Friday, November 30, 2012

rhetoric of modernity/logic of coloniality

"international aid has too often served to prop up the interests of an entrenched elite as well as the interests of those in charge of the 'new world order.'"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

unearthing governing laws of applied capital

"... today the majority of Haitian organizations function in the form of community development projects. That is, they take a social problem (be it political, economic, or cultural) out of its local realities and turn it into a situational problem for foreign actors to solve. Using their intellectual capacity, they create a project to execute with foreign capitalist funding." (Tectonic Shifts, 70)

this reflects the apologetic maneuvers of the international bourgeoisie to compensate for the locally disintegrative effects of global capital, which will make units of people or else violently enforce exclusivity from the dominant mode of production. "development" in this sense is an historical narrative of absolute polarization, the concrete realization of the internal contradictions of capital and the relations it recreates ad nauseum. it is a testament to human perseverance that we are not yet engulfed in the post-revolutionary vomitorium of deflated arrogance and the ballistic phallus of pride, which seeks some unattainable absolute elasticity of the periphery. they are yet a consciousness coming.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


"Just as the accelerated history of our time is the history of accumulation and industrialization, so the backwardness and conservative tendency of everyday life are products of the laws and interests that have presided over this industrialization. Everyday life has until now resisted the historical. This represents first of all a verdict against the historical insofar as it has been the heritage and projects of an exploitative society." S.I.

ownership is an impulse.
private property is institutionalized theft of the commons.


The movement of human history is contingent upon the reproduction of the historical possibility.  This is achieved by a mode of production.  Capitalism facilitates our self-reproduction, but it does so artificially, and the consequences are disastrous.  As capitalism has evolved and endured through myriad crises, it has acquired for itself a disproportionately mythical power that is enchanting in its sway.  Yet capitalism, for all its glory, is absolutely drawn up within a greater movement than its own:  dialectical materialism.  It is the singular antagonistic element of modern history after industrialization from which all of our contemporary antagonisms spring.  But as the dialectic of science necessitates, the process of creative evolution is the harbinger of decision; for from out of opposition emerges a transformative synthesis that has the power to mark the “end of history” or its new beginning.  In this sense, capitalism may be said to have (as an organism) a finite course.  Wallerstein’s world systems analysis has this principle to offer us:

“Once one takes historical systems as the basic units of analysis, time becomes as important as space…  We have already noted that there are three basic movements in time for any historical system:  the time of its coming into being; the time (much longer) of its “normal” functioning and development/evolution; the time of its structural crisis, bifurcation, and demise.”

    Once it is clear that there is a process of aging or duration to the historical system as organism – once it is clear that capitalism has become that totalizing historical system – it is possible to identify both internal characteristics and external interactions that signify a certain period in the life of capitalism itself.  In its “self-conditioning,” capitalism “articulates” itself, revealing its form; Mandel posits
the capitalist world economy is an articulated system of capitalist, semi-capitalist, and pre-capitalist relations of production, linked to each other by capitalist relations of exchange and dominated by the capitalist world market.  It is only in this way that the formation of this world market can be understood as the product of the development of the capitalist mode of production… and as a combination of capitalistically developed and capitalistically under-developed economies and nations into a multilaterally self-conditioning system” (49).

Capitalism as an organism# has a duration; it is thus possible to speak of the lifespan of the capitalist mode of production.  The mode of production is a material mode – it is the physical relationship human beings have to the matter of the earth, how we harvest it, transform and consume it.  Capitalism as a mode of production is the systematic categorization of the earth and its parts into parts, the standards of measurement of which produce quantifiable data allowing for the allotment of all resources into their most efficient or productive use (use-values are thus organically determined from the accumulated history of use-values of the products of the historical mode of production – i.e. the history of their exchange.  Again, “the present moment of a living body does not find its explanation in the moment immediately before, that all the past of the organism must be added to that moment, its heredity—in fact, the whole of a very long history” (14).  The fundamental resource of the capitalist mode of production for Marx is labour-power, which capital appropriates on loan in order to produce surplus-value, which in turn is re-circulated through direct application by the capitalist in a medley of ways.  This circulation and re-circulation of capital is inherently expansionist and all-subsuming (totalizing).  It reproduces itself not only through the exploitation of labour-power but in demonstrating the enchanting intensity for transforming the world into use-values for human consumption.  This, however, is an illusion, for it is not capital itself which contains the power but human beings laboring in concerted cooperation to reproduce themselves:  “the capitalist mode of production is both the mode of production in which the economy is most easily recognized as the ‘motor’ of history, and the mode of production in which the essence of this ‘economy’ is unrecognized in principle (in what Marx calls ‘fetishism’)” (Mandel, 242-3).  Capitalists in this sense are leeches feeding and reproducing themselves through the market – the place of exchange which is the metaphorical lungs of the organism that is capitalism.  Marx, in Capital III, describes the relationship of evolving industry to the “world market”, which “itself forms the basis for this [capitalist] mode of production.  On the other hand, the immanent necessity of this mode of production to produce on an ever-enlarged scale tends to extend the world market continually, so that it is not commerce in this case which revolutionized industry, but industry which constantly revolutionizes commerce (328).  Marx’s explanation of the evolution of the money-form of the commodity demonstrates this relationship, for money, representative of exchange-value, is imbued with the same abstract process of the signification of value.  It is for this reason that Marxists constantly cry for the differentiation between value and “price”.#
   Capitalism attempts cultural equalization through its dual processes of formal and real subsumption.  Mandel reminds us, however, that global capitalism does not equalize economically; rather, it is the opposite that occurs:

The law of value would only lead to uniform prices all over the world if there had been a general international equalization of the rate of profit as a result of the complete international mobility of capital and the distribution of capital over all parts of the world, irrespective of the nationality or origin of its owners; in other words, if practice only if there were a homogenized capitalist world economy with a single capitalist world state (71).

It is an organism that attempts to absorb all other organisms as dependent parts of its historical-material process.  This is a gradual process in which nation-states restructure their economies in order to open up the flow of capital; it is the assimilating mechanism necessary in capitalism’s expansion at the behest of authoritarian measures imposed by capital-dependent states (imperialism).  The unequal distribution of global wealth is a distribution, but, to re-sculpt Mandel’s statement, the state of the world is one of singular (and total) dependence upon the capitalist mode of production.  This form of “single capitalist world state” we may properly call “late capitalism”.
    Bergson, speaking of the movement of aging – how an organism’s development times itself and its own unfolding growth – describes how the details of our material world may appear to be constantly refreshed, but at the core is measured qualitatively by a more organic duration.  He writes:

The cause of growing old must lie deeper.  We hold that there is unbroken continuity between the evolution of the embryo and that of the complete organism.  The impetus which causes a living being to grow larger, to develop and to age, is the same that has caused it to pass through the phases of the embryonic life.  The development of the embryo is a perpetual change of form.  Any one who attempts to note all its successive aspects becomes lost in an infinity, as is inevitable in dealing with a continuum.  Life does but prolong this prenatal evolution.  The proof of this is that it is often impossible for us to say whether we are dealing with an organism growing old or with an embryo continuing to evolve… (13).

   In a very relative sense, the persistence of any organism is framed in its own riddle of the sphinx.  All organism age, and in that aging, relative to themselves as well as their species, experience youth and its development into old age.  As all organisms, there are both quantitative and qualitative changes to capitalism’s characterization over its apparently organic development, or aging.  Mandel explains that our previous inability to

explain late capitalism hitherto can be attributed to neglect of this interlinkage [between ‘organized capitalism’ and generalized commodity production] – in other words, to incomprehension of the famous formula applied to joint-stock companies by Marx in Capital: ‘It is the abolition of the capitalist mode of production within the capitalist mode of production itself, and hence a self-dissolving contradiction, which prima facie represents a mere phase of transition to a new form of production.  It manifests itself as such a contradiction in its effects…

    What Mandel neglects to remark upon is that this “famous formula” is not “abolition” but rather displacement, a “fetishization” of wealth that seems to spontaneously generate in the hands of mathematically-skilled manipulators and analysts of the market movements of capital around the globe.  Industrial labour, on the other hand, becomes globalized but nationally and regionally fragmented in its inequalities:  “On the world market, the labour of a country with a higher productivity of labour is valued as more intensive, so that the product of one day’s work in such a nation is exchanged for the product of more than a day’s work in an underdeveloped country” (71-2).  Meanwhile, the developed world seems on the verge of breaking away from labour-power simply because the flow of capital has been internationalized.  Mandel continues:

…  [Late capitalism] establishes a monopoly in certain spheres and thereby requires state interference.  It reproduces a new financial aristocracy, a new variety of parasites in the shape of promoters, speculators and simply nominal directors; a whole system of swindling and cheating by means of corporation promotion, state issuance, and stock speculation.  It is private production without the control of private property.’  Likewise: ‘The credit system appears as the main lever or over-production and over-speculation in commerce solely because the reproduction process, which is elastic by nature, is here forced to its extreme limits, and is so forced because a large part of the social capital is employed by people who do not own it and who consequently tackle things quite differently than the owner, who anxiously weighs the limitations of his private capital in so far as he handles it himself.  This simply demonstrates that the self-expansion of capital based on the contradictory nature of capitalist production permits an actual free development only up to a certain point, so that in fact it constitutes and immanent fetter and barrier to production, which are continually broken through by the credit system’ (523-4) [Italics his].

Capitalism’s end may be in this over-elasticity of the distribution of wealth.  This is in light of the fact (which Marx initially shows us) that capitalism has an “inherent tendency towards ruptures of equilibrium” (Mandel, 27).  Bergson reminds us, however, to

[c]onsider the most complex and the most harmonious organism.  All the elements, we are told, conspire for the greatest good of the whole.  Very well, but let us not forget that each of these elements may itself be an organism in certain cases, and that in subordinating the existence of this small organism to the life of the great one we accept the principle of an external finality.  The idea of a finality that is always internal is therefore a self-destructive notion” (28).

Strung through Marxist discourse is a lens-like movement between the localized activity of capital and the wide landscape of its expansion; the former is the site of scientific analysis, the latter is the vision of historical materialism as a process (though it, too, is simply another lens of relative proportion (here we find Bergson, who asks us “relative to what?”)).  The former is fundamentally static – an opportunity for close critical examination and signification – the latter, in constant motion, is equally a glimpse of the whole dialectical movement of history which, however grand it appears, begins in a relationship between humanity and our own production and reproduction, or what Marx calls our historical mode of production.  In advanced capitalism, all exchanges are exchanges of commodities; the actual fragmentation of human beings into commodity-conduits for the flow of capital mirrors itself in the marketization of all qualitative human attributes (marketization here taken to be literally the effective objectification and quantification of all things human; the pretense is their exchangeability).
Fragmentation is the opposite of unification (unity).  It is the result of categorical intensity.  It is the shattering of portions into alienated parts that are closed-off to meaningful interrelation and exist in apparent solitude.  Gradually we are beginning to see the effect of quantitative systems of analysis on every aspect of our lives, as scientific and mathematical cybernetics totalize their grip on us.  Capitalism is transforming all lives into numerical intelligibility, for mathematics is the language of capitalist apportionment.  The more mathematizable all qualities of the world become (Martin Heidegger speaks specifically to the reduction of all possibilities to a single understanding that proclaims its own truth, i.e. science), the greater the possibility of exploitation of the resources the world has to offer.  The more identifiable the world becomes in our insistent (even imperialist) categorization of its generative matter, the more the attributes or personality of the world is broken down into parts whose only source of life or momentum is the circulation of capital on a global scale.  Bergson details this totalizing transformation as one of quantitative disintegration:

“When the mathematician calculates the future state of a system at the end of a time t, there is nothing to prevent him from supposing that the universe vanishes from this moment till that, an d suddenly reappears.  It is the t-th moment only that counts—and that will be a mere instant.  What will flow on in the interval—that is to say, real time—does not count, and cannot enter into the calculation.  If the mathematician say that he puts himself inside this interval (as Marx does), he means that he is placing himself at a certain point, at a particular moment, therefore at the extremity again of a certain time ; with the interval up to he is not concerned.  If he divides the interval into infinitely small parts by considering the differential dt, he thereby expresses merely the fact that he will consider accelerations and velocities—that is to say, numbers which denote tendencies and enable him to calculate the state of the system at a given moment.  But he is always speaking of a given moment—a static moment, that is—and not of flowing time.  In short, the world the mathematician deals with is a world that dies and is reborn at every instant—the world which Descartes was thinking of when he spoke of continued creation.  But, in time thus conceived, how could evolution, which is the very essence of life, ever take place?  Evolution implies a real persistence of the past in the present, a duration which is, as it were, a hyphen, a connecting link.  In other words, to know a living being or natural system is to get at the very interval of duration, while the knowledge of an artificial or mathematical system applies only to the extremity” (15).

Capitalism is an artificial system that mimics a natural system by apparently organic stimulation.  It is only “apparent,” however, and not actual – for even as it alienates and fetishises, it is this very process of alienation and fetishization that reveals its own false eternity; its internal and external finitude; in a word, its lifespan.  Once revealed in its artificiality, the very means of its own reproduction and propagation may be turned against it – an act that can only be considered the genesis of a revolutionary science.  This is what Marx did when he wrote Capital and set out the principles of capitalism’s artificial, antagonistic momentum.
Its internal finitude is measured in the human cost of labour-power; its external finitude is measured metabolically, in relation to the sheer quantity of natural resources available for consumption.  Today, labour is at its limits, in tension with a mode of production that is trying to squeeze out surplus-value where internal and external contradictions render this, under the laws of capitalist motion, impossible:

In terms of space, a historical social system had boundaries, but the boundaries were not fixed. The structures of the modern world-system, which was a capitalist world-economy, led to its continual geographic expansion, such that over time the capitalist world-economy came to encompass the entire globe. At that point, the issue for the modern world-system was no longer how it related to zones outside its geographical limits but how it coped with the fact that there were no longer zones outside its geographical limits (Wallerstein, 6).

Geographical and resource limits are external antagonisms to the fully developed form of capitalism, or “late capitalism”.  Maitra’s study on the development potential of the “third world” claims that “a complete capitalist transformation of the Third World economies will not materialize, despite a tremendous growth of capital accumulation as a result of these economies being an integral part of global capitalist production” (67).  Part of the reason for this is the systematization and apparent lapse into permanence undergone by the world systems at this time.  There are, however, more vital matters at hand than anthropomorphism.  The very earth itself appears to be deteriorating around us, as Grifo’s eco-economic analysis succinctly notes:

Habitat degradation, overexploitation, introduced species, pollution and contamination, and global climate change, driven by an ever-growing human population and greatly increased consumption levels, are the primary factors behind the loss of biodiversity.  This loss can be characterized as a two-step process consisting of ecosystem disruption and the subsequent extinction of species…  It is the objective of this chapter to examine one set of specific consequences of this loss:  the profound implications it has had and will continue to have for human health (197).

   Moreover, this deterioration in habitable and cultivatable space is directly associated with the rising levels of both poverty and landlessness in underdeveloped nations.#  There is a sprawling contemporary debate around the appropriate human response to these external limiting factors; meanwhile, capital continues to suck the labour of the world dry.  These are only brief remarks on the current environmental crisis, but the exhaustion of earth’s carrying capacity is a potentially severe limiting factor in the continuation of capitalism’s evolution.
Today, capitalism has become a given – hence a necessary – historical epoch in the creative evolution of humanity’s internal development of an antagonistically artificial – inorganic but historical nonetheless – mode of production.  In Mandel’s words:

The crisis of capitalist relations of production hence appears as the crisis of a system of relations between men, within and between units of production (enterprises), which corresponds less and less to the technical basis of labour in either present or potential form.  We can define this crisis as a crisis not only of capitalist conditions of appropriation, valorization and accumulation, but also of commodity production, the capitalist division of labour, the capitalist structure of the enterprise, the bourgeois national state, and the subsumption of labour under capital as a whole.  All these multiple crises are only different facets of a single reality, of one socio-economic totality: the capitalist more of production (571).

It is a system that wants and strives to make every system a part of itself.  In doing so, it obscures all variety and makes all human history its own history by effecting a qualitative change in the global modes of production by homogenizing every exchange-relation it can find.  Capitalism appears to have managed even to subsume socialism by subsuming the state apparatus.  Though the state proclaims its “regulation” of the market, it is truly the opposite which transpires:  the market, at the mercy of capitalism, determines the state’s function.  Today, government has been placed in the absurd situation of relying upon the developed locality of capital’s flow (here, the United States) to fund programs attempting to ameliorate the conditions of a capitalist society in the first place!  It is apparent, particularly in the case of the Chinese state, that all initiatives and programs depend upon late capitalism for their funding.  The success of the “communist” Chinese state to rewire itself into the framework of capital’s torrential flow must be saved as a topic for another discussion, however.  What we are dealing with here is approaching complete system dependence upon late capitalism; the equivalent of Venezuela or Iran’s resource curse, or even American dependency on oil.  In other words, it is an overblown structure, primed for explosive deflation, an “epoch in history of the development of the capitalist mode of production in which the contradiction between the growth of the forces of production and the survival of the capitalist relations of production assumes an explosive form.  This contradiction leads to a spreading crisis of these relations of production” (Mandel, 562).
Taking a step back, we see the planet earth.  It is not only our habitation but lends itself generously to our habitude, the manners in which we live.  We depend upon it, yet it does not depend upon us.  Perhaps the clearest understanding we can have of the planet is that it will not support human civilization indefinitely, but only for as long as one or the other perseveres.  That support system is founded in the mode of production proper to its time in history; today, that system is global and it is called capitalism.  Marxism, on the other hand, uses the very science fostered by and appropriated for the purposes of capital to propel a revolution in the mode of production.  Humanity must necessarily rupture with capitalism, science’s jealous keeper, in order to right the historical imbalance and violence of societies.  Althusser writes, “the antagonism between the productive forces and the relations of production has the effect of a revolutionary rupture, and it is this effect which determines the transition from one mode of production to another… and thereby the transformation of the whole social formation” (228).
Creative evolution is the anarchy of the forces unleashed by the mode of production (variable), and it is this we must keep in mind when faced with the polemical “end of history”.  It is our means of producing new internal and external relationships and fundamentally transforming capitalism into a qualitatively new mode of production:  communism.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

mystic of the commons

zion part two. like innumerable threads of a tapestry we intermingle and stream into the light together. a single body whose parts, in revolt against one-another, fight to grasp above the mud. chalk men astride the sunken form, pushing it back down.

but we are not in the mud, nor are there figures above us. these are only mechanical dreams, a stage built to be identical only to itself, with a held breath praying for our ignorance. we sleep and dream of submersion. to wake up is to bear the flower over our heads and relieve the angels of their wings. look into each-other; see ourselves.


This, then, is where capitalism has brought us.  The duration of its antagonistic mode of production may not be measurable in mathematical time (concrete time), but it is qualitatively measurable in space, which is the breadth of alienation, exploitation, and devastation in the material human world we have built under its impetus.  The accumulated human experience of its own collective life (memory, which is more than history), brutalized by the purveyors of capital and its intense productive efficacy, qualitatively manifests itself in manifold miseries such as binding poverty, armed conflict, and the irreversible destruction of the earth’s natural resources.  Faced with gross discrepancies in the distribution of wealth, we have at last been able to stare down the immense power of profit and numbers (GDP gross, GDP per capita, supply and demand of commodities and their production, &c.) and demand different systems of measurement (Gini coefficient, gross national happiness, happy planet index, &c.).  These systems, however, in attempting to quantify and standardize what is experientially and qualitatively diverse, merely reproduce the mathematical, totalizing systems of analysis that are as intimately-linked with capitalism’s historical-epochal development as lovers bound up in the blind passion of their copulation.
Marx knew that the process of dialectical materialism in human history is the internal antagonism; yet simultaneously it is ever reaching beyond itself, projecting itself into the future.  The totalizing discourse of mathematical science (scientific mathematics) in its relationship to capitalist development, then, as the channel that capitalism sets to constructing itself (ideologically and materially), is one fold in the twofold antagonism of the capitalist mode of production itself.  Like a ratcheting, evolution regulates itself through a process of experimentation, which like science is a movement between the hypothetical and the actual; between possibility and actuality; between the virtual and the concrete.  Most importantly, however, it is the movement between thought and action, which, much like the development of exchange-value and the money-form themselves, occurs not in frame-able instants or moments but in a gradual effort of repetition and nuance (the qualities of individual organisms in general).  “Like ordinary knowledge,” Henri Bergson writes, “in dealing with things science is concerned only with the aspect of repetition.  Though the whole be original, science will always manage to analyse it into elements or aspects which are approximately a reproduction of the past” (20).
   Capitalism, as we know, is an evolved form of more “primitive” modes of production.  In itself (internally) it is comprised of a twofold antagonism:  on the one hand, between the forces of production and relations of the mode of production, on the other, between the affective, closed totality of mathematical science (scientific mathematics) and the immense breadth of possibility generated and proffered by the earth.  Real time, outside of mathematical, calculated time, is the space where this genesis is realized – timing itself.  Bergson writes:  “Organic creation… the evolutionary phenomena which properly constitute life, we cannot in any way subject to a mathematical treatment.  It will be said that this impotence is due only to our ignorance.  But it may equally well express the fact that the present moment of a living body does not find its explanation in the moment immediately before, that all the past of the organism must be added to that moment, its heredity—in fact, the whole of a very long history” (13-4).  Bergsonian creative evolution, in the accumulative nature of its movement, can be formulated as parallel to Marx’s characterization of historical materialism in the Communist Manifesto:

In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these again, subordinate gradations. The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones (35).

   Creative evolution is the same:  “new” relations emerge from an indeterminate duration of nuanced yet repetitive interactions between different organisms.  This latter side of the twofold of the capitalist mode of production is equally revealed through the respective “quantitative lens” and “qualitative lens,” or mode of historical interpretation.  The gradual subsumption of the latter by the former (through a particular dialectical process in human history) is the historical evolution of the singularly capitalist mode of production that has come to dominate the experiential realm of human affairs.
   Capitalism, like an organism, is composed of smaller, relatively more individualistic parts.  The evolution of the concerted function of this organism is Marx’s project in Capital, through his thorough examination of the development of the commodity and exchange value.  There is an intrinsic link between capitalism and the development of the commodity; the former depends upon the advent of the latter for its existence, as it is the production and exchange of commodities that drives the accumulation of wealth in the rising bourgeoisie class.  The commodity, which is any object of human need or desire, material or imagined, possesses twofold value.  In one respect, commodities have “use value” as things (that can be used in some sense); but they are also “expressions of an identical social substance, human labour,” and in the act of exchanging commodities – an object not becoming a commodity until it is exchanged – present us with their “exchange value,” that is, what is their equivalent in trade (Marx uses 20 yards of linen = 1 coat).  A commodity satisfies a human want, exhibits use value in its consumption (which is informed by the quality of the commodity), and exhibits exchange value as it is exchanged (quantity is fundamental to exchange value).  The commodity, however, in its exchange, is accompanied by both a leveling and an abstraction.
   All labour becomes the same in a capitalist economy.  When we move from use-value as a basis for exchange to exchange-value, we abstract the labour that produced the commodity in our abstraction of value; the nuances of material production disappear, and we are left with “materialized” value, “congealed quantities of homogenous human labour” (128-9).  The “magnitude” or quantity of this value is measured temporally in terms of the labour that produced the commodity, in terms “… of human labour-power expended without regard to the form of its expenditure” (128).  A commodity’s exchange value is always equal to what it can be exchanged for; “… the exchange relation of commodities is characterized precisely by its abstraction from their use-values” (127).  There is a third potential party involved, which is another substance that may be exchanged for either product, whose value does not arise naturally (money).  The substance of the commodity is labour; its measure of magnitude, labour-time.  A thing acquires value when it is “mediated through labour” (130).  It acquires exchange value as soon as it is exchanged.
   The value of a thing is established in terms of the labour-time that was invested in its production.  Once labour has been abstracted, however, the unitary phenomenon and expression of labour power must necessarily have a standard against which all labour can be measured (in terms of the product; i.e. a canner and a tanner can’t be expected to operate within the same system of value assignation).  As a whole, this standard Marx calls “socially necessary labor time,” or “the labour-time required to produce any use-value under the conditions of production normal for a given society and with the average degree of skill and intensity of labour prevalent in that society” (129).  When an item is exchanged, it acquires a different value, depending upon the nature of the exchange; these values “are always divided up between the different commodities brought into relation with each other by that expression” (140).  The “relative value” of a commodity is brought into relation with the “equivalent value,” by which it establishes the standard of its own value determination.  The relative value is always relating to the equivalent value; that is, positioning itself as equal to the equivalent value.  The universal determinant of equivalent exchange value is notorious:  money.  This abstraction of exchange value, appearing as a concrete item, is really the artificial birth of the blood of global capitalism, readily assailable as such only in its transformative power, turning labour-power into surplus-value and fresh capital.  Exploitation of labour-power is the foundation of capital accumulation and the driving opposition of modern history.
   Evolution too is driven both by internal antagonism and external antagonism at once.  Capitalism’s appropriation of the productive force of labour-power is an internal mechanism that is concretized in what economists call “development.”  Of course, this is in no sense an actual relationship, merely an artificially-created one, obscuring labour-power itself.  The course of history – which we ourselves have charted and continue to navigate, as explorers – is responsible for this.  Before we can conceptualize the human collective in its diverse fullness, however, humanity must be brought together to the point of a collective decision, or the antagonistic climax of the epoch of capitalism.  This is begun by the appropriation and exploitation of human labour-power, occurring under specific and unique historical conditions.
The movement of labour is the movement of modern history, dialectically materialized in the development of the commodity, the money form, and the capitalist mode of producing surplus-value.  This movement gave rise to Marx’s “labour,” which is homogenously responsible – in its productive power, that is, its capacity to create value – for the totality of material production within industrializing societies.  In acquiring objects with certain use-values and transforming them into different objects with new use-values, labour imbues objects with the potential for profitable exchange; in other words, a labourer creates an object that is both desired and exchangeable.  As a force of production, labour, which, lacking capital, also necessarily lacks the “means of production,” is desirable to the rising capitalist class, whose object is the production of surplus-value, or profit.
    None of the elements of the production process is capable of producing surplus-value (and thus new capital) save for labour.  Both the “value of the raw material” and the value of the means of production (equipment, machinery, &c.) may change, but these changes are only ever actualized in the labour that produced those values, and thus affect the process of production (costs, efficiency; i.e. how much surplus-value can be produced) only in the value these elements possess “independently of the process” (318).  Labour power (homogenous and crystallized) is the sole producer of value and surplus-value, and the accumulation of this in the hands of the employer or “capitalist” is the means for the cyclical accumulation of surplus-value and new capital.
Labour in general is up for grabs in “the assumption that the labour of the worker employed by the capitalist is average simple labour” (306).  The capitalist makes this assumption in light of the current economic conditions, which inform decisions regarding the capital “advanced” in the process of production, i.e. wages, pricing, hiring more or less labour, &c.  The capitalist market depends upon this relationship in order to expand its profitability.  The early labourer, landless, has only the productive value of their labour-power, which industrialization determines to be their sole means of subsistence.  Only by selling their “wage-labour” to the interests of accumulated capital will they survive.  The capitalist knows that

“The worker adds fresh value to the material of his labour by expending on it a given amount of additional labour, no matter what the specific content, purpose and technical character of that labour may be.  On the other hand, the values of the means of production used up in the process are preserved, and present themselves afresh as constituent parts of the value of the product…” (307).

   The latter point is particularly important to Marx’s argument; he insists upon the “metempsychosis” of value as labour changes “the means of production into constituent elements of a new product.”  Like the notion of the soul’s flight from the body in death, “[value] deserts the consumed body to occupy the newly created one” (314).  This act of creation, however, does not give rise to surplus-value on its own, but only when “loaned” to the capitalist by the labourer in exchange for the means of subsistence; first labour works, then it is paid… only once the profit has been made.
    Profit is one of the main constituents of surplus-value, and it is here that we are to ascertain the exploitation of labour.  A single labourer, working on their own, is really a craftsperson.  As soon as their labour is rented to the capitalist, they are bound to the terms of their contract, and must produce for the sake of producing commodities – values priced by the market – which will be sold in the circulatory, accumulative drive of capital, guided by capital but materialized by the proletariat.  Marx delineates the two types of capital in terms of “constant capital” and “variable capital,” the former representing “the raw material, the auxiliary material and the instruments of labour,” the latter being “labour power” (317).  These are the two factors intimately interwoven in the “valorization process,” by which value is produced in “excess” of “the sum of the values of its constituent elements,” or “the value of the capital originally advanced” (317).  This is surplus-value, or “the difference between the value of the product and the value of the elements consumed in the formation of the product, in other words the means of production and the labour-power” (317).
   In production, “The replacement of one value by another is here brought about by the creation of new value” (316).  This “new value” is what is exchangeable on the market, consumable by the population, desirable in some sense of the product’s novel use-value.  This is the situation in which we find labour:  co-opted into the process of production by their free-floating, flexible nature (movement of labour, quantity and quality of labour), and, in the need to sustain themselves, become the sole objects capable of engaging in the valorization of production and hence the means of sustaining the capitalist class in social production.  This is nothing less than the creation and re-creation of the classed social order, the exploitation of the labourer, and the ultimate consumption of what is produced, over and over again, in the temporarily self-sustaining of capitalist inequalities (arising from the conditions of production).  This is the internal contradiction of capitalism that Marx posited, and the basic social relation it illuminates is met, first and finally, in the factory.
The beginnings of the manic activity of wealth – growing into its own behavioural characteristics, its own “clout,” so to speak – manifested itself physically in the proliferation of factories.  The conditions in factories not only were abominable in Marx’s lifetime, but continue to exhibit their grotesquely-exploitative tendencies out of sight of our own first-world mode of seeing.  For Marx the factory was the central locus of capitalism itself, its breeding ground maintained by the flow of capital through its labouring heart.  In these environments the “metabolism” of humanity is acted out nearly twenty-four hours a day.  Machines demonstrate their productive value at their quickened and quickening rate of consumption.  The value of the particular components of the machine’s own production (labour-power, socially necessary labour time, raw materials, &c.) never even nears exceeding the value capital and unskilled labour-power are consequently enabled to extract from the process of production.  Thus in one act capital simultaneously castrates the labourer, who has become ever replaceable by an “industrial army” of cheaper, unskilled, largely uneducated labour, and augments itself manifold through efficiencies.  Capitalism is itself a “division of labour,” if labour is interpreted not as processes of production but the socio-cultural articulation of human driving forces.  The economic force of capital and its global scope have become a part of the function of societies.  Capitalism, moreover, is largely assumed, as is our participation in it.  Yet capitalism itself must be structured as efficiently as possible in order to run and expand seamlessly.  The fetishization of wealth itself is a result of the division of our needs and desires.  Capitalism feeds desires, and with the growth of desires comes the growth of needs, not only quantitatively but qualitatively.
The factory is founded on motion; it sustains itself only for as long as the velocity of capital is sustained (through commerce, expansion, and technologization).  The machine itself is a microcosm of the ideal factory, in which the labourer becomes nothing more than “conscious organs, co-ordinated with the unconscious organs of the automaton, and together with the latter subordinated to the central moving force” (545).  In this “most developed form,” the labourer him or herself demands as little as possible in order to subsist and still function as socially-necessary labour.  Mechanization and technologization in general aid this process, as a labourer’s “skill” becomes less important as the complexity of the means of production increase and their operation is simplified.  The capitalists desire as much productivity out of their factories as possible for as low of a price as possible.  Unskilled factory labour, such as is done by women and children in many countries, is ideal for two reasons; one, the labourers themselves often experience chronic unemployment in their economies and must work whenever possible in order to survive; and two, their structural and individual lack of education and educational opportunities empowers their employers to fully exploit their labour-power in the production of surplus-value.  Wage-slavery, in factories explicitly, in many regions of the world, is little better than literal enslavement, and in many cases may be far worse.
Engels explicitly tells us that “capitalists cannot exist without wage workers” (32).  Wage-workers are an industrial phenomenon (though in developed countries, wage-labour has become largely synonymous with labour in the service sector), moulded in the factories themselves, woven into the very material function of the factory itself:  “In manufacture the workers are parts of a living mechanism.  In the factory we have a lifeless mechanism which is independent of the workers, who are incorporated into it as its living appendages” (548).  The factory is an organism, comprised of component reproductive (labour) and metabolic (means of production) parts.  The factory is where the physical transformation of raw material into commodities – the commodification process – characteristic of the capitalist mode of production is produced and reproduced on a global scale by a reserve army of industrial labourers.  This is the metabolism of capitalism, which grows in exponential proportion to the expansion of its organism; “Marx foresaw this development over a century ago, when he wrote that capital could only develop itself (and the forces of production) by simultaneously pillaging both the sources of human wealth, earth and labour” (Mandel, 578).  It requires an industrial base of labour concentrated and powerful enough to metabolize for the whole global system of capitalism.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

the neutral devourer

the inequitable allotment of the resources necessary to promote social stability is the antagonistic progression of the expansionary petits morts of the organism of capitalism engaged in its historical bacchanal of amoral internal and external subsumption and transformation into the convoluted web of material and socioeconomic praxis whose codeterminates are uneven development, geographies of capital accumulation, and the overextension and corruption of simple market production into its own feeding tubes. a direct metaphorization of global shipping routes or the controversial alaska pipeline is all that is required to understand the energies of chaotic power which, like the dark side of the force, seduce men and women into service in the names of progress and development, a farcical performance whose ramifications slide unavoidably onto the backs of future generations, who we worship and are reluctant to liberate from our own human failures.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

breakfast of champions

A noise outside before the noise inside, overriding skepticism, morality, the terrorist disjuncture of a return key, which is a chord.

conceptualization of vice is lackadaisical categorization.
each and every iteration of thought in symbolic terms is both an act of supreme agency and destructive.
the birth and death of god are what we now call "consciousness".
the christ narrative metaphorically implicates a gathering of multiple consciousnesses, a veritable circle.
all narratives maintain a struggle between being and not being, a time-space decisionmaking process.
narratives engage actively in contextual collectivisation.
life is more breadth (the mind) than anything else.

"I need my videographer!"; let's leave that up for interpretation.