Determination-in-the-last-instance in the economy

In one of the few passages of Laruelle on economics it says: „We distinguish exchangeability or translation as encompassed within a general element which is necessarily philosophical in kind or convertibility which regulates this exchange, from unilateral translation or translation by inexchangeability. The equivalent‘, (either ’sought for‘ or ‚general‘), that favored word of translators and economists, is a nest of questions begging assumptions and paralogisms, and harbours the most archaic of philosophical pretensions. If there is an ‚equivalent‘ that is emergent, productive and critical rather than viciously circular and conservative, it is unilateral or of-the-last-instance.“ (Laruelle 2006: 63) For Laruelle, the axioms „uni-laterality“ or „of-the-last-instance“ refer to the determination of any transcendental science by the real, but can also refer – and this is crucial at this point – to the fact that a generic science of economics has its discursive-semiotic, relational „object“ in capital in the last instance. This means, moreover, that the concepts of „economy“ or „capital“ do not contain abstract objects, but are each already imbued with social relations, discourses, semiotics, and ideological representations, implying that economic objects and their relations are, in a certain sense, also philosophizable (ideology, according to Althusser, takes the standpoint of reality by merging in the imaginary real and cognitive object).
The central and nonetheless so difficult concept of non-Marxism is „determination-in-the-last-instance.“ (Laruelle 2015: 41ff.) For Laruelle, it refers less to the determination of superstructures by the economy, but more specifically to the determination of the sciences and philosophy by the real. Nevertheless, it is important to examine the relation between economics as a critical-generic science and the dispositifs of superstructures. Marx sometimes oscillates between a determinate determinism (the economy „determines“ here secondarily, insofar as the economy is determined by the real) and a vulgar economic determinism, which is weakened by the vague use of Hegels dialectic. Using the tools of Hegels philosophy, Marx tries to prevent an overly crude economic determinism, which is still partly dormant in his investigations on economics, by covering it with something commonly called dialectics or reciprocity between the world of ideas and reality.
Laruelle rejects such an oscillation by introducing the non-Marxist axiom of „determination-in-the-last-instance“ by the real and supplementing it with a deterministic determinism that refers to economics as in Marx. Laruelle eliminates the philosophical transcendence imported into Marxism by various „Hegelian Marxisms“ and replaces it with the axiom of „unilateral duality.“ Inseparably, the figure of thought of determinate determinism indicates the following: On the one hand, determination by the real is to be presupposed for the clone non-Marxism and economics, and on the other hand, economics as a dispositive and social relation conditions or determines the clone (here, the Althusserian distinction between the real and the object of cognition would have to be discussed). Under these presuppositions/conditions, the clone „Marxism-in-the-last-instance“ determines all other sciences.
For a conceptual, non-dialectical determination of capital, this could mean re-understanding conceptual capital in the context of a unilateral „logic“. Analogous to the figure of „unilateral duality“, two terms – the first term stands for capital (relation or non-relationship) and the second term comprises the elements and relations derived from it – are then not synthesized by a third term, that of abstract labor, but the first term (money as capital) uni-laterally determines the second term and the relations, divisions and terms further arising from it. Both the second term (this term stands here for commodity, production, labor power, circulation, forms of capital, etc.) and the relation between the first term and the second term (money-commodity-production-commodity-money) are immanent to the first term, that is, they are determined by it, including the possible contingencies that the relation holds ready, in the last instance. The crucial thing concerning the first term here is that its identity sui generis contains a uni-lateral relation or uni-lation. The second term is always already a uni-lateral clone of the first term, which means nothing else than that money as capital is primary, or, to put it differently, that one ever already has to start from a monetary theory of value or theory of capital. We have already shown in Capitalization vol. 1 (Szepanski 2014a) that capitalist money is the result of an effect, the result of the functioning of capital, namely the immanence of capital as total capital or total complexion, and precisely not the result of a presupposition, such as the dialectical development of the value form from the simple via the general value form to the money form. Exactly this „logical development“, often constructed in Marxism with the final figures of dialectics, which is still attributed to Marx today even in the various new readings, such as those from Backhaus to Dieter Wolf, would have failed thoroughly if he had ever striven for it.
Adorno speaks of the capitalist totality as the real total system, which is not a mere synthesis of logical operations, but clearly also has reality content. He speaks of capitalist society or capital as a supra-individual „totality“ that is by no means characterized by factors such as tranquility, ecological equilibrium, and zero growth, because such a simply conceived reproduction and statics can only mean decay; in the perpetual dynamics of extended reproduction inherent in the totality of capital, a real antinomy is expressed, namely the „antinomy of totality and infinity“ (Adorno 1966: 37). For Adorno, infinity always remains related to the objective „coercive laws“ of capital (totality), which enforce the ever-same. At the same time, in order to maintain itself, capital must expand endlessly, that is, it must engage in „production for production’s sake“ (ibid.: 300), that is, it must expand perpetually and push its own limits further and further out, and thus cannot remain the same, and nothing else means precisely infinity in this context.
In this paper, for good reasons, we replace the notion of totality with the notion of the quasi-transcendentality of capital (capital as total complexion) and the category of infinity with actualization-virtualization-interconnections/entanglements. As will be shown below, the conceptual configuration actualization-virtualization-interconnections, which emphasizes the dynamic accumulation of capital in its indeterminacy, can also be replaced by Derrida’s concept of différance, taking into account certain deviations.
Let us first turn to the notion of the quasi-transcendentality of capital, or that of total capital. Total capital is conceived here primarily as a transcendental constitution, namely as the effect or effect of total capital on individual capitals, whereas total capital is to be understood only secondarily as the result of effects (of the strategies of individual capitals) or of determination by the determinate. Due to the consideration of the second moment, we just speak of the quasi-transcendentality of capital. Thereby, the determination does not proceed from a Kantian subjective transcendentality, but it is to be understood sui generis as an objective determination-in-the-last-instance, and this implies determined economic relations (given-without-given), which as givens, however, are each already effected, i.e., are effects of objectified (economic) structures qua total capital (total capital functions here as a negative possibility or transcendentality). The notion of quasi-transcendental total complexion of capital (total capital) cannot be grasped without taking into account the (secondary) interaction of individual capitals in competition and their temporal mechanisms of correction (including the production of average profit rates). We speak of the quasi-principle of transcendentality also insofar as it ever already holds a share in reality (qua object of cognition), and thus the transcendental principle is not a mere idealization, possibly as a category of a more or less philosophical syntax. From the critical-auto-positional philosophical operation, the transcendental conditions of the possibility of experience (Kant), the quasi-principle of transcendentality is to be distinguished just as from Foucault’s historical a priori, the conditions of real experience. The kind of determination of which we speak inheres a transcendental type from the outset, but it is neither ontological nor purely transcendental nor historical. Thus, it is definitely necessary to distinguish between Kant’s transcendental subjectivity (the synthetic unity of aperception=I think) and objective quasi-transcendentality, the latter of which cannot be replaced by the concept of virtuality in Deleuze’s sense because of its determinative potency. It is true that total capital is also about a virtual structure, but it has such strong determinative potencies that we rather speak of the quasi-transcendentality of total capital. This kind of quasi-causality inheres the algebraic mode (mathem of economics) and the conceptual-vectorial superposition or unilaterality, which as a generic factor constitutes the capital structure as total capital. In a quite attenuated form, one could also put it this way: The capitalist mode of production does not determine absolutely – it preforms, it sets a certain framework. In a sense, the quasi-transcendentality of total capital is also about the weak n-determination or determination by n referred to by Alexander Galloway (cf. Galloway 2015), for which Adorno’s notion of „totality“ is again too narrow. Laruelle would perhaps still assign the use of determination-in-the-last-instance presented in this paper to Althusser’s theory, the equation of the axiom with a region (the capitalist mode of production) as opposed to the determination of the radical immanence of identity (the Real). (Cf. Laruelle 2015: 48) But isn’t it perfectly clear that capital can only ever exhibit immanence „falsely“? Must not capital ever already try to subject the given-without-given, the real, to capitalization, to the given-by-given?
Marxconcept of total capital implies the "total process". A Marx-oriented position is taken by Robert Kurz when he speaks of the apriori or transcendentality of capital, even if he retains much of the metaphysical categories that have significantly helped shape the theoretical history of Western Marxism (capital as automatic subject, substance, totality, etc.). (Cf. Kurz 2012) Indeed, for Kurz, the subject still turns out to be well Hegelian as substance. Regarding the concept of total capital, Kurz writes in his last book Money Without Value: "The real categories of capital theoretically presented by Marx are therefore to be understood from the outset and at all levels of representation only as categories of the total social whole, of total capital and its total movement as a total mass, which cannot be grasped directly empirically because it is qualitatively and quantitatively something other than the empirical movement of individual capitals." (Ibid.: 177) However, Kurz must be corrected insofar as the concept of total capital is not a real category and, moreover, it cannot be captured quantitatively per se. A position emphasizing total capital can also be found in John Milios. In his essay Marxian Theory and Imperialism (Milios/Sotiropoulos 2010), written together with Dimitris P. Sotiropoulos, he refers to a passage in Marx where he writes that "the immanent laws of capitalist production appear in the external movement of capitals, assert themselves as coercive laws of competition, and therefore come to the consciousness of the individual capitalist as driving motives." (MEW 23: 335) And further Marx writes: "Scientific analysis of competition is possible only as soon as the inner nature of capital is comprehended ..." (Ibid.) Milios correctly concludes from this that the "immanent laws" Marx writes of here can only be those of total capital (as a social relation and national total capital), with individual capitals appearing as fragments or parts of an "external movement" and can only take their place in the structure of total capital if they follow the immanent laws of total capital without ifs and buts. The concept of total capital is complex and is introduced by Marx only in Capital vol. 3. The immanent quasi-causal relations, the structural determination of total capital, transform the individual capitals or enterprises into elements of total capital insofar as the enterprises are each already located in a "law-giving" economic milieu. In these quasi-causal processes, competition, as a specific inscription of the capitalil relation in differential accumulation, takes on an important function. The priority of total capital owes itself to an axiom, a conceptual construction (quasi-transcendentality) that processes through virtualization-update-interconnections, including the production of average profit rates. When a firm realizes the average profit, it appropriates not the surplus value created by its own production processes, but that share of the surplus value of total capital which tends to correspond to its own share of it. And since each enterprise tries to apply the virtualization-actualization interconnections qua competition to its advantage (the imperative is to beat the other enterprises) and is thus on the hunt for extra profits, the equalizing movement becomes extremely dynamic without ever losing its equalizing effect. Today, total capital, an economic-functional structure, is still aggregated at the national level. Through the mechanisms of the national internal market, total capital (as a vitualizing tendency) processes the function of averaging profit rates, productivity and labor intensity, average labor time required on the production of goods, prices, labor force qualification, etc., to ensure the allocation of individual capitals according to the development of the various sectors of production. While on the domestic market individual capitals compete with each other as parts of the national total capital, on the world market it is the national total capitals and their states that seek to open up access to foreign domestic markets for their individual capitals through political mechanisms and supranational institutions, thus igniting competition on the world market. In the process, the nationally determined organic composition of capital and its productivity (as an expression of national total capital) constantly modifies the operation of competition among capitals in the global market, initially reproducing international differences in productivity, growth prospects, and national profit rates. Nevertheless, the economic imbalances of nations must tend to equalize if individual nations are not to become insolvent. Thus, international competition by no means tends to eliminate the capitals of less competitive countries; instead, it drives their modernization and restructuring. International competition is not a threat to capital; rather, it is a condition for its reproduction. The world market "mixes" national aggregate capitals and their states into a political-economic structure, along the changing productivity of the national aggregate capitals involved. At the same time, each state pursues its own national interests and thus contributes to the reproduction of the capitalist world market. Purely "logically", the social relation "capital" specifies itself as money, which creates more-money according to the formula G-W-G, whereby this formula apriori describes the circulation of every single capital, no matter to which fraction it belongs. In this context, the operationality of financial capital can be classified neither as independent nor as contradictory to the „logic“ of industrial capital. The development of finance cannot be seen at all as dysfunctional or repressive to the progressive capacities of the „real“ capital economy. In the context of economic and social relations, the movement of money as capital binds production ever already to the process of circulation. Commodity production transforms into a part of the circulation of money capital. Also, the circulation of interest-bearing or fictitious capital does not concern any particular fraction of capital, but fictitious capital is to be understood as the most general and developed form of capital. As Peter Ruben has shown, the movement of individual capital per se is initiated by indebtedness, either to debt or to equity. (Cf. Ruben 1998: 53)
The notion of „total capital“ thus possesses a determinant priority vis-à-vis that of „individual capital,“ or, to use Laruelle’s term, it determinates-in-the-last-instance in the sense of a transcendental priority, which, however, does not itself possess an ontological status. Moreover, the moment of virtuality cannot be separated at all from the notion of total capital, so that with respect to its parts we can always speak of any (single) capital, whatever (virtual here in contrast to concrete-actual). This indicates that it is not the quality of the respective individual capital that is decisive here, but the fact that each individual capital must already follow the laws of capital, whereby this transcendental legality asserts itself only in the tendency; and „tendency“ implies virtualization or contingency. Insofar as individual capital is conceived as one, whatever it may be, it is also indicated that it always remains subject to the unilateral „logic“ of capital, and this in turn refers to the determination by total capital in the last instance. The aspect of virtualization, whereby individual capitals must successfully actualize or realize their projects in the markets or else go bankrupt, is always linked to the aspect of determination (through the unilateral method of capitalization). Thus, individual capitals are to be understood as entities of probabilistic distributions qua competition ud as parts of the modal contingency circulating at the level of total capital.
This position turns against the Hegelianizing habit, almost unchallenged in the Marxist reception of capital to this day, of setting the commodity, think for instance of Dieter Wolf (Wolf 2002), or money, think for instance of Frank Engster (Engster 2014), as the logical beginning or first category from which all further concepts such as capital, surplus value, profit, etc. can then be deduced, unfolded, or caught up. In contrast, categories such as commodity, price, and money are always already to be understood as results of the form of capital, i.e., as those of capital as a „tautological medium of ends in itself“ (Roswitha Scholz 2014: 161). It is more accurate here to speak of quasi-tautological, insofar as in the process of capital’s self-aggrandizement there is admittedly no qualitative expansion, but „merely“ a quantitative one. In a commentary on the writings of Robert Kurz and Moishe Postone, Roswitha Scholz emphasizes that the former, in contrast to the latter, no longer makes the commodity form the basis of Marxist analysis, but gives much greater weight to surplus value, and does so precisely in the context of the self-referential process or the course of capital per se, which ever remains related to the capital form and value. (Ibid.: 161f.) The quantitative surplus (G) supplements the tautological (qualitative) movement of money capital; in this respect, one must also speak of money surplus value from the outset. Following Laruelle's "equation" n=n, one could speak regarding the tautological aspect of capital of the qualitative-immanent identity of the One-in-One, of money as capital-in-capital. For this one does not have to refer to the theorem of the excluded contradiction, rather one should emphasize the specific representation of an immanent chain, which runs process-like and spiral-like at the same time, that is, into which the quantitative surplus is ever already injected, whereby the money in the chain is not spent but advanced. A corresponding formalization of this very special feedback complex has been presented by the team of authors around John Milios, which immediately makes clear that categories like production, credit, fictitious capital, speculative capital etc. can be discussed immanently in Marx conceptual structure (without neglecting the respective breaks and the special problematics). (Sotiropoulos/Milios/Lapatsioras: 2013a) In Robert Kurz there are at best cryptic remarks on this, for instance when he speaks of the „de-substantialization of capital“ and the loss of meaning of the category „abstract labor“ in the context of the devaluation of value. (Kurz 2012: 236) (Here Kurz again speaks of Marx` categories as real categories, whereby categories and empiricism would have to be distinguished analytically, but in reality they are indistinguishable).
Within capital as a total complex, financial capital is again the dominant, real-virtual block, which, however, is by no means separated from the other capital sectors or fractions, as the theory of finance-driven capitalism assumes. (Cf. Bischoff 2014) To put it very briefly, the fictitious capital generates the real economy and the „real economy“ is the derivative (the derived). This means precisely that the objection raised by a whole series of theorists that one would assume here a decoupling or independence of financial capital vis-à-vis „real capital“ (Krummbein/Fricke/Hellmer/Oelschlägel 2013) does not apply at all; rather, it is a matter of a specific entanglement between the „real economy“ and financial capital that remains to be examined.
Therefore, the following question can now be asked: If the production/circulation of a physical economic product (classical commodities such as clothing, food, computers, etc.) is directly afflicted or initiated by a credit, and this in turn can be massively influenced by the price of its synthetic „replicant“ (derivatives), can one really maintain the previous hierarchical order of the three classes of economic objects? A table may be a thing for providing a meal, but when factors such as interest to be paid on the loans of the company producing the tables, options and insurance on the price of wood, and finally currency fluctuations are superimposed on the corresponding factors in production, and this in the context of the production of further goods and services, a global banquet of monetary capital is nevertheless placed above the extremely modest table (as a physical object). The prices of classical commodities are now closely correlated with the prices of financial assets, so that the prices of classical commodities cannot be determined solely by the relationship of supply and demand and the necessary social abstract labor time. Instead, the increased risk appetite to invest financial assets enters into the price determination, and this relates to investors speculating on diversified commodity indices. (Tang/Xiong 2012)
There is also a specific time dimension in the purchase of stocks, when one buys dividends flowing in the future or, for example, in the case of a bond, one lends money to the government or a company for future transactions and collects interest. One will now observe the price trend of the stock or bond on the stock exchange; and thus, in a sense, not only the stock or bond itself, but also its price trend in the future becomes commodity/capital that is realized in money. This is where the derivatives come in, which are exchanged for money at a certain level depending on whether the stock rises or falls above a certain level over time. So, along with the price movements of the stock, the price movements of the derivatives must also be dealt with at the same time, with the stock being the underlying. There are prices of underlying assets and options on these prices, and these options in turn have a price, and an option can again refer to this price. (Cf. Ayache 2015: 107) And all this takes place simultaneously. We should also assume that synthetic financial assets have a higher impact power compared to classical financial instruments (credit) as well as classical commodities, because the size of economic objects and the related impact power turns out to be a dependent variable of relations and the degree of interconnectedness of them here. Moreover, the processes of securitization, securitization of loans, through the mechanisms of redistribution of risks and collateralization, lead to the transformation of illiquid funds and monetary capital resources into liquid assets, which in turn are used for new lending and collateral. The rating of these derivatives (asset backed securities, CDO & CDS) is higher than that of traditional derivatives or loans, as their producers are now enabled to actualize new liquidity potentials that were previously virtual at best.
Today, the global financial markets make a very special contribution to the intensification of competition and the mobility of individual capitals; they thus reinforce the tendency to produce average profit rates. (Cf.Sotiropoulos//Milios/Lapatsioras 2013a: 153f.) These processes harbor within themselves the conditions for the constant evaluation, valuation and calculation of individual capitals, while at the same time seeking to redirect private savings into investment. The financial markets generate an unstable, a multiple structure to control the effectiveness of companies, they are to be understood as a kind of flexibilizing, controlling, decentralized supervision of capital movements, so that all companies have to adapt to the requirements of the evaluation of the financial capital by which they are evaluated and tested in the long run. At the same time, the governance of financial capital improves the exploitation possibilities for companies by subjecting them to the monetary requirements of a purely future-oriented capitalization. One function of financial capital is to support the equalization of mobilities and exploitation conditions among firms; it constantly modulates the conditions for competition in the course of an unstable production of average profit rates. However, this is not to be understood in terms of central planning, since, on the one hand, financial capital itself is split into different fractions and, on the other hand, it remains fully involved in the cyclical, cyclical and crisis movements of capital accumulation at the aggregate level.
Finance, then, involves a kind of agency that, to a certain extent, enables the evaluation, calculation and control of the effectiveness of individual capital. These processes, however, do not refer primarily to the quality of the circulating information, and in this context, even the fundamental data of companies by no means possess a status that exists independently of certain discourses and of institutional productions of knowledge. That information always already exists as a specific interpretation of capitalist reality. If one takes this non-empiricist point of view into account, then the distinction between information and fundamental data can no longer be easily understood. (Ibid.: 51) Moreover, the formation of prices on the money and capital markets as well as the question of stock price increases is not solely dependent on fundamental data and the expectations related to them, but also on an increased demand for stocks. Finally, for financial capital, the molecular evaluation of companies is very much in the foreground; all relevant areas, processes and elements of the companies are outlined, evaluated and discreetly priced out when loans are granted. Not only is it possible, taking into account the intended cost reductions, to make companies more flexible and to relocate or, alternatively, to outsource jobs, positions and activities, but the companies themselves are now available as possible capital investments. The implementation of the Anglo-American „shareholder model“ as opposed to the German „interest owner model“ involves the organization, evaluation and sale/purchase of companies by financial capital. The shareholder value concept implies the authoritative evaluation of companies on the capital markets at the same time as a decision on their future suitability as a profitable financial investment. In any case, returns on capital are targeted at a level that confirms the risk input of investors and shareholders (plus the performance input of managers) with a plus (even if investors are partly served last), while internal parameters such as the individualization of compensation and distribution systems, the flexibilization of work, atypical employment relationships, the effectivization of knowledge condensed in machines and labor, and the outsourcing of certain production areas are permanently readjusted. Hedge funds, for example, are less interested in the price of a share, but break companies down into different parts and then examine very specific aspects, such as the country in which the company is located, whether it is a technology company, whether the company’s share is traded as part of a particular index, etc.
Capital and finance do not simply consist of quantities that flow through space and time, but they are to be understood as socio-economic processes that overlap in many different ways. At the same time, finance is the everyday face of capital today: it is the most concrete and impactful mode of capital’s existence. However, the rise of finance has followed the dynamics of capital and its accumulation movements against the backdrop of class struggles from the very beginning of the internal history of capitalism. Finally, non-arbitrary speculation with money capital is immanent to the functioning of finance, and finance, in turn, is immanent to the functioning of capital. It is also important to note at this point that modern finance – the term finance may perhaps be a euphemism here for systemic, dynamic regulation of capitalist accumulation dominated by financial capital – can by no means be traced back to the perhaps even pathological activities of greedy subjects or rentiers. The operation of the financial system and the means by which it is activated do not focus solely on speculative investment, but these means include components of a highly flexible mechanism that creates variable conditions for the mobility of firms and their competition with each other. The financial system is a central link within the extended reproduction of total capital. By exposing enterprises to national and international competition through financialization, the profitable investitons can be rewarded and the insufficient activities can be punished.
Let us now turn to the notion of actualization-virtualization-interconnection. John Milios has concluded from his reading of the passages of Marx we quoted above that the concept of total capital contains not only structural but also dynamic-temporalizing components, which are indicated, among other things, by the equalizing movements of individual profit rates to the average profit rate. (Cf. Milios/Sotiropoulos 2010) Within the framework of these equalizing movements, each individual capital is able to appropriate a share of the surplus value produced within a national economy, which, however, as a rule does not correspond to its surplus value produced in a certain period of time, but tends to be proportional to its size share in the total capital, whereby it is always necessary to take into account that individual capitals undertake the attempt to realize extra profits with methods of labor intensification and relative surplus value production qua technological innovation. In the objective overall context of capital, this means that certain enterprises succeed, in relation to others, in increasing their productivity and thus distributing a calculated „quantum of value“ (production price plus average profit rate) over more products than was the case with previous production methods (the products become cheaper). To put it in the context of the money-mathema: The more efficient enterprise succeeds in selling its goods above their individual but below their social value, i.e. cheaper than the goods of other enterprises, due to technological innovation which leads to higher or qualitatively better physical outputs in production for a given labor time. (Cf. Bahr 1983: 434) It is true that the enterprise now pockets an extra profit for a certain period of time, but on the level of total capital it is merely a redistribution of a total sum of values at a given point in time. However, the total social value quantity cannot be a stock quantity; as a flow quantity, it has a dominating virtual-real dimension (the quantum of value is not measurable at this level). The calculating economist, however, continues to act as if in a given period a total sum of value had been produced in a national economy and had also been realized in circulation. If the material output of the more productive enterprise increases, the value of the products of this enterprise does not only decrease, but also the value of the products of those enterprises which still produce at the old level of production, and this objectively. This also means that the proportions existing at a given time between the enterprises (quantities, prices, values) are constantly shifted in time by further productions and possible realizations of profits in circulation as well as by technological innovations within the framework of capital as a total complexion.
Bichler/Nitzan have repeatedly insisted in their various texts that the modes of operation and strategies of capitalist enterprises are not simply to maximize profit, but rather to try to outperform or beat the average represented by the current average profit rates of enterprises in the various sectors. (Cf. Bichler/Nitzan 2009) Average profit rates are influenced by a set of standard instruments, such as loans extended to firms and their interest rates, but especially by the matching of firms‘ organic compositions, rates of accumulation, and rates of surplus value, which is kept flexible by means of competition. We have presented this in detail in Capitalization vol. 1. (Szepanski 2014a: 329f.) In this context, the average profit rate may be considered the benchmark for differential capital accumulation – it is the (invisible) „index“ that indicates to firms whether they have beaten the average in their industry and other industries with their projects or not. This form of capital accumulation, which takes place through intra- and inter-capitalist competition („beat-the-other“) and is deeply inscribed in the social relations of capital, is what Bichler/Nitzan call differential accumulation. (Bichler/Nitzan 2009) The benchmark, of course, also indicates whether the economic activities of firms have been able to muster sufficient social cohesion in the various class struggles. Moreover, the dynamics of differential capital accumulation always remain dependent on stable growth rates of the national economy.
From the point of view of individual capital, one can now imagine the economic procedure around virtualization-updating-interconnections as follows (cf. Strauß 2013: 304f.): first, in a given period t0, the production of a certain number of products takes place on the basis of a firm’s profit expectations. This process is based on various business calculations (cost calculations, data on competition, depreciation rates, etc.), which are based on semiotic and mathematical parameters and variables. Secondly, there is a virtualization of the distribution of quantities of goods, starting from productions and pricing, which should entail a realization of quantities as goods. Third, the sale of products in period t1 presents itself as a threefold actualization: 1) Parts of products actualize as quantities of goods in the given time period. 2) A utilization existing only in expectation, therefore quantitatively indeterminate at period t0, is quantitatively actualized at time t1 as if it had already existed at t0. In real terms, the update is characterized by a difference between expected and realized price masses. 3) There is an updating of demand with the limited means of purchasing power of the masses or other enterprises in confrontation with the existing supply of goods. The realized quantity of goods in t1, in turn, is the starting point for adjusted profit expectations of the enterprise for the period t2, which is reflected in changed investment ratios, which, in turn, affect the respective investment and consumption funds. The average profit realized by a firm at time t1 is based on the updated surplus value of total capital at time t0, whereby in t1 the initially purely virtual surplus value of individual capital is locked in at the „measure“ that the number of goods can attain in confrontation with purchasing power. In the context of the conceptual representation, it is pretended that, despite the presence of the virtual-updating components, the total capital is quantifiable, when in fact, at this level, we are dealing with an unmanageable multiplicity of arrests and actualizations at any given moment, because the individual capitals produce and sell in different temporal sequences, rhythms, and tempi, ergo, the flow quantities dominate the stock quantities. (Ibid.: 305) However, the theory proceeds as if capital as a total capital at a given point in time, i.e. under the assumption of simultaneity, could be described quantitatively in value quantities, although it must always be kept in mind that the value quantity on the total level does not exist in a quantitatively exactly fixable way, but is called up and retrieved in a myriad of commodity-money transactions qua calculations and semiotic-economic inscriptions/codes, as if it just existed quantitatively. Strauß writes: „The inscription of the differentiant value – and that is the validity of money in all registers, semio-economic value – actualizes the virtual distributability of physical quantities […] The inscription of prices in turn actualizes this virtual distributability of physical quantities in money form.“ (Ibid.: 307) After all, it is the derivative markets in particular where economic events are not quantifiable, although it is precisely the special peculiarity of price to quantify this very non-quantifiability after all.
With respect to the production of the average profit rate, let us formulate it again very briefly as follows: The differential capital movements, by means of economic mathematics (price-money mechanism), trace back the unequal work, the technologically different production processes, the different abilities of the workers and the unequal working hours, even the non-measurable intensities, at least in tendency, to respective averages. Here, tendency also means that there are constant countermovements against the production of the average profit rate, which is expressed, among other things, in the search of individual capital for extra profits through the use of technological innovation or the appropriation of cheap raw materials, energies and labor (Moore 2015). If we conceive of capital as a total context, then the informational entropy that springs from the „anarchic“ production of individual capitals must necessarily be subject to a reduction that inevitably brings into play the mathem of economics as coding, a formalization in which systems of probability permanently correct the elasticity of economic quantities. This means that in the last instance measurements by money take place, which verify that averages are produced as well as deviations from the average are to be registered. (Ibid.: 74f.) Here, money is reckoned with as a code that expresses the averages, i.e. one reckons with a specific material syntax of exchange relations in which the quality of particular works means nothing.
Against a Heideggerian ontology of absence (of total capital) or an ontology of the absolute contingency of financial markets, it is still necessary to report that in capital as total capital we are dealing with a de-ontologized double „structure“. On the one hand, with the discursive-vectorial concept of capital, which processes in the mode-of-as-ob, and with the a-signifying semiotics of codes, which is an operative instrument here. Umberto Eco has described the heuristic of as-if as follows: „…as if there were a definitive general STRUCTURE; but in order to do so, it must assume that this STRUCTURE is merely a regulative hypothesis and that, every time a structure is described, something has occurred in the universe of communication that makes this structure no longer fully credible. This condition of delicate equilibrium and apparent lack of hold, however, is not a contradiction of semiotics: it is a methodological condition that links it to other disciplines, such as physics, which are guided by methodological criteria such as the principle of indeterminacy or the principle of complementarity.“ (Eco 1972:132-133)
We are, after all, always already in the mode of actuality, which, when it assumes virtualizing sign status through the processes of capital accumulation (economic mathem), imposes a new mode of actuality, as this or that future actualization. In the realms of financial capital, the price equalizing movements of the rate of profit, only briefly presented above, are substantially modified, i.e. the price, relatively inelastic today in the industrial sectors, is produced in the current financial markets as a flexible counteracting actualization/virtualization, as a permanent translation performance of contingent demands. (Cf. Ayache 2010a) The difference between the market price and the price fixed in derivative contracts, which fluctuates in the price movements of derivatives, implies contingency in each case. Although the underlying value of derivatives is currently given, the operations of virtualization qua price and contingent demand keep the value de facto unstable, i.e. it could be different, i.e. it is a price. In this respect, it is also correct when Robert Kurz speaks of the „desubstantialization of money“ or a „money without value.“ (Cf. Kurz 20129 The „sense“ of the market, which is supposed to be that the prices of derivatives are updated chronologically, in reality indicates the „last minute“ instability of value, which in particular is precisely what is generic or productive about price, and this is what Ayache calls „volatility.“ (Cf. Ayache 2010b) Ayache’s absolute volatility thus remains located beyond the chronological time order of capital. It processes in the virtual and does not appear in (chronological) time. And volatility remains essentially sewn to the term price, insofar as contingency finds in price the expression of its differential character, i.e., as volatility sees its indeterminism confirmed.
We ultimately assume the processual entanglement of actualization-virtualization-actualization. The term „entanglement“ emphasizes perhaps a bit more than the term „interconnection“ the connections, connections and disconnections between the different economic events circulating simultaneously (the problem of temporalization of time) and temporally in these processes. The problem, from a temporal point of view, is that simultaneity – problem of the temporalization of time – is at the same time to be thought as a constant passing, so that simultaneity, which itself divides time, apparently no longer has a place in any time, whereby simultaneity is the impossible of time itself, but at the same time it is supposed to contain within itself the possibility of its capture. (Cf. Nozsicska 2009: 291f.) Time would be equal to virtuality or immobility in time, whereby different expiring times are actualized without simultaneity ever dissolving. Precisely when time is actualized, however, it would remain virtuality-a paradox that indicates the problematic nature of virtuality itself.
The mathem of economy makes measurements possible and at the same time gives an interpretation matrix (among other things the question of the quantification of the imaginary), which is already oriented to the measure of the successful market-mediated reproduction of capital. The interpreting signs, as signs, already refer to virtualization. Bearing in mind that the economic law (averaging) cannot express itself directly in actualization, so that it always needs signs as structures of reference, these signs are virtualization of something that enforces them, and that is the determination of total capital. It is true that the economic-semiotic structure cannot be directly inscribed as time (the a priori is not temporal), but if every economy amounts to time, as Marx assumes, then the economic law must be in the context of the production of time. Consequently, money and its validity are also exposed to the game of actualization-virtualization-interconnection, a game that writes itself from the „law“ of capital and that exposes validity through those interconnections. The bestowal of this validity indicates, among other things, credit, the anticipation of a future for which there is no guarantee. (Strauß 2013: 318) While the law must be in time, it does not originate at all in the addition of cases, with which the notion of representation (mathem) must step in, and the theoretical account follows this again as if the economicmathem/money were the law itself.
Thus, the mathem of economy (ibid.: 69f.) must necessarily be added to the concept of capital, that is, the (conceptual) capital and its economic mathem (difference calculus) must be superposed. The conceptual dimension of capital is complemented by the mathem of economics. (The concept of capital includes the relation between monetary capital and industrial and commercial capital, the relation between individual and total capital, different forms of capital and regulatory movements and other components). Now, what is gained by superposing the concept of capital with the mathem of economics can be summarized as follows: If one understands capital as a (social) relation, then the entropy that necessarily arises from many possible interpretations of the topos „relation“ (ibid.: 75) can be largely escaped by taking into account the mathem of economics. As the theoretical history of Marxism indicates, the conceptual meaning of capital often enough consisted only in its (philosophical) multiplication. This drift makes a hyper-idealization possible, insofar as what is negotiated in a philosophical gesture and what is implied by terms such as real abstraction involves the exchange of concepts with economic reality, whereby the mixing of empiricism and concept is supposed to take place in actu.

translaslated by deepl.

Scroll to Top