In this book The Patchwork of Minorities (Lyotard 1977), Lyotard writes that capital is a pseudo-organism which, since it has no metaphysics, is not even able to formulate a discourse that justifies its own truth that could explain and justify its existence. The statement recently made by the Invisible Committee in its book Now (Invisible Committee 2017) that we now live in a world without justification is thus true, and has been ever since capital has functioned as the dominant mode of production. Nowhere have the capitalists and their discursive elites had and have a “This is why I am here”. According to Lyotard, capital would find a tricky way out if it said that I propose various axiomatics1 to you and with them you could then choose a meaning. This is one of the reasons why elections take place at the political level. Ultimately, however, this kind of semantics only thrives if everyone agrees with what it can at least formally function with. The fact that everyone really agrees is something that the state sometimes does by force, but the belief of the population that everything is right is usually enough.
But all this can only go well as long as the growth of productive forces enables that of the economy as a whole. But if the productive forces turn into destructive forces, as we can currently observe, then capital will change from a nihilistic operator to a suicidal fascist. And this phase begins now. It remains a question of probability whether dwindling resources such as water, food and energy, global warming, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, chemical pollution, and changes in soil conditions will lead to the destruction of human livelihoods. But the probability is high, as much can be deduced from the climate researchers’ models, which are based on a multitude of empirical studies and detailed analyses.
And global warming corresponds quite peculiarly to the existence of a huge surplus population in the global South, which with high probability – you see, we are operating here with probabilities – will no longer be able to bring capital into wage labour and thus use it as variable capital. The last move is the integration of parts of the surplus population of the global South into the financial debt cycles via microdite, but the success remains questionable. This part of the global proletariat therefore no longer needs to free itself from its chains; it is set as potential freedom. It has nothing at all to lose and can, in principle, smash all social relationships in which man is a subjugated and humiliated being. The pre-eminence of this proletariat today are migrants and refugees. In the feel-good oases of the North, not only the elites but, because of their complicity with the system, also those parts of the workers, the precariat and the employees who were able to make themselves at home in the heteronomy of the financialized capital landscapes, even at the expense of the populations of the South, have meanwhile come to suspect not only the elites but also those parts of the workers, the precariat and the employees, that the present time of the pre-apocalypse is both the result of the impossibility of foresighted insight into a futurized capitalization and the instability of financial capital that fails to regulate, and that capitalization entails the production of a globalized surplus population that at least potentially embodies the return of the rejected negativity of the proletariat.2
Incidentally, capital does nothing, it is not a subject, but a relationship, as we last described in detail in Capital and Power in the 21st Century (Szepanski 2018a). There we define the concept of capital as potential or as unlimited movement (production for the sake of production and circulation for the sake of circulation), in which, starting from a present quantity of money, a greater quantity of money is to be achieved in the future, and this again and again. This potential, made possible by the extraction of added value, is the effective engine of the economic system. The speculation that accompanies it is not a perversion of the capitalist economy, but a function of power, indeed its essence. And capital is not equal to profit, which is merely a greater quantity of money realized through the circulation of capital. But the finiteness of profit also limits capital as potential itself. (The contradiction between infinite movement and finiteness manifests itself in the tendency case of the profit rate.) Here, the hegemony of the Money capital is immanent in the capitalist mode of production, in which more money functions as the universal value and thus the production of goods for the multiplication of money capital is merely a means and not an end.
This logic of the movement of capital takes place within the framework of total capital, which, as a virtual power, compels the strategies of companies to reproduce what is objectively given from the outset, the comprehensive context of differential capital accumulation, without ifs and buts. And speculative capital today represents the dominant fraction of capital over “real economy”, whereby financial products such as derivatives are no longer limited by the structures of industrial production and their pricing is not necessarily dependent on them, even though they produce real effects of the most drastic kind. Derivatives are a speculative capital of their own kind – a capital construct that manages the fabric of a highly mobile, cynical and opportunistic economy and circulates self-referentially in its own markets, but at the same time directly influences the “real economy”. Without exception, all capitalist enterprises today have to execute important financial operations. If capital as logic is the engine of the breathing monster called total capital, then the financial system is its central nervous system. (Norfield 2016)
The essays published here are connected in a subterranean way. In the first essay, with the drawing of a few abstract and expansive lines, an attempt is made to construct that peculiar object, the “state”, without succumbing to the temptation to reproduce even the slightest attempt at those discourses that are produced in endless repetition by the state itself. The state, which has long since sacralized its doxa, its naming privileges, and carries before it like a sign of its choice, as if it were the point of view of all points of view, so that every question about the legitimacy of its point of view has already become superfluous, has established itself as a secularized hyper-church in centuries of agony for the populations. But it must never be forgotten that without the appropriation of general wealth by self-reproducing capital, the state would never be able to carry out its executive, administrative and governmental functions. This confluence leads us directly into the second essay.
From a certain period in the history of capitalism, capital was no longer satisfied with maintaining an equal alliance with the state and its war machines3 . The construction by capital of its own war machine integrated the state, its political, military and symbolic sovereignty and all its administrative apparatuses and modified them under the imperatives of financial capital. The extension of capitalization to the entire planet, gullibly called “globalization,” today tends to collapse state sovereignty, pushing at least for global governance without sovereignty, without states disappearing from the scene. At the international level, the US can only partially fulfil its role as global sheriff, global banker and driver of capital accumulation. At the national level, the state, which oscillates between the functions of an idealistic total capitalist who is partly generous to the populations and the more repressive social police, must expand the latter function by – since the financial crisis of 2008 – on the one hand further tightening austerity policy, and on the other hand considerably expanding the scope of intervention of its social police forces. This brings us to the third essay.
The coming fascism, which as such is to be placed in quotation marks, is forced by the state policy of pre-emptive crisis and risk management, which, driven by prevention policies and hypertechnologized paranoia aggregates, suspects chaos or an enemy of the system everywhere and nowhere and must therefore intervene with ever more drastic means in order to prevent – in the opinion of the state – the worst. In close contact with the global war machines of capital, the state has long since not only addressed the terrorists as enemies, but has also sighted enemies everywhere and nowhere, and that is to say, in the form of a company as well as a motorized executive machine of directives, it functions as an instrument of exploitation, control and discipline of a labor force that has long since been globalized. And what had to come is coming: the keyboard of racisms and nationalisms institutionalized by the states themselves after the financial crisis of 2008 is today increasingly played by the right-wing populist movements that have been the mainstay of the state faction. The latter defines refugees, Muslims and foreigners in general as his primary enemies, in order to finally achieve, in close cooperation with the state, such a highly explosive state in which the politics of feelings, for the sake of one’s own happiness, demands the genocide of the surplus population in the global South.
extract of the book
translated by deepl.
Foto: Stefan Paulus