’m So-So…(1998) dir. Krzysztof Wierzbicki
Three new publications:
> “Philosophy, Science, and Virtual Communism,” Angelaki 20(4): Link, Liberated
> “The State, Concept not Object: Abstraction, Empire, Cinema, ” parallax 21(4): Link, Liberated
> “Confronting Connectivity: Feminist Challenges to the Metropolis,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 12(5): Link (live Nov 19), Liberated.
Posted in papers | Tagged abstraction, cinema, communism, concept, connectivity, deleuze, empire, feminism, media studies, new media, philosophy, science, The Metropolis, the state, violence, virtual communism | Leave a Comment »
Originally posted on the Hostis website.
The beautiful idea: Anarchism means many things to many people. Classical anarchism in Europe defined itself in relief to its three opponents: the church, state, and capital. In our historical estimation, we find that anarchism in America has been known in any given time much more through its associated struggles. Decades ago, it was synonymous with punk rock. Even before that, it bore the face of immigrants: Emma Goldman, Johann Most, Sacco and Vanzetti. Contemporary anarchism has been linked to the anti-globalization movement and more recently, Occupy. The picture gets even more complicated if we expand our gaze globally, especially when we include Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Does the same fire burn in all of these times and places? Is there something that persists beyond a shared name? To be direct: what is anarchism?
The answer I now give to this question is that anarchism is the start to a conversation. As someone who loves that particular conversation, I use the word freely, contradictorily, and in public places. I continue to find the implications of words – words spoken out loud, not hidden behind word-processing software – to be bracing. The power of saying “I am for a Beautiful Idea called anarchism” out loud still makes me feel something –something akin to how I felt at a punk rock show (where my politics did originate), something not jaded.
Abstractly, connectivity operates through inclusive disjunction, a process that puts otherwise foreign elements into communication with one another through an encounter that does not require those pieces to operate through a shared logic.[i] Rather than in-folding some common term, such as the introjection of an imperial dictate, The Metropolis unfolds. It exposes interiors through a mutual opening up (to name a few: the privatization of economic risk through increased debt obligation, the removal of tariffs that protect national industries, or the exemption of citizenship rights against government assassination).[ii] In this sense, those who condemn capitalism as a homogenizing force are incorrect – inclusion can spread through divergence. The Metropolis retains differential relations of parts by selecting “a particular zone that varies with each” that will make possible its integration of the “sum of infinitely tiny things.”[iii] Furthermore, by being more than inclusion based on a common term (the law, a nation, a people), disjunction is pure relation, a movement of “reciprocal asymmetric implication,” that expresses only difference itself (and not imposing equivalence, resolving into a general category, or synthesizing into a superior identity).[iv] The Metropolis hence shares Deleuze’s “most profound insight” that “difference is just as much communication, contagion of heterogeneities,” which means, “to connect is always to communicate on either side of a distance, by the very heterogeneity of terms.”[v] The effect of this contagion does not result in a unity, combination, or fusion; inclusive disjunction maintains a “politeness” – “an art of distances.”[vi]