META-NOMAD

The Genealogy of Foucault’s Numeric Power Structures – Man Under Number

The Genealogy of Foucault’s Numeric Power Structures – Man Under Number

By Meta-Nomad

Essay constructed whilst listening to Röyksopp’s Senior – here, listen.

PDF Link for easier reading.

 

Introduction

In this essay I primarily use Michel Foucault’s text The Birth of Biopolitics (2010) to extrapolate and theorize on the socio-economic genealogy that is created after the Enlightenment. I propose that distinctive to the process of the Enlightenment was a fundamental cultural shift towards the assimilation of number into every facet of man’s life. My task is not to ask ‘Why?’ this new numeric culture arose, nor ‘Why?’. My sole task is to analyze the full economic, social and political genealogy it gives rise to in relation to man’s understanding of himself. I shall note that the genealogy itself is theoretically auto-catalytic (as shown by Fig 1), as such the linearity of the essay is continually reliant on the extrapolation of a previous section. As such I have written this essay in such a way as to expound upon that which I believe to be the largest ‘macro’ first (the culture of number) and continued genealogically through to the smallest ‘micro’ (man as homo-economicus). Though there is a quasi-hierarchical relation between the influence of some parts of the genealogy upon others parts, no part can exist without any other, as such the structure of the text acts only an illusory form of cohesion in relation to that which is ceaselessly auto-catalyzing between systems, structures, institutions, temporalities, cultures and frameworks.

(Fig 1 – The Auto-catalytic Nature of Modernity’s Numeric Genealogy)

 

Man’s Maturation and Enlightened Numeric Systems.

This essay’s respective ‘parts’ form a cohesion in relation to the maturation of man [1]. This process of maturation is inherently connected to time, it is a temporal process, one matures over time. The key ‘era’ of man’s maturation, in inherent distinction to others, according to Kant (Kant, 1784) was the ‘dawn’ of the Enlightenment. A process beginning with the 16th (Foucault, 2000, p307) century and continuing through to the early 19th. A process which has become synonymous with the arrival/birth of modernity (Ibid, p303-304, 309). The Enlightenment is a process situated within history, from which “Man puts his reason to use” (Ibid, p308). To utilize his reason, his human reason as a form of exit from the authoritarian and theological structures of the Other (Ibid, p306) that dominated the thought of the subject prior. To understand the world within man’s own cognitive capacity, this is what is meant by critique (Ibid, p305); the Enlightenment is the dawn of anthro-limit-acceptance. The systematic modification of will, authority and reason (Ibid, p305) that takes place within the Enlightenment is a distinctly temporal form of maturation – “because illumination takes time” (Land, 2013), linked to an ongoing histo-cultural process. Epistemologically locked to the changes taking place within said process. There was a darkness and calculation – as I will show – lead man to the En(Light)enment. The grammatical focus on the singular notion of an Enlightenment confusingly removes it from its true nature as process, a process within a larger process of techno-capital which it helps/allows to birth. Inherent to the system of the Enlightenment is a historical and numerical overlap which allows man to fully mature, the historical and systematic roots of which I shall now begin to pull up.

To state that the process of the Enlightenment is at its core historically and culturally mathematical would be the understatement, with regard to not only history, but to man’s nature and ‘nature’ in general – as I shall show further on. The proto-process of the Enlightenment begins much earlier that the 16th century, Crosby notes the process begins – less systematically – in the 13th century (Crosby, 1996). Yet full scale numeric-cultural assimilation of which is the focus of the this essay doesn’t arrive until the 16th century. From then on its arrival is so militaristic one wonders where numbers do not pry: Military textbooks (Ibid, p6), mathematical clocks (Ibid, p19), abacus’ (Ibid, p112), roman numerals (Ibid, p115), Mercantilism (Porter,T,M, 1986, p20), Malthusianism (Ibid, p26), Victorian social policy (Ibid, p30-31), standardization of measurements and time (Porter,T,M, 1996. p29, 93, 207, 224). The physics of Kepler, Galileo, Descartes and Newton, Stevin’s decimalist fractions (1585), Napier’s logarithms (1614), Fermat (1636) and Descartes’ (1637) geometry, Leibniz (1684) and Newton’s (1687) calculus and so on (see secondary bibliography on Enlightenment texts). As I previously stated in the introduction, my task is not to theorize the how or why the numeric cultural methods became so prevalent within the process of the Enlightenment, but to ask what these new numeric methods/attitudes do to man, how they alter man. What happens to the ‘homo sapiens’ when systematically introduced to number. That of man’s maturation under number? For a thorough analysis of this I turn to Foucault’s Birth of Biopolitics (2010).

A continually self-aggrandizing numeric process/culture which begins and succeeds in applying and parasitically assimilating number, math, calculation and quantification onto and into every facet of society. Number and limit convert man’s most basic and fundamental actions from subject oriented actions of the ‘immature’ self into economic possibilities: growth, gain, loss, limit, production and profit etc. The aforementioned numeric and mathematical events taking place within the Enlightenment convert society into a culture of the abacus, of ones and zeroes, pluses and minuses, controlled by chronic, linear time; “Modernity is often situated on a calendar” (Foucault, M, 2000. p309) notes Foucault and yet one struggles to rigorously select the dates unto which we can say ‘modernity’ precisely takes place. However, one can say that without modernity calendars cease existence, at least in our current systematic understanding of them. Calendric culture is modernity, a grid-like structure atop the world locking culture into smaller and smaller parcels and units of time. The calendar is the metaphor for modernity, a thorough process of temporal atomization unto which one can easily control the minute boxes are produced from it. A time built for control, from mathematical means of control. Firstly, the newfound numeric culture must assimilate into the ‘macro’ as a means to alter the ‘micro’; society first, only then to man.

 

Assimilating the Attitude of Modernity into Society

The numeric attitude of modernity aforementioned, complete with its assimilation of reasoned, mature, calculable limit into every facet of life shall forthwith be called ‘the attitude of modernity’. This attitude – for reasons I expand upon later – exists everywhere, and so, to get to the question of this essay, namely ‘man’, I must follow the constitutive parts of a numeric genealogy which begin their journey as the formation/creation of the synonymy of society and economy, and from there onward affect man more directly and purposefully. Yet one must extrapolate on that which man is within and in some sense being molded by before attending to the singular unit of man himself, he exists roughly at the ‘end’ of a genealogy: Number, economy, state and finally man.

Once the attitude of modernity infects society the task of society fundamentally changes, due to its newfound utilization and reliance on number and thus numeric/economic systems. This newfound raison d’Etat has at its core a critique of the ‘art of governance’ inherently connected with number (Foucault, M, 2010. p6), for the understanding of ‘limit’ is not possible without a coherent ‘lesser’ or ‘greater’, a mode of thinking made available by number. As such government begins to understand itself in relation to its own limitations and precisely because of this self-understanding it can begin to place itself within and enter into competitive frameworks, as well as this government also begins to understand its own internal limits and begins to regulate where it deems fit. Both the external mode of competition and internal mode of regulation are made possible by alterations both in communal/societal understanding of limit via numeric education and nature (later). This raison D’etat which takes the form of “internal limitation of governmental reason” (Ibid, p13) – or perhaps, ‘the maturation of government’ – is made possible by the arrival of ‘political economy’ (itself arriving synchronously with the numeric attitude) – “a method of government that can procure the nation’s prosperity” (Ibid, p13). Political economy in its mutual utilization of the attitude of modernity acts as governmental reflection (which was previously based upon morals, theology or law) ground down to ones and zeros, positives and negatives of wealth, value and capital (Ibid, p15). From this form of epistemological and governmental legitimacy wherein profit is ‘correct’ (Ibid, p14) “the economy produces the legitimacy of the state – the economy creates public law” (Ibid, p84), for law need only be tailored towards – the same now for everything else in society – the growth of the economy in relation to the nation. And so there is a ‘permanent genealogy of the state from the economic institution” (Ibid, p84) the actions of society become the actions for the growth of the economy and so succinctly, society becomes equal to economy.

To continue with this exposition of genealogy in the direction of man I must reach back to where I began. The attitude of modernity makes the society within its clutches understand itself in relation to its own attitude and epistemological legitimization of economic growth. All that is macro (society & state) or micro (man) is assimilated into the controlled signification of society now synonymous with economy, as noted by Foucault:

The economy produces political signs that enable structures, mechanisms of justification and power to function – the free market, the economically free-market, binds and manifests political bonds.” (Ibid, p85).

This form of economic positive-feedback-loop creation is genealogically bound to the economy – the creation itself made possible by the maturation of man. The positive feedback loop of the economy is reliant on material agents who understand and make intelligible its system (men) to feed its growth-directed abacus. Man’s economic choices within this economic loop compound into a single choice, the choice for the continuation of the economy beneath him. This is the only societal choice if one is to utilize the logic expounded previously: A nation’s prosperity is in relation to the growth of the economy, arguably the average man wishes for the betterment of his nation and in turn himself (from his nation), as such the purpose of man – survival, betterment, wellbeing[2] – becomes equal to attending to and helping the economic growth of the/his state/nation. For what now exists outside of the economy is now also outside of society and as such struggles, due to lack of institutional support networks, to survive. Man’s remaining options are to attend to the expansion of the economy or beg for scraps external to all systems. The attitude of modernity is a parasite infecting both at an individual and social level as to legitimize growth-as-wellbeing via intelligible mechanisms, and so, for man to improve his wellbeing he understands via signification produced by the economy that he must improve the growth of the economy – his ‘purpose’ has been replaced with a clearer economic purpose, his material meaning fulfilled, but what of his nature?

 

Nature and Political Economy

Political economy has arrived, as such the fundamental notions of nature, society and economy and man have changed, and so the state has inherently altered and modified into a system that mutates governmental practice into an economic entity – “Political economy [a] method of government that can procure prosperity.” (Ibid, p13). To prosper, to grow and to profit. Political economy is the numeric reflection of governmental policy via its economic effects and choices. This socio-economic abacus of political economy reveals [3] the intelligible mechanisms (Ibid, p15) of the economy. Mechanisms that once revealed can be taken by government into a loop of creation and utilization, to alter and direct their mode of governance in relation to a personal ideology. To chain the flow of capital towards a humanist venture. For the mechanisms cannot be avoided (Ibid, p15), and so are to be directed – which is considered by Foucault to be to the detriment of the free-market (Ibid, p116) – or are simply to be left alone, to be [a] free [market]. These mechanisms become nature via their synonymous actions alongside the attitude of modernity. Numeric attitudes allow such mechanisms an actuality via cultural assimilation of the means of understanding the mechanisms (mathematical education). This in turn assimilates into the collective engagement of society and government – “The notion of nature will thus be transformed with the appearance of political economy.” (Ibid, p15).

If we’re to take Foucault at his word when he states “Nature is something that runs under, through, and in the exercise of governmentality.” (Ibid, p16) then it follows that the reveal of political economy, and political economy itself is natural – for political economy is merely a modification of governance in relation to cultural progression maturation and alteration. There is no mutation in/of nature, we have simply revealed a further part of its form. The attitude of modernity as parasite in accordance with the political economy adheres to the previous culture of society/man and directs it via assimilation with mathematics towards a new form of natural behaviour in-keeping with the modern attitude. Number begets number via parasitic invasion of man’s being, allowing man to enter into the epistemological framework which reveres markets as signifier of truth.

Further investigation with regards to man’s ‘new’ natural reality of political economy is paramount to understanding his new being. For within man’s ‘new’ nature – now simply ‘nature’ – the choice of taxes at a politically economic level is a now simply a question of growth in relation to the state within which that political economy exists, does doing X to Y result in growth. The competitive essence of growth quashes archaic modes of ‘right & wrong’ via the assimilation of the attitude of modernity into every facet of man’s praxis. From (new) nature man now understands his purpose in relation to growth, and so all his actions are to be taken and made in relation to growth. Truth, for man, now lies solely – within a free-market capitalist mode of economy – within the potential for national prosperity, itself connected to the ‘regime of truth’ (Ibid, p19) connected to government via natural signification – “the site of truth is the market” (Ibid, p30). From this complex interwoven process of maturation via number, agents, economy, state and markets arises a norm. A mode of societal and governmental normitivity arises from the black unknowability of all economic processes. Man’s new mode of being – political economy as society aside – is to adhere/revere the normative, calculating, reasoned and epistemologically numerical economic mode of being, itself arisen from the secular domain of economy. Nature now runs through government as a mode of economic truth, an individual and collective mode of being made possible by the process of the Enlightenment’s maturation being synonymous with the assimilation of numerical attitudes into culture. This ‘mode of being’, for man, is to be ‘homo-economicus’.

 

Becoming Homo-Economicus

But what of ‘man’ within this new reality, this ‘new’ nature? He too synchronously changes alongside and with the nature of the collective. Man transforms, he modifies into ‘economic-man’, ‘human-capital’, homo-economicus. This modification of ‘man’ happens not only at a sociological, political and economic level, but also more fundamentally at the level of identity, at the level of his very definition. Foucault notes the history of the Latin word for man – homo, e.g. homosapien – during the process of the Enlightenment (Ibid, p250). During which the abstract integration of ‘man’ (homo) into external systems of cultural, societal and – eventually – economic relation takes place – homo-penalis & homo-criminalis are two clear examples (Ibid, p250). Throughout the process of the Enlightenment, man’s maturation, the singular subject ‘man’ loses his state as subject-as-island, separate from systems, sovereignty and economics, he begins to become inherently integrated into the modern attitude itself via semantic means. A man who is a criminal is a criminal-man, a new singular semantic judgement. Yet more importantly, for not all men are criminals – all men are now, or have the capacity to be calculating, man’s critical future neologism as homo-economicus, economic-man is locked into the modern attitude of calculation, which itself is locked into the ‘new’ form of nature. Man’s assimilation into this new economic reality is made whole by this creation of a neologistic combination of biology and economy. The cultural integration of number infects man and makes possible his new, inherent tether to the economy. The process of the Enlightenment, the maturation process paves the way for his becoming-economic. If man is now to be, he must be economic, he must be homo-economicus.

“The homo-economicus sought after is not the man of exchange or man the consumer; he’s the man of enterprise and production.” (Ibid, p147). However, with regard to “enterprise and production”, Foucault does not believe this fundamental shift within the subject of man makes him merely a puppet of capital, pulled by larger, unseen economic forces. It places him within and of an inescapable and unknowable whole of economics which, as atomized homo-economicus, he now becomes within due to to his newfound intelligible abilities in relation to economic mechanisms, themselves in relation to the political economy. Homo-economicus is entirely a becoming, a temporal length of maturation in relation to his understanding and assimilation into the numeric/economic framework. This process of assimilating the attitude of modernity into man begins at birth. A child is human capital (p228). It is a maturation directed at the potential for future economic output, a numeric maturation. The capital that is a ‘young human/infant’ is thrown into a temporal framework of limitation in relation to the epistemological legitimacy of market processes at that current time: Age, intelligence, investment, health, family and future possibilities all act in relation to the potential of this atomized homo-economicus to supply the state with growth. Their only other option is to de-tether from the economy and risk death.

Man, for Foucault, throughout this entire process undergoes as complex change & modification – if not more so – as state and society, due to assumptions surrounding his own being and ‘subject’ itself being eroded. The new reality – nature – I previously wrote of is foremost ‘accepted’ by man, “The nature of human nature is to be historical, because the nature of human nature is to be social. There is no human nature which is separable from the very fact of society.” (Ibid, p299). Such a newfound reality/nature works upon man in way of altering the very definition of his being, modifying and directing his being into alternate pathways made available by number. During the maturation period – the Enlightenment – the concept of ‘man’ began its own semantic journey into critique, flirting with systems of its own creation – law, criminality and now economy – in ways never previously experienced. Viewing these systems not as external modifications and alterations to a (whole) self, but as internal mutations of the self into a new form of self. Man becomes criminal-man (homo-criminalis), and in the context of this essay man becomes economic-man (homo-economicus). One must understand that this acceptance of nature anew is man situated “in an indefinite field of immanence – linking him to a series of accidents. [See fig 1], linking him to production, to others – a doubly involuntary situation.” (Ibid, p277). Situated in a field of non-totalizable economic immanence, a field he partakes in via economic choice in relation to society via intelligible mechanisms, yet e only does so in an atomized manner. Such a reality is acceptance of life as an atomized conduit for Smith’s invisible hand. It is a life “in the dark [wherein] the blindness of all economic agents [men] [is] are absolute necessity.” (Ibid, p279). Foucault’s allusion to state-subject collapse in lieu of economic becoming is extreme, yet realistic in relation to man’s own limit. Man must remain blind to the totality of economic process for if he sees he risks vision of society as limitrophe of zero, of society & state-as-economy as teetering on top of a complex abacus of illusory numeric supports [4].

Man’s place within and of these supports is succinctly extrapolated by Foucault (Ibid, p84-85). Man is allowed by the institution – in relation to its merit now intelligible via number – to spend and act, simply because the institution wishes them to do so; it is in their interest to allow agents of the economy (man) freedom. It allows them with this freedom to state it is right to give them such a freedom – an epistemological loop of economic legitimization. Such actions/freedoms of man are always in relation to growth/loss etc, itself made intelligible by the epistemology of the market, and so man’s freedoms become legitimized via the regime of the market. As such, from the underlying epistemology of the economy via the intelligibility of the market comes the legitimization of all of man’s actions in relation to production, a consensus of production is produced by that which wants production – the economy. Within this positive feedback loop of human-wellbeing assimilated into the epistemological legitimization of production man becomes an agent of the economic process itself, from this loop man becomes homo-economicus, he becomes a partner of exchange (Foucault, M. 2010, p226) and as such a partner in the production of economic and political consensus via political signification made possible by intelligible market processes, (Ibid, p85) in tacit relation to the continual growth of runaway capital.

 

There is moments wherein man attempts reversion to his previous natural ‘state’, where he attempts to cordon or direct the free market economy, often resulting in detrimental effects (Ibid, p116) – these attempts are acts of competition in relation to internal and external limits. The market is pure competition (Ibid, p121) and so acts of limitation with regard to competition are anti-free-market, to regulate the economy is to regulate truth, to regulate nature. So if the market is left alone the remaining economic representation is the epistemologically (numerically) legitimized truthful vision of societal demands and desires, or else, if regulated, it is the signifier of ideology. This form of societal signifiers is synonymous with the arrival of political economy, itself synonymous with the arrival of homo-economicus.Both forming a complex whole, the existence of which is only possible on the condition of the existence of the aforementioned economized institutional framework of the state (Ibid, p163). Their adherence to the state is adherence to historical economic attitudes, or the attitude of modernity works within an institution to materialize a numeric-based power structure.

 

Temporal Power Structures

And yet, the seemingly bleak future for homo-economicus is tethered to a secondary means of control which has thus far only been hinted at with regard to its importance. This means of control is more complex in a far subtler way, the means itself is simple temporality and the realities it imposes on humans (mortality, health, productive output etc.). Yet at all junctures within both the process of maturation and the fully-fledged becoming of homo-economicus temporality is utilized by the economy via governmentality as a means for control. Before listing the simple/obvious practical means of control, I shall extrapolate on further ways in which temporality works synergistically with capital as a means of power over man. As I stated at the beginning of the essay one must not remove emphasis of the word ‘process’ in relation to maturation and the Enlightenment, this method of thinking about power must also be applied to the economy, for the economic processes unto which man is now befallen are equally forms of temporality, they are processes and at their core are actions of time. To paraphrase Foucault: the formalization of economic mechanisms and processes only exist in history (Ibid, p163) – there has to have been time for formalization to take place, no economy is a temporal moment/present. Not only do economic processes only exist and enact within history and time, but they also – within a numerical culture such as the one homo-economicus inhabits – use and utilize time as a means of control, as an economic means in itself. Foucault notes that the “economic reality of capitalism” we’re dealing with is “a singular figure in which economic processes and institutions call on each other, modify and shape each other in ceaseless reciprocity.” (Ibid, p164). Capitalism is a process of processes, “Capital is essentially /capitals/ at war among themselves.” – (Land, N. 2018, p1370). This ceaseless modification is ceaseless diversions of temporality attuning man’s life-cycle to a lesser or greater mode of profitability in relation to time. Each cross referenced via intelligible mechanisms to cater to its – capital’s – own impenetrable longevity. This history of ceaseless reciprocity, or history of economic histories “can only be an economic-institutional history.” (Ibid, p164). The overlooked factor in relation to the reality of man here is – surprisingly, with regard to Foucault – the temporal element. History, not only as supposed linear narrative of consistent economic growth or loss plotted upon a linear timescale, but also capital’s utilization of its own understanding of temporality used alongside and with the numeric attitude assimilated into man as a controller of homo-economicus. Capital utilizes temporality as a means to reinforce its fundamental social policy, growth (Ibid, p144), such a policy that is only possible via time. Capital is to utilize the temporality of man as a means of productive output, as a further means towards the best possible use of resources as an even further means towards growth. Capital takes man’s true limit and resource, time, and uses it for its own gain. Man has been systematically immanentized into the auto-catalytic schema of capital as human-capital, as part of the system himself, he is “one of the two partners of exchange in the process of exchange.” (Ibid, p225). Once man partakes – usually unwillingly – in the attitude of modernity he becomes human-capital and as such becomes – a form of – capital. A process in himself to be understood and modified by capitalism. The maturation of man during the “Western economic take off in the sixteenth and seventeenth century – Was it not due precisely to the existence of an accumulation, an accelerated accumulation, of human capital?” (Ibid, p232). This was indeed a physical accumulation of human capital, but at heart it was the accumulation of contained time as an investment in mechanisms of growth. Such an accelerative effect of accumulation was directly made possible by the assimilation of all human-capital onto an economic plane via numeric education.

Without the process of maturation, inclusive of the historic/cultural integration of number into society, man’s understanding of himself would have taken a drastic, unknowable turn…or perhaps he would have remained within a world wherein his understanding of his own ‘time’, lifespan and temporality would not coincide with number. However, the process of maturation did – or had – to arrive alongside the assimilation of mathematical education, for understanding one’s own limit is not possible with a numeric spine, as such the means of control of which the economy may utilize are larger and more intrusive.

As for the physical, practical ways in which the political economy, the economy, capital controls homo-economicus… in which it creates a power structure, I turn once again to time. Hours, minutes, seconds, linear/successive time, hours worked, rate of production, productive output, clocking-in-and-out, growth, decay, profit, loss, holidays, pensions, hourly salary, yearly salary, overtime, bonuses, years of service, dividends, bonds, stocks, bankruptcy, taxes, tax breaks, distance traveled to work and pay per hour. Each of these is made societally universal via the assimilation of the attitude of modernity into every facet of life, as well as each being uniquely connected to time via its own method of temporal control. Each of these – and many more – are actions of the aforementioned “ceaseless reciprocity” (Ibid, p164) of capitalism. They are modifications and alterations of the temporal lifespan of homo-economicus as a means towards greater productivity and growth. Not only does man have to be numeric, but his very temporal being is split, allocated and allotted as a means towards profit. The labor of profit is primarily man, and a mistake is made in relation to understanding profit as solely a monetary venture. Money is simply the signifier of the value allotted to the time worked within a particular context, by a particular human. ‘Time is money’ takes on literal significance in relation to money being the most common intelligible mechanism with regards to understanding growth. And so, the homo-economicus has a lifespan unique to its being, which from birth is for use by capital for capital “if capital is that which makes future income possible, then capital is inseparable from the person who possesses it.” (Ibid, p224). Under capitalism, capital makes future income possible, meaning that capital makes the future possible, for now the future cannot exist without being a continuation of the growth directed system of capitalism. The system of capitalism understands the economy in relation to homo-economicus as allotments of time, “the more we move towards an economic state, the more paradoxically the constitutional bond of civil society is weakened and the man the individual is isolated by the economic bond he has with everyone and anyone.” (Ibid, p303). The system of capitalism utilized the assimilation of number as a means to temporally atomize man into becoming an individual economic and temporal unit, perfect for utilizing with regard to exchange and production, each man their very own test-kit for capital. The attitude of modernity was thus the launch pad for capitalism to become a hegemonic, cosmic, numeric entity. Forcing men into semantic deaths of the self via institutionalized inescapable connections with the system itself. The parasitic structure of capital is such that the parasite exists in time, with time, and moves from host to host using their time – via practical, economic means – as a way to prolong its own existence, for the sake of its own existence.

 

Conclusion

Capital is an abstract parasite, an insatiable vampire and zombie-maker; but the living flesh it converts into dead labor is ours, and the zombies it makes are us.” (Fisher, M. 2009, p15)

If we’re to follow the genealogical thread of number through to man, one comes to the bleak conclusion expounded upon quite heavily by Fisher in Capitalist Realism. The process unconsciously undertaken during the Enlightenment unleashed the vampiric means of capital. Careful attention to Fisher’s notion of vampiric capital however reveals one salient point, there is, supposedly, life-after-capital. You have become a zombified partner of exchange in relation to a large unknowable whole, yet you are still in control of your flesh, whether or not it is being eroded by the process of capital, used up by it. As I have shown the ‘abstract parasite’ of capital is so fundamentally tethered to a numeric-reality that expunging it from one’s system is, in reality, a temporally gigantic task. Global educational reversion towards a world of quality, away from quantity would be the task for those who intend to detach from capital. Foucault’s overlooked factor in relation to man not-becoming-capital-puppetry is his omission of the ways in which capital utilizes intelligible mechanisms as a way to justify its own reality, as the only reality. “If escape into capitalism isn’t the escape you want, then modern history is not for you.” (Land, N. 2018). If the maturation process, the ‘exit’ Kant spoke of is inherently bound to the attitude of modernity then there is no exit from capital, there is only existence within its self-selected direction. The conclusion of the genealogy expounded upon by Foucault, in relation to man, is that he is free to exist within the flow and process of capital, he may bare his flesh only in acknowledgement of capital.

 

Endnotes

[1] Though the process of man’s maturation with respect to Kant and Foucault could easily be deserving of its own essay, it is included here due to its unavoidability in relation to the topics discussed within and its connection throughout, as such it is expounded upon here as minorly as needs be, for this essay isn’t directly concerned with the Kantian aspect of the Enlightenment’s historical influence.

[2] I shall not argue the purpose or meaning of man’s life here, for I am taking it as a given via The Birth of Biopolitics that man directs himself towards personal wellbeing.

[3] Note that throughout The Birth of Biopolitics Foucault uses strictly Heideggerian language – specifically ‘reveal’ – as the way in which he understand the processes of economy. If one continues this thought, it seems applicable that the natural processes of economy were there all along.

[4]“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” (Lovecraft, H.P., 2014, p381) Lovecraft’s notion that pure cognitive correlation is     horrifically synonymous with the place in which man himself with regards to the reality of economic position, for him to see the ‘whole’ of the economy, is for him to correlate existence and time.

 

Bibliography

Crosby, A (1996) The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600. Cambridge, New York and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

Fisher, M. (2009) Capitalism Realism: Is There no Alternative? John Hunt Publishing.

Foucault, M (2000) Ethics: Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984. Penguin Books, London.

Foucault, M. (2010) The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the College De France 1978-1979. Palgrace Macmillan, New York.

Kant, I (1784) Kant: What is Enlightenment? [Online] Available at: (http://www.columbia.edu/acis/ets/CCREAD/etscc/kant.html#note1) (Accessed: 06/01/2019)

Land, N (2012) The Dark Enlightenment: Part 1. [Online] Available at: (http://www.thedarkenlightenment.com/the-dark-enlightenment-by-nick-land/#part1) (Accessed: 06/01/2019)

Land, N. (2018) Hermitix Podcast, Nick Land – Accelerationism and Capital. [Online] Available at: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgEqQujsNTY&t=) (Accessed: 06/01/2019)

Land, N. (2018) ŠUM, Journal for Contemporary Art Criticism and Theory, n. 10.2, Cryptocene

Crypto-current: An Introduction to Bitcoin & Philosophy. Društvo Galerija Boks.

Lovecraft, H,P.(2014) The Complete Fiction of H.P.Lovecraft. Race Point Publishing, New York.

Porter, T,M. (1986) The Rise of Statistical Thinking 1820-1900. Princeton University Press, UK.

Porter, T,M. (1996) Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life. Princeton University Press, UK.

 

Secondary Bibliography of Enlightenment Texts

Simon Stevin – La Disme, 1585

Franciscus Vieta – In artem analyticem isagoge, 1591

John Napier – Description of the Marvelous Canon of Logarithms, 1614

Joost Burgi & Johannes Kepler – Tabulae Rudolphinae, 1627

Bonaventura Cavalieri – Geometria Indivisibilibus Continuorum, 1635

Pierre de Fermat – Methodus ad disquirendam maximam et minimam et de tangentibus linearum curvarum, 1636.

Rene Descartes – La Géométrie, 1637

John Wallis – Arithmetica Infinitorum, 1655

Isaac Barrow – Geometrical Lectures, 1670

Isaac Newton – Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, 1687

Colin Maclaurin – Treatise of Fluxions, 1742

 

Blog: Organic Economics and TSPDT3

Serres & Nakamoto: Organic Economics

Connections between both Michel Serres’ ‘theorization’ of organisms as a series of interlocking boxes and Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision of a decentralized blockchain-based economy (Bitcoin)

It is not a unique black box, but a series of interlocking boxes; and this series is the organism, the body. Each level of information functions as an unconscious for the global level bordering it…What remains unknown and unconscious is, at the chain’s furthermost limit, the din of energy transformations: this must be so, for the din is by definition stripped of all meaning, like a set of pure signals or aleatory movements. – Michel Serres, The Origin of Language

The solution we propose [To the double-spending problem] begins with a timestamp server. A timestamp server works by taking a hash of a block of items to be timestamped and widely publishing the hash, such as in a newspaper or Usenet post [2-5]. The timestamp proves that the data must have existed at the time, obviously, in order to get into the hash. Each timestamp includes the previous timestamp inits hash, forming a chain, with each additional timestamp reinforcing the ones before it. – Nakamoto, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System

Serres here writing in 1982 – 26 years prior to Nakamoto’s publication – notices the inherent capabilities and integration of a ‘blockchain’ (or in Serres’ example interlocking boxes) system within consciousness and notably communication. If we are to very roughly fuse both visions, that a single ‘block’ from Nakamoto’s economic system, makes as much sense as a single box from Serres’ series, both are pieces of information disconnected from the whole which makes sense of them. Much alike Serres’ series wherein that which remains at the chain’s furthermost limit is unknown and unconscious, what remains at the furthermost limit of Nakamoto’s blockchain is the distant memory of a proven transaction.

What is there Serres’ conception of an organism e.g. a system, from the blockchain: A globalized, ever-growing, decentralized ledger. Both systematically receiving, exchanging and storing information. However, here’s the part that really interests me:

Serres’ organism as systems retrieve information, but ultimately decipher the signal from the noise (as noted with ‘tiny perceptions’), that is, organisms actively deduce from the chaos of the interlocking boxes that which they need, yet at all times all those boxes and links are needed. I don’t need to feel the weight of my arm, texture and temperature of the can before and whilst I take a sip, yet they are there and always will be. “Organization, per se, as system and homeorhesis, functions precisely as a converter of time.” So it is from this “bouquet of times” we pick our signals.

So what of Nakamoto’s system, which in the same way as Serres’ is related to time, that is as Nick Land states:

“…the claim being made, but the claim being made here is that the blockchain is Post-Spacetime and that means that we are not Post-Kantian. We are not Post-Kantian because the Kantian Transcendental Aesthetic is not disrupted by Einstein spacetime, instead, it is the draft it is the blueprint, it is the precursor for the spacetime of the blockchain which has now been instantiated by the Bitcoin technology. So we have now artificial absolute time for the first time ever in human history.”

A goliath claim to be sure, yet what of its possibility. For if artificial absolute time is a reality and any form of Post-Kantian time is now impossible, this means that Serres’ “bouquet of times” or ‘bouquet of succession’ or successive experiences etc. become locked in, they become interlocked truths which cannot be altered, but can be looked back upon, in and of. One could (when the technology gets to this stage…it’s close) travel down the infinitesimal succession of times and perceptions they previously missed. So Serres’ unconscious is entirely deconstructed, his system of “mobile material points distributed in space and governed by a law” becomes a horrific, or emancipatory (in terms of economics) reality, and that “law” is cryptographically locked moments in time, cryptographic truths decentralized and available to all.

So in short: The utilization of the ‘blockchain’ (Bitcoin protocol/blockchain technology) as an extension of the ‘natural’ organic system, itself a series of interlocking boxes; either an abstract connection between the organic and mechanic via capital, or a material connection via acknowledgment/perception of ‘purchase/consuming’.

Note: The fact they both immensely dislike centralization was the thing that caused me to notice their connection.

TSPDT3

HÄXAN (1922), I could write about this film for a little too long to be quite honest, in fact a re-watch to analyize any single aspect of the film wouldn’t go a miss. This film is the epitome of ‘ahead of its time’. So much so, one wonders whether or not Haxan is some strange found object, as if film was transported back in time and is used in place of a skull during a satanic ritual.

This film embodies superstition, the documentary format is throw into scripture…ancient, forgotten, esoteric, myth comes alive and takes no human prisoners, rooms and lives are awash with literal, viral madness. Nunneries follow insanity, and the Nuns the devil. ‘The Devil Takes Many Forms’ in a general motto to hold onto throughout the film, whether it be gold pieces strewn over the floor, demonic pigs on their hind legs, witch-trials, torture, hate, suspicion, paranoia and more enters into a hellish stew of burning theo-historical documentary madness…from 1922. On a practical note, the cinematography isn’t necessarily sublime, but it is merticulous, everything framed, the costume design and ‘special effects’ (for what those words are worth in 1922) are all on par with that one would see 50 even 60 years later, it feels as if the film is both a debt and sacrifice to an unknown ancient being.

Keaton’s Our Hospitality (1923) isn’t my humour, I mean the 21st century’s cynicism and rorny have ruined my innocence for slapstick comedy, thus a lot of Keaton’s antics seem simply immature now.

Keaton’s Sherlock Jr (1924) is fantastic, the running length helps I must admit, 40 minutes of cut-to-the-chase humour works well, his control of flow is superb and I get this feeling that in comparison to Chaplin he’s not as artsy fartsy…the stunts also are grand.

Listen, I’m not some Rotten Tomatoes rate-everything-pre-1950-highly schmuck, thus, Chaplin’s A Woman of Paris is dull, I mean really dull, at no point did I give a shit about any high society antics, which seemed to exist in a feedback loop, perhaps that was the point, I don’t know, I’m none the wiser.

I can’t find a good enough version of Greed (1924). Also want to read McTeague prior to viewing.

Strike (1925), my first Eisenstein, and boy was I blown away. It’s blindingly obvious to me now which techniques filmmakers owe Eisenstein for. Precisely for the fact his use of montage and quick cuts are/is so well done it becomes near impossible to believe anyone else except this director could have invented such a technique. It’s glaring how this could very easily effect a down-and-out worker, or group of workers, how such a viral and infectious strain of perfectly paced cinema could crawl into the heart of a group and grow outwards, the fuel of utopian dreams. Eisenstein clearly marks the movement from objective reality, towards the forece of the subjective vision, Eisenstein’s utilization or proto-utilization/invention of montage as a means to sway how the viewer views the film is a technique heavily debated (André Bazin), yet without these early political subjective perspectives would Lynch exist, would a film be able to dig its claws as deep. Without Eisenstein’s political montage Lynch’s maggots would cease to exist.

Internet as Gutenberg 2.0

Utilizing the London Bridge terrorist attack (June 3rd, 2017) lead Theresa May to proposition for net regulation, a transparent scapegoat to push a regressive and potentially catastrophic call. The cracks are beginning to widen within archaic organizational forms, largely within democratic hierarchical institutions such as the UK government. Their eyes anxious in the face of political obsolescence, watching with fear as the – in their opinion – intolerable decentralized chimera that is the internet (cyberspace) exponentially grows and mutates within their supposedly air-tight system. Clawing at the last flecks of a systematic reverberation ready to break free. Unable to efficiently mould a tool they once thought would be a footnote in technological history into their antiquated party. Of course those who actually know understood May’s plan for regulation was absurd.

Even to the most amateurishly tech-literate May’s call was ludicrous and short-sighted. With a vast amount if not the majority of businesses, institutions (inclusive of State), educational facilities and personal computers using open source software, alongside a call to ban end-to-end encryption, that which keeps all manner of personal files safe would then be at the whim of any bored hacker. In short her call to make cyberspace cybersafe would in fact act in the opposite direction. The Conservatives currently bearing the 15th century Catholic torch only too awake one morning to find someone has hard-coded a theses into No 10’s door.

Something incomprehensibly large is at stake here, an event of which the only comparison resides with the invention and widespread utilization of the Gutenberg press, or printing press – the wide or wider assimilation and decentralization of the internet, cyberspace and networking (with a strong emphasis currently on the Blockchain) into society and general day-to-day life; pervasive technology at its most viral.  This motion or acceleration in its entirety could come to a country-wide not worldwide halt if net-regulation was to pass, transforming the UK into a closed network, a form of network which is incompatible with the future. Net-regulation acting historically as the Pope not banning the printing press per-say, only restricting its usage to a central body. Though by their very nature both the printing press and the internet are destined for decentralization, it is either to destroy them entirely or let them: ‘Do what thou wilt’.

“In the age of information sciences the most valuable asset is knowledge, which is a creation of human imagination and creativity. We were among the last to comprehend this truth and we will be paying for this oversight for many years to come.” – Gorbachev, George Gilder, Economic Education Bulletin, 1991

Fortunately due to the ever-increasing concentration on popularity in politics the chances of UK based net-regulation are now slim (though we do already have the Snooper’s Charter). Ironically the drop in Tory favourability is in large part due to Labour’s understanding and utilization of social media and memery in the recent election.

In short net-regulation would allow the Government – via control of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – to regulate/control/authorize what it is the population is allowed to see, learn, watch and use. Basically the call for a severing off from the internet into a state-controlled micro-net, away from one of the last truly free ‘spaces’. Away from an internet free of state jurisdiction, kept from an immediate personal freedom the likes of which haven’t been seen since the advent of the printing press.

“It cannot survive without a captive media and educational system, which the Internet will route around. Also, its financial system is a mess and could collapse at any minute. The whole thing will be lucky if it lasts another ten years.” – UR

EFFECTS OF GUTENBERG 1.0

“He who first shortened the labor of copyists by device of movable types was disbanding hired armies, and cashiering most kings and senates, and creating a whole new democratic world: he had invented the art of printing.” – Sartor Resartus, Thomas Carlyle.

The Gutenberg press invented in the 15th century by Johannes Gutenberg is the reason you have widely available books, the reason – to an extent – you know what you know: religious texts, school textbooks, political manifestos all owe their popularity to abundance, a feat only achievable via a printing press…in some ways it’s the reason you’re reading this – the ever growing need for literary mobilization and accessibility. (Of course a lot of what you know has its inherent footing in multiple factors: tradition, family, birthplace etc. yet one can clearly see that without the press widespread literacy and ideas wouldn’t hold anywhere near the kind of depth it currently does.). And in many ways the printing press was the second largest factor in the Protestant Reformation which effected your life in an unparalleled manner.

One must however look at the pre-Gutenberg dilemmas/restrictions to truly understand its impact. A time in which texts were written by hand by copyists and scribes, meaning only a few copies of singular texts were ever produced sky-rocketing their value and thus creating a clear divide between those who could afford to be literate (the elite) and those who could not (the serfs). The serfs thus becoming reliant on a travelling scholar or mere tradition for their education which in itself holds inherent restrictive factors.

The key problem with remaining reliant of a single source as a means for knowledge/education is – of course – that your world-view is entirely bias and somewhat controlled by what the elites entitle you to know. A claustrophobic system of knowledge in which what you ‘know’ is moulded by what you’re allowed to know – one can see clear parallels here with the proposed net-regulation. A distinct system of oppression via reduction of a means to understand one’s cage, or that one is even in a cage. In relation to free speech “It is not just the right of the person who speaks to be heard, it is the right of everyone in the audience to listen and hear” (Hitch). Yet with reference to our literary travelling scholars herein lies an inherent flaw, for if one is only given one person to listen to, or a single collective, or a centralized controlled mass of outlets, then the right to listen is merely an illusion of freedom. (Think the difference between BBC, ITV and C4.). This is exactly where your freedoms lie under net-regulation. One can imagine paying a monthly fee for a ‘News Package’ for the internet, or perhaps a higher monthly fee for the ‘Advanced News Package’ etc. etc., yet at their root each package is to go through a form of vetoing process anyway so what you receive need not matter. To receive only what another wants you to receive.

‘If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.’ – Thomas Pynchon

I digress. Prior to the printing press the production of a text was a laborious process. As such ‘events’ such as book-burnings could truly be held as a means to control the flow of specific information, or the movement of a society of religion. Generally speaking scribes and copyists were of religious affiliation and were already under a form of print-regulation themselves, with what it was they were copying/transcribing undergoing strict authorization from the Catholic church, and as such an echo-chamber is created in which only the smallest of leaps are to be made, more than likely via the most minor of alterations to the text. So to invent the printing press was to increase literacy amongst the general public, an entire system of knowledge no longer restricted by capital gain.

“Scholars have long recognized the essential role of the press in spreading Protestant doctrine. Luther himself, in fact, claimed that the invention of printing was a gift from God to reform His church. But Eisenstein argues that print did more than spread the Protestant Reformation: in an important sense, print caused the Reformation. Without access to the printed editions of biblical texts and church fathers, and the worrisome variants on crucial dogmatic issues they contain, Luther might never have been stimulated to develop his revolutionary new theology. And without accessibility to print, Luther might never have spread his ideas not only in the Latin of the scholarly community but also in the vernacular German of the lay community.” – Robert Kingdon, “Review of The Printing Press as an Agent of Change”, Library Quarterly (1980)

It is a mystery to me how my theses, more so than my other writings,. . . were spread to so many places. They were meant exclusively for our academic circle here. . . . They were written in such a language that the common people could hardly understand them.” – Luther addressing the Pope.

The single most drastic and everlasting effect of the advent of the printing press was its utilization by Protestant Reformers in the creation and dispersion of pamphlets (Theses) which in turn pushed towards the Reformation. Which in itself has far, far wider implications than those immediatly apparent in the 16th century.

Protestantism sealed a pact with historical destiny – to all appearances defining a specifically modern global teleology – by consistently winning. Individualization of conscience – atomization – was made fate.

When considered as rigid designations, Atomization, Protestantism, Capitalism, and Modernity name exactly the same thing.

Protestantism is a self-propelling machine for incomprehensibly prolonged social disintegration, and everyone knows it.” – Nick Land, The Atomization Trap

I’ve used Land’s piece quite crassly here I have to admit, but to understate the effect of the Reformation and in turn Protestantism on contemporary society would be a grave error. As Land states: “When considered as rigid designations, Atomization, Protestantism, Capitalism, and Modernity name exactly the same thing.” so the advent of the printing press has a lot to answer for, but quite bluntly the Gutenberg Press is the catalyst for modern Democracy as we know it. The vessel which unknowingly sailed swiftly away from any & all forms of socio-political hierarchy and centralization, hierarchal structures which the certain parties often find themselves stuck within. Yet the effects of the press were not seen until 100s of years after its implementation and as such one feels as if we’re still in the wake of Gutenberg’s mutation. There exist here – in terms of the press acting as catalyst – few parallels with the internet, at least those specifically related to inherent technology. For the internet is tech-in-itself, as opposed to the press which is reliant on that which it produces and isn’t inclusive of built-in networking capabilities. The press can only become a ‘faster-horse’, it cannot transform or innovate into an engine.

INTERNET AS GUTENBERG 2.0

In 2016, 85 % of European households had access to the internet from home, as for the world see here. To ignore the prevalence of the internet is to ignore that which will be at the forefront – or more than likely will be the forefront – of the next ‘era’ of human history – in whatever multiple changing forms it holds throughout. It has assimilated into every business, official body, Government program and economic counterpart, alongside its central role in popular society (social media, smartphones, smart-TVs, etc.) It is an accelerative force within itself, growing and evolving each day, at an uncontrollable rate. Therein lies a problem for retrograde forms of government, those who want the state to remain separate from the internet. For a state to say they want to remain separate, or create a separate centralized, nation-based internet is for that state to admit that they do not understand the internet, either you have none, or you have all (and free). One could argue here that North Korea have managed to control their internet output in relation to their public, I would reply by arguing that they’re finding it difficult to control their electricity and as such I can’t imagine the percentage of North Koreans on the internet is vast.

As we’ve seen from history, the single revolutionary theses isn’t the problem (one can burn a single theses in minutes), it is the Internet’s networking (we’ll get onto networks later) ability to spread a single piece of ‘dangerous’ information quickly and efficiently, and once it’s ‘out-there’ it is near uncontrollable. The State’s attempts beyond net-publication become fruitless, for to capture, segregate or ‘ban’ the publisher is only to acknowledge that there’s something ‘out-there’ they don’t like, which urges one all the more to read it.

ACCESSIBILITY AND COST

The statistics I’ve previously linked show the rate at which in the internet is growing/expanding…is accelerating. With access to the internet becoming close to a human right (see Web Junkies for the adverse effects of this). It’s in our homes, our libraries, our schools, our jobs, our pockets etc. there is no getting away from it. In fact those who are ‘away’ from the internet nowadays often do so in a moment of Walden or McCandless-esque romanticism, as if to be away from the net is in itself some feat, like climbing Everest, or running a marathon or…deleting Facebook. Not only this but in terms of affordability there is little competition when it comes to a course of pure knowledge/entertainment, one can buy a used PC for under £100 and subscribe to a monthly line rental for less than £10 per month. One could in fact go as far as to buy a Raspberry Pi, connecting them to the net for under £100. All of this is ignoring Smartphones of course, which are slowly becoming the vast majority’s primary means of networking and communication, allowing for the ability of instantaneous updates whilst mobile. This accessibility allows for the general population – those who’ve become largely disillusioned with their Government – to be at the forefront of not a revolution but a transition:

“Revolutions are relative; if you get mugged by change, it is a revolution. If you were prepared for, or ably adapted to, the change, you may be able to call it a transition.” – Is it a transition or a revolution? – Carl H Builder.

It is of course very unlikely that just by the vast amount of accessibility, smartphones etc. that the population are adapted for a full transition. There is always the possibility of a dark-transition, in which access becomes control, those locked into a pre-monitored social system – especially one under the already passed Snooper’s Charter – are submitting prior to any technological-Reformation, they are complicit with changes either way, whether that be the emancipation of the left, or the authoritative AI control of the right.

SHORT CRYPTO HISTORY & THE BLOCKCHAIN

Before beginning any extensive extrapolation into what networks are I feel the need to ‘briefly’ explain cryptocurrency and the Blockchain, as it will be of the utmost importance in the network section, those of you already familiar with the technology feel free to skip to ‘NETWORK’, seriously, it’s dry.

In late 2008 Satoshi Nakamoto, the unknown inventor of the now very well known currency Bitcoin, announced he had developed a “Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, the idea of ‘digital cash’ had been around for a while, but up until Nakamoto’s development, no on had been able to create such a thing, at least not a system which avoided the ‘double-spend problem; (I’ll get to that) The most important aspect of Nakamoto’s invention however is not it being ‘cash’ but the fact it is decentralized.

Centralized systems usually have something along the lines of a central server, team, ‘bank’ or middle man to take account of all transactions, accounts and transfers etc. which in turn prevents double-spending (A given set of coins is spent in more than one transaction). This server could then be referred to if disagreements amongst users or within payments came up, the task was to create a system in which this central entity – in this case a server – wasn’t/isn’t needed. If one is to take this idea further however they realise the drastic real-world implementation, a state, economy or world without banks or state affiliated third parties, an economy in which each Blockchain is entirely its own.

So how does this work? Well money, generally, is basically a system of verification: Data-entries, numbers on a screen, proof of transaction, digits within an account etc. So, how do the databases of a cryptocurrency work?

There is a network of peers (Peer-to-peer), every peer on that network has the entire history of every single transaction on that network, and as such, the balance of every account.

Transactions

Meta gives X Bitcoin to Tim; transaction is signed by Meta’s private key; the transaction is broadcast network-wide; the transaction becomes confirmed. This confirmation is key, confirmation means the transaction is set-in-stone and becomes an irremovable part of the Blockchain (which I’ll get to). Miners confirm these transactions: Miners make it clear these transactions are legit, send them throughout the network, and help make them part of the Blockchain: for doing this ‘job’, the miners get rewarded with the currency in question.

Miners

Since the network is decentralized anyone can be a miner, there is no central authority to delegate jobs/tasks. Miners use their computers, or computer’s power to find a ‘hash’ which connects the newly mined block with its predecessor. The miner’s computers are in a certain way working out a puzzle, the difficulty of this puzzle increases with time and as such limits the amount of currency that can be created in a given amount of time. Once the puzzle is figured out the miner adds the block-mined to the blockchain and is rewarded.

 

BLOCKCHAIN

Put simply: A shared collective history of all transactions on a digital network, a copy of said history is stored on each and every user’s computer (a node), the blockchain itself and all transactions are public and can be viewed by anyone.

Cryptocurrencies are cryptographically stored. They are not secured by humans, or matter, but by maths, which does-not break. I’ll add these descriptions of the Blockchain are very dry, as for their importance and potential for ‘transition’, that will be made apparent in the ‘network’ section.

To use conventional banking as an analogy, the blockchain is like a full history of banking transactions. Bitcoin transactions are entered chronologically in a blockchain just the way bank transactions are. Blocks, meanwhile, are like individual bank statements. Based on the Bitcoin protocol, the blockchain database is shared by all nodes participating in a system. The full copy of the blockchain has records of every Bitcoin transaction ever executed. It can thus provide insight about facts like how much value belonged a particular address at any point in the past. The ever-growing size of the blockchain is considered by some to be a problem due to issues like storage and synchronization. On an average, every 10 minutes, a new block is appended to the block chain through mining. – Investopedia

By design, the blockchain is a decentralized technology. Anything that happens on it is a function of the network as a whole. Some important implications stem from this. By creating a new way to verify transactions aspects of traditional commerce could become unnecessary. Stock market trades become almost simultaneous on the blockchain, for instance — or it could make types of record keeping, like a land registry, fully public. And decentralization is already a reality. A global network of computers uses blockchain technology to jointly manage the database that records Bitcoin transactions. That is, Bitcoin is managed by its network, and not any one central authority. Decentralization means the network operates on a user-to-user (or peer-to-peer) basis. The forms of mass collaboration this makes possible are just beginning to be investigated.Blockgeeks

Note the decentralized structure below.

 

NETWORKS

Let’s first take a look at the four basic forms of organizational structure:

“1. The kinship-based tribe, as denoted by the structure of extended families, clans, and

other lineage systems;

 

2. The hierarchical institution, as exemplified by the army, the (Catholic) church, and

ultimately the bureaucratic state;

 

3. The competitive-exchange market, as symbolized by merchants and traders

responding to forces of supply and demand;

 

4. And the collaborative network, as found today in the web-like ties among some

NGOs devoted to social advocacy.” – [link]

 

[link]

The four basic organizational structures T, I, M, N: “To do well in the twenty-first century, an information-age society must embrace all four forms.”

With a tribe acting as tribal or clan type structure: kinship, blood.

Institutions: classical management structures with leaders and hierarchies.

Market: Acting in this case not as capitalism but as pure ‘exchange’

Network: All-channel network where all member are connected and can communicate with each other.

 

“For democracy to occur, the framework requires not only the addition of the forms but also a feedback of the latest form, in this instance the market, into the realm of the earlier form, e.g., the state.”

 

Below the embedded tweet I’ve transcribed Naval Ravikant’s entire thread of the importance and innovation possibility of Blockchain’s with relation to markets and organizational structures in the coming future, it may seem a bit gratuitous to transcribe it in full, however, there was nothing I felt needed cutting.

1/ Blockchains will replace networks with markets.

— Naval Ravikant (@naval) June 21, 2017

“Blockchains will replace networks with markets. Humans are the networked species. The first species to network across genetic boundaries and thus seize the world. Networks allow us to cooperate when we would otherwise go it alone. And networks allocate the fruits of our cooperation. Overlapping networks create and organize our society. Physical, digital, and mental roads connecting us all. Money is a network. Religion is a network. A corporation is a network. Roads are a network. Electricity is a network…Networks must be organized according to rules. They require Rulers to enforce these rules. Against cheaters. Networks have “network effects.” Adding a new participant increases the value of the network for all existing participants. Network effects thus create a winner-take-all dynamic. The leading network tends towards becoming the only network. And the Rulers of these networks become the most powerful people in society. Some are run by kings and priests who choose what is money and law, sacred and profane. Rule is closed to outsiders and based on power. Many are run by corporations. The social network. The search network. The phone or cable network. Closed but initially meritocratic. Some are run by elites. The university network. The medical network. The banking network. Somewhat open and somewhat meritocratic. A few are run by the mob. Democracy. The Internet. The commons. Open, but not meritocratic. And very inefficient. Dictatorships are more efficient in war than democracies. The Internet and physical commons are overloaded with abuse and spam. The 20th century created a new kind of network – market networks. Open AND meritocratic. Merit in markets is determined by a commitment of resources. The resource is money, a form of frozen and trade-able time. The market networks are titans. The credit markets. The stock markets. The commodities markets. The money markets. They break nations. Market networks work where there is a commitment of money. Otherwise they are just mob networks. The applications are limited. Until now. Blockchains are a new invention that allows meritorious participants in an open network to govern without a ruler and without money. They are merit-based, tamper-proof, open, voting systems. The meritorious are those who work to advance the network. As society gives you money for giving society what it wants, blockchains give you coins for giving the network what it wants. It’s important to note that blockchains pay in their own coin, not the common (dollar) money of financial markets. Blockchains pay in coin, but the coin just tracks the work done. And different blockchains demand different work. Bitcoin pays for securing the ledger. Ethereum pays for (executing and verifying) computation. Blockchains combine the openness of democracy and the Internet with the merit of markets. To a blockchain, merit can mean security, computation, prediction, attention, bandwidth, power, storage, distribution, content… Blockchains port the market model into places where it couldn’t go before. Blockchains’ open and merit based markets can replace networks previously run by kings, corporations, aristocracies, and mobs. It’s nonsensical to have a blockchain without a coin just like it’s nonsensical to have a market without money. It’s nonsensical to have a blockchain controlled by a sovereign, a corporation, an elite, or a mob. Blockchains give us new ways to govern networks. For banking. For voting. For search. For social media. For phone and energy grids. Networks governed without kings, priests, elites, corporations and mobs. Networks governed by anyone with merit to the network. Blockchain-based market networks will replace existing networks. Slowly, then suddenly. In one thing, then in many things. Ultimately, the nation-state is just a network (of networks). FIN/ Thank you, Satoshi Nakomoto. And to all the shoulders that Satoshi stands upon.” – (originally split into multiple tweets), Naval Ravikant.

What begins now is my reading of Ravikant’s thread. To replace networks with markets is to begin the transition, to understand that with Blockchains as pure-replacements there begins a deconstruction of hierarchy, a complete removal of third party entities involved with business and transaction. Though it begins a deconstruction of hierarchy in the traditional sense it also allows for micro-states in which a single Blockchain is taken as the network. This is reminscent, but entirely opposite to Mencius Moldbug’s Patchwork:

“as the crappy governments we inherited from history are smashed, they should be replaced by a global spiderweb of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of sovereign and independent mini-countries, each governed by its own joint-stock corporation without regard to the residents’ opinions. If residents don’t like their government, they can and should move. The design is all “exit,” no “voice…A Patchwork realm is a business – a corporation. Its capital is the patch it is sovereign over.” – Patchwork1

DISCLAIMER w/regards to Patchwork: I understand, as many did not, Moldbug’s original Patchwork within the 4 parts rested completely on government control, there was ZERO room for individual constraint, so before someone comments saying I’ve bastardized Patchwork, yes, I have, but in full knowledge of what the original meant.

 

Blockwork (short/crass):

So, really, as the crappy regressive governments who failed – as Gorbachev stated –  to understand that knowledge and data are the single most valuable currency begin to crumble, they will indeed be replaced/naturally split up (via a reversion to archaic organizational structures) by mini-states, micro-nations etc., yet each one of these would have it’s own Blockchain, it is not beyond the limits of technology (as we can clearly see) to alter rules, rights, permissions etc. therefore each countries network/market = Blockchain is their basis for government.

“First, security is a monotonic desideratum. There is no such thing as “too secure.” An encryption algorithm cannot be too strong, a fence cannot be too high, a bullet cannot be too lethal…No cop ever stole my bicycle. And this will be far more true in the Patchwork, in which realms actually compete for business on the basis of customer service.” – Patchwork1

 

More than likely beginning from the classic decentralized platform in which those who reside in said micro-nation are able to view each vote as it is counted – if that’s their chosen system -, they can view government expenditure, tax expenses, etc. Of course, one could just as easily ‘exit’ to a Zuckerberg fairy-tale UBI land wherein they’re controlled by a dictator-corp, or a fully communist Blockchain wherein equal payments are paid out regularly etc. etc. you get the picture. However, with this concept of micro-nations as underlying Blockchains comes the bringing of the past into the future, for the previous organization structure layout of T,I,M,N, becomes overwhelmed, one could if there was enough people who wanted it, begin a tribal state, or a hierarchal state with a trickle-down Blockchain, or a divine-right system wherein tokens are gifted to those with certain DNA strains…the world is your decentralized oyster after all.

One could (quite easily) argue that with the inclusion of various forms of organizational states security would become but an illusion, yet, in-keeping with the original Patchwork (I’m ready for hell on this one.) the emphasis on security as customer service alongside “exit” over voice allows for those who aren’t receiving the service they feel they deserve to leave, as a meritocracy one can in all transparency view those who have and more importantly have not worked towards the profitability (if that’s the states’ aim) of the Blockchain, one can by all rights move (exit) to a state in which their Blockchain is working, or distributed agreeably to their tastes whether that is an agenda based around: Commerce, tech-innovation, acceleration, monarchy, entertainment, energy etc. if they feel that their current states’ Blockchain isn’t distributing its resources effectively…they can leave, if its system of accumulation doesn’t meet their standards….they can leave. It allows those who feel a compulsion for ‘return’ to do so, and those who feel compelled to accelerate to do so, allowing T, I, M, N to all exist freely, together, or not at all atop a horizontal decentralized -at first – Blockchain.

 

 

I digressed…hard. The conclusion(?) will be somewhat of a ramble, I’m not sure I can piece this mess together. Though, in terms of the Gutenberg press, which is where started remember? The internet is its 2nd iteration, not physically of course, merely in terms of its accumlative effects, many of which – I hope – I’ve listed here. It’s world-wide pervasive assimilation can’t come fast enough, for it shall throw us far beyond where we ever thought we’d end up, much like in the 16th century. Those who attempt at net-regulation/control will be severing the artery of the future, with the potential for a full scale national fatality if they don’t heal the wound. Those adhering to hierarchal restrictions are free to do so – once it all comes down – yet it’s more applicable they do so within a micro-state. If you disagree with a top down hierarchal structure – the structures that work by the way- then you are free to exit, head off to grey-shirt Soylent-ville, you are free to do this. You’ll feel cheated when you’re stood in a (soylent) bread line, and the other’s stand out like a Jackson Pollock abstract hanging in Plato’s Academy.

 

 

The Big Short – Bureaucratic Horror

“I mean for instance, one of the hallmarks of mania is the rapid rise in complexity and the rates of fraud…” – Michael Burry

What’s the initial setup for your most basic horror film? An ordinary world, the world as a given, everything fine, normal and we as a viewer still have our nerves. Everything is as it should be. There may of course be a hero, a protagonist with which we will side, usually we shall take the side of those who we feel are more morally just. Then something goes wrong, a disturbing force, something mystical, strange, violent and absurd shall overthrow the narrative, we are given a clear warning of this, some eerie tone or a sense of unease and foreboding is given. The problem is usually solved, or fixed, the villain or sense of unease is killed/ended and those who’ve survived go on with their lives.

In this case The Big Short begins entirely in the ordinary world, we are told of Lewis Ranieri the father of mortgage-backed securities in the 70’s, we don’t know who he is, but he changed our lives, which already pushes a sense of unease, someone changed all our lives and we never knew, this is nothing unique of course, except it comes apparent later on as to why it’s a malicious global economic change. The ordinary world is short lived, we are given images from the 2008 housing crisis, people being evicted from their homes, poverty, strife, anger, worry and fear all crammed into roughly 2 minutes of news real footage. There isn’t necessarily a singular hero in this case, prior to beginning the film the audience understands that it’s about the 08’s housing crisis, so, who does one support? Who are we backing here? Who’s out hero? Potentially you could argue our ‘hero’ of sorts is the likes of Michael Burry who foresees the crisis, however, much like the rest of the films ensemble he merely uses his knowledge to profit from the crisis. Not that he, or any of the other protagonists could have done anything about it of course, to step in the way of big business is to commit career suicide, so you take what you can and leave, I guess. Perhaps the future economy is our hero? What we want to survive in an underlying sense of security in those who hold our money and safety, though the film’s general premise doesn’t bode well for this idea i.e. This has happened twice now, within a 70 year time frame. So, what kind of horror is this? A bureacratical one, constantly fluctuating with a sense of kafkaesque frustration.

Wall Street loves to use confusing terms to make you think only they can do what they do.”

Of course, this is nothing new. Look at any system in which there’s something at stake which those who know don’t want spoiled, or to have the wealth spread out amongst even more people: Bitcoin, stock markets, morgages, taxes, forex, etc. these systems are made implicitly to push people away. So already the viewer is given a new world in which the narrative is to make transparent was has for so long seemed like complete gibberish, techo-jargon explained to the layman, so we can see it for what it is, simple exploitation. We are given a world in which we’re the fish, yet the problem being, the time has passed, 2008 has passed, so we are just relieving the intricacies and underlying structure of a collective nightmare.

“You have no idea the crap people are pulling and the average person just walks around like they’re in a goddamn Enya video. They’re all getting screwed…Credit cards, pay day lenders, car financing, fees, fees, and more fees. And what do they care about? The ball game or which actress went into rehab?” – Mark Baum

 

As witty and humourous as Baum’s statement is, it’s true, it’s always been true and will forever be true, as long as we stay within the capitalist realist state we are currently within. The interesting feeling the film emanates here is that of nausea, an uncanny situation in which the horror is unfolding from both sides inwards, there’s no hero to save us, any possibility of salvation has been buried in time under stacks and stacks of paper work, maybe not, that could just be conjecture. However, the viewer now understands they are in there’s no out as this has happened, so they are just to sit and watch the horror unfold, slowly watch as the scaffolding is poked and prodded until collapse.

 

Who bets against housing?”

 

That’s the problem, complete in 4 words. Who, as in, it will never fail because everyone knows it wont. Bets, it’s a dumb gamble. Against, it’s secure. Housing, it’s housing, it’s always fine, I mean it’s housing for christ’s sake: we live in them. Everyone does it so no one questions it, The Big Short tells the story of when the mad man on the street is finally vindicated, those shouting “The End (of the economy) is Nigh!” of course no one listens, and no one will care afterwards becuase they’re too busy trying to find a new home or work out what the hell happened. Most horror movies at this point either have a clear villain win or loss: the villain either kills the victims or vice versa, that doesn’t happen here, everyone is left to deal with the remains, as if a big economic villain came in ravaged 99% of the parties involved and left without any damage to itself because it never existed in the first place. The viewer, left empty, just continues on, I don’t know how to finish this because the movie itself can only leave you with a distinct sense of dread that the walls that surround you aren’t financially secure, nothing is, it could all crumble…well, we already knew this though didn’t we.