Economy, Ecumenes, Communism: Economy as the Devastation of Ecumenes, Communism as the Exit From Economy – by Jacques Fradin

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.

  1. 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
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

  1. The finest flowering of this technocracy is planning, planning via the

market, which we can call neoliberalism.

Continue reading “Economy, Ecumenes, Communism: Economy as the Devastation of Ecumenes, Communism as the Exit From Economy – by Jacques Fradin”

Defining the Virtual Concept: An Idea that “Does Not Refer to the Lived”

state-conceptThis is an excerpt from my forthcoming essay in parallax that provides a Deleuzian theory of the State by way of cinema, cultural studies, and rhetorical theory.

Defining the state as a virtual concept requires an explanation of the virtual in Deleuze’s work. Deleuze does not mean simulated, as in ‘virtual reality’, in fact: ‘the virtual is opposed not to the real but to the actual’.[1] The virtual and the actual together make up two mutually-exclusive sides of the real.[2] The actual is a given states of affairs that is populated by bodies. The virtual is a ‘pure past’ of incorporeal events and singularities that have never been present, which have ‘the capacity to bring about x, without (in being actualized) ever coming to coincide or identify itself with x, or to be depleted and exhausted in x’ while ‘without being or resembling an actual x’.[3] In this sense, the virtual includes all potential worlds, everything that inhabits them, all of their really-existing potentials, and their every potential to differ that coexists with he actual.[4] To illustrate the complex character of the virtual, Deleuze is fond of quoting Jorge Luis Borges, whose ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ includes a fictional book of Chinese philosophy that creates an opening ‘to various future times, but not to all’. [5] ‘In all fiction, when a man is faced with alternatives he chooses one at the expense of others’, he writes, ‘in the almost unfathomable Ts’ui Pên, he chooses – simultaneously – all of them’ and thus ‘creates various futures, various times which start others that will in their turn branch out and bifurcate in other times’.[6] In fiction, the book is able to depict the virtual as ‘an infinite series of times, in a dizzily growing, ever spreading network of diverging, converging and parallel times’ that creates a ‘web of time’ – ‘the strands of which approach another, bifurcate, intersect, or ignore each other through the centuries’ and thus ‘embraces every possibility’.[7] Continue reading “Defining the Virtual Concept: An Idea that “Does Not Refer to the Lived””

Lazzarato, Signs and Machines Outline, Intro-Chp 2

money is just paperHere is an outline of Maurizio Lazzarato’s Signs and Machines that includes his Intro, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2. It is here that he develops his essential distinction between signifying/asignifying linguistics and their subsequent subjectivites of social subjection/machinic enslavement. A better formatted version is available in the downloads section of this blog. Enjoy!

MAURIZIO LAZZARATO: SIGNS, MACHINES, SUBJECTIVITIES

7 INTRODUCTION

23 – CHP 1 PRODUCTION AND THE PRODUCTION OF SUBJECTIVITY

23 – 1. Social subjection and machinic enslavement

29 – 2. Human/machine vs humans/machinies

32 – 3. Egyptian megamachine

34 – 4. The functions of subjection

39 – Capital as a semiotic operator

43 – 1. The concept of “production”

49 – 2. Desire and production

52 – 3. The failure of “human capital”

55 – CHP 2 SIGNIFYING SEMIOLOGIES AND ASIGNIFYING SEMIOTICS IN PRODUCTION AND IN THE PRODUCTION OF SUBJECTIVITY

57 – 1. The remains of structuralism: language without structure

66 – 2. Signifying semiologies

68 – i. The Political Function of Semiologies of Signification

72 – ii. Reference, Signification, Representation

80 – 3. Asignifying semiotics Continue reading “Lazzarato, Signs and Machines Outline, Intro-Chp 2”

Hearing the “Languages of Infrastructures”: Capitalism as Public Address

demolition

What does capital sound like? Do we hear it in the grinding gears of industry? The rustling papers of bureaucracy? The idle chatter of company spokesmen? The business maxims of a boss?

Though deceptively simple, the question is not an innocent one. How people listen for capitalism has major implications for public address, rhetorical theory, and Deleuze studies. As far as scholars of public address still rely on Aristotle’s two-fold definition of humans (“man is the only animal to possess language,” and “man is a political animal”), politics is central to the field. The rapport between capitalism and orality is far less certain. This ambiguity raises an important theoretical question: is rhetoric even important for the study of capitalism? And if rhetorical theory does have a role in critiquing capital, what is role of Marxist linguistics?

Today, I explore French Marxists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s suggestion that capitalism speaks in a voice even more nefarious than the ideological speech of politicians. According to them, capitalism acts through the inhuman code of asignifying semiotics.

I set the context through the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. I show how capitalism operates through “semiotic operators,” such as “stock market indices, currency, mathematical equations, diagrams, computer languages, national and corporate accounting” (Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, 39). I draw two implications from this finding: first, that there is a regime of signs distinct to capital, and second, that they draw on categories of rhetoric beyond those established in rhetorical theory. Continue reading “Hearing the “Languages of Infrastructures”: Capitalism as Public Address”

“Money is Just Paper but it Affects People Like Poetry”: Capitalism and Public Address

leatherfaceThis is the abstract for the paper I’m giving on Monday. If you find yourself in Spokane, let me know.

Every word is a death sentence; or so argue Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus. While previous work in public address has drawn on their work to remark on how communication constitutes a people or a territory (Roberts 2008; Brighenti 2010), I consider a darker Deleuze: his theory of how rhetoric inaudibly cuts, maims, and kills.

In the paper, I analyze financial reports, labor statistics, and corporate press conferences as a form of public address. I find that capital is itself a rhetorical agent that produces discursive events, but it communicates in a silent language. Theoretically, I use the concepts of ‘sign-operators’ and ‘incorporeal transformation’ from Deleuze (Deleuze 1990; Deleuze and Guattari 1984). The first extends recent work on how capitalist signs intervene directly in material flows (Lazzarato 2014). The second builds from other rhetorical work on ‘incorporeal transformation,’ especially as it describes the ability of the State to enact violence (Cooper 1988; Buchanan 2007). Continue reading ““Money is Just Paper but it Affects People Like Poetry”: Capitalism and Public Address”

New Publications, Presentations, Articles, and Research

voided

Sorry for not using this venue lately for my ongoing research. Will probably return to using it in the new year. For now, here is completed, ongoing, and future work. (Also, most of my free time has been soaked up by the search for a permanent job.)

Publication Schedule:
1) Hostis: A Journal of Incivility. Printing has already started. Expect copies to be available within a couple weeks via our distributor.
2) Escape. Book proposal nearly finished. Solicit publishers within next three months. Manuscript for submission: 67,500 words.
3) Dark Deleuze. In preparation. Final manuscript to be 15,000-25,000 words.

Presentation Schedule:
1) Chicago, “Feminist Mappings of the City,” November 2014, (passed).
2) Vancouver, “Militancy, Antagonism, and Power: Rethinking Intellectual Labor, Relocating the University,” January 2015.
3) Walla Walla, “Direct Action Training,” February 2015.
4) Spokane, “‘Money is Just Paper but it Affects People Like Poetry’: Capitalism and Public Address,” February 2015
5) Pittsburgh, “Weather Station,” April 2015.
6) Riverside, “#GHE20G0TH1K: Afropessimism as Aesthetic Blackness,” June 2015.

Upcoming Article Topics:
1) Feminism and the Metropolis
2) Wages for Housework, Wages for Facebook: Antagonism at the Point of Circulation
3) The State, Concept not Object: Abstraction, Cinema, Empire
4) (In preparation) Insinuation as Communication
5) (In preparation) Irregular Media: Digital Resistance after Guerrilla Warfare
6) (In preparation) What Does Capitalism Sound Like?

Ongoing Research Areas:
1) The Non-Representational Turn: Anti-connectionism, Insufficiency, Opacity
2) The Inhumanities: Anonymity, Code, Subjectivity
3) Negative Feminism: Gender, Hatred, and Pop Culture

Maurizio Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, “Introduction”

distorted

To say that desire is part of the infrastructure comes down to saying that subjectivity produces reality. Subjectivity is not an ideological superstructure.

At the time of Leninism, the government had to be overturned – the trade unions were economists, traitors – power had to go to the Soviets: in short, there was an idea, there was something. But here, really, there is no idea. There’s nothing at all. There’s the idea of macroeconomics, of a certain number of factors: unemployment, the market, money, all abstractions that have nothing at all to do with social reality.

-Félix Guattari, “Crise de production de subjectivité,”

Seminar of April 3, 1984

In a seminar in 1984, Félix Guattari argued that the crisis affecting the West since the early 1970s as, more than an economic or political crisis, a crisis of subjectivity. How are we to understand Guattari’s claim?

Germany and Japan came out of the Second World War completely destroyed, under long-term occupation, both socially and (8) psychologically decimated, with “no material assets-no raw materials, no reserve capital.” What explains the economic miracle? “They rebuilt a prodigious ‘capital of subjectivity’ (capital in the form of knowledge, collective intelligence, the will to survive, etc.). Indeed,they invented a new type of subjectivity out of the devastation itself. The Japanese, in particular, recovered aspects of their archaic subjectivity, converting them into the most ‘advanced’ forms of social and material production. [. . .] The latter represents a kind of industrial complex for the production of subjectivity, one enabling a multiplicity of creative processes to emerge, certain of which are, however, highly alienating.”2

Capitalism “launches (subjective) models the way the automobile industry launches a new line of cars.”3 Indeed, the central project of capitalist politics consists in the articulation of economic, technological, and social flows with the production of subjectivity in such a way that political economy is identical with “subjective economy.” Guattari’s working hypothesis must be revived and applied to current circumstances; and we must start by acknowledging that neoliberalism has failed to articulate the relation between these two economies.

Guattari further observes capitalism’s capacity to foresee and resolve systemic crises through apparatuses and safeguards that it came to master following the Great Depression. Today, the weakness of capitalism lies in the production of subjectivity. As a consequence, systemic crisis and the crisis in the production of subjectivity are strictly interlinked. It is impossible to separate economic, political, and social processes from the processes of subjectivation occurring within them. Continue reading “Maurizio Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, “Introduction””