20 September 2023

Da capo - From the beginning

Da capo - from the head - from the beginning, a musical term directing "at the end of a piece of music to repeat from the beginning" (OED). Once again from the beginning. 

But what is it supposed to mean with regard to the task of thinking? If it meant to go back to the beginning of Western thinking with the Greeks to simply repeat their 'piece of music', i.e. the historical trajectory of philosophical thinking to the present day, then this would get us nowhere. We would only end up back where we are today, our mind would not have changed. It must mean, instead, that in going back to the Greek beginnings, we are prepared and willing to change our mind, to recast our mind, by revising how the Greeks — notably Plato and Aristotle — answered questions regarding certain elementary phenomena on which our conceptions of all further, less elementary phenomena in the world depend.

What are these elementary phenomena? Apart from the question concerning human being or life itself (which are not the most elementary phenomena), Greek thinking struggled over centuries to conceive being and movement and hence also time. These conceptions have remained basic and determining for our Western (today globalized) mind to the present day. In Timaios Plato conceives being only as the opposite or negation of genesis, i.e. of becoming, movement. In his Physics, on the other hand, Aristotle conceives time as the number counted off movement, hence, as derivative of movement. This would render the phenomenon of movement as the central, fundamental phenomenon, because being is conceived as the unmoving, the unchanging (implicitly as enduring presence) and time as simply numerical, counted clock-time. Therefore the unchanging, i.e. being itself, is conceived as 'timeless', a thoughtless cliché still ubiquitously employed today!

But is time truly derivative of movement, or is it the other way round: Is it not rather the case that all movement and change, of whatever kind, can only happen in time? And that this time is more originary, more elementary than counted clock-time? Does not the striving to think as truly as possible to the phenomena themselves demand that we radically rethink time itself? Perhaps even that time is not a physical phenomenon at all, but pre-physical (and certainly not 'psychological' in the insipid modern sense of the term).

Since not all movement and change is physical — with physical beings, since they are extended, requiring space — there is also pre-spatial movement, e.g. the movement of the mind itself, focusing on this or that. This existential movement of the mind itself, however, presupposes the open, originary, three-dimensional time unifying present, past and future in which it can happen at all. Our mind belongs to time; all mental movement is temporal in this sense of focusing (in German: Vergegenwärtigen). 

Hence time and space are phenomenally not on a par with each other at all; rather time is more elementary than space, that is, it is pre-spatial. With this observation, a well-entrenched and massively fortified dogma of all our (Western?) thinking falls to the ground. And yet the clichés of time and space as on a par with each other and of time as sequential clock-time, i.e. as consecutive 'nows', live on today unquestioned and unperturbed. As if we had forgotten what it means to think and remain content with modelling in flimsy, hypothetical, theoretical constructs that are then  — too late  — empirically tested.

Counted, linear clock-time went on to have a spectacular career on the historical trajectory of the cast of our Western mind. Galileo, Descartes and Newton mathematized it for the sake of gaining mastery over physical movement. Very clever and effective. Einstein spatialized this linear, counted time by conceiving it as the path of light tied to three-dimensional space as observed by a subject with its apparatuses, such as telescopes. Hence the Lorentz transformation in special relativity (straight light path) and the Riemann tensor (curved light path) in general relativity. 

Attempts to fuse general relativity with quantum mechanics in quantum-gravity theory have prompted the striving to get rid of (the phenomenon of) time altogether (as an 'inner' psychological fiction) in the mathematical modelling of what is supposed to be 'the case'. But perhaps only certain, restricted kinds of movement can be conceived as happening in this 'skinny', mathematized, linear time — the time of linear causality that cannot cope with quantum indeterminacy, not with that sociating kind of movement I call interplay.

What if what is become of time is also intimately intertwined with what is become of us, of our mind, in Western history? In other words: What if how our Western mind conceives time is intimately intertwined with who we conceive ourselves to 'be' in belonging to the openness of time? What if rethinking time necessitates our rethinking the entire temporal structure of the world with its various kinds of movement?

What I have written here is only a tiny indication, a teeny-weeny tit-bit of the enticing challenge confronting us today: to rethink da capo. Not for the faint-hearted, and also an immense, multi-generational task with a myriad facets, but also necessary if we are ever to learn to stop simply mouthing clichés of thought in outworn language that serves to perpetuate the status quo with its seemingly endless techno-scientific progress. Such as the latest, inevitable innovation: algorithmic control of all kinds of movement through AI. It's been a long time coming since Plato broke down the logos into discrete bits.

Further reading: On Human Temporality.

21 August 2023

Sustainability? Of what?

The 'progressive' forces in this age of climate change and environmental degradation aim at making the (difficult) transition to a sustainable human way of life based on a sustainable, so-called 'circular', recycling economy. In the West, in particular, our relatively comfortable, even affluent, life style is to be sustained, supported by an efficiently productive economy that regulates and reduces its rate of exploitation of the Earth's natural resources. Sustainability suggests that the standard of living 'we' in the West have attained historically can be sustained and life can go on pretty much undisturbed, perhaps with some trade-offs. This is an important message for democratic electorates worried about holding on to their standard of living and also for maintaining the status quo of our present world set-up.

It seems reasonable: the Earth's natural resources are finite (message from the Club of Rome in 1972), so our exploitation and use of these natural resources must be brought within the finite bounds of what the Earth can sustain into the future, and these finite resources ought to be fairly distributed. In particular, the emission of greenhouse gases produced by energy generation must be brought under control through alternative, non-fossil-fuel technologies that can be developed and deployed at scale on an economically sustainable basis. 'Economically sustainable' translates here as profit-generating because, as everyone knows, a loss-making company or industry must inevitably disappear in the long run. On that front, sustainable energy generation seems to be a physical problem to be solved by techno-science within the parameters of economic efficiency, i.e. of profitability.

The criterion of profitability, in turn, is applicable specifically to our global capitalist economy which, in turn, requires huge amounts of energy in the physical sense to keep the capitalist production and circulation processes moving. Due to the nature of a capitalist economy, the huge amounts of physical energy required to keep the global capitalist economy ticking over and healthy are ever-increasing. Why this is so is not a question of physics and techno-science, but of the nature of a capitalist economy itself, i.e. its essence, i.e. of what it is at core; and this essence is nothing physical, but, in a well-defined sense, meta-physical, i.e. beyond the realm of what all the physical techno-sciences deal with or even know about. For the physical sciences, energy is the physical movement of all kinds generated by a power, potential or force being realized. Such forces and the energy they generate, i.e. the movement they effect, are at the core of the physical sciences all the way from quantum mechanics, general relativity, chemistry, molecular biology, biology through to even today's neuroscience.

But the circular movement of capital in its myriad circuits (an entirely different kind of circular economy that has been with us for centuries) in itself is not a physical movement. Rather this circular movement is the accumulative movement of thingified value, about which not only the physical sciences, but also the social sciences, including even economics, know nothing. Thingified value, namely, is a meta-physical or, better, an ontological idea, that 'hides' from us, i.e. it remains invisible to our thinking as long as we do not think ontologically in order to bring the phenomenon of thingified value to light in adequate concepts. Any concept worth its salt is not merely one pertaining to the modern (positivist, empiricist) sciences, but to philosophical phenomenology. To characterize the principle of global movement of the world in its essential core as the accumulative, circular movement of total global thingified value must remain controversial, to say the least. For today's scientifically based thinking and its tamed mainstream philosophy of all stripes, the very idea of thingified value must remain scandalous, ridiculous, invisible, for to conceive it, the ontological difference must be open for our thinking. But today it is not. Therefore we cannot properly decipher, interpret the world's movement and, above all, its principle of movement. Insofar, today's struggle and striving for a 'sustainable, circular' economy in the energy-efficient sense remains misguided, i.e. on the wrong track.

If the never-ending accumulation of thingified value, or, in other words, its limitless valorization, is the principle of global movement — a kind of movement sui generis that cannot be mastered via efficient causality —, it is easily seen that this principle of movement is not a physical one that could be approached by considering the 'sustainable' generation of renewable energy. Rather, it is the limitless valorization of thingified value that demands the unbounded generation of physical energy, renewable or not, for the sake of keeping thingified value valorizing. 

Moreover, the valorization of thingified value is a formal movement in which thingified value circulates through its various forms, i.e. its 'sights', 'looks' or 'forms of appearance of its essence'. The term 'form' must be understood here in the non-trivial ontological sense of a Platonic idea: as the 'sight' or 'look' of the being of a being (or more deeply: its mode of essencing*). The 'sights' or 'looks' of thingified value (such as goods, services, wages, productive capital, loan capital, interest, landed property, ground-rent, net profit, dividends, etc.) remain uninterpretable as such for as long as the essence itself remains hidden. The forms of appearance on the surface encompass what we see and understand as various kinds of private property, which functions as the perfect cover-up. The formal valorization movement of thingified value is not only limitless, but also indifferent to its content. Any and every possibility of profit-generation will do, no matter how harmful it is to humans or the Earth. In its indifference, the limitless valorization is also senseless. We are all entangled in this senseless movement that as such remains hidden to almost all.

How then, in view of this limitlessness, indifference and senselessness, is this principle of global movement of the world derived from its global capitalist economy to be reconciled with the striving for sustainability, in particular, for the sake of the so-called 'survival' of future generations of the human species? Is not this 'for-the-sake-of' already misconceived by presupposing and postulating what we are rather than insistently asking who we are? Is it not the case that we must first learn to conceive clearly the principle of movement as the endless accumulation of thingified value for us to even begin to contemplate how this eerie principle of movement of the world could be curtailed? Our continuing blindness to the medium of thingified value that intertwines and binds us together, and keeps us moving (mostly in pursuit of income of various kinds), does not auger well for the future.

Further reading: Social Ontology of Whoness.

*On Human Temporality.

Song: Extinction.

21 July 2023

Unendlicher Logos, endliche Zeit?

 Angeregt von einem Gespräch mit einem philosophischen Freund:

In der Tat sind die Unterschiede zwischen Hegels und Heideggers Denken groß, aber sie können noch miteinander 'reden'. Wie steht es nun mit der "Endlichkeit des Menschen"? Ist das Dasein letztendlich als In-der-Welt-sein zu fassen, oder ist dies erst ein vorgreifender Vorbegriff, dem es aufzuheben gilt? Wie ist das Absolute (Absolvente, Abgelöste) im Hegelschen Sinn zu verstehen? In erster Linie ist das Absolute das Nicht-Relative, und das zunächst im Hinblick auf das Wissen. (Das Absolute ist Gott hauptsächlich für die Religion.) Hegel setzt sich vor allem mit Kants subjektivem Idealismus auseinander, wonach das menschliche Wissen grundsätzlich darauf angewiesen ist, daß Erfahrungen der äußeren Welt den Sinnen erst mal gegeben werden, um dann im Inneren durch den Verstand nach logischen Regeln als Erfahrungen von Gegenständen in der Welt aufbereitet zu werden. Die Gegenständlichkeit des Gegenstands ist die subjektive Leistung des Verstands a priori. Damit ist für Kant das menschliche Wissen von der Gegebenheit der Erfahrungen abhängig, d.h. relativ, d.h. nicht absolut, d.h. endlich, begrenzt, nicht ἄπειρον, sondern beschränkt. 

Für Hegels absolutes Denken hingegen gibt es diese Begrenzung nicht, das Absolute ist unendlich, unbegrenzt und damit synonym mit 'Unendlichkeit'. Dies wird im ersten Teil der Phänomenologie des Geistes gezeigt und geleistet, wo das Bewußtsein seine verschiedentlichen Erfahrungen mit dem ihm gegenüberstehenden, äußeren Gegenstand macht, um schließlich mit dem Übergang zum Selbstbewußtsein die Kluft zwischen dem Bewußtsein und dem Gegenstand, d.h. zwischen dem Subjekt und dem Objekt, zu überwinden und damit diese Begrenzung bzw. Endlichkeit (πέρας) aufzuheben, denn der Gegenstand ist dann im Selbstbewußtsein. Mit dem Selbstbewußtsein ist das Wissen schon an sich unbegrenzt, unendlich, d.h. absolut. Dieses Ansich muß aber durch weitere Erfahrungen des (Selbst)Bewußtseins begrifflich entfaltet werden, wodurch es zur Vernunft, zum Geist und schließlich zum absoluten, unendlichen Wissen im Begriff wird. Schon mit dem Geist ist die Trennung zwischen einzelnen Selbstbewußtseinen überwunden, und der Kern eines miteinander geteilten Wir geworden. Das Bewußtsein wird dann schließlich im Begriff zum an und für sich absoluten Wissen. Wer aber denkt heute noch begrifflich in der Philosophie? Der Hegelsche Begriff ist — wohlgemerkt — spekulativ, d.h. er faßt Formen des Seins des Seienden von der ontologischen Differenz her. Die ontologische Differenz jedoch ist seit langem von der philosophischen Bühne verschwunden. Es bleiben nur noch empirisch-positivistische Begriffe in den Wissenschaften übrig, und die philosophischen Gelehrten wissen nicht, was "die Anstrengung des Begriffs" bedeuten soll.

In seiner Vorlesung zu Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes im WS 1930/31 (GA32) charakterisiert Heidegger den großen Unterschied zwischen Hegel und sich selbst als den zwischen Sein und Logos einerseits und Sein und Zeit andererseits. Die Zeit tritt an die Stelle des Logos, des Denkens, und Heidegger schlägt radikal vor: 

"Im Hinblick auf den Titel Sein und Zeit könnte man nun von Ontochronie sprechen. Hier steht χρόνος an der Stelle von λόγος. Aber wurden beide nur ausgewechselt? Nein! Es gilt vielmehr, alles von Grund auf und unter Übernahme der wesentlichen Motive der Frage nach dem Sein neu zu entfalten." M. Heidegger Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes GA32:144 

"[A]lles von Grund auf ... neu zu entfalten", und zwar von der "ursprünglichen", d.h. der ekstatisch-existenzialen Zeit her da capo! Welche/r Leichtsinnige würde es heute noch wagen, diesen Vorschlag Heideggers ernstzunehmen und ihn in die Tat umzusetzen!? Heidegger selbst hat dies nicht gewagt, sondern sich mit Hinweisen auf das Zu-Leistende begnügt. Wenn man es aber trotzdem wagt und — im Gegensatz zu Hegel in seiner Logik — mit der dreidimensionalen, offenen Zeit anfängt, dann gibt es keinerlei Subjekt/Objekt-Spaltung zu überwinden, denn Alles, was an- oder abwest, d.h. die Welt, kann nur in der Zeit und damit im Dasein an- und abwesen. Am Anfang ist das Dasein noch nicht individuiert. So gesehen ist das Heideggersche Dasein nicht in der Welt, sondern die Welt 'ist' im Dasein! Existieren wir damit bis zu dem Tag, wann dies eingesehen wird, in einer verkehrten Welt? 

Das Dasein ist ursprünglich in der Zeit! Nun müssen wir fragen, ob diese ursprüngliche, ekstatisch offene Zeit endlich ist. Das ist die entscheidende Frage, um womöglich eine Grenze zwischen Hegels unendlichem Denken und Heideggers angeblich endlichem Dasein zu ziehen. Wenn man die Endlichkeit des Daseins als die Endlichkeit des individuierten sterblichen Daseins interpretiert, das seine endliche Zeitstrecke auf Erden — gestreckt zwischen Geburt und Tod — fristet, dann ist die Frage anscheinend ohne Weiteres schon beantwortet: die Endlichkeit des Daseins ist dann nichts anderes als die Endlichkeit der Zeitstrecke des Lebens von diesem individuellen sterblichen Wesen. Diese Antwort ist zu simpel, denn sie greift auf die vulgäre,  eindimensionale Zeit mit ihren Zeitstrecken zurück. Die eindimensionale Zeit ist nicht offen, sondern wortwörtlich platt.  Zudem setzt sie die Individuierung des Daseins voraus, die erst durch die Verleiblichung des Daseins begrifflich eingeholt wird. Ursprünglich jedoch nimmt das Dasein ungeteilt an der Zeit teil.

Mit anderen Worten: die ursprüngliche, ekstatisch-existenziale Zeit, zu der das Dasein wesenhaft gehört (das Da ist ursprünglich die Zeit selbst und so vorräumlich!), ist die zeitlich dreidimensionale Offenheit, in der das nun individuiert-leibliche Dasein west, d.h. an der es teilnimmt, solange es lebt. Und diese zeitlich dreidimensionale Offenheit erstreckt sich über die Grenzen eines endlichen individuierten Lebens hinaus. Alles muß in der dreidimensionalen Zeit wesen, wenn es überhaupt wesen soll! Sogar der Anfang des Universums in der dreidimensionalen Zeit kann als gewesen für das Dasein geistig anwesen z.B. in physikalischen Theorien vom Urknall. Oder das Ende des Universums kann gleichfalls aus der zeitlichen Dimension der Zukunft der dreidimensionalen Zeit in mathematisch-physikalischen Theorien für das Dasein anwesen. [N.B. es geht hier nicht darum, ob diese Theorien 'wahr' oder gar 'richtig' sind.] Alles Mögliche (und Unmögliche) kann für das Dasein geistig an- und abwesen. Wenn die dreidimensionale Zeit für das Dasein allumfassend ist, d.h. daß Alles, was überhaupt 'ist', nur in der ekstatisch dreidimensionalen Zeit an- oder abwesen kann, wo ist dann die Grenze, welche die Endlichkeit des Daseins markieren soll? 

Weitere Lektüre: On Human Temporality.

18 May 2023

Energy — a matter of interpretation

Progressive activists, scientists, politicians, &c. are all urging that 'we' humans face the challenges of transitioning to a circular global economy that covers its energy requirements in a sustainable way. One speaks of leaving a carbon energy economy behind in favour of renewable sources of energy. What remains a fixed concern in these scenarios is energy sufficient to support the energy requirements of the species homo sapiens to survive on this planet whilst maintaining (as far as possible) 'our way of life', its standard of material comfort and alleviating poverty. This is about as deep as this way of (positivist-empiricist) thinking goes — a way of thinking that has ravaged the Western mind for centuries, rendering it unable to adequately understand today's world.

For the modern scientific way of thinking, energy is something physical that 'really' exists in nature and can be harnessed for human ends. It is firmly convinced that physics, with its foundational concept of energy, is the foundational science, and even has its various versions of the law of conservation of energy, an immutable law of nature.

If it is pointed out, as I am about to do, that ἐνέργεια is the key, mediating concept in Aristotle's ontology of efficient, productive movement and that it means literally the 'at-work-ness' of a power or potential (δύναμις) toward an end (τέλος), the response will be that that's a very interesting tit-bit from the history of ideas, but has no relevance for today's scientific worldview in which old Aristotelean concepts have been superseded and left behind to gather dust in the dander of history. 'We', it is asserted, have advanced far beyond that, even as far as quantum physics. 'We' need not concern ourselves with an ontology of movement, whatever that is supposed to mean.

If, however, Aristotle's concept of ἐνέργεια was coined by him to phenomenologically interpret movement AS efficient productive movement, where this AS is the hermeneutic AS that sits in the ontological difference between beings and their interpretation AS beings, then it becomes apparent that energy is not simply something physical to be found in nature, but is an idea we humans employ to interpret a certain kind of movement. (Modern science is unaware that its material basis, its thoroughly materialist way of thinking, is itself an idea.)

If not all kinds of movement can be forced into the form (idea) of efficient, productive movement, then the concept of energy, when totalized, as it is today as the foundational concept of all science, only serves us humans to misinterpret movement and so befuddle ourselves. What if — through this misinterpretation of movement by (mis)employing the concept of physical energy — we are on a fateful wild goose chase in 'our' valiant attempt to make the transition from fossil fuels as the main source of energy for living 'our' lives to renewable sources of energy? What if we were under a misconception by assuming that we were living our lives?

What if we were today challenged to think much deeper, to reinterpret phenomena of movement (such as i) mutually estimative interplay, ii) the movement of the mind, iii) the accumulative movement of thingified value as capital) with hitherto neglected or as yet uncoined concepts that come closer to capturing the phenomena in question? In other words, what if these kinds of non-physical movement were outside the reach of a concept of energy? What if we faced the challenge of confronting modern science's (that is, our own) wilful hermeneutic blindness and its resultant arrogant 'energetic' dogmatism? And what if today's progressive mass media were vehicles of propaganda for science to indoctrinate us with delusions, whilst kidding themselves that they were honestly enlightening us?

Further reading: Movement and Time in the Cyberworld

Social Ontology of Whoness 

On Human Temporality (forthcoming)

13 May 2023

Thingified value begets individualized freedom

We in Western liberal democracies value above all our individual freedom, in contrast to what are today called authoritarian regimes that suppress it. We are the goodies; they are the baddies.

Individual freedom is the essential hallmark of liberalism, protected by the rule of law, at whose core are the rights of private property and their form of commerce in all the many kinds of contract.

Individual freedom is also enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the right to own private property, including property in one's own body.

Thingified value is not listed among our Western values, nor is it mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And yet it is the flip-side of individual freedom and our hidden highest value. They are two sides of the same coin. Indeed, thingified value begets individualized freedom. It spawns countless dissociated, free individuals. Divide et impera.

How so? Because the very individualization of the individual entails our dissociation from each other. Dissociated from each other, we are first set free from each other as private individuals who deprive each other access to our private property. We sociate with each other in our economic lives only via the medium of thingified value, a Protean medium with many forms or guises; a universal medium that gathers us dissociated individuals together, whether we will it or not. These guises comprise the forms of commodity, money, wages, money-capital, productive capital, interest, ground-rent, among others, including hybrids. Every individual, rich or poor, needs income in order to live, and it is the economy that directly or indirectly (e.g. through the redistributive welfare state) provides such income-form of thingified value. No one will deny the central importance of the economy for modern living, and all who are able, strive to earn income in what is called blandly a market economy, or even a free market economy. This amounts to a coup that thingified value accomplishes against humankind by bamboozling it with a fallacious idea of freedom whose realization can be, and often has been, immeasurably brutal.

The basic forms of income derived directly from this market economy are wages for employees of all kinds and gross profit. The latter splits further into interest for the owner of loan-capital (finance-capital), ground-rent for the landowner, leaving a residue of profit of enterprise (or net profit) for the functioning, productive, capitalist enterprise.

The capitalist enterprise advances money-capital to set up some kind of production process for goods or services that have to be sold on the market to consumers, who comprise other enterprises and individualized end-consumers. The latter, especially, have an essential value-formal role to play in realizing the enterprise's advanced capital in sales revenues (the top line), from which all the costs (wages, means of production, interest, ground-rent) must be deducted to leave a residue of net profit (the bottom line). Only when the advanced capital is more than recouped, leaving a positive net profit, has the circuit succeeded. The formal principle for capital is M' - M > 0, i.e. the return on advanced capital must be greater than zero.

The profit-generating process of capital is thus a purely formal, circular process of transformations of value-form that, in itself, is indifferent to the content of what or how it produces. It makes no difference whether the product is chocolate bars or disposable towels or high-quality timepieces; they just have to be sold to consumers at a profit. The advertising industry is likewise indifferent to the product it is selling; its aim is to gain market share and increase sales revenues. This value-formal indifference renders capitalism nihilistic at its core. 

The net profit will be all the greater, the more the functioning enterprise is able to cut costs by getting the most out of its employees and leased land. Both humans and nature are cost factors for capitalist enterprises that detract from the maximum potential return on advanced capital. Humans become human resources and nature becomes natural resources for functioning capital. Both are exploited to generate profit, while at the same time figuring as negative cost factors in the calculation. Hence continual struggle between labour and capital over wages and working conditions; hence environmental degradation of the Earth that has been carved up into parcels of private landed property. Only the value-formal movement of profit-generation (aka valorization of thingified value) counts for the principle of capital, a principle that we could only possibly bridle and resist if, first of all, we were aware of it as such — and not in one of its deceptive, innocuous guises. This would make Adam Smith's famous "invisible hand" at last visible, from whose nihilistic malignity and malevolence we would shrink back, instead of regarding it as benign or even benevolent, as the apologists of free-market capitalism preach.

The net profit generated by capitalist enterprises is largely (apart from the portion of net profit consumed by their owners and shareholders) ploughed back into a renewed circuit of capital. The pressure of competition with other enterprises enforces a continual accumulation of thingified value destined to endlessly repeat its accumulative circuits as quickly as possible, the acceleration of turnover enhancing the profit-generation in a given time-period. The acceleration of turnover of total global capital, in turn, continually accelerates the pace of life, but this remains hidden to us modern individuals. Ever-accelerating, endless, nihilistic recurrence of the same that appears covered up as the price of 'progress'.

What does all this economic detail have to do with our individual freedom? As individualized, that is, as dissociated from each other, we sociate economically only via the medium of thingified value that, in turn, takes on a life of its own as the 'economy', whose hidden principle is the endless accumulation of thingified value. As individual players in the gainful game to gain our respective kinds of income, we inadvertently thingify ourselves under the value-forms (especially the wage-form) and their augmentative transformation for an aim that none of us has willed. We get caught up in a topsy-turvy world of value-things in process. Not even the capitalist enterprise knows that it is the vehicle for the accumulation of thingified value; it is interested only in the difference between the top line and the bottom line (net profit), and is itself valued on the surface only for its prowess in generating profits in the competition. But the underlying truth of capitalist economy is that thingified value must keep moving through its transformations of value-form to accumulate more and more. This is the law of movement of capitalist economy to which we individuals are unknowingly subjugated.

We free individuals all experience that we cannot live well without the economy doing well. For most this amounts to having a good, secure job. This is common sense to which there seems to be no imaginable alternative. This superficial 'truth' of capitalist economy is seen and necessarily heeded by the politics of the liberal democratic state. The economy looms large in all areas of democratic politics that perforce are deeply engaged and entangled with countless economic issues. But we do not know what this capitalist economy is. We do not know — due to the obscuration provided by the social science of economics — that its principle is the senseless, endless accumulation of total social and total global thingified value in a world globalized precisely by the thingified medium. The perpetuum mobile of the accumulative movement of thingified value is the globally determining movement that dictates or constrains also the life movements of us humans. We are the human resources either put to work or left aside by thingified value's accumulative movement. This movement dictates the terms of our sociation with each other via value-things.

Thingified value in all its guises of individualized private property reigns today as the medium of sociation. It sets us free from each other as dissociated, private individuals and, in so doing, subjugates us, behind our backs, by sociating us only for the sake of a movement of relentlessly accumulating thingified value. Individualized freedom is turned upside down into subjugation in a topsy-turvy world in which it is thingified value that unfolds its own freedom of movement.

Furthermore: we do not sociate for the sake of what we can do for each other's benefit, even though this may be the mutually willed intention of our interplay, because this possibility is subverted by the thingified medium itself that is inverted from a means enabling sociation for mutual benefit into the medium of capital augmentation. We solace ourselves in the role of consumers with having more — more, namely, of various forms of thingified value from washing machines to mansions, from orange juice to jets, from freshwater yabbies to yachts, from adventure holidays to meals in exclusive restaurants, from cruises to Antarctica to a holiday house in the countryside.

Could we possibly sociate with each other in another kind of freedom, without such subjugation via the universal medium of thingified value? What could this other kind of freedom look like? Or is individualized freedom the best we can do? These questions presuppose at least that we go beyond what can be asked by Western liberal democracy, owing to its deficient inventory of 'our values' that omits thingified value and its own peculiar freedom of movement. There are kinds and instances of interplay — such as friendship, love and acts of kindness — that are not mediated by thingified value and which have their own respective negations in enmity, hatred and acts of cruelty. How are friendship, love and acts of kindness to be understood as manifestations of freedom that do not tally with the phenomenon of individualized freedom? 

Conversely, we could learn to see how the sociating medium of thingified value is toxic in countless ways manifesting themselves both blatantly and subtly — from the political and economic to the private and intimate. We pay for our individualized freedom through our subjugation, on the underbelly of the gainful game, to the freedom of movement of the universal medium of thingified value that gathers us, prior to any formation of a collective subject collected together from individualized subjects through an act of collective will (e.g. agreement, elections). Deciphering these phenomena can make us aware of the social and existential toxicity of thingified value as the overwhelmingly dominant medium of sociation in our globalized society. Such awareness of the deeper truth of the medium would allow us to beware of it and resist its blatant, self-serving misrepresentation as medium of freedom, as well as its pernicious and often devastating effects. Become aware to beware.

 Further reading: Social Ontology of Whoness 

On Human Temporality (forthcoming)

'An Invisible Global Social Value' (forthcoming)

CBC Radio | Can the Great Reset really create a gentler, more equitable capitalism?  

06 April 2023

American exceptionalism

Exceptionally self-righteous,
Exceptionally puritanical,
Exceptionally bigoted,
Exceptionally hypocritical,
Exceptionally ruthless,
Exceptionally vicious,
Exceptionally violent,
Exceptionally murderous,
Exceptionally repressive,
Exceptionally hegemonic,
Exceptionally extra-territorial,
Exceptionally anti-communist,
Exceptionally plutocratic,
Exceptionally money-drunk,
Exceptionally exploitative,
Exceptionally land-grabbing,
Exceptionally aggrieved,
Exceptionally racist,
Exceptionally self-interested,
Exceptionally consumerist,
Exceptionally media-manipulated,
Exceptionally dumbed down,
Exceptionally superficial,

Redeeming feature: the blues