The Intelligence of Capital: The Collapse of Politics in Contemporary Society

Capital is the intelligence of the world. Capital does not need the nation state, the old mythologies of the sovereignty of nations is giving way to the logics of the Global Empire of Capital. Reactions to this state of affairs across the globe has brought on the crisis and end games of nations everywhere, one that will break apart the old sovereignties and dispel the illusion of power in the political. From here forward Capital is divorced from the politics of nations, and what remains is the hollow men who rule under the auspices of the Sovereign Empire of Capital. A world without a Leader. A world where there can be no center, only the disparities of the network and its technopoles.

Fernand Braudel would speak of two universes, two ways of life foreign to each other. yet whose respective wholes explain one another: the ancient feudalistic autarchies, and the modern market societies.1 He’d liken such a history as one of “conjunctures and economic crises, and it is the vast and structural history that evolves over many, many years. Indeed, that is the whole problem, for when dealing with the entire world over four centuries, how does one organize such a file of facts and explanations?” (Braudel, 5) For Braudel the old feudal worlds of primitive accumulation were static, inflexible, and entropic realms of inertia, while the modern market economies were just the opposite: dynamic, flexible, and negentropic realms of energetic forces being unleashed in technological innovation, production, and socio-cultural relations.(Braudel, 5-6)

At he heart of this exploration was a temporal explosion from within the old feudal orders that broke apart the ancient systems of Agricultural Civilizations based on cyclic notions of time and social relations, one that gave way to the emerging forms of acceleration, technological progress, and the emerging crises of power, capital, and politics. Against the circle and the arrow of time capitalistic economies would discover the spiral: the movement from crisis to crisis, the ever expanding internal limits of capital itself as against the ancient potlatch societies of sacrifice and mimetic excess. The collapse of ancient societies in the West brought about the slow and methodical desacralization of the world. Some historians have tried to place this within the emerging worldview of the sciences of which the Enlightenment Age was the harbinger and culmination of the collapse of the Christian and Feudalistic universe that had bound western civilization, culture, and society within a nexus of religious forms of power and control for two millennia.

As Jean-Pierre Dupuy in his recent Economy and the Future: A Crisis of Faith remarks: “Economy cannot be explained without reference to religion, but that Economy occupies the place emptied out by the desacralization the world, itself an eminently religious phenomenon.” With the desacralizing of modern society came the rise of the a-theistic worldview that would become the cornerstone of the Secular West and the progressive liberal institutions that would give rise to modern democracies everywhere. What we are seeing now in our contemporary moment is the end of politics and the democratic worldview of secularism. As if a void or black hole had opened up and swallowed the power and authority of the political. In our time as Dupuy emphasizes “the political class that kneels before the titans of finance and makes itself their lackey” has allowed the severance of democracy from economics which in turn has allowed the impersonal and indifferent forces of economics – or, what many are terming “algorithmic governance” to rule over the global empire of Capital. (Dupuy, KL 199)

Even as many nations struggle against this state of affairs as attested to by the rise of the extreme right in the Europe and America, and the social and political decay into barbarity among many of the Third World nations. Even in China and Russia we have seen the re-centralization of authority into State as the final arbiter and decision making authority (a conservative and authoritarian move). India is falling away into religious civil-war as cliamacteric collapse: drought, water depletion, food shortages, famine, disease and social unrest begin to supervene of the semblance of democratic liberalism. Same can be said of many Third World nations in Africa, South Americas, the Middle-East, and Island nations of the Pacific. With the wars over the last remaining resources of the old industrial economies being central to the 21st Century economies we are seeing once again the nation states competing and warring, forming alliances and retrograde filiations. The destabilization of the monetary systems that drive capitalist expansion attest to the current political and social unrest across the known world as the confrontation between the older Feudal orders and the collapse of modernity in our time is producing a bifurcation in the world system. As the forces of Capital accelerate across the globe the old imperial systems that have held sway in most of the Third World nation states is eroding and bringing crisis across their ancient religious and sovereign systems of power. Because there is not central power, no governing body, no greater leadership or authority to maintain world order we see a vacuum in the political and economic spheres. Even the so called American sovereignty of being the world’s policeman is failing as the Human Security Regimes (Land) give way to the dividing of the ways of economics and politics.

For two centuries we’ve seen the slow demise of the liberal worldview and the politics of democracy. With the emergence of networkcentric societies something else is arising, a world where economics not politics rules and governs the world through algorithmic systems of intelligence (i.e., the AI revolution and Deep Learning systems that are reorganizing Big Data and Decisioning processes around the globe). Some have even suggested that the core engine of Capital itself is the engine of intelligence, the driving force within the immenent systems of global power and economics is the optimization of intelligence; or, to put it another way: the liberation of intelligence from the human, the emergence of autonomous intelligence.

One doesn’t have to wander far to realize that humans have always had this uncanny relation to technology, that in many ways our fascination with robotics, with android forms that resemble or clone the human likeness, simulate our dispositions, our intentional desires and attributes has given rise to a whole breakaway world of scientific, engineering, economic, and artistic (design) culture. We seem to want these humanoid forms to replace us on the evolutionary scale. We both fear and seek it, our SF, horror, and comic books are replete with these companion species. Our major corporations are busily creating toys with AI and Deep Learning systems to be companion species, helpers, avatars, agents who they hope we will become enamored of, dependent on, and captured by in their bid to command and control, modulate and shape our desires within the mechanosphere of machinic civilization that is arising out of the ruins of our embattled democracies.

Even the term “technocracy” has re-emerged in capitalist and technological discourse as the supposedly only viable social form of the immediate future. The fusion of the sciences and socio-cultural aesthetic with the economic and techno-commercial spheres is at the heart of this Global Technocracy. Central to it are the technopoles or megacities of technology driven commerce, the hubs and nodal points of a global empire of our network society. These Global Cities will become the nodal points for great migrations of the twenty-first century. The great cities of the Pacific-Rim: Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai and others are become the powerhouses of this Technocratic World. The older cities of Europe, Russia, Asia, the Americas will remain but are bound to the collapse of the Secular worlds of democracy and the liberal worldview of the Enlightenment that are losing their appeal in the network societies of our accelerating future.

I’d be the first one to say I am astounded at this, at the collapse of democracy in less than two hundred years. Yet, as communism in its post-Marxist phase begins to technologize itself we are seeing a transitional form that is keeping pace with the post-human worldviews of the more radical and cutting edge aesthetics of both scientific and philosophical thought and engineering. So I’m not surprised at this in the least. We’ve been gutting the liberal Subject and its politics for decades. What did we expect? Such things as Brexit and the rise of populism (Trump, Le Pen, etc.) are only reactions to this process, not something that will last. The EU and U.S.A. will have to reorganize their worldviews or decay into insolvency.

The 21st Century will be a hotly contested space of deformation, transformation, and transition ripe for war and struggle. With the collapse of sovereignty in nations, and the rise of global sovereignty in the Empire of Capital the old Liberal Civilization is playing out an End Game. Whether it accepts defeat or not, the end is assured. The human species (homo sapiens) will face the emergence of intelligences greater than itself, and will either accept this as the outcome of its own inner struggles or be defeated by its inability to realize that it was a transitional species. Difficult as that may be to accept humanity will in the coming decades be faced with the emergence of a machinic civilization that will displace homo sapiens in favor of Techno sapiens. The only choice is to accelerate this process or be defeated by it.

  1. Braudel, Fernand. Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism. (John Hopkins University, 1979) p. 6
  2. Dupuy, Jean-Pierre. Economy and the Future: A Crisis of Faith (Studies in Violence, Mimesis, & Culture) (Kindle Locations 487-488). Michigan State University Press. Kindle Edition.

taken from here


Foto: Bernhard Weber

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