Quick Note #5

I was recently listening to a song and it started, “thinking of her… her… her…” and so on. But I didn’t think of someone this time (as other times, when a blank spot to be filled in by some female anonymity is invoked, it is almost immediately filled by my brain)… In fact, I had to try to make myself think of someone, as this feeling threw me into a state of aporetic uncomfortablility. But I couldn’t think of anyone. What filled my head was just a burning feeling which only my close friend Abel has also truly understood, or at least, truly understood the notion that I specifically also know and understand. The female subject within cyberspace is something which I tangle with, though I shouldn’t. I often regret the tangle and also regret not being in a knot — hopefully, that makes some sense.

The idea of running away and leaving it all (and by it I mean the various online communities I am currently of) is not something I like grappling with. In fact, it is a notion that is rarely ever seriously put forward by myself. And it is usually only propelled into personal and abstract invocation by another. My stomach twists and turns, yet I’m like a rabbit: I cannot vomit.

My father hit a rabbit today, or rather ran over one — hardly was it a big enough entity to be “hit.” It saddened me. I’ve never killed anything other than bugs (except for this one squirrel [maybe it was a raccoon, I honestly don’t remember, pretty sure it was a squirrel though] which had got itself stuck to a sticky trap [I, and the others who helped end its suffering, helped quicken the end of its pain rather than prolong it]).

The idea of the market — especially a free, that is, autonomous one — is always enticing. It is something so alien, so perfect in its teleonomic formation. This is not to say that it can’t “fail” (though, I would say that begs the very question of what it means to fail… maybe the market has its own non-humanist standards [in fact, I’m sure it does]).

Music is always regenerative, kind of like, capital (and I follow my dear friend Sante in his usage of the qualifier regenerative here). Except, fundamentally contrary to capital, music regenerates not itself but the subject. Paradoxically, music has destroyed me, my subjectivity, more than anything else has. In that sense, music is also fundamentally like capital in that capital is synonymous with what Schumpeter calls creative destruction.

In the book The Roots of Capitalism, John Chamberlain says, “The market, which is the characteristic institution of capitalism, expresses a relationship of buyer and seller” (25). Now, while I surely enjoy what he saying here, in that the market from this humanist perspective is largely a wonder — sometimes we need to ask, how does it just sort itself out to be like this? — I must also largely reject this notion. It seems that the market is much more a framework of elimination, in that it is a process of arbitration. It is the final economic arbiter, the transcendental “subject” of the economic itself. Now, the state may come to try and batter it around, but in the end, spontaneous emergence, and thus spontaneous order is victorious. Catallaxy is truly beautiful. The market is truly a wonder when it is actually laissez-faire, i.e., completely autonomous in that it is not dependent on human subjectivity. Luckily, it is likely that within my lifetime, capitalism will truly become fully autonomous.

In his work on capitalism, Braudel differentiates capitalism from markets and this isn’t completely incorrect in that he sees capitalism to be of capitalists which he sees as fundamentally monopolistic (at least from my crude understanding of his work). Again, the fundamental issue with Braudel here is that he has a humanistic, i.e., human dependent, understanding of capitalism. Once extricated from humanism, understanding recognizes with force that capitalism and markets are one in the same.

Following the notion of the transcendental put forth by Immanuel Kant and then the understanding of the notion of the transcendental subject held by Quentin Meillassoux within After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, we can understand that the market is both transcendental and empirical — in the Kantian understandings of the term — collapsing the distinction under its real weight.[1] Transcendental, within its Kantian usage, refers to those conditions of possibility for some empirical thing (or phenomena) to put it very crudely. So, when Meillassoux uses transcendental subject he means this too.[2] And this is evident when he says, “The transcendental subject simply cannot be said to exist; which is to say that the subject is not an entity, but rather a set of conditions rendering objective scientific knowledge of entities possible” (23). But Meillassoux clarifies its existential status,

We are told that the transcendental does not exist because it does not exist in the way in which objects exist. Granted, but even if we concede that the transcendental subject does not exist in the way in which objects exist, one still has to say that there is a transcendental subject, rather than no subject. Moreover, nothing prevents us from reflecting in turn on the conditions under which there is a transcendental subject. And among these conditions we find that there can only be a transcendental subject on condition that such a subject takes place. (24)

What we are to extricate from this is that the-market-as-transcendental-subject is the condition of possibility for a multiplicity of things and that it is really there.[3]

The market is not dissociable from itself. It is that body which it is the condition of. Meillassoux explicates the relation between the transcendental and its indissociability as follows:

The subject is transcendental only insofar as it is positioned in the world, of which it can only ever discover a finite aspect, and which it can never recollect in its totality. But if the transcendental subject is localized among the finite objects of its world in this way, this means that it remains indissociable from its incarnation in a body; in other words, it is indissociable from a determinate object in the world. (25)

Because the market is teleonomic, and thus has itself as its own condition of possibility, it collapses the transcendental-empirical distinction through spontaneous emergence. And, this is exactly why catallaxy is the epistemological arbitrator par excellence. As F. A. Hayek says in his amazing work Law, Legislation and Liberty: A new statement of the liberal principles of justice and political economy, “catallaxy is thus the special kind of spontaneous order produced by the market” (109). If we follow Hayek in his “knowledge problem,” then any idea of central planning is nothing less than a transcendental error, or at least it would seem to be following the notions I’m putting forward. Unfettered market processes are epistemologically valid in that the market is the transcendental subject of all its objects that it itself is. This includes objects, or bodies, to follow Meillassoux, of knowledge. Spatializing the problem as the local knowledge problem only further complicates things for the state in that the issue itself is verticality and non-nodal concentration (as nodes can function as “localities” within a decentralized web of epistemological traffic [i.e., knowledge] to follow Land’s understanding of markets put forward in his Hyperstition blog]).[4] In quasi-rhizomatic fashion, markets rebel against the state not on a physical, nor metaphysical level, nor even an ethical level (or at least they don’t for me), rather, it is on the epistemological level that the market stages its revolution. The Austrian school recognized this better than any other school, which is why their more nuanced and dynamic understanding of the essentially Darwinian entity that is the market is far superior to the Keynesian understandings (sorry Haseeb, hopefully, I will get out of what would for you be a rut). In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari put it perfectly when they say, “From all these standpoints, it could be said that capitalism develops an economic order that could do without the State. And in fact capitalism is not short on war cries against the State, not only in the name of the market, but by virtue of its superior deterritorialization” (454).

The state is a transcendental error: “Are not all modern State isomorphic in relation to the capitalism axiomatic, to the point that the difference between democratic, totalitarian, liberal, and tyrannical States depends only on concrete variables” (A Thousand Plateaus 455). Deleuze and Guattari develop proto-patchwork in the recognition that all states exist within the singular world market, “the capitalist one” (455).

Moldbug’s idea of patchwork is a transcendental system in that it is unsurpassable, transcendental like God.[5] Deleuze and Guattari further explain that “Keynesian economics and the New Deal were axiom laboratories” (462). In this sense, even those things most contrary to the market in terms of its autonomy only perpetuate its reign. Deleuzo-Guattarian proto-patchwork is consummated in a single phrase: “In principle, all States are isomorphic; in other words, they are domains of realization of capital as a function of a sole external world market” (464).

Once Deleuze and Guattari extricate themselves from their brief humanist recourses found in Anti-Oedipus things get real nice. Deleuze and Guattari see “[t]he deliberate creation of lack as a function of market economy” only because they see the dominant class as creators — at least they do in this sentence (28).

Describing “money and the market” as “capitalism’s true police,” Deleuze and Guattari explain exactly how the death penalty works within patchwork: what fails (the metric here is in terms of profit, and thus money) is eliminated, or given the death penalty and executed (by the market) (239). Capitalism policies itself, not in the sense of surveillance, nor in the sense of biopower (see Foucault and Agamben, though their notions of the term have their respective differences), but in the sense of teleonomic preservation, which is why patchwork is (social) Darwinism instituted on the (politico-)economic level.

“[T]he space-time in which transcendental subjects [go] from not-taking-place to taking-place” is spontaneous emergence (After Finitude 26). Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations describes a form of spontaneous order, though not in the way Hayek beautifully does (when it comes to catallaxy, Hayek really is the best. Catallactics though? Mises may take the cake there).[6]

In Market for Liberty, Morris and Linda Tannehill say, “The free-market system, which the bureaucrats and politicians blame so energetically for almost everything, is nothing more than individuals trading with each other in a market free from political interference” (16). Again Morris and Linda fall into economic humanist: “Trade makes a human existence possible” (16). In reality, could one take the metaphysical position that the market makes existence possible? Should we take capitalism realism up a notch? One thing Morris and Linda do well is explain money as a transcendental subject: “Money also acts as the means of calculating the relative worth of various goods and services. Without money, it would be impossible to know how many phonographs a car was worth, or how many loaves or bread should be exchanged fro the service of having a tooth pulled” (17).

In a tweet of his, Nick Land explains, “‘Transcendental’ not ‘transcendent’ to be philosophically precise. ‘Transcendence’ is what the transcendental subtracts.”[7] This is the nature of capitalism: the subtraction of the transcendent. Capitalism in this sense is akin to natural selection, which if you think about it is the most transcendental of processes, no?

We are looking for the transcendental arbiter… that is what all of our journeys in philosophy have been and will be. Some of us just realize this before others…

Notes

[1]: When use the word “real” here, I’m referring its usage in my essay 修养, which you can find here.

[2]: Meillassoux says, “Granted, the transcendental is the condition for knowledge of bodies” (25).

[3]: See note one for reference of my usage of “really” here.

[4]: You can find the blog post from Hyperstition that I am referring to here.

[5]: See note one for reference of my usage of “transcendental” here.

[6]: While certainly not having the most content about spontaneous order, Individualism & Economic Order certainly has some gem-like quotes.

[7]: You can find the tweet I’m referencing here.

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