ART AS ANTI-PRODUCTION

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Labour becomes productive only by producing its own antithesis (that is, capital)” Karl Marx

Let the artist not kid him/herself: no matter how much the artist creates, he or she does not produce. In order to produce, the artist must find an agent of production.

The agent of production is that which produces nothing itself, but knows how to turn the creations of others into commodities. The agent of production may be a capitalist, or it may be the State, or it may be an antithetical Mr Hyde character created by the Dr Jekyll artist himself. In whatever form the agent of production appears, once the creation is turned over to the agent it loses its autonomy and the artist loses his/her freedom in relation to the work. Even in the latter case, where the artist (anti-producer) becomes his/her own agent: a stress is produced on the artist’s creativity. The marketing of art, in any fashion, produces a stress on art.

The labour of art is, therefore, essentially unproductive. Art only becomes productive when the agent takes hold of the creation and produces it, i.e. turns it into a marketable commodity. In his or her essence, the artist remains an anti-producer; an outsider to the economy; an economic aberration in fact.

The fact that art can survive at all in an economic-political society is an indication of its enormous strength. In theory, it should have been made extinct long ago by both the capitalist and socialist systems that are both so deeply immersed in the politics of production.

Not only is this great anti-producer Art a tremendously powerful human drive and social force, it may also be a marker showing us the way to a post-production society in which capital, perhaps even the monetary system itself, has been rendered obsolete.

In fact, all truly positive, purposive political and social thinking will need to analyse the creative and unproductive force of art in order to revaluate and recreate the positive human society that we are all crying out for. The answer to all our problems lies in the anti-productive nature of art.

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PROGRESS VS THE GRAVITY OF WEALTH

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PROGRESS

Progress is change with continuity. Revolution breaks continuity.

However, when the change gravitates into a cyclical motion, revolution is needed to reinstate progress.

In a positive, progressive sense, revolution is a poor term for the idea of this interruption of cyclical motion because it implies a new kind of cyclical motion rather than a positive redirection with a continual-change momentum. In a practical sense, however, all revolutions have in fact been redirecting-breakaways that have gravitated back into cyclical motion.

An analysis of this reality indicates a pessimistic vision of a never-ending cyclical reality. But, does it have to be so? And if so, why?

Nietzsche and Deleuze argued that this had to come about because ideals and purposes cannot be sustained once they are achieved. But, what happens if purpose has a deliberately unattainable objective? That purpose becomes the purpose of always becoming rather than the maintenance of what is? That it becomes motored by progress and creativity itself? Could this not be the basis for a forward pushing drive for humanity?

Yet, if this is possible; how is it that we’ve never been able to manage it before?

 

WEALTH

What is the gravity that has constantly pulled progress back around itself into a cyclical form?

That gravity is “wealth”. “Wealth” as a driving force within the libido of our very civilisation itself.

Any deep analysis of civilisation will always indicate (either positively or negatively, depending on the stand-point from which the analysis is carried out) the role of Wealth in the creation and maintenance of all civilisations. In other words, civilisation is a construct erected by Wealth in order to move all accumulations in an upward way that benefits Wealth itself. All revolutions, so far, have been simple replacements of Wealth without ever removing Wealth from the central position of society.

Wealth uses its own gravity to bend continuity, drawing it back and looping it in cyclical knots.

For this reason, the main foe to human progress is Wealth.

Cycles are necessary for the perpetuation of Wealth – and this explains why we have always had a cyclical reality. For Wealth to perpetuate itself it needs cycles. Wealth has always been the centre of Civilisation; therefore, Civilisation has always had a cyclical form.

If we now interpret Lampedusa’s famous political axiom: “In order for things to remain the same, things have got to change” from this point of view, we see the clever reversal that Wealth itself needs to bring about in order to maintain itself, takes place by bending the curve of progress so acutely that it can curl down and around and perpetuate itself as a cycle.

So, is continual progress impossible, or is it merely inconvenient for Wealth?

If progress is defined as economic growth, then continual progress is impossible; but if progress means an advance of humanity as a whole in the fields of learning, creativity and general well-being, then the answer is the latter – it is not impossible, it is only inconvenient for Wealth.

Wealth is diminished in authentic human progress, and maintained by a politics based on slave-creating economies that function in cyclical forms. For human progress to be possible we have to declare war on Wealth.

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THE WOEFULNESS OF WEALTH AND THE LOTTERY OF LIFE

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Wealth has always been a reactive and cynically pessimistic force, for it essentially raises and protects itself by stimulating and encouraging whilst at the same time destroying or negating the great hopes of humanity. In fact, through its manipulation of all the agents of power, it replaces humanity with fantasies of the national spirit, of religious crusades or jihads, of the glory of Empire, or, in the case of capitalism, with the illusion of individual freedom and the achievements such phantasmagorical freedoms can bring.

All of these fantasies have a common cause – to dehumanise the human and diffuse any common aims through separation and segregation. Wealth is about disconnection, the establishment of differences. The stance of Wealth is of Us against Them; of Master and Slave; of our Gain against their Loss.

The result of the accumulation in Wealth of the Few is an intensifying of the Poverty of the Many. Capitalism has long been successful in creating the mirage of satisfaction through the seeming great progress toward the technological man. But the price paid by Wealth in the mechanisation and digitalisation of society is one of an unveiling of its own trickery. As civilisation falls deeper into an unauthenticity, society becomes more and more scarred by the false, virtual reality imposed on them; a reality lacking in true potentials; where everyone has an opportunity to be successful, whether talented or not, but success depends on it being an elitist concept. Only a small few can be truly successful, even though anyone and everyone has a chance. Life therefore becomes a lottery, and as more players come into the game, the prize swells but the chances of winning it are less and less.

But the mirror of the simulated reality of false potentials that we are facing has formed fissures and cracks. The distortions caused by these cracks allows us to look past the false image in order to discover that everything is mounted on an empty blackboard. Below the fragile surface of the mirror there is … nothing.

THE ANTI-SAPIENS PROCESS OF CIVILISATION

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Human history has been a steady process of de-Sapienisation through social and tribal stratification. Once knowledge became associated with excess, and subsequently wealth and power, and it was realised that the ownership and protection of technological know-how was a necessary means of maintaining that excess, then humanity lost touch with all possibilities of identifying itself as a species and became a prisoner to the man-eat-man scenario of the stratified species, divided by casts or race, culture or nationality, and measured according to possessions or accumulations, or simply, after its invention, by the quantity of money one possessed or was empowered to obtain.

Through categorising and measuring, humanity has lost touch with its essence and, in even greater terms, with its destiny. Knowledge has become a peripheral aim. Knowledge has lost its primary position in Human-Sapiens identity to become just another tool that can be used to gain advantages in the competitive struggle for excess and the will to be measured highly in the in the economic society of modern civilisation.

For the homo-economicus the idea of freedom means being able to maintain a control of one’s life and keep oneself afloat as comfortably as possible upon the competitive waters of the excess-fuelled, money-edified civilisation. In order to do this, the majority are willing to sacrifice other more Human-Sapiens freedoms such as the freedom to obtain knowledge or the freedom to be granted the power to use any acquired knowledge creatively and productively in the arts and sciences. Instead, intellectual freedom is a victim to a desire by Excess to capitalise the ownership of innovation and ensure, through copyrighting, that profits made from artistic and technological innovations are channelled upward into the sphere of wealth and power.

In this way, it can be seen how the oppression of knowledge is predominantly a political problem. A problem that will never be overcome until the idea that wealth is a sovereign power that must produce privilege, even within democracies, is tackled head-on by democratic societies in order to be transcended.

Globalisation and The Death of Democracy

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One of the aims of globalisation was to separate politics from economics, and yet in practice it has merely reduced the political to a slave-status, servicing the dictatorship of the global marketplace. The Economy, the economic world and its institutions, are not chosen by the people – the polis is for politics. Given free rein, the market will transcend politics, creating its own cultures that are totally at the mercy of Wealth. The creation of global, macro-economics is, therefore, an immaculate fraud against democracy and freedom. The logic of the fraud being that: in order to create a firm and unquestionable dictatorship, the people should firstly be given the illusion of democracy by allowing them to vote for their local and state governments while, at the same time, shackling those same governments to the dictates of the world market place. As such, no matter who the people elect for their governors, it can have no effect on the will of the market. What pushes wealth unto the wealthy is the economy, not the parliaments, and the polis are never asked to vote for any of globalisation’s economic institutions, even though the World Bank and the IMF are the real forces shaping our lives.

Without control of the economy, the life-blood of the State (money) is also pushed out of the realm of political control. The politicians try to put on a brave face, but even the neo-liberal parties are made to look like helpless buffoons before their electorates when the power that really runs the economy (Wealth) decides to get tough and make sure everything is flowing completely in its own favour. Local anger is vented at the local government – the economic regime is too abstract, or too distant. After all, how can it govern us if we didn’t vote for it?

Democracy melts away. There is no democracy at all. We didn’t vote for those who make decisions now. We all live in one huge global dictatorship.

It does not matter what the international financing institutions do or might do, whatever is done is carried out without any democratic mandate. Yet, they can do whatever they like. And though they may assure themselves that they are acting responsibly they are still acting without our blessings, and operating behind our backs.

The Revaluation of Value

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Since Nietzsche called for the “Revaluation of all values!” we have, in Western Civilisation, seen certain transvaluations take place in areas such as race, gender, sex and violence, but what we have failed to revaluate is value itself.

A revaluation of value would untie its connection with exchange (money) and align it to needs – a thing’s importance would therefore be gauged according to how necessary it was. But in order to do this we would need to remove the stigma of “price”. Progress doesn’t happen because it’s expensive.

So, in order to make the real advances that our technology-rich culture is capable of, we now have to eradicate the barrier of “expense”.

THE TRULY HUMAN CIVILISATION

In a truly human civilisation, needs should be rights. In a truly fair society, everyone should have the opportunity to start the race from the same line. In our societies, sacrifices created by the monetary exchange system place people behind the starting line.

In a truly human civilisation, a person with disabilities should be allowed access to the technology designed to satisfy his or her needs without concern that sacrifices must be made to obtain the necessary barter. A teacher, or an intellectual, needs access to academic texts and should be granted that access; an artisan needs access to certain tools and materials; a gardener needs access to seeds and gardening tools, as well as a patch of land to garden on … etc.

In a society in which needs are understood and catered for by the society itself, on a wide and universal level, those same needs would seep into wants, but without taking over the space of wants. By planting values on authentic needs, civilisation would evolve into societies rich in purposeful-desires as opposed to our current civilisation that is drowning in pulp-waste-wants.

TECHNOLOGY IN A TRULY HUMAN CIVILSATION

Paradoxically, the truly human civilisation will be defined by the fact that it will not be dependent on human labour in order to function or maintain it. It will be a place that is built and maintained by machines, and in which the goods produced by those machines will be distributed by the same machines. As Einstein preached: “Those instrumental goods which should serve to maintain the life and health of all human beings should be produced by the least possible labour of all”[i].

Of course this implies a loss of jobs, and a loss of menial tasks has tragic consequences in our societies dominated by monetary exchange. There is a vicious circle involved in our conclusion: in order to allow technology to liberate human beings from the drudgery of menial tasks we need to revaluate the value system based on money, and, technological development is the key to transcending the monetary-exchange system.

In order to close this circle, technology needs to be appropriated by the society itself so that it can be removed from the dictatorships of the capitalist corporations.

In our current model of society, the consumer pays repeatedly for goods produced by the money exchange system. Firstly, we pay for the technological research carried out with public money, secondly we pay for the cost of the products created by companies who have appropriated that technology as their own, and thirdly we have to pay each time we want to acquire the updated versions of products that have been deliberately programmed with a short life span. Of course, for the system, the important thing is that we pay, and that the money keeps flowing and moving to the top. It is this assumption that needs a radical revaluation.

In a sense, technology forces us in a direction beyond the monetary exchange. It is the essential function of technology to do what a human being cannot do by himself. To replace humans in terms of labour is to replace our role of being slaves to ourselves. In effect it is our exchange-system culture in its pure, slave-production/slave-maintenance role, that inhibits the development of technology .

While individuals continue to see themselves essentially as  active members of the master-slave, sacrifice-reward exchange system, technology will always be viewed: a) with some suspicion (as an impediment, taking away our own chances of participating successfully in the system); b) as a commodity that can be produced and exchanged for profit, and as such, just another object that enslaves desire rather than liberating humanity.

LEAPING FORWARD

The first leap to a revaluation of technology in a positive way must come about by abandoning the view of technology as commodities to be sold. A revaluation would see machines as something readily available for use without any ultimate aim of making a profit. This attitude places the entire monetary exchange system in question.

Technology can truly liberate us, but it won’t if we need to constantly sacrifice our time and real needs in order to be able to obtain that liberation. The purpose of technology is to liberate us from labour, not to ensure that we are shackled to it.

In order to remove technological development away from the market place and its role as an exchange-value/profit-making tool, we need to control the power of making machines that will be able to make themselves. Which means: a) control of the raw materials needed to make these machines; b) control of universities so that scientists and designers will be encouraged to plan technology in a social direction rather than a profit-making one; and c) control of the use of these machines once they are made.

Of course, these incentives have to come from the grass roots, the demos, the people. The so-called free market cannot be expected to have any inclinations towards implementing a structure which has an aim to abolish the free market.

EPILOGUE

Produce, distribute and maintain itself: there are the three basic functions that a truly human, technological society should be based on. Within production itself there are embedded needs to search for and extract the raw materials needed for that production to be possible. This implies a need for an ecological design for all future technology. A truly human civilisation will need to programme its machines with an ability to recognise excess, to understand the negative idea of over-farming, and to be able to judge the limits of extraction. A truly human civilisation needs, above all, a control of eco-friendly technologies.

[i] See Albert Einstein, OUT OF MY LATER YEARS, chapter 6. ON FREEDOM

The Future System

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All systems are designed to dissuade and impede the adoption of any better system. The system will impede change by blocking the ability to conceptualise or understand the alternatives.

Our global, neo-liberal culture unabashedly announces in its deep cynicism that it is the least worst of systems. An announcement made whilst plundering the natural resources of the planet and blindly damaging the ecosystem that all life on earth depends on. Of course, being the least worst is tantamount to announcing that it is the best. By doing so it warns us not to bother to go looking for vain alternatives. These, it says, cannot exist. There is, of course, no true encouragement of freedom here. Only a fool, it says, would look beyond the best thing for something better.

However, this is all an ideological lie. Systemic change is needed. The bubble idea that it is the economy that sustains us (and not the world) has to be burst. However, that bubble can only be burst by transcending the system of exchange. Our lives are currently subject to restraints on any true democratic access to technology and resources. However, the technological emancipation of humanity will only come about by abandoning our will-to-want-more and adopting a will-to-necessity. And this can only come about by developing this positivist and anti-nihilistic idea of human importance in the universe.

The priority of our capitalist economy is to make money. This is done by selling things. In order to sell things one must have something to sell. In order to have things to sell one must be able to obtain things already produced or produce them yourself. In order to produce things you must have people and/or machines that can do it. Given technological development as it is production can be carried out by either exclusively human labour (although this is hardly ever the case anymore), by a mixture of labourers and machines, or by primarily automated machinery. That production is evolving in the direction of the latter option seems to be the most logical perspective. However, if we ever reach an economy whose manufacturing is based solely on truly automated, self-producing and self-reproducing machinery, then … Do we need an exchange system involving production by human beings anymore? And if the answer is “no”: do we need an economy anymore?

If machines can mine resources and farm food, and can reproduce themselves and manufacture other new machines, the importance of labour in production must obviously be greatly diminished. A move towards such self-automated, self-reproducing, intelligent technologies should therefore see an equal trend towards the diminishing of the need for labour. Nevertheless, this is not the case in most societies. In the globalised economy intensified labour in sweatshop conditions in Third World countries is still a normal practice for large multinational corporations.  Slaves it seems are still more economical than high-tech machines. Developed countries have developed labour markets in services, many of which depend on tourism to hold them up. Unemployment can still have tragic consequences and it is one of the major causes of stress in societies. Our traditional wage-based exchange system depends on the incorporation of human beings into the system in order for them to be able to survive. Most survival still depends on people’s ability to procure salaries according to the sacrifice made through selling their time and skills as labour. If the amount of human labour needed is severely diminished so will the opportunities for survival, and so will the viability of the system of exchange that rewards only according to sacrifice.

For Einstein, one of the fundamental goals of civilisation is to make “those instrumental goods which should serve to maintain the life and health of all human beings … produced by the least possible labour of all.”[i]  In other words, let the machines do the physical work and leave it to our sapiens’ minds to be creative and thoughtful. However, the System seems to be continually pushing us in the opposite direction. Ironically, civilisation is increasingly insensitive to human progress as its technological advances make it more and more automated. Instead of allowing technology to liberate humanity, the economy uses it to create ever cheaper labour in order to produce ever greater profits.

If economists were forward thinking they would have to consider the radical consequences of our post-modernity. Technology is a lot more highly developed than the machines in the market place itself. A real technological revolution that would completely transform the world economy is possible. In order for human progress to actually occur and for all human beings to be liberated to develop themselves as human beings, the whole exchange system could be replaced by a human-maintenance system operated by self-reproducing, autonomous machinery.

In a world in which production and services is handled by machines, money is unnecessary. Labour will no longer need to be a sacrifice exchanged for rewards. Humanity will no longer be the homo economicus.

[i] Albert Einstein, OUT OF MY LATER YEARS; Wisdom, New York, 1950, p.18.

The Way Out of the Bubble

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In order to effectively criticise, the critic needs to have an alternative to the operating model. Herein lies the great impotence of the bipartisan system. Criticism is carried out in a basically sterile way, concentrating on the usual way that organisation is carried out. In other words, criticism is infected with Habitus[i]. This infection prevents criticism from attacking the structures of the System itself, and makes it impossible for it to offer any real alternatives to the bubble it floats in. Any real alternative has to begin with pulling down the house, but this is such a radical step that hardly anyone, except the most extreme groups, would be prepared to advocate it. “How could we possibly survive without the body that we occupy?” think the Leviathan’s parasites.

The idea is scary and it sounds impossible. Scary and impossible enough to dissuade any serious thought from forming in that direction. Nevertheless, as more and more people find themselves being fooled and lied to by the System, or become direct victims of its imperialistic and dictatorial reality, the need for demolition becomes ever more apparent.

But once one decides that we need to escape, the great paradox embedded in Systemology raises its ugly head. We need to get out of the System, but we need the System to survive. We cannot escape the bubble we are imprisoned in without bursting it. If we do we will surely die, won’t we? Psychologically then, in order for us to be strong enough to burst the bubble we need to have assurances that the atmosphere outside of the bubble will not be toxic for us. The first question leading us to liberation from the System must therefore be: What kind of atmosphere will exist outside of the System?

Criticism on its own, without the assurance of an atmosphere within which the alternative may be liveable, is always ineffective. Just as alternatives that offer solutions within the System itself are basically impotent and therefore also ineffective.

To see through the masks and the Habitus created by the System we need to analyse the ineradicable evils of that System – its necessary evils, so often blamed on human nature – and explain why those necessary evils are not necessary at all.

The will to change will come out of the need to change, which will become more and more apparent as the consumer-will society falls into deeper and deeper conflict with the atmosphere that sustains it. The consciousness allowing us to break the bubble will be a deeper consciousness of the greater bubble of the world that encloses the System’s bubble of economy. By breaking the economic bubble we don’t die of suffocation, quite the contrary, we expose our lungs to clean air and breathe freely again for the first time.

[i] See our entry on Habitus: https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/habitus/

Our Naked System

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Marxist doctrine argues a need for an emerging working-class self-consciousness capable of comprehending the aggressive nature of the capitalist system in order to liberate itself from it. But reality now demands that we look beyond the confines of any ideologies and their separations—whether class, cultural, linguistic or territorial—in order to become conscious of how the system infects us all, and how it uses the separating forces inherent in all ideologies to perpetuate its own selfish interests.

 

The best way to bring the oppressors down is to reveal the true nature of their nakedness. Like the Emperor parading his new clothes, the system is really quite naked of principles once we allow ourselves to open our eyes to what it tells us is there but in reality is not there at all. And once that nakedness is seen the next brave act would be to confront the emperor with the awkward truth of his real, pathetic condition. We risk stirring the emperor’s rage, but perhaps his shame will be so great that he will abdicate.

 

The world-view of the system, despite its globalising, empirical apparel, cannot tolerate any singular world-view that would be antithetical to its philosophy of dynamism. For this reason it demands separation and seems to move in a constant direction to ensure that borders will remain in some form or other. From the worldview perspective of the ideology/identity system, separations evolve into relativisms that are tolerated because they can maintain the spirit of separation and not alienate ideologies from the global empire in its entirety. But, relativism is also a step on the downward ladder to scepticism and from there to pessimism, which is always a numbing energy that invites a depressive fall into unconsciousness.

 

Of course the system ultimately fails again. It engenders a lethargy rather than a dynamism. But what the system calls crisis is essential to its own metabolism, and with the collapse, and the great misery resulting from that collapse, the system itself, driven by renewed needs and a renewed grasp of reality, will be able to catapult itself back into the dynamism that capitalism demands. A dynamism fuelled by the fantasy of perpetuity: continual growth is impossible within the closed system that is the Earth. And this is the ridiculous nakedness of the system. A farce that is no longer funny anymore, it has become emphatically dangerous.

OUR GREATEST MISTAKE

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Is competitiveness a part of human nature or is it our first great mistake? When our needs for survival evolved from the mere need to adapt to our environment and became a desire to take complete control of it, we were suddenly geared toward a will to want to take control of our own species. From this came the suspicion that we no longer liked our neighbours very much and that, in fact, it would be better to control them. Eventually the desire to be better than all those around us became so widespread that struggling to get on top of the tribe became the only logical way to act, as if it were the only natural way to behave. Of course when everyone wants to be on top the result is competition. And when the competitive spirit really hits in then the human condition becomes reduced to a life of a constant struggle between winners and losers, between masters and slaves.

That this is now deeply ingrained in all human society there is almost no doubt, but its ubiquity does not mean that it is good or essential. All of our envious, greedy evil stems from this competitiveness and humanity as a practical, workable concept is impossible whilst the competitive mood is dominant in societies.