Necropolitics

The functional psychopath

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8 Sep , 2019  

The last man living in the age of posthumanism, a small and apparently tough monster, who not only wants to have everything in his insatiability, but also wants to have it immediately, likes to have his life profit, which is always to be organized, transfigured by the great other as the last wisdom of life. The last human being lives entirely in the semolina mash or, optionally, in the chewing gum season of the present, and therefore future incomes, on which one can speculate today, can compensate him even halfway for the enjoyment that has been lost as a result, whereby enjoyment coincides with his existence. He must rely on the discounting1 with which his future expected incomes can be discounted down to his present existence value. The value of life to be realized in the future, or, to put it another way, the performance lifetime value of life, does not lose any significance, but life always remains tied to the present value and enjoyment. It is only a question of time and the estimation of the future income streams of an infant will be made, the expected income streams will be discounted and thus the initial price of the infant will be obtained. It is therefore no coincidence at all that the French business association is proposing to assign a VAT number to every French person from birth. In terms of social control, we are already in China, where citizens have to carry around an identity card with a birth permit, biometric data and the infamous social credit ranking.

The last human being, as a living financial investment, is a relation that possesses a material carrier that stands in a specific relationship to itself, that urges reproduction, it is a surplus fold that has nothing left to do but unfold its performance and monetization potential. In the future, every need, every desire and especially every behavior will give rise to punctual and dotted evaluations, to manifold evaluations and rankings – the last human being will have to relate to these evaluations and improve them in his future, and finally he will be divided into components that are subordinate to the optimization or efficiency of the multiplication of the small ego capital x (relationship of the self to its future self). The such monetarized life that is assigned a performance lifetime value is thus a spread that must be constantly evaluated by the self and the others. The performance lifetime value comprises an underlying asset, namely the current priced-out life, which is to be regarded as an investment and on which an investment contract is to be written with regard to the monetary efficiency of the future life and on whose fluctuations one can speculate. And everyone must endure these waves of speculation, even more so, one must not only follow speculation and its specifications, one must also outperform them. Best of all like the banker who, after a successful short sale, strolls to the toilet with complete satisfaction and masturbates into the kidney-shaped stainless steel washbasin, which is the art-technologically outperformer of the luxury penthouse cabin on the 33rd floor of the bank. Once the broker is chained to the screen again in the trading room, he defends himself against the fact that he is now purely embodying a function; rather, at least in the hegemonic discourse, he embodies pure creativity, which is codified as a subjective experience of speculation.

Wage labor begins to shine when it stands under the Aegean Sea of creativity, whose utility value is increasingly stimulated by the exchange value of potentials and capacities that want to be updated, because by products. In the course of speculation, subjectivity mutates into a self-evaluating value analogous to the self-evaluation of financial capital, which now allows possessive individualism to blossom again in its entirety. The speculative form of capital is the new movement of both the boundlessness of capital and the new creativity of subjectivity. Both subjectivity and money are encoded, encoded with the freedom of an infinite economy, but a freedom structured by specific absences (of capital). The invisibility of the effort required for this freedom is a result of speculation as a matrix for economic and subjective valorization. In addition to the performance lifetime value, the customer lifetime value (clv) is also used today. In order to determine this value, companies operating in the traditional consumer goods markets use their customers’ personal data to calculate the sums of money a particular customer would spend.

A high clv guarantees the customer a range of additional services from the company, such as discounts, upgrades, personal hotline contacts and other special services, while a consumer with a low clv must lead a consumer life in the telephone loop. All possible service companies (fashion companies, mobile operators, credit card companies, hotel chains, airlines, car dealers, etc.) today maintain comprehensive databases on the consumer behaviour of each individual customer, often passing on the personal data to special analysis companies so that they then evaluate and weight the data and calculate individual customer lifetime values from it. These are profiles based on thousands of individual pieces of information. The marketing service provider Zeta Global, for example, the newest start-up company of the former Apple and Pepsi boss John Sculley, allegedly offers profiles of 700 million people that are based on more than 2500 individual pieces of information per person. In particular financially strong customers are lured and lured due to their extraordinary profiles with purposeful offers to further consumption, and some analysts go even so far to maintain that the addition of the customer lifetime values of all customers documents the future prospects of a company of a company in approximately, whereby the customer lifetime value possesses a similar meaning as the stock price. It can be assumed that the majority of US residents, who have at least a bank account and a mobile phone contract, can now call several different clvs their own without knowing it. And the more you travel, shop and go out, i.e. climb the stairs of the all-round consumer, the more clvs you have that are assigned to you as if by an invisible hand and that you don’t know yourself, at best you notice that with increasing clv, companies feverishly try to offer you a number of benefits, such as a more attractive credit card, expensive replacement cars or a better class in airplanes.

Back to the performance lifetime value. In order to successfully monetize life with the help of performance, one’s own activities must be permanently leveraged, and this also means that connections to other people must be designed in such a way that one always gets more back in personal traffic than one uses. This way of applying the capital calculation to the life (and that of others) requires a determined and success-oriented work in the networks and offers a surplus above all to those who manage it, reputation. To accumulate performance values and references somehow related to self-increase, always taking care to reduce uncertainty about follow-up decisions concerning the surplus. Leverage2 thus becomes a way of giving the projections of the ego a self-fulfilling, performative quality, so that at best all others affirmatively respond to their own speculative demands. However, it cannot be ruled out that the capacity to successfully master one’s own risks may become a danger to others. What is more, the imperative to achieve superperformance for one’s own life requires – analogous to stock market events – the elimination of the below-average performers and their replacement by a monozygotic twin. (Kroker 104) If these requirements concern in particular the elites and larger parts of the academic middle class, then life continues to insist for larger parts of the lower-income population as a process of permanent indebtedness, which does not, however, completely close the future for them either, but even opens it in a specific way, because the lenders no longer take into account the income of the borrowers, which serves as the basis for lending, only with regard to the probability of being able to repay loans, but with regard to the possibility and potential of being able to service payments in the future at all. In this way, even the lives of those in debt are still geared towards the surplus.

The “value” of the last person is not simply a conglomerate of characteristics such as competence, performance, qualification, health, efficiency, knowledge, relationship osmosis, creativity, desires, ability to work, etc., but these characteristics are to be treated constantly effectively for their capitalization in the future, without the desire to enjoy everything immediately disappearing even in the beginning. All this can only be achieved through the implementation of rationality, which, however, can no longer be distinguished from irrationality. Here, rationality refers not only to the motivations and preferences of the subject, but also to enforceability of budget restrictions and promises to pay at the potential to become either a creditor or a debtor3 , which simply forces profitable actions that are as compatible with irrational individuals as they are with highly talented traders, who themselves often enough trade with “noise” rather than “information”. Such rationality, resulting from the capitalization of everything and everyone, resembles the market behavior of addicts whose survival is tied to the availability of certain resources, which, however, is less reminiscent of the drug addict than of the addiction to maintain the behavior for increase, which requires not only lifelong practice, but also the mostly unacknowledged insight that the case can be dramatic. Such a monetarised life always takes place in a mode of prevention and risk management that tends to drift into irrationality. We owe this insight to Luhmann: “With a rational attitude to risks, it is often more correct to wait for the damage to occur than to invest a lot in (probably unnecessary) prevention. Yes, to the extent that a system can cope with and compensate for damage, it becomes more rational to rely on this ability instead of trying to prevent everything imaginable. (That doesn’t necessarily speak against brushing your teeth.)”

In the end, the yield value that the last human being has to realize in the course of his life culminates in the intersection of parallels, which lies in the infinite and therefore nowhere and therefore in death. The yield value always remains a virtual value in which the subjects have a value only in relation to the speed of their own disappearance, under the paradoxical assumption that further and further acceleration and, at the same time, further and further stretching of life is to be achieved. We are talking here not only about overcoming scarcity or about the accumulation of economic and symbolic capital, but about a subject that is like a vector that only accelerates in relation to the end of life and gets going in psychopathic doses. (Kroker/Kroker 1996: 166)

The monetarized life value is more than just ornamentalized by information that is permanently assigned to each person, because the information has binding and self-reinforcing functions and fluctuates analogously to the performance life value like derivatives, but which must still be realized in money. This logic of the capitalization of life is regulated by a seemingly invisible authority that organizes, controls, and optimizes life, whereby every utterance, every transaction, every sex, every exchange, every chat can ultimately have monetary consequences, which mostly materialize in the various risk profiles that are assigned to a person as digital doubles and whose prices calculate complex algorithms, databases, and data analyses. The soft control by the various ranking, rating and scoring control procedures, which are nothing more than quantifications of the derivative, affects almost all areas of life today.

Yet the top athletes, artists and celebrities are currently the set-aside and model images of such a life to be capitalized, whose self-ishness, oriented on orthodox microeconomics, is carried before them by the representatives of these groups as a characteristic of their selection like a trophy of gold, which, however, must be polished up anew every day in the media. With this high esteem that one brings into play towards oneself, those affected easily forget that self-increase for their own sake is staged by structural coercion, which permits or conforms to every variation of life only as a shifting of the objects of valorization and experience, a coercion that is to be internalized and to be set as a claim to performance against oneself. Now a self permanently investing in all sorts of things appears on the screen, walking the fine line between the psychology of satisfying desires, monetary self-increase and a psychology of vulnerability. Whereas Foucault in his analysis of neoliberalism was still able to show that individuals transform themselves into enterprises of their own, the individual that can currently be found is a financially risky subject or a financial manager of its own, who manages a self-portfolio for which new investments and investors must constantly be sought in order to generate the optimal self-returns for the portfolio. The rest of the subject is the financialized self, whose activities the subject constructs at best as a project worthy of a financial investment. At the same time, however, this subject is very vulnerable, insofar as the price of one’s own investment is always dependent on the assessments of other investors, so that the subject of self-esteem must take into account that the financial investments have their source in loans. Similarly, the transformation of wages – the exchange of labor for money, which in turn serves to reproduce labor – into a function that grants access to credit and assets can be observed. The wage is thus no longer merely a sum of money that guarantees life-supporting purchasing power, but a form of money that serves as a basis for taking out loans and ensuring that they are fed into the channels of financial capital. Thus money is transformed from a mediator of exchange or a measure of value to existence on a speculative surface.

It is now definitely the hour of a new social character, namely that of the functional psychopath, who wants to break out of the tight corset of the previously dominant social character, which has been identified as the narcissistic infantile, who loves childlike dependence in order to counter it constantly with his egoism without ego, or at least wants to surpass the narcissist in terms of self-increase. The functional psychopath works tirelessly, it would be better to say, he performs tirelessly in the medium of a quasi-sports practice the enhancement of his psycho-capital, which is regarded as the preferred resource of an excess of authenticity that leads to a constantly monetarized concern for himself, or, if you want to put it another way, to an unfortunate sewing of an entropic high-energy dispersion to himself. If, in this context, the struggle for one’s own career becomes more and more sporty, burnout is the limit for an increase behavior that actually constantly spurs on the appearance of the functional psychopath, whereby the performance principle is ultimately measured against the war standard of the respective capital accumulation.

Thus the functional psychopath is one to whom the system fits like a Hugo-Boss suit, and when he then freaks out, then only to take the immanence of the system itself to extremes, or to put it another way, he is one who is fundamentally affirmative of the system, but also tries to trick him by living out his eccentricity in an incredibly creative and brutal egomaniac at the same time, but in the end remains so quiet, that the strangely tame breaking of the rules can harm the other one, but by no means the system. The functional psychopath is a castrated psychopath.4 And that’s even the case when he is extremely successful in his job and the success is also very visible, because he masters the rules of the game to the full and therefore pathological play of positive effects virtuosically. With every second, he inhales the excessive taste of the successful, who has come out in the wake of his cleverness, which makes him authentic in the first place, very large, whereupon he reacts again with a narcissistic vanity, to finally personalize everything as far as possible in the wake of being affected by himself and thus on the risks and the chances to maintain this status or to speculate with every move, if possible, to even increase it. He is like a broker walking through the trading rooms of a large bank, with a radiantly cool look and greedy hallucinations of superdeals and Lehman tragedies. And the functional psychopath must be successful at all costs, because he can only prove himself as a living transmission belt of the specifically neoliberal logic if he permanently makes financial investments that induce further investments. The functional psychopath, who generally abhors ambivalence and negation, is not Nietzsche’s last human being by chance.

If the psychic interior of the last human looks like an Ikea living room that has been built in “Do it Yourself” mode, even though the instructions for handicrafts continue to come from the company, then he is deprived of his inwardness, even though he remains condemned to Ikea narcissism. Its components are the imaginary representatives of the outside world, derivatives of the social role, which the functional psychopath in turn understands as the legitimate expression of his personality, but which he also constantly tries to escape without succeeding in the slightest. A strange non-identification takes place here, which is transferred into the cement of identification with the role through mental distancing from the role one assumes. Such a successful life then has the result that the functional psychopath automatically executes the role and the deviation from the role at the same time, socializing and normalizing it as much as he can to remain as socialized and normalized as possible authentically autistic. Today’s narcissism is without face and empty, and where the narcissist unrestrainedly wants to love himself, he finds nothing but a diffuse conglomerate of stereotypes, media waste and resentment, occasionally also a destructive creativity with which one wants to outperform the others. At the same time, however, the contemporary egoist also does everything that the success initiated by capital demands of him, if he is only allowed to step down from time to time or continuously. Such a constituted narcissism glides seamlessly into the paranoia with which one feels permanently surrounded and persecuted. And right-wing populism then manages to construct an object for the paranoia, which in itself is objectless: The refugee.

It was also the restructuring that took place in the course of the neoliberal transformations that introjected the financially risky subject into the individuals in the 1990s as a new social character, with which the authoritarian character and the narcissistic type were creepingly replaced, but still within a short historical period, where the financialized subject transcends the narcissistic character, expands and transforms it until it finally embodies the functional psychopath, who however must not be confused with the clinical image of the psychopath, although it is the representatives of the ruling class (managers, lawyers, brokers, politicians, doctors, etc.) who are the most important and most important of all the most important.) sometimes come dangerously close to him in the meantime. The observation of the psychologist Götz Eisenberg, for example, is quite agreeable that today most psychopaths are by no means sitting in the rubber cells of psychatries, but are free to run around on the street and, to their (un)luck, can also prove the successes they have celebrated themselves in their respective professions. Functional psychopaths usually operate hyper-efficiently in their everyday lives and possess characteristics such as unconditional focus and excessive egocentricity, as well as an incessant tendency to optimise their own selfishness, which ranges from subtle profiling artistry to murderous unscrupulousness, they mobilize the sympathy of others than their very own privilege, which serves purely to optimize their own profits and the endless pursuit of singularity, which in turn is cobbled together from the offers of the marketing industry for the recipients of higher incomes; they live the insincerity, the corruption and the bossy appearance right down to the tips of their hair, but they remain a versatile and experimental personality, and all this is supposedly done in the intoxication of complete spontaneity, the reality of which has become flesh and which today is roughly the product of art Trump. In the White House, supposedly not even the inner circle knows what Trump will tweet in the next moment, the purely short-term decision prevails as an opportunity for clownish narcissism and for insincerity, which in Trump’s case apparently promotes the inner growth further and further, the abundance of that self, which still wants to sell its last fart as an albeit wicked creativity of the good man. The miracle of the soul that circulates successfully and at the same time hysterically across all media is today the psychopathic authenticity that opens and frees the inner living space for the successful person, but also colonizes it in a certain way, but does not constrict it too far, but continues to give it the possibility of hiring itself as a self-insurer of its own soul life, a service whose endlessness produces the desired meaning of life quasi assembly-line. The functional psychopath must accumulate events of success in the flow of affirmative at-risk being, while those who lose in the game of at-risk being merely accumulate disappointments and therefore die in depression or even try to run amok in a short circuit. On the other hand, the life of the functional psychopath could also be understood as a permanent killing spree that does not require a bloody scenario to prove its catastrophic effects on the lives of others. If one were to follow Adorno, the functional psychopath would be an egocrat who performs the impertinence in the long run, even more so, he is the changing impertinence. He performs the exploitation of the worker, of the machines, of knowledge, of contacts, of intelligence and stupidity at the same time – and every output ends up in his filthy mouth. In this way, the wealth of money generates indifference, because although it is a social relationship, it also dissolves social relationships, in which people become carriers of goods and thus carriers of Charaktermasken of the market traffic. It has an unbounding effect because money can be piled up at will as a general equivalent, especially since status competition “upwards” knows no functional boundary. Accumulated money thus generates greed. Indeed, the striving for money is associated with apathy, compassionlessness, ruthlessness, i.e. lack of commitment, with the characteristics of a narcissistic social character, unfolds social destructive power, is regarded as the destroyer of the community. Below its enveloping surface, money as a debt (credit) and social obligation system tends to multiply without limits. The life so set on success and so authenticated ficts itself as a means of dressage to autistic sociopathy and is entirely subordinated to the function of efficiency and the “self”, which unfortunately always remains affected by the real subsumption under capital rounding, and so subsumed, life is a single movement and oceanic catastrophe that reaches to the fusion of the self with the function of the invisibly performed functionalization of the brain for the purposes of capital. Philipp Mirowski writes: “While the actors congratulate themselves on having repeatedly broken the shackles of identity, the control companies persistently pursue them through time and space as identical persons. For for better or for worse, the functional psychopath must achieve the success that is permanently evaluated, valued and rewarded in various markets in order to be even better valued and to rise in the ranking, and not to be left with an individual singularization act, because in most cases this requires intensive networking (with which success and reputation are constantly checked and tested), so that the authenticity performance cripple “under supervision” can slowly mature into a functional psychopath, who is exactly expected by the economy of capitalization. The psychopath we mean is a functional psychopath who remains connected in the company to the team and to algorithmic machines, whose task it is to process the desired and to be optimized behavioral modifications and to use them profitably for the capital, thus subordinating the behavior to completely economic goals, whereby by no means behavioral norms such as conformity and appropriateness are striven for, but cynicism and opportunism.

Today, the practices of machinic enslavement dovetail permanent online life with the imperative of lifelong learning, and this in accordance with the indissoluble merging of individual company forms and pre-individual affects. One is now more and more sewn to the accelerating machines in the sense of a complex being with one another, which quite rightly induces an addictive behavior that, in contrast to drug addiction, does not promote suicide in installments, but rather mobilizes the urge for an authentic life in the long run. In a world of artificiality and technology, authenticity must be permanently produced and experienced, with the subjects being objects, journeys or events that are supposed to lead to authenticity being interchangeable, so that it is a matter of occupying an empty signifier or an empty sign form (rechwitz), which in turn entails a constant preoccupation with authenticity, a kind of performance with which the authentic also evaporates further and further. After all, the sociologist can babble so much about the irony of the authentic and the meta-authenticity of the authenticity markets, and he too remains caught in the game of the as-if of authenticity, in what the authenticity game is meant to avoid, namely fake. And the more abstruse the fake, the better the authenticity game succeeds. It is not at all the power of Deleuze’s False, which is at stake here, but the free circulation of the interchangeable, the fictionalization of cloacal news in pure indifference, whereby objects only want to be appropriated because they satisfy an affectively charged economization (game & adventure), which in turn, in the context of ranking and rating, drives competition among those who can network and improve their economic position with a surplus of attractiveness. The often propagated ambiguity of an object, which is supposed to stand for its meta-authenticity, is more like an arbitrary guessing game that points to complete confusion. Accordingly, in this hyperculture, the objects circulate without any reason and truth content and yet not without a direction that consists in nothing more than their economization, which not only concerns the object but also the affective itself, whereby the optionality that the circulating objects offer us is a faked one, a pseudo-resource of pseudo-singular goods, and this kind of pseudo-, which aims entirely at the short-term nature of their consumption, only produces the urge for the exchangeable object that comes from the propensity or truthfulness of the object and yet not without a direction that consists in nothing more than its economization. the addiction to it, which above all concerns its interchangeability, is hardly distinguishable any more

(The concept of the character mask has also been erased; behind the masks there are no more faces; this Marxian concept of the individual reduced to the function of his productive private property is polemically oriented on the ideology of his autonomy, that of the private personality. They no longer exist – just as adaptation to mimesis is hollowed out. Destruction of the ego. Hans-Jürgen Krahl

When people today become addicted to internet sex, teleshopping, video games and automobility (jogging, car and internet), the desire for independence and authenticity merges with the grandiose dependence on digital machines. Rather, the slot machines, with their graphics, the mathematical arrangement and the touch screen, which invite the player to linger and even merge with the machine, create a kind of manic machine sex (Zuboff 2018: 517). This creates a closed cycle of self-loss and automatic gratification that keeps the player trapped in the machine zone through small rewards that the machine spits out from time to time. Kittler points out that Adorno liked to play pinball and was even considered unbeatable. In Kittler’s case, on the other hand, the frustration of the loser is felt when he sees pinball as a “confrontation of the individual with the apparatus of horror”. Today, the player constantly simulates the winner who transforms the apparatus of horror into the apparatus of machine sex.

On the one hand, one craves unconditional independence, while on the other hand, if one is not mobile or online for even a second, one falls into total frustration because one perceives the detachment from the net as a dependency. In this way, real dependence is not negated, but is to some extent lived out pervertedly and of course online. It is precisely the possibility of doing one’s business, actions and affects in an independent speed mode and on one’s own initiative, whereby one knows, however, that the satisfaction of one’s own drive currents is not possible at all without ubiquitous attachment to the media machines, that seems to be the most important factor in the immense measure of the “real” dependence. Addiction is precisely what prevents life from becoming alive and inorganic.

After all, it’s about an affect logic that wants to turn decisions and dependencies into a new excess. Even the desire of the miser is libidinös occupied long ago (miser is horny), if for example the excessive spending is pursued, in order to save and/or the rebate home, which offers again an incentive for it to consume always further. In contrast, the material penetration of the technical machine into the human body appears to be a second-degree horror scenario. Addiction today is operational like performance and aims purely at the formula of the body, its virtuality as an operational field, something that can do nothing but function, as any machine requires (and yet does not achieve) smooth functioning. The mechanisms of addiction, which deepen the permanent emotional investment in one’s own self, which is visually manifested, for example, in the addiction to the selfie, let the subject run empty, and the addiction tires and ends in burnout. Ultimately, it also contains the call for permanent self-increase that wants to be experienced and fought out in competition with others. Since, under the pressure of productivity, everything is ultimately meant to serve self-increase, but this must always run empty again, the individuals eventually tire of themselves, secretly knowing that they only simulate authenticity, while at the same time, as divinees, they must continue to embody the work mannequin … the vitality of an earthworm.

Seen in this light, the functional psychopath energetically copulates energetically and endlessly with his desires in order to finally coagulate into a living consumption machine that completes the usurpation of the leisure worker by the capital apparatus. Through my talent for cleverness, through my yoga, through my penchant for French wine and through the excellent singular Thai food, through my gender behavior and that of my friends, through my successful career at Deutsche Bank, according to Reckwitz, I gain in self-complexity and become special, whereby the special is precisely that product of the general, so that the specials can almost be smelled, more than two of them appear in their trendy restaurants or bars, where they do not curate the offer, but are curated and controlled by the offer, made creative in consumption by adding one module into the other, the food, the drink, the designer women, the ambience. The functional psychopath appears as the gang leader of himself, who receives the order from the unconscious to win at any cost, and whose face is a light of recognition to speak for the many that he is. The more one has arranged his life so on himself, the more perfectly represents the systemic logic. But the procedure does not become any newer, either, if one speaks, as Reckwitz does, of something relatively new. A co-creation of a special kind that is consumed there and in which nothing new is invented that moves the world. Nevertheless, the functional psychopath continues to immerse himself in a kind of hyper-activism, in the intoxication of spasms, which if, then only proved one thing: how valuable one is for oneself and the world, with which virtuoso abilities, which however cannot be distinguished from opportunism, the world can be conquered, a cannibalism that potentially extends to everything that can serve the monetarized self-development. This means that you actually only have friends on Facebook, you are confronted with the tyranny of positive energy anywhere and at any time, so that life consists only of uplifting energies, money, Redbull and coke. But still, even the psychopath seems to be flourishing like coke, yahoo, sushi or netflix. It is still going well and somehow, but the symbolic capital associated with it is dwindling. The disenchantment has long since been mixed with the enthusiasm, the myth has disappeared in the ever-same everyday life and the attraction has been lost to see more in it than what is to be seen in it, namely a dog-ordinary practice. Only the functional psychopath is not really challenged by this, and it is no secret how he tries to transform the powerful emptiness of everyday indifference into a rather original gain in singularity.

The never-ending career of the functional psychopath is not primarily the contingent result of the permanently varying composition of a profile or the skilful adaptation to the market, the networking and capitalization of one’s own potential, and the appropriation of various types of capital, from economic to social to cultural capital, many times over. Rather, it obeys first and foremost the requirements of a hypercompetitive capitalization economy that puts functional psychopaths from the subjective side at the forefront of what can be drawn from the merciless profiling games of the networked subjects. To summarize it briefly, the functional psychopath – understood not as a clinical symptom but as the present dominant social habitus – is a state in which desire and reality, will and world are to become identical, but cannot, because the self-optimizing subject remains subject to the optimization demands of capital in the wake of a fitness, resilience and therapeutics to be permanently worked on. Especially when, as Reckwitz claims, the accumulation of capital is not the goal of the elites and the privileged parts of the middle class, one clearly recognizes the mechanism of repression that prevails here; the more free and unbound by economic constraints the subjects imagine themselves in their search for the optimal lifestyle, the more they remain bound to the demands of capital.

Thus the functional psychopath unintentionally confirms the undeniable truth that economic capitalization (the economic “value”) today has long since overtaken every form of cultural appreciation, so that even the most extraordinary and scandalous cultural value gesture cannot catch up with a lack of capitalization. As Metz/Seeßlen also write: “Of course, taste is also liberated in the middle class to the extent that economic value has outstripped cultural value to such an extent that a cultural value gesture can no longer compensate for a socio-economic deficiency. This, incidentally, also applies to the advanced part of pop culture; no one can raise his status any more through music, films, clothing or reading.” (Metz/Seeßlen 2018: 176) The hard school of capitalization incessantly imposes on functional psychopaths the imperative not to impoverish economically-performatively in order perhaps to miss out on the right connections, even if this means that they become increasingly indebted in order to continue to gain access to connections and to the assets and their securitization possibilities. And this kind of selection must still show itself optically on one’s own body, which, if the finances allow it, is hung with patchworks of expensive accessories that, together with the plastic surgery operations, make up the new functional lifestyle zombie that can be fixed by the influencers to Instagram and the winners of the ubiquitous casting shows, without wanting to perpetuate their real unsuccessfulness, so that he mutates into a kind of spooky investment doll, the clown of a virtually set superfluous, which in turn must treat the world as the product of an inner world, as the materialized projection of a paranoid self. The social now becomes psychomorphic.

The functional psychopath glides uninterruptedly, glued to the smartphone, into absolute subjectivity, mobilizing the very last decadence to the objective motorism of digital technologies and capital. For him, intelligent machines produce the most positive prediction products possible, which calculate exactly what he will soon have to do. His delusion resembles a telephone system with thirteen smartphones. Anyone who is unable or unwilling to come along will first be thoroughly embarrassed and then psychologically executed. Clever is someone who, in the wake of his social media charm, can persuade others to do what he wants, who makes quick decisions and uses his lack of commitment to weld himself completely to the success of his company and his team colleagues, and who must also succeed in auctioning off this kind of disinhibition and connection as particularly cool on the attention markets. In the future one will have to add a psychopathy check to his application documents, which naturally has to turn out positively, so that one can win the race in the interview completely according to the rules of a mechanical casting procedure, in order to outperform the ego porn, which is equal to the small capital x, in the future if possible still. This becomes clearest with the top athletes: without plan and self-confidence, but with great ego. No one would recognize Mathias Ginter or Niklas Süle on the street – any more than most SPD ministers. Their faces are all babyfaces, but this is misleading, as they are now the perfect expression of an unconditional will to win.

And one thinks again of Trump, who embodies the Fuck-Up and Check-Up of the democracy at the same time. He is their precedent and their representative. Here, the representative is absorbed into a legal entity that shows that those who are nothing but themselves are nothing, because they do not speak for the people, do not speak on their behalf, while he, the representative who speaks for the people, is everything. Trump does what everyone wants, but only a few can do. If you read the tweets of the King of Fake News, Donald Trump, you come to the conclusion that such fake news can only be that of a functional psychopath who interprets everything as his sign, but who nevertheless refers to superordinate patterns, perhaps the residual traces of the man-signifier. Seemingly unquestionable facts are no longer discoverable events and things that are waiting to be discovered; rather, they are produced in the context of a narrative brought here at short notice, as if on an assembly line, in order to blur the final distinction between trace and garbage. The referential or the reference to reality becomes arbitrary, the reference only has to be present in itself. Thus the hyper-volle of the media is constantly rewritten, the information becomes (targeted) disinformation, thinking becomes garbage of thought. The winner in this production chain is the one who succeeds in surfing on the wave of oversupply of information that washes away recognizable reality. But this also means that he has to assert himself in the floods of fake news, the hate speeches and the relentless competition for likes, always having to bring up new energies to improve his performance (The Increase of Likes & Clicks. There is the binary code of the Likes and Dislikes, an infantile friend enemy suggestion). Vaknin The language style Trump cultivates bears eloquent witness to the fake performance, words and phrases are brought into circulation as sounding coins to mean something weird or even to twist reality. The biggest dirt is pure, the capitalist, called employer from the start, offers jobs, wars are waged only for peace, video surveillance serves to release people into freedom and the police state is synonymous with the rule of law.

The more faked the existence of the psychopathic person, the freer he becomes. There are those here in the game who think that broken is broken anyway, so rather bring my sheep into the dry as long as I still exist, much more, play the careerist and hedonist again, because those who prefer to swing back and forth between table dance bar, upper class office in the bank tower, armored limousines and cocaine-containing casinos simply can’t be wrong. On all levels we are now confronted with phenomena of a dynamic dissolution of boundaries, which on the one hand leads to clear collective transgressions of intimacy thresholds, and on the other hand to a constant comparison of behaviour with that of relevant others. It now seems that collective psychopolitics give birth to individuals who constantly make efforts at self-improvement, which in the end, however, can hardly be surpassed in ridicule, embarrassment and tactlessness. Paradigmatically, companies that engage professional coaches and even put colourful cardboard noses on the higher employees to trim them for the implementation and improvement of their own performance by means of a group-dynamic setting in which one learns how to prepare the others for the soft tour, to pursue investment status work, to navigate successfully in the markets of all kinds, from the partnership market via the derivatives market to the education market, stand for this, to strengthen the belief in oneself in any situation, however precarious, and above all to think positively and networked, and this is precisely the freedom of excess in the self to be capitalized and capitalized, which, however, must always be controlled by a higher-level manager, a plan, a watch, a smartphone or another digital device, by an institution or authority. (The functional psychopath does not live in a vacuum, but is constantly connected to gadgets and digital devices in apartments and offices, mainly in the function of making himself and others fit to successfully use algorithmic metrics.) Best of all, of course, by yourself, as does the dogged jogger who struggles through the dirty city air and wants to exaggerate his performance affinity to the point of puking.

Even the remnants of commodity aesthetics today are still geared to the performance of the pseudo-aesthetic transformations of the successful and to their flexibility, which is shown by the fact that it is also possible to wear objects that are trashy and expensive at the same time (washed-out jeans spiced up with pop-cultural trash and emblems, which are best created by a world-famous designer as unique pieces); the thing must adapt to the seemingly polyfunctional ego, which, however, in its diversity and diversity, reveals an astonishing tenacity and at the same time one-dimensionality, because it is entirely owed to the capitalization of small capital x. Then the infamous homo oeconomicus reappears for a moment, and the playful performance of allegedly individual delusional aggregates may shipwreck.

Then, for example, the yacht as the venue for various party happenings of the bunker elites, which turn out to be a mixture of children’s birthday parties, small talk, luxury pornography and stupid bragging, quickly mutates into a military-logistic center. The culture of the super-rich and the gangster culture, which were already a complex game in classical capitalism, read by Chandler and Hammett, are today often completely merged together. The open secret therefore remains that the rich often mix crime, insolence and the vulgarity of wealth, without there being a rudimentary breakthrough aesthetic style that could mask the vulgarity of wealth, and only the sophiscated art can still cover with difficulty that the wealth of the super-rich is as vulgar as the one-euro commodity at Kick. The monstrous luxury villa only comes to itself when those excluded from luxury are allowed to stare at it on their flat screens in the Tui catalogue. And every life event of the elite broadcast on television undercuts trash television not only in obscenity, but also in unimaginativeness, so that the last, true event of the super-rich may be the enjoyment of temporary homelessness on the street, as Chuck Palahniuk has described in detail.

The utility values of the goods do not disappear, but are branded and sent around the world, often monetized in real time. In relation to life, this means that its exchange value no longer tends to differ from its material existence, even more so that it is transformed into a financial investment that capitalizes the future of the material thing of life. This applies at least to the privileged sections of the population in the feel-good oases of the metropolises, who are accustomed to inhabit and travel the globe, while large parts of the vegetating proletariat in the peripheries, but also in part already in the core zones of capital, are mercilessly tied up in their places – apartments equipped with digital consoles that allow a view of the world on a flat screen. At the same time, day and night, an army of sniffer dogs, i.e. the analysts of insurance companies, banks and other private companies around the world, are searching for hidden sources that could point to the future multiplication of various aspects of life and that are not yet reflected in the derivative value of a person.5

In order to visualize the differences in the social field, a medial machine of contempt must be set in motion that targets the impoverished, the prolls, the migrants and refugees, constructs them as vermin and dependents. The functional psychopath, who is even admired by the socially deputies because he walks over their corpses, needs the outcasts as victims who, if possible, offer no resistance, but at best cultivate his indisposition as a kind of sick feeling. A large part of mankind, which one classifies as the surplus population and which, with Günther Anders, one could also call “vegetarian proletarians”, will definitely remain excluded from the increase of small capital x. There is here a “non-simultaneity of the simultaneous”, or a “locality” of globalization to report. The surplus population is completely incapable of cancelling the restrictions of space and thus remains behind in the impoverished space destroyed by climate change, is thrown onto the rubbish dumps or parked in shadow zones, is forced to decelerate in time and only lags behind the dynamic hipster subjects, who mostly inhabit the feel-good oases of the West, in order to wait for death in the stagnating “time pap” of their own superfluity. “Some inhabit the globe, others are tied to their place,” says Zygmunt Bauman accordingly. The former define their feel-good subjectivity through their massive disposition of purchasing power, while for the Surplus population babies are considered human waste from the outset. Due to the largely irreversible pollution of surface waters and groundwater resources, the natural supply of drinking water (especially in Africa and Asia, but also in the USA and Europe) is endangered for the Surplus population. One becomes in the future suggest to the poor producers of infants that they should no longer produce them in the future. This is called birth control.

Capitalisation involves the calculated (discounted) current value of the risk-adjusted profits of an economic unit to be expected in the future. The prices of derivatives are based on the market calculations of future monetary and volatile profit flows, which are discounted on the basis of market interest rates and the expectations of market players. Or, to put it another way, they result from discounting expected future profits at the current market interest rate and a risk premium or discount (weighted interest rate) depending on the quality of the security and the economic situation. Today, speculation and measurement in the economic sphere are most effectively carried out through the writing and pricing of derivatives. The standard view of financial economics defines a derivative contract as an asset (asset or speculative "investment") whose value depends on something else called the underlying, speculating on the possible future value of the underlying. The derivative is therefore not something you hold in your hands like a book. It is essentially relational, yes it is a relation of relations. It is the speculator's task to estimate the volatility of the derivative in relation to the volatility of the underlying over time. With derivative contracts, two counterparties "bet" on what will happen to the relationship between the underlying asset and the derivative in the future. In a way, bets are placed on the relation and a tango is played over time. However, this is only true insofar as the principles of Euclidean geometry are not always wrong, but only sometimes true. There is also speculation about the future value of the asset itself, i.e. there is a reference of the derivative to itself and not only to the underlying. The decisive factor in replicating the derivative is its size and the speed of volatility. 

2 If there is a double movement at work in the self-referential movement of money, it is not the movement between fundamental values and speculative impulses that insists, but rather the constant necessity to respond productively to speculative provocations in order to reconstruct reality by means of new relations. It is in this context that the leverage can also be seen, which obliges actors located in higher social positions to leverage their activities, i.e. they set up their relationships with others in such a way that they can draw the highest profit, the greatest output, for a given input. The concept of leverage functions immanently, relationally and performatively at the individual level through the recursive activation of the connections and operations that compose it. It shows that relational forms are immanent and constitutive at the same time to create new norms. Leverage is the way in which one gives one’s fictitious projections a self-fulfilling, performative quality x by forcing the world to respond affirmatively to one’s own speculative demands.

To the extent that speculation means more than just “betting,” it involves leverage. Leveraging does not simply involve the improvement of the speculator’s economic position, but shapes his configuration of reality. Mainstream economics sees speculation only as a non-performative risk management that eliminates uncertainty and insists that the future is calculable if only the right data and methods are available. Since it is assumed that there are no significant differences between the past and the future, the latter can be calculated on the basis of knowledge of the former using perfect probability theory knowledge. It is actually like a lottery: Since randomness can be produced systemically and the influence of the subject can be isolated, we get complete knowledge. But the uncertainty cannot be separated from the calculable risk so easily, but the question arises how to use the uncertainty of the future to exploit it without being paralyzed by it. Leverage within the framework of speculation then has a pre-emptive quality here, responding to the fact that we can never fully know the future and therefore need strategies that permanently deal with the moment of uncertainty. Leverage then means understanding oneself as a nodal point within an interactive logic of speculation, as an attractor in the social field. The way to understand the uncertainty of the other is to get them to invest in my promises (as a way to hedge the uncertainty they are exposed to). Leveraging shifts the emphasis on the possibility of correctly calculating risks towards the way actors try to institutionalize their promises as relevant units of calculation. Economic power consists not only in knowledge, but also in being (recognized) in the context of a rampant uncertainty. Leveraging can thus be understood as a secular form of sovereignty with which one does not transcend the field of risks, but has the possibility of transforming one’s own risks into dangers for others.

3Cash money, for example, is booked by making oneself the creditor and the cash register the debtor; goods that one wants to buy are made the debtor and the cash register the creditor.

4 The cadaver subject clearly condones a psychotic structure as described in detail by Deleuze/Guattari. The two authors write that the deterritorializations (divisions, liquefactions, etc.) are always accompanied by reterritorializations (narcissism, individualization, etc.).

5 The value of life nestles closely to the logos of the derivative, which one refers to the environment of the person and to himself. The difference between small capital x and the person is increasingly erased, insofar as life as a whole is oriented towards monetarization, towards the transformation of a small social affair into a machine for the multiplication of small capital x. Life profit is now directly linked to the derivative profit logic of capital.

Foto: Stefan Paulus

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