Sunday, 9 October 2016

Nor yet good red herring: Autumn (3)

Where automated algorithms have supplanted 'fat finger' as the key component in subject formation, the subject cedes its god given pole. 

The sole purpose of the automatic subject is to induce within its human rival a permanent state of deferral of its judgment upon the life-world. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Nor yet good red herring: Autumn (2)

Navigator. Historical materialism refers to the process by which the progressive accumulation of productive forces transforms the content of world social relations. But accepting this is not to also allow that even the general characteristics of what follows a transformative event are predictable. Given sufficient information, we are able to broadly anticipate potential occurrences within closed systems as they metabolise perturbations (a hunter will know that a particular manoeuvre will separate weaker members from the main body of a herd) but no quantity of information is sufficient to predict the impact on a life-world following the extinction of one of its component species. Similarly, Marx's work on political economy may accurately describe certain processes within capitalism and how it will metabolise its internal crises but it has nothing, literally nothing to say on communism as a potential outcome of the transformation in human social relations post-capitalism. Whilst the reproduction of commodity society is dependent on its perpetual expansion, and its trajectory is both predictable and comprehensible from within the system as being always 'more of the same', the qualitative transformation of social relations between different social orders (say between feudalism and capitalism, or even within sequences after ruptures such as 'The Arab Spring') cannot be predicted by those living through it. For this reason, the passage of social relations to what is broadly understood as communism is not an object available to be anticipated either in terms of a quantitative to qualitative shift, or even as an intentional (prefigurative) self-adaptation to 'material conditions'. The ideological basis of historical materialism, its positivist stageism, by which an identity between social relations and history is first asserted and where the tumult of its forms is then retroactively represented as a sequence of closed systems, is both facile and inaccurate. Historical materialism becomes an ideology the moment it departs from the descriptive model of unintended consequences, wherein material transformations are observed to impact on social activity. By substituting for the flux of world forces a narrative of objective directionality and 'development' HM retroactively creates a positivist paradigm for its own predictions. The theory of historical materialism remains plausible where a system (say, Feudalism) is observed to apply 'learnt' responses in order to conserve a number of its internal instituted components and thus improve their operational efficiency. But its narrative exceeds the description of intra-systemic development wherever it goes on to explain inter-systemic, or super-systemic, continuity. The ideology of historical materialism is itself under-historicised, constructed as a distant reflection of the positive sciences. Its basic error is located in the misapplication of the description of intra-system 'learning' (the autopoeitic self-reproduction of institutionalised relations) to the totality of all human systems. At this point, HM not only asserts that systems become more internally complex as they seek to govern themselves but that across history a system of systems is operating through the selection and development of the species' conserved historical organs (primitives fall by the wayside as they are superseded by moderns). The Victorian prejudices active within these assumptions have been exposed by, for example, the ethnographies of those following Clastres where it has been discovered that the relative complexities of technological and social relations operate inversely upon each other. And the overarching narrative of material determination is itself also simplifying and selective, Gould writes of this mindset, 'Thus if you wish to understand patterns of long historical sequences, pray for randomness [...] nothing works so powerfully against resolution as conventional forms of determinism.'  Gould discovered that 'maximal long term order' is a product of randomness, of flux, and not of developing forces. Historical materialism instrumentalises the ideal of a world historical spirit guiding objective developments from simple forms to complexity, where 'complexity' functions as the higher value, as its means of verification of itself as paradigmatic theory and by implication of the political positions that are sustained by the theory. Then, the historicist ideology is pathologically dependent upon its demonstrating the external necessity of a sequence of developmental stages which function successively as the 'conditions' for what follows. The argument for complexity as the higher value form is familiar enough to Marxists and is a feature common to both its accelerationist and communising iterations. There is an active and explicit assumption within historical materialism that communism (the 'highest' form of social relations) must be situated at the end of the historical sequence which Debord describes as 'unified irreversible time' and Nick Land terms the degenerative ratchet effect. The material conditions for communism, as Marxists understand them, is the progressive defeat of 'necessity' (by which they mean systemic vulnerability) which is understood as a complex of: the reduction of work activity; the defeat of pathology; the commensurability of globalised planning with surplus product; the socialisation of productive relations. But the accumulated securities and assurances are neither securities nor assurances, they are not the conditions for communism but the conserved organs of historical reproduction. The conservation of existing structures is bound to reproduce the same conditions and the same social relations - stability and not change is the most likely outcome of historical materialist forces. But even so, there are no guarantees of invulnerability, and no true overcoming of the realm of necessity. Threats to the species, and the privations of existence, will continue to beset society (apparent improvements in the situation of oppressed populations indicate only what Foucault observed of power, that its relations are 'productive' more than they are prohibitive). The specific character of threats to the species change depending on historical conditions, but the potential annihilation of the species remains a constant, if also random, outcome which cannot be designed out. The underlying logical premises of 'material conditions' theory is reliant on the easily contested assumption of objective sequentiality - not only has the human species reached the present moment, thus proving the greater success of past societal forms at a species level and thus contradicting the developmentalist narrative, but because the extinction event is not situated in the past it must therefore be located in the future, indicating an increased potential sub-optimal resilience both at the particular historical level of over-adaptation to a unitary form of technological determinism and as phylogenetic inevitability (for this reason, the concepts of survival and necessity as these appear within the productivist discourse are always specious). Nevertheless, both communisers and accelerationists extrapolate from their adherence to the degenerative ratchet model of change and imagine communism as belonging within the historical continuum. As a consequence, they are obliged to make arguments for capitalism as a progressive force which simultaneously impedes their capacity for critique of existing relations. For historicists, communism's appearance at the end of the historical sequence is nothing but the integration of potentials developed within the capitalist environment but hitherto constrained from realisation by the value form. It is a theory which coheres only within its self-presentation - from the outside it is revealed as a self-confirming ideology. The launch pad for communism does not, and cannot appear within other relations because, as with all social systems, the relations are the conditioning constraints of the relations. There must be communism, not capitalism, prior to communism - communism is communism's subject, just as capitalism is capitalism's subject. The conditions for emancipation are emancipation not domination. An identified set of relations must first be in place before the same set of relations may appear. That is to say, conditions is the name of relations and relations is the name of conditions. In other words, it is axiomatic that communism, as it is with all systems, is self-conditioning. There are no 'material conditions' and no 'historical conditions', there are only relational conditions and the relational conditions are the conditions of reproduction not those of origin. Communism is neither a material community nor a historical community, it is a relational community, a community community.  By implication, communism not only does not appear within the bourgeois continuum of history, it is structurally incompatible with that continuum. This is not to say that what are called 'material conditions', that set of external contextual or environmental factors in which the relations appear, do not also contextually and environmentally impact upon their internal functioning - there is always this form of air, water, fire and earth. However, the qualitative/transformative metabolisation of these impacts cannot be predicted within the ideological heuristic of 'suppression and realisation'. In the end, nothing will be expropriated, there is only adaptation and survival - nature, that is the universe, will neither be subdued nor incorporated - the majority of what is, escapes. Communism, like all other human structures, appears as a very limited magisterium within the totality of cosmic forces, a situation which renders all talk of materialism as anthropocentric petty idealism. It is reasonable to conclude that if communism does not belong within the continuum, then it will be situated in a different order of temporality - probably some form of for-itself seasonality, a veritable neo-cyclical time. We learn from studying how systems maintain their outlines that cohesion is not the product of positive feedback, or the mutual congratulations of the internal organs, but of the tension between the incompatible constituent parts. For communism, the human community, to sustain itself as a 'final' form it must first isolate its processes from history and eternalise them within itself. It must establish and maintain its processes beyond historical sequentiality (otherwise it merely formulates the conditions of what follows it, where communism becomes the exit to some still later form). Post-sequentiality is only realisable where an internalised 'war' of its buttons is also the mechanism of its stabilisation (the order that is found in evolutionary randomness) - where communism's fundamental incompatibility with itself, the host's rejection of its transplanted organs, where its contradictions, are ritualised, seasonised, internalised. In pain, and in hunger, the injured beast feeds upon its own flesh that is exposed as its wound even as it also shrinks from its own fangs . Every successful system includes external functions within its own operations, this is the definition of subjectivity - therefore as a system of relations, and as the condition for communism's successful realisation of its relations, it must convert inter-system processes into intra-system operations. For this reason, there shall be no 'full communism', no point where the process is actualised as a finally achieved state. Completion only invites the exterior, and the end.  Instead, the flux of human community will loop itself into some other and external flux - it will not de-mystify but knowingly, willingly re-mystify itself. Inhabiting a plateau of its non-development it will oscillate, fluctuate, tramping between its seasons, its humours, its elements. From the genius Chtcheglov we are already familiar with 'the quarters' of the human community but now we must begin to explore, contra marxism, 'new urbanism's' temporal equivalent, which becomes comprehensible as a 'return', or rather as a mechanism of return. In this context, 'return' indicates the closure of the system, its outline and its reproduction. Thus, communism becomes not the antagonist of capitalism but of itself. Just as all opposition to capitalism is produced and constrained by capitalist relations, reproducing the same but also perfecting its form, so communism must utilise its contradictions as the motor of its self-reproduction. Spatially, the multiplication of thresholds where borders are abolished, formalises the passage of individuals across different territories as a mechanism of communism's war against itself. And in this 'balkanisation' of thresholds lies Chtcheglov's ethnographic genius. All other theorists of the post-state form, with the exception perhaps of Benjamin, imagined international communism as an unimpeded horizon, and of universalised integration of the totalised whole, but Chtcheglov re-introduced the alleyway, the hidden courtyard, and the interior space as the locus for thresholds between different and forever fragmenting territories of subjectivity. Temporally, the seasons and the moments of the seasons shall also be set against each other, striking different orders and registers of incompatibility by which the human community achieves its various relational states. After Chtcheglov, we may now imagine a Winter communism, perhaps along the lines described by Caillois, austere and self-depleting; then the cycle, anticipated by Shelley and Turgenev, commences in the Spring agonies of reawakening, the perpetual revisiting of early and fragile forms (thaw floods, convergences, confluence, the well-met) are later succeeded by the high and fragile Summer events of what the community takes to be its perfected form, but which it is aware must also decline, passing from a ripened stage to decadence and the Autumnal exit, a punctured edifice spouting energy and corruption, like Jupiter's Io, into the cosmos.Throughout my life I have had just one plan: first to create monstrous aberrations and then, by rushing to their side the tubes and trolleys of emergency life support, to secure for them, if only momentarily, a few sweet breaths of tender existence. Carving out footholds for the absurd and unprecedented encapsulates the entirety of what I have always understood as, and what I have always meant by, that elusive, and ever undetermined, 'communism'.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Nor yet good red herring: Autumn (1)

Peppered. Even supposing their internal non-contradiction, it is a mistake to proceed on the basis that the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class. Not only does this misrepresent the factors of determination at the heart of the expropriating process, it also permits the inference that other ideas, those ideas which do not 'rule', must therefore belong to those who are not the ruling class. As a consequence, the political rejection of what are identified as ruling ideas becomes a primary means for representing emancipation from present conditions - a feedback is immediately triggered where 'ruling' tropes and motifs are successively identified within the projects that have ostensibly set out to oppose the ruling class. Whoever repudiates convention, is later found out (by those succeeding them) to hypocritically embody it - critique is nothing but the endless succession of a-ha! by which the presence of 'tutelage' must be disclosed within self-identified projects of 'Enlightenment.' And yet, if considered 'materially', how were these holders of subaltern ideas to sustain their thinking outside of the determinative field of their environment? From what ground would ideas emerge that are incompatible with 'the ruling material force of society?' Either individuals autonomously generate their ideas and are therefore not bound by the material constraints of the world, or they are tragically impelled to give utterance to that which is already latent - And she took on another heart—no longer minded toward earthly things—but ecstatically in the angelic dialect, sending up a hymn to God in accord with the style of the angels. And as she spoke ecstatically, she allowed “The Spirit” to be on her garment."  In practice, at the level of social reproduction, every idea that is possible within a given environment is also compatible with it. Whether it rules or not, every line of thinking emerging from a world, also belongs to it. When considering the question of its appearance, it is never a matter of what the idea is (a more or less distorted negation of environmental process; a more or less distorted imaginary statement of what is not in the world; a more or less distorted response, description, adaptation, incorporation; a more or less distorted lagging behind the material force of society), it is never a matter of what is being thought but of the range of the idea's distribution throughout social intercourse. An idea 'rules' to the extent that it is widespread rather than because it reflects or articulates the interest of an identifiable social subject - ideas are only ever mechanically successful but then every idea is, at its core, merely a mistaken presentation of the totality. For this reason, the idea of outlying ideas, where other subjects wait in history's trenches to go over the top, misses the point. You are free to think anything that is of your world. You are free to think as far, as high, as deep, as skewed, as fragmented, as deluded as your abilities allow, but you are not free to think anything that is incompatible with your conditions. The structural distinction that is created between ideas at the moment of their appearance is set quantitatively rather than qualitatively; then, the rate of appearance of a particular idea is always more significant than its content. Whatever the idea, it is the magnitude of amplification that is decisive (render unto Caesar only achieved its significance through imperial amplification). The higher the rate of circulation of a thought, where reproducibility is determinative, the more successfully it has adapted to its environment. If every potential idea  within a world is also optimisable given sufficient capital investment and market research, then revolutionary ideas (that is, ideas intentionally directed against the host environment) collapse immediately into crisis. If, considered at that level of reproductive optimality, relatively unpopular ideas are relatively more antagonistic to the processive environment, then revolutionaries seeking to grow the market for their argument are caught in a conditional bind: the successful revolutionary must adapt successfully to the repudiated environment. Grand pas: find the word for the predicament specific to a neglected journal where the writer returns after an elapse of several months, both contrite and resolute, but only betrays the contrition and crumbles beneath the resolution, by making no subsequent returns, and thereby fixes this first return as the journal's last entry.  

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Letter to an unknown car valet

My fellow in irrelevance,
Millions of them. Hairdressers, tired TV producers, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, public relations executives, management consultants, you name them. We're going to colonize another planet.             HHGTTG
We are confronted with, or should I say, we must directly experience, what it is to be expelled from the essential proletariat. We have arrived at the point in history where mechanisation has inverted the relative significances of useful and useless toil. The reserve army of labour has become a generalised condition and no longer stands in relation to a standing or regular army of workers. Then, it falls to us, we pacified livestock kept below decks in the cargo hold of the B Ark, to consider what it is that 'unemployment' means in a situation where 'employment' has become economically superfluous. Can it be, as our senses tell us, that the subjective condition resultant of 'the abolition of work' is worse than work itself? We know of course, that the proletariat is not defined purely by those in work but by all those existing in relation to the labour process. But we also know that it is only those who are in work who have the potential to effectively refuse it. This army of shadows that we belong to has no capacity to abolish the apparatus that has already crumbled away around us - and yet we remain held in place as if we were working a 12 hour shifts. We are confronted in our state of worklessness, in the superfluity of our class, not by the adventure of our existential freedom but with the anxiety of scratching out personal survival in circumstances of material abundance, and where the refusal of work has already been anticipated and implemented, taken out of our hands, before we can effect it as the fulfilment of our subjectivity. What is it, as we are herded into the warehouse of collective uselessness, that the organising apparatus wants of us? It doesn't want our labour power, and it doesn't want us to enjoy our freedom. This state of dependency realised by our exclusion from the process by which we have up until recently ensured our reproduction, now ensures that this condition of unemployed positivity is imposed as a qualitatively distinct order of affliction.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

A Summer Chill (6)

Rather, it means that even if an individual stopped and chose to lay on their back in the grass and listen to the wind in the trees, they would not cease to have their needs met.  I would say, to be picky, that at this point there is no such thing as a worker, rather, the tighter formulation would be to say that "there is no longer any connection at all between the activity of an individual and her needs".
A note on the abolition of Labour

Monday, 1 August 2016

A Summer Chill (4)

Anyone who thinks this garbage is useful is most probably a eurocentric chauvinist.
Nihilist communism is not a critique of the state any more than it is a critique of capitalism. To have  attempted any such project would have constituted an act of moral presumption, even of hubris. Individual life forms are not compatible with the refusal of the environment upon which they depend, if anything the inverse is true: environments tend to refuse, or de-select, all but the most derivative of life-forms.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

A Summer Chill (3)

The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day."

Every act of desperation calls into question the category of adequacy.  The problem of social transformation has radically shifted from the order of the prescriptive (what is to be done?) to the forensic (what has been done?) and correlates with a slippage in ideology from motifs of attack to those of defensiveness.