No “revolution” is “revolutionary” enough. Martin Heidegger, Die Geschichte des Seyns
1. Mephisto’s problem: So, what if there is nothing left behind?
One of the most lucid analyses of the essence of a contemporary world in which the governance of capital becomes the assemblage of the power of technoscience, transnational corporations, and crisis management policies is the monumental study by Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello titled The New Spirit of Capitalism. The main assumption seems extremely provocative. In spite of late capitalism being a neoliberal doctrine and the practice of the radical privatization of public/common goods in the world from the end of the 1970s to today, one can speak of a reaction to the defeat of the idea of the student rebellion in 1968 (Boltanski and Chiapello 2005). How are we to comprehend this almost emblematic assumption of left-wing theory? For this, we have at least two explanations. One is that capitalism cannot work without periodical crisis. Stability, otherwise, arises from the danger of the system’s collapse. So, the balance of the structural elements of its existence, such as the supply economy, political changes in the bipolar system of liberal democracy and, most importantly, innovation in the field of science and technology, seems to be constantly violated. Therefore, the governance crisis in all situations from political revolutions to the wars of conquest for new markets in the 20th century and today shows the continuation of the power struggle by other means. The classic era of industrial capitalism belongs to modernity. Its ruling idea encompasses unconditional progress. But the late capitalism assembled by IT corporations is based, however, on the idea of sustainable development. What is the difference? Can it be visible only in the way social relations function? The paradigm of the linear notion of history in the social sciences and humanities has been replaced since 1968 by models of indetermination and contingency. However, despite the uncertainty in the era of doubt in unlimited economic growth, the facts contradict the heroic pathos of the “Big Defeat”. With the transition from the form of the object/thing in the form of techno-scientific capital to the process of creating a new life (biogenetics and biocybernetics), unconditional progress became a posthuman condition. Its main features include the following:
(1) Science now connects once separate spheres of nature and many by exploring the possibilities of creating artificial intelligence and artificial life. In the know-how of the information society, man is reduced to biogenetic code. With it, the experiment is aimed at improving the cognitive-physical capabilities for performing complex work operations. All sciences have now become technoscience. The concept of technology, unlike the technique, is no longer an asset for purposes other than itself as the “essence” of the contemporary era. Technology, hence, refers equally to nature and culture, the production of objects and the way of creation of a subject. The shift from technology to the technosphere means the transition from the analogue to thedigital paradigm of the historical development of thinking and Being.
(2) Technology, therefore, combines areas of science and culture, nature and man, information and communication. All technical logic is today digital, and instead of their instrumental power, in the centre arrives a new aesthetic function. But now we are no longer talking about a beautifying of objects. Design, on the contrary, becomes the conception of the new digital world, as the construction becomes the basic notion of complexity, but of the fundamentals of new sciences (cybernetics, informatics, computer intelligence, neuroscience). Artificial intelligence (AI) and artificial life (AL), thanks to the relationship between nanotechnology and the cognitive machines, have become the creators of life from the uncanny power of immateriality. The space of their proximity and their events is virtual, and time is taking place in the immediate instant. We can define that as a condition of forgetting the past, without being aware of the already possible event of interruption with the order of the perpetual updating of the new.
(3) Finally, culture simultaneously becomes the life-world and the ideological justification of the performing event of the power of capital and capitalism without alternatives. Within this framework, culture takes the “power” of the irreducible remnant of what is most proximate to the man due to the art and its non-instrumental character of the un-representability of the work. From spectacle to design, from aesthetics to architecture, from high culture to mass culture, identity is constantly emerging. We no longer understand life as a gift and unchangeable destiny. So, to create something new, based on the methods and experimental technoscience and freedom of choice, is more important than a biologically given position as a facticity of Being.
When this “holy trinity” of the posthuman condition is translated into the language of communication, then we are immersed deeply into a cognitive model of capitalism. The paradoxes and aporias of historical experience are simply shown in the fact that the 1960s were the years of the highest growth rates in the second half of the 20th century within the capitalism of the West, as well as in the framework of real socialism in Eastern Europe, particularly in the former Yugoslavia. It is by no means a coincidence that this was the time of a pervasive belief in the stability of the new economy, despite regional wars in Indochina and the Middle East and the ongoing political crisis. The welfare state became—due to the Scandinavian model—a desirable image of labour and capital compromise. Structurally speaking, capitalism is expanding through wars of conquest and in the context of the decolonization of the Third World, and it internally intensified its power by political movements for human rights and democracy. The second explanation, however, is that neoliberalism as a new spirit of capitalism should be much broader than the dogma about the privatizing of public/common goods, the disappearance of nation-state sovereignty, and the destruction of civil society institutions. It denotes, in fact, an ideological-political project of establishing a new form of rule and governance. Foucault, in his lectures in the 1980s, used the term governmentality (gouvernementalité). The substitution of the notion of discourse knowledge/power to the dispositif denotes the expected turn that Deleuze determines as the transition from the disciplinary society to the society of control. In short, this might be a kind of connection between the apparatus of political power in the discursive practices of the ruling and the technology of the rule of contemporary capitalism. What are the consequences there from in current politics?
Without any doubt, this is a talk about a breaking of the worlds. Ideology, namely, becomes a question of the identity of culture, while politics directly serves the interests of corporations. The forebodings of the right and the left are almost irrelevant. Two models of economic-political rule, two different and programmatically opposing ideologies, correspond to two prevailing economic doctrines in the 20th century. The former is the Chicago school as the leader of neoliberalism in the 1970s and the 1980s, and the latter is the Freiburg school of Ordoliberals as a model of the social market economy and a political outlook that is close to the ideas of social democracy of the 1920s (Foucault 2008). The shift of political ideologies in power through proper cycles corresponds to the “bipolar disorder” of the equilibrium of economic models. In both cases—the apology of private entrepreneurship and that of social capital—there is only one purpose and the goal of global capitalism—the sustainable development of capital. Anything else is an illusion and utopia without cover. When the ideological brand of capitalism has been changed from the culture of pleasure to an ascetic lifestyle, from greed to humanitarianism, there is always a perversion of reality at play. The hypertrophy of ethics of all colours and flags in the era of biopolitics serves as the media voice of unclean conscience. No one converts to the right path due to a desire for the sanctity of life. Only a fear of punishment and indifference to the suffering of others are the real stimulants for the inflation of ethics today.
Why did neoliberalism become almost the paradigmatic way of action of late capitalism? A possible answer might be the following. Because it represents a network of diverse subjects/actors beyond the nation-state, and by destroying the core of social solidarity, it creates a corporate network of the world’s management strategy as a market which cannot be counteracted by any alternatives that would be on the level of Marx and his consideration of capitalism as a world-historical order that, in an alienated form, represents the absolute power of productivity. We are faced with the destruction of any form of social solidarity. In the name of the “necessity” and “inevitability” of the ultimate purpose and the goal of increasing capital for profit, anything should be allowed (anything goes). This post-modern password conceals the brutal irony of a large spectacle. Neoliberalism denotes, therefore, the only total ideology of late capitalism. By combining the nihilism of production and consumption as part of the development of technology, what has remained unsettled since Hegel is a form of the corporation as a kind of absolute “end of history”. The corporation encompasses not just a bureaucratic economic management system.
Much more than this, it designates a matrix that organizes a social overall method of production. In other words, with the corporation, the differences and distinctions between society and the state should disappear. Because there is no fixed territory, as capital is constantly on the move and in transformations of world management, it might not be surprising that the concept of the corporation (corp.inc) has represented a substitute for the empty place of God/Law, as in Kafka’s and Pynchon’s literature. The corporation precisely marks the topology of the idea of Capital. We could say that this place is no place in the time of total acceleration. Just like insects, the corporation or machine of inhumanity constantly changes its physical form by taking on a pure form as such—capital itself as a substance-subject of the end of history. And since human resources (human capital) appear as the added values of knowledge, culture and sports, then the new spirit of late 20th-century capitalism transfigured to an evil spirit of the corporation (network). The system is organized on the basis of a techno-biological management model. All areas of life become strictly corporately organized. However, this means that the spaces of the public/common good are transformed into the corporate property of the oligarchic elite in post-democratic and authoritarian dictatorships (economypolitics- culture). Would it be legitimate to say that capital designates just another name for the indifference towards the Other? Indeed, does the contemporary capitalism of a corporation-network go beyond liberalism and democracy? The answer should be quite affirmative. Yes, and the evidence for this can be found in China, India, and Russia today. But the problem is that now labour, as a source of value, no longer needs a naked physical force. An exception, though, exists. We can see that in so-called dirty jobs as a crude intermediary between nature and machine. It is quite clear that this is intended for the poorly educated and immigrants from the Third World in the very heart of Western societies. The loss of living work is substituted by what is created by technoscience—artificial intelligence (AI) and artificial life (AL). The society of control, therefore, cannot be considered as a continuation of totalitarianism in the 21st century. Deleuze—on the trail of Foucault—just took what was already latent in the essence of total mobilization in the modern era. With the arrival of new computer technology instead of the vertical power of human power over people, we are now all in the posthuman condition of the total control of life from the beginning to the end.
The process of production itself and the enjoyment of consumption take place in the process of optimal control, regulated by marketing and management, as a technology of the achievement of desire. Let us pause here to make it clear that the event is of great importance for the further development of capitalism entirely. First of all, technology is not external to human desire but denotes its imminent realization in the form of an object beyond the logic of causality. In other words, this technology has represented a realization of the desire for the transformation of the human into the inhumane. Therefore, we can no longer use the distinction between human and non-human. Everything just mentioned above is now so far behind us. We urgently need to change our conceptual tools and our understanding of things entirely. The liberal idea of freedom is perfectly suited to the non-political way of creating a new community. The term “non-political” refers to the perversion of the ontological rank of politics in modern times. In fact, the purpose becomes the means and the means become the purpose. Politics, hence, today serves the interests of corporations, without exception. From the instrument of protecting the liberal idea of society, politics becomes the uncanny sliding into the mud of oligarchic rule in the world. Citizenship is, therefore, no longer a social formation of identity. In the articulation of life as a contingency and the emergence of units within the networked space, the corporation replaces the class solidarity of workers. The purpose and goal of the political economy of the “lifespan” become profit without visible borders. Thus, the irrational rationality of this new ideology of politics-economy-culture acts as a dispositif of power. In this respect, the notion of neoliberalism might be, of course, an ideological creation. The same goes for globalization. These are all fluid network terms. They refer explicitly to the rule of the subject without substance. Today we have with the examples of nation-states without sovereignty or nationalism without a nation (Paić 2005). When there is no longer an “essence” that stands out of the spectrum, we are in the state of quasitotality.
The system functions in binary oppositions, but no longer through the logic of disjunction—either-or. We must say that the system is now based strictly on the neutralization of the Other. A new logic denotes the condition of inclusive disjunction (Deleuze and Guattari 1987). Everything becomes conceivable only in such a way that the discrepancies are no longer abolished in synthesis as the power to suppress contradictions and to overcome the form and the power to keep and raise the content to a higher degree (Aufhebung). Instead of the constructive-destructive dialectics of history, we have a new assemblage which might be termed as cybernetics without history. The unpredictability of the chaos of events in all areas of life—from nature to society, from writing to art—marks the “essence” of the post-human condition. At the end of the book What Is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari are almost craving a golden age of capitalism:
We require just a little order to protect us from chaos. (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 107)
At first glance, it is obvious that the historical movement of modernity denotes the fury of unconditional progress. So, if nothing else, it is worth questioning it as a sort of dogma of the Enlightenment, and then definitely marking off the areas that are involved in the idea of progress. This primarily refers to the source of power. Apart from the real forces of politics and economics, culture is no longer merely a symbolic power. Moreover, the shift in the distribution of the real power of ruling to social capital spaces might already be apparent from the fact that the key subjects/actors of “crisis management” are coming from the quaternary sector. They are logocrats and managers of transnational corporations. A wide network of know-how knowledge is made up of pragmatic characters. This means that knowledge in the corporate system network should be exactly what the sociologists and economists of the Chicago school determined as hybrid concepts of human capital. At work here is the addition to physical capital. The added value is articulated in higher education, culture, health, and sports. Economics in its latest stage of the operation is no longer just a form of consumer or hyper-consumer capitalism based on the creation of the desire for objects (Lyotard 1993). What marks the “here” and “now” holds the features of the total mobilization of information-communication technologies. Their ultimate purpose is to rule the territory of resistance and subversion in the very desire for freedom. Instead of the delirium of spending in a surge of hedonism-business, we have entered into the era of the experimental accumulation of capital. Knowledge about future investment processes requires accounting, planning and construction methods. So, the change consists of the fact that binary oppositions of production and consumption lose their meaning. Synthesis comes from the logic of capital on a plane of immanence, speaking in the terms of Deleuze, which arranges the vicious circle of socio-axiomatic stations (production, distribution, exchange, consumption). Everything disappears in a spiral network of feedback. Now, the network itself and the concept of an information code have replaced the metaphysics of the aims and objectives of the entire process.Cybernetics is not just a new universal science of the information age. It would be better to say that we are faced with the beginning of the process of a total change in the relationship between Being and time. These basic concepts of traditional ontology are replaced by cybernetic language. Control and chaos, rationality and indeterminacy, and the planning, construction, and projection of the future determine the methods of the synthesis of the substance and subject.
The new spirit of capitalism, therefore, rests on only one problem, but it goes beyond Mephisto’s riddle: how to fully master the world market of a multitude of diverse cultures that in their holograms preserve the past and present experiences of the nation-states with their myths of arché and glorious histories of freedom directed to something like a postmodern victimology? Mephisto, therefore, demands a new Faustus in his unquenchable duality to fulfil the metaphysical mission of evil. Since evil is immeasurable because it falls into the area of what is radically different from the mind, history without purpose and aim in something out-of-the narrative does not seem reasonable. It might be necessary to find a replacement for the ethics-politics of capital within its empty core. How is this possible? Paradoxically, the conquest and mastery of cognitive capitalism over the world presuppose a struggle with the last unbowed zones of the common Being of man—a desire for freedom and an irreducible victim in the name of cultural identity. Freedom and sacrifice are seemingly contradictory. But we shall see that correlation and mutual action stand in the very core of the thing itself. Since the idea of freedom without foundation is in something like God and His secular substitutes (people, humanity, race, culture), in order to maintain and neutralize the powerful foundation of the metaphysics of the “source” and the “foundation”, it is necessary to establish the idea of freedom as a new power of quasi-foundation. Without sacrificing the body of an individual and a collective, power cannot be established in the world. Sacrifice in the name of God and His secular surrogates is always, ultimately, just a sacrifice for something else. The meaning comes from the future as utopia. A sacrifice for freedom, however, presupposes a sacrifice for a singular event. Only the event provides an authentic way for the community to grow. Hence it is the only sacrifice beyond the logic of the means-purpose of metaphysical history from Antigone to the anonymous heroes of the political revolutions of the contemporary age.
Boltanski and Chiapello did not, however, impose any unexpected assumptions that would not already have been known in circles of neo- Marxist theorists after the defeat of the student movement in 1968. Undoubtedly, it was a matter of explanation close to the thought of Marx at the time of Capital, as well as Lacan at the time of Ethics of Psychoanalysis. We should be aware that capitalism can survive all epochs of social change because it responds to the demands of the irrational rationality of freedom and desire. What is Mephisto’s problem? It would be common to say that Goethe in his Ur-Faustus raised the problem of art relations and its sense of the world as a problem of relations between good and evil. What is the point of creation at all if it does not involve the advancement of humanity in the pursuit of the highest degree of freedom? But, in all interpretations of Goethe’s works, since the writings of Bloch or Adorno, the thought about the essence of modern history being delivered from the bondage of nature prevails. Freedom within a modern notion is understood as a radical denaturalization of humans. It belongs to the attempt to remove the “bestiality” and the “animal” from human nature (Derrida 2009). Art is, hence, alongside science and philosophy, a necessary form of overcoming the biological limitations of man. This implies an ontological category of necessity since the sphere of impulse and bondage in the habitual space of sex/gender “necessarily” also means the impossibility of the openness of liberty itself.
If a man is determined by something beyond the nature and necessity of obeying “the purposes” of animal survival, then its space-time may be in the openness of the horizon of Being and time. This openness is placed in the project of the upcoming, and that means that ideas of contingency and emergence become signs of freedom. So, the anthropological machine assumes the possibility of overcoming the necessity of nature. With the creation of artificial nature as a new habitat or frame of existence, thanks to contemporary technology that emerged from experiments with the genetic code, it is not just utopia. Everything changes with the entering of technology into the production of a new life (Sloterdijk 2009; Agamben 2003). We can detect Mephisto’s problem in that we—despite the negative dialectics which postulate that truth is not a whole—should start from the “zero point” of modernity itself. If the sovereignty of the subject means a step from the immediate experience of consciousness to mediated selfconsciousness, then we should ask ourselves: what if there is nothing left “behind”? The transcendental subject guaranteed that experience is a reliable foundation for a new understanding of history. Kant’s suspicion of the possibility of knowing what was “behind” with the means of a pure mind was also a doubt of the ability of the mind to act in the chaotic order of nature without regulation coming from beyond the phenomenon. In other words, without the idea of the over-sensory experience of the thingin- self (Ding-an-sich) as the first substance, there cannot be, thus, any Copernican turn. The antinomy of a subject is sufficient, but not a necessary reason for the above-expressed. A pure mind can at the same time prove the existence of God and be denied of it (either-too). The difference between the apparent (phenomenal) and the unknown (nonapparent) worlds corresponds to the difference in the possibility of the knowledge of Being entirely. Instead of Descartes’ methodical doubts, transcendental scepticism has been performed as a critique of the previous metaphysics.
If philosophy, from its beginning to its end, is onto-theological, as Heidegger once claimed, then the question of the subject (subjectum, hypokeimenon) is at the same time a question about the meaning of its action. What does this subject really want? From this, it seems evident that the subject has—from the New Era onwards—always been comprehended as the way of thinking as a will of Being. As Heidegger showed in his lectures on Nietzsche, the notion of a subject— from Leibniz through Schopenhauer to Nietzsche—signifies the will and knowledge of the subject as a signifier of the world. This will have been shown in its ontological purity as a will to power. Therefore, it is not the case that the subject wants to overcome that which is opposed to him on the path to the final release of all chains, but he wants it now and unconditionally. All figures of the subject which Heidegger has already overcome are only transforming metaphysics into the issue of the end of metaphysics as the end of the epoch of the subjectivity of the subject, which means the end of society as a modern creation of the rule of the subject entirely. But with what right are we talking of the possibilities of radical change from the perspective of the will to power? Freedom requires legitimacy as the human body demands its right to exist beyond the service to the mind. However, the “zero point” of the sovereign rights of the subject for the violent demolition of the political order through revolution or subversion surely does not arise without the launch of this entire anthropological machine. The “zero point” consists of the fact that modern science as the initiator of human history (progress)—in Hegel, the absolute spirit in the consciousness of freedom, and in Marx, the overcoming/abolition (Aufhebung) of the social relationship in which the essence becomes capital—does not come from the good, nor from hell. The starting position of the “zero point” of the historical-epochal condition might be determined by what Heidegger called the enframing (Gestell). The problem that arises here is thus the impossibility of acting without the purpose of the action. The first cause or substance that triggers the subject of the process of historical movement must be suspended or neutralized. Tertium not datur.
For Marx, the idea of capital was still in the likeness of substance and subject as a synthesis of values and desires. This means that what may be called the empty space of the sublime Other, or the mystery of the society in the epoch of capitalism in all its historical stages of development, is located outside the capital itself. Heidegger’s assertion that the essence of the technique is nothing technical corresponds to Marx’s claim that the capital is located beyond capitalism as a social formation that, in the West, has its correlation with the idea of a free citizen, private property, and the market economy. In both cases, the problem comes down to the search for the origin of the fall into the inauthenticity of Being, beings, and the essence of man. The difference can be determined precisely in that Heidegger thinks of history as the destiny of Being from the original time(ness) of the event. In the effort, however, to reverse Hegel’s dialectics, Marx thinks of history as starting from the linear perspective of infinite development and the free production of life. The essence of the enframing (Gestell) is in the emergence of the constellation of modern technology. So, it is not only the production power of modern society. Moreover, technology signifies the substance and subject of that process. When this happens in the “essence” of what we call the real process of the production of life, then the main question is no longer “what” is behind the phenomenon of the world with the rule of capital. On the contrary, the main question is “how” does the inhumane— instead of being a desire for freedom and sacrifice on behalf of the identity of the nation in the modern world—become a driver of the axiomatic order of capitalism? This inhumane—as Mephisto’s response to the question of the abyss of freedom—is revealed in the methods and experiments of technoscience. With the research into artificial intelligence (AI) and artificial life (AL) comes the decisive turn in the notion of the “essence” of capital. If this is no longer physical work but a technosphere, we are faced with a techno-political and social turn with larger consequences. We used this concept, anyway, as a vivid metaphor for the living cybernetic machine. In the idea of capital, the concepts of value and time are closely related. The abstraction of real-life allows only the concrete existence of the emergence of the world of goods. The thing becomes a commodity thanks to the market value of the exchange.
All the secrets of understanding the society of the spectacle from Debord to Agamben arereduced to the fetishism of goods in the form of images from the production to the consumption of visual capital. What are the proportions of the corporate revolution in an understanding of Being and time? When a subject determines the setting of nature by the activity of the pure mind in the form of natural science, then the substance is no longer the first cause in the idea of the infinity of God. The subject takes that place. It takes on the transcendental structure of the pure mind (Kant). Contemporary science thus becomes a paradigm for the transformation of consciousness in self consciousness, and the subject reflects itself in the knowledge of the subject as such. The turning point towards the subject, or the “zero point” of modern epistemology, is not just a matter of philosophy. Of course, this act not only gets rid of the shackles of scholastic theology. As Agamben has credibly demonstrated in his genealogical research on the emergence of modern ideas of governance, sovereignty and power, the emergence of a political economy is a result of the transformation of the idea of the infinite substance (God) into the idea of the end of Being. We can read this ontological operation in this manner: the sovereignty of God is replaced by the sovereignty of the people. Adam Smith, therefore, named his new science on methods of researching the wealth of nations as the national or political economy. So, economy and politics in the modern sense represent the secularization of the theological machine of ruling with the idea of two separate worlds—divine and human (Agamben 2010). For its new start, the subject must necessarily have that negative as a foundation. The sovereignty of the rule and the absolutism of power in the modern discourse begins with this turn. The substance appears as an essence in all of its forms of existence. The policy of the sovereignty of the nation-state, in turn, corresponds to the modern capitalism of industrial production. But this works only in the confines beyond the ideas of nature and life. Thus, the notion of immanence or openness entered contemporary thinking, from Spinoza through Nietzsche to Deleuze.
The immanent limit is still not fixed. The order of the economy-world of 1914 and the beginning of the First World War shows that which is latent in the essence of capital. So, the implosion of its limits refers to a new definition of the world. Instead of global expansion, we are faced with planetary expansion (Heidegger 1997, 8). Thus, the term “globalization” conditionally indicates the dominance of space over time. Expansion (extensio) represents the matter in the sense of its extensibility. By contrast, the term “information” belongs to the area of immateriality. The time of virtual actualization points to its moment(-ariness). When the “world” computerization process is taking place, then the various experiences of time are necessarily annulled. Everything is equalized. But everything is also translated in the format of the virtual presence of information that becomes faster and easier to read because it comes on the application of visual transparency. The planetary nature of spatiality opens new odds to the whole assemblage of actions and achievements. That is a reason why the truth of the new spirit of capitalism lies in its full implosion. The term, as it is known, was born in McLuhan’s media theory. The bottom line is the compression and reduction of the meaning of this information. The right formula for our age should thus be performed in this way: the implosion of information = the ecstasy of communication (Baudrillard 1998, 145-154). In that sense, the terms of capitalism today as a globalized economy-world—in which we have a network of communication instead of society, and wherein information technology determines the flows of capital and the fluid exchange processes in the instant of time—become not only empirically verifiable. That is, also, a reason why the only real problems of the current world are how to turn the substance into the subject and the issue of the emergence of techno-science in accelerating streams of time. The failure to analyze time in comprehending social processes can be explained very easily.Time accelerates when the biological cycle is interrupted by the introduction of technological rationality in modern industrial society. So, modernity denotes a time of radical change. The effects are visible from the outside, not from the inside. This means that the subject is objectified in industrialization, rationalization, and the creation of mass society. The work-technology conflict with the life-world shows itself in the expansion of space. In that regard, a homogeneous time of discipline and control in the linear thickening of the flow emerge. On the other hand, the only odds of resistance derive from the desire of the subject for the slowness and reflective extension of the time of selfconsciousness as a space of freedom. The runtime-technology index encompasses a time of productivity and a time of the life-world in such a way that memories and relaxation might be desirable places in dreams, as well as in our collective imagination.
In modern literature, of course, this is evident in the novels of James Joyce and Marcel Proust. Ulysses happens in a single day. In In Search of Lost Time, the modern subject opposes the tyranny of “eternal actuality” with synesthetic memory. The total mobilization of capital and acceleration of subjects/actors of this game of the “infinite end” of Mephisto shows that whatever we still call by the name of social processes, social forms of the relationship between technology and nature, and social interactions between techno-science and humans are nothing other than fundamental proofs of changes concerning the self-consciousness (self-knowledge) of modern society in general. Life in a high-speed society, as Rosa and Scheuerman explain, must be the process of the radical deployment of power (Rosa and Scheuerman 2010). So, the speed cannot just be the result of some cause. Furthermore, speed does not just determine the property of the movement of the body in space. From Einstein’s theory of relativity, it is known that the speed ofl ight presupposes the condition of the observer’s time perspective. Likewise, the acceleration of the events that are dizzyingly alternating in the consciousness of the observer point to the turning point in the cognitive-aesthetic shaping of our world. Attention or accumulated perception in the visual culture of late capitalism determined the quite new notion on that subject (Beller 2006).
Information circulates within social networks and does not come from an unknown source like the divine creatio ex nihilo. This means that the interactivity of new media in the digital environment provides new opportunities for action. In the process of thinking, there is a change in the relationship between “Being” and “appearing”. In that assemblage, what does interactivity mean? The term comes from the logic of new media. It refers to the mediated immanence of dialogue and discourse techniques through new communicationchannels. The interactivity of new technologies synthesizes the cognitive experience of machines and humans. So, the thinking thus loses the autonomy of what Lyotard calls—in the footsteps of Edmund Husserl— the conceptual monogram (noema). It becomes a computer hologram. Instead of the unpredictability of events, there is a programming situation which is very complex, and very predictable. Models from theory are surely incredibly complex, unlike other existing models in our daily reality. The speed of the reaction is such that the event cannot happen without a media structure. So, the media event already assumes its various interpretations. The best examples of this include the rebellions against dictatorships and the violence of authoritarian orders from Egypt to Libya and Syria during the Arab Spring, the action against the oligarchic policy of the global order of power known as Occupy Wall Street, the overthrow of the autocratic political order in Ukraine, the radical demands for social justice in protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and so on. The transformation of the subject into contemporary philosophy is also the activity of the deconstruction of the metaphysical sources of its power. When this happens, we are witnessing that the question of “what or who is a subject” remains, as a rule, without a precise answer. The reason lies in the fact that we suppose it has to exist, if not as some new subject then at least as its supplement or even as a surrogate (Cadava 1991). In the deconstruction of the concept of authority in Western metaphysics, Derrida opened the problem of the new creation of political power at a time without a subject. If the collapse of the idea of the subject in philosophy after Hegel is analogous to the disintegration of the idea of sovereignty after the demolition of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and entry into the global age, then the concept of interactive media is not replaced with an intersubjectivity of consciousness. As for the path of the deconstruction of the concept of man as the subject of his own “destiny”, it must be open. Of course, it still seems to be naive to talk about individual and collective subjects.
Why? The reason is in that society in the posthuman condition has its topos in steady and constant acceleration. Instead of the individual and the collective, some anthropologists and sociologists like Bruno Latour use terms such as “actors of the network of social events”, while Niklas Luhmann defines society by the concepts of cybernetics and the theory of complexity, referring to the autopoietic systems of life (Latour 1996a; Luhmann 1998). An individual and a collective have their own meanings within a model of social subjectivity in which a hierarchical order of roles governs. In the corporate model, only actors are active in the network. They are linked to the non-hierarchical condition of management. The order is—like the autopoietic network of events—re-established by itself thanks to emergent networks rather than individual and collective patterns of action. The question should, therefore, be set in a completely different way. It is no longer about “what” or “who” should be the subject of this uncanny process of the total mobilization of capital, but about how—in that inhuman state—the rule of the fleeing techno-science with its constructions of artificial life (AL) in robotics, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, and computer intelligence can still hold onto the notions of “substance”, “subject”, “Being”, and “time” and their associated spheres of economy, politics and culture if everything becomes fluid and metastable, and a cognitive activity of the monitoring of (visual) events has accumulated all that matters in the cultural capital of the spectacle. Nothing is a free and simple result of a media-created event. What are the consequences of this total change of the world if we can no longer define the boundaries of society compared to the state as it functioned in the golden age of modern capitalism?
Is it not really the end of the idea of the subject which disappeared not only with the political sovereignty of nation-states but took another dramatic dissolution on a global level and seems like a direction towards the end of society in general? Of course, this kind of desolation is not original. It derives from Heidegger’s thinking of the technique. In the position of Gestell as the essence of technique, Heidegger claims, in fact, that industrial society as a mark for modern society is only the result of modern subjectivity. The so-called social essence of a man is determined therefore from the creation of modern subjectivity as the rule of science and the technique of nature as an object. Society can appear as a subject only when its object is a result of modern industrial production. In that sense, any extension of the concept of subjectivity corresponds to the extension of the notion of society to all other areas of human Being (Heidegger 1977, 125). Talking about the acceleration of society, the society of control, the networked society, the information society, the telematic society, or this or that society without its subject necessarily leads to the process of the drying-up of the social from society in general. The same can be seen in the works of contemporary art after Duchamp. With a request for the social participation of artists in the public space in which real life is taking place, there is an increasing demand for finding a new subject of the legitimacy of the artwork/events of the art itself. Through the processes of disappearing of modern society, it loses the cause of its meta-aesthetic desire to change the state of things. By the way, one of the features of the techno-scientific view of art is that the underlying concepts of technoscience—the method and the experiment— are those that give contemporary art a meta-aesthetic meaning. Moreover, without these concepts, it no longer has reasons to justify itself. The politics of resistance and the culture of subversion thus become substitutes for giving up on the total revolution of the capitalist mode of production. From Malevich and Duchamp to Beuys and Warhol, we can testify that the process of “drying” the substance of contemporary art reaches its end. The road goes straight on towards a spectacle of the picture without the world (Paić 2006).
What we still call “society” without an external, transcendental source that still allows interaction between the subjects/actors within the global system and the environment in its illusion of subjecting at the level of world-historical activity, or so-called sociolinguistic activity, might be the consequence of deploying capital from industry to information. Technology, however, is not neutral. Nevertheless, modern society as a subject is indeed an object of its own determination in industrial production. When cybernetics and informatics emerge in relation to the genetic structure of life, we enter into the area of the biotechnological control of the process of life’s subjectivization. However, this idea arises in the actualized reality of corporate capitalism. It is beyond the modern separation of the areas of politics (state) and the economy (society). The turn stems from the fact that contemporary capitalism as a bio-technocognitive network of information no longer needs anything that is “behind” the event itself. There is no more distinction between symptoms and phenomena as a source of the ideological creation of reality. Instead of something beyond phenomena, we have a transparency of events without a subject. The absolute immanence of the thing itself ensures that capital is not an idea that needs its realization in the real world. On the contrary, we are faced with the construction of the event as well the world like a cybernetic network. Its only purpose seems to be, as Deleuze and Guattari said, to protect us from chaos with just a little bit of order. If capital is always missing the “Earth” and “its people”, it might be possible to argue that this deficiency is the internal driver of the whole process. The nihilistic desolation of the “Earth” goes hand in hand with the displacement/settling of a “people”.
From the infinite end in the processes of transforming matter into information, information into communication, as well as people into capital, the sole idea of capital is nothing social in the sense of eternal human condemnation to a common life. At work is an epochal contingency. It may, however, seem that this is the last social order in which human liberty reaches the state of the Absolute in the sense of the “perpetual present”. In this way, the abstract and concrete connect to the technological assemblage, in a theoretical and practical sense, and construct the brave new artificial life (AL). Mephisto’s problem of history “today” is precisely in that. So, what comes after knowing that there is nothing left behind? History without fate and the drama of “evil” certainly lose the cause of their existence (historicity). What is left? In the name of what are we to act? With what purpose and aim do we stand on the new barricades to sacrifice this and our only life for something else, something Other? Finally, in the name of which idea are we to heroically attack the spectres of the new winter castles and fortresses if “behind” the global scene is nothing more than emptiness and nothingness?
2. The end of the revolution: A subject without event?
We almost forgot to look at the stars. Let us leave the superstitions and prophecies of new age esotericism aside for the time being. Here we are thinking of the connection between the ways of Western thinking from its emergence to its end in contemporary technoscience. That thinking should always be total. It does not decay in the debris of the systems, although there are historical periods in which the speciality has a larger specific weight than the whole: for example, Hellenism on the outcome of antiquity and the rule of the Greek spirit on the interim time between early and late modernity, which we call the post-modern condition (Lyotard 1979). Metaphysics, hence, appears as part of the onto-theo-cosmological anthropology (Sutlić 1987). Each community from the arché of mankind has its basis in the relationship between heaven and earth, immortal and mortal. Plato’s Republic (politeia) combines cosmic harmony with the virtues of people in the unity of difference between theoria, praxis and poiesis. The politics of the new era in Rousseau and Hobbes, the republican state and the Leviathan, cannot establish a modern way of life in a political community without the substitution of the divine (Critchley 2012). All the political revolutions since 1789 have—as the sacredness of their own ideas—the relation between citizens and man in the dialectic of the nation-state and the cosmopolitan order of values. The French Revolution had the rights of man and citizens at its centre, that which is universal and particular. Let us leave aside the criticisms that focus attention on the emptiness of defining the notion of “man” by becoming a native member of the ruling nation in the state (France). Without the ideals of the freedom of mankind, all the political revolutions of the modern era are unfinished.
By entering into the global era of the information society, for the first time, it is true that the idea and reality in the present world of the power of the rule of the one and the same are in the differences of world history as the history of the technosphere. Being, God, the cosmos, and man are the integrity of the assemblage as a whole. So, it can be sustained only under the condition that each member within it has its own “autonomy” in relation to others. Hence, something might be clear in advance. Those who speak of revolution from the new era onwards must always keep in mind that almost any “new” revolution takes place by making this metaphysical assembly grow, decompose, and reorder it, as Marx did with Hegel’s dialectics. However, it remains unquestionable that the revolution, as a matter of fact, represents a radical and total change not only of what is called society but above all of Being and time. Without this, no man, nor the cosmos, nor even God can be conceived as they were “before”. With all that having been said, every great revolution in history shaped a new time. Rimbaud, in the Letters of the Visionary, announced revolutionary violence against symbols of tradition, but he also anticipated something more far-reaching. The subject is no longer defined from the position of the pure mind. The removal of this “transcendental illusion” begins as the concept of Other constitutes the Self. The Other, taking it explicitly, does not have the features of an intersubjective Other. On the contrary, the Other signifies the move beyond the fringe of the subject’s boundaries from what is embedded in the language itself. Speaking and understanding the world as truth precedes reflections “on” the world. This is the same as if language, from its own indefiniteness, goes beyond the limits of the mediation of thought and the world. This is, finally, the notion with which we enter into the field of ontology and its critique, destruction and deconstruction (Agamben 2007). Its critique and destruction correspond to the question of the end or disappearance of the subject in the ephemeral significance of revolution and turns of events, and the deconstruction of the subject by the distribution of its traces and signs in the space-time of text and images corresponds to the question of resistance and subversion towards capitalism as power without foundation in fixed identity. The scheme should be taken only as the outline of one hypothetical idea:
THE SUBJECT AND ITS OVERCOMING
1. Critique of the political economy—revolution and communism (Marx)
2. Destruction of traditional ontology—the event and the upcoming God
3. The deconstruction of logocentrism—the difference between history
and upcoming time, the messianic without God (Derrida)
4. The overcoming of the metaphysics of the subject—the plane of
immanence and creative utopia (Deleuze)
ANALOGUE TIME AND THE DIGITALIZATION OF THE WORLD
Revolution, therefore, does not belong to either Being or time in the traditional meaning of stability, immutability, and eternity. The word refers to the unpredictability and the contingency of events. With the event of the revolution, everything becomes new. Nothing is reducible to the “old”. And time is no longer considered as the time of this fluid and flowing series of “now”. Becoming, in the change of the existing order, determines the development of a presence in a virtual actualization of the possibilities of Being. So, the upcoming event should be highlighted in the presence of a real event itself. But there are still no signs of change yet. The distinction of concepts such as “order”, or a “system” vs. “revolution”, presupposes, first of all, the differentiation of what legitimizes such an “order” or “system” and, on the other hand, the justification of the revolutionary promise of the change of a rule established by force of law. Legitimacy, of course, comes from the law. This term defines the use of the mind in the process of judging truth, good and evil, the motives of action, and the purpose of action. The relationship between the legitimacy of a state based on the sovereignty of a monarch or a nation according to “revolutionary violence” is always articulated in an attitude towards the modern world and in the relationship of political power and ethics within it. Herbert Marcuse, in his book entitled Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory, showed clearly that, from the speculative philosophy of modernity with its highest point in Hegel, the question of revolution means something much more than a mere change in the political order (Marcuse 1962). For Hegel, the question of revolution belongs to the development of the awareness of freedom in history. When new institutions of the objective spirit are established in modernity—civil society (economics) and the state (politics)—what brings to an assemblage “reason” and “revolution”, the thinking and the event of a radical change of Being, is the overcoming/abolition (Aufhebung) of history as a sign of the alienation of the subject. It is not by chance that Hegel subsumed a subjective spirit under the objective in the logical and historical sense. The revolution opens the question of making a new historical complex. It reconfigures the old concepts, ideas and categories of the entirety of metaphysics. Only then can we continue to talk about, for example, scientific revolutions and the paradigms of changes in theory and practice.
If the revolution should be a radical and total change in the historical framework, then the question of the subject of the revolution (“who” or “what”) must be crucial to any further notion of the impossibility of revolution in cybernetics and technoscience today. What, then, is the revolution and who might its subject be? With the new era of Copernicus and his heliocentric system, which proved that the Earth revolves around the Sun, the career of the concept of revolution (revolutio) began. In astronomy, revolution denotes the circular motion of the planets. So, it is obvious that we are not going “forward” or “backwards” with revolutions, but are instead growing in the circle of that which is constantly new. The ontological problem with the modern concept of revolution began with the Enlightenment. It was then that the linearity of historical movement towards the infinite progress of knowledge of nature and man was manifested by the separation between the “old” notion of the world and the “new”. The former is a circular motion without the idea of change, and the latter assumes the rule of linearity as the current potential of Being. In any case, with the Enlightenment, we witness a break with the idea of history as was determined in the ancient and medieval world. The capitalist revolution was necessarily the breakthrough of the “new” on the front of the total mobilization of productive forces (technology). Therefore, the time of modernity and the time of the capitalist mode of production is just an empty time of technical updating. Everything that has to be “new” is always condemned to rapid obsolescence. So, the preservation of the past appears as a phenomenon in today’s discomfort with digital oblivion in dizzying accelerated time. But what creates the condition of the possibility of asking questions about the subject of the revolution and its possible end or revival in another historical context is something that is somewhat uncanny. We have already seen that the problem of alternatives to the new spirit of capitalism is that they begin with the rebuilding of the devastated civil society on other grounds. It is always like the political foundations of the condition of self-rejection in the limited space of early modernity. This space is determined by the political sovereignty of the state and the freedom of organizing society. With the disappearance of sovereignty, they no longer have access to global corporate capital from the grid, since capital is without a homeland, beyond local projections, and has its own destiny. Wherever we move away to, we are still just nomads and aliens in the night of the world’s loss of authenticity. That is the problem.
Capital is at work in the processes of deterritorialization and reterritorialization in ever new spaces across the scope of the Earth. Just like the mystery of Zeno’s turtle, which Achilles is unable to catch in the aporia of the impossibility of movement, so the capital that is opposed to work is divided by the total acceleration of the cycle of its own reinvestment. The subject of revolution must, therefore, be in the “essence” of the idea of capital as a corporation. On the other side of the state and society, the event will suddenly arrive, unpredictable and out of nowhere, like a new apocalypse of history. In this sense, all events of a radical and total change of matters are at the edge of chaos. This is proof of the phrase that it is not possible to foresee “the future development of the event”. This is clear, because the event is not finished as a cause that applies to processes in nature if they are isolated from the viewer’s point of view. There is the only anticipation of future situations, not events. The difference between the situations and conditions (states) and the event lies in the fact that the event takes place in a discontinuity of time, and situations and conditions are fractals of events, isolated and reduced to elementary particles of the process. Conversely, in the event, there is an openness to the odds of change. The event changes the situation and the conditions, not vice versa. In a certain frame of uncertainty, all that is shown is how many things that are happening in the global age in politics are related to models of complexity theory (Byrne 1998). There are, therefore, two possible answers to the question of the subject (of revolution) and its (im)possibilities in the current world. From that, it is self-evident that there are two different subjects in the possibility of performing the event of total and radical changes in the metaphysical drive of history.
(1) The subject of the revolution is what might be called the condition of the possibility of the creation of a “subject”, and that can only be that which is without foundation in anything external and transcendental,regardless of God or His secular substitutions from people to humankind. The freedom without foundation is like an event of breaking with the continuity of history. All other ideas are derived from it, from the era of ancient Greek democracy to the present. Equality in this way has a decisive significance for the political revolution of modernity. It is not just about equalizing inequality in the sphere of the wealth of society, but it is something that could prevent the corruption and erosion of democracy in under oligarchic rule. Since 1989 and the end of real socialism, the idea of equality has been perceived as a path to economic poverty and “political monotheism”, to use Lévinas’ expression for the suppression of differences in thinking. Keeping all of this in mind, one can easily conclude that all “revolutions” after 1989 in the world are simply political revolutions against:
(a) the autocratic order of governance, and
(b) the oligarchic model of state and society management based on the association of corporate capitalism and political elites.
Political revolutions at the time of late capitalism inside and outside of the control space of so-called Western civilization, from the Arab Spring to Ukraine, were everything but a radical and total event of a change of the “world”. The turnovers that followed the bringing down of the power of the totalitarian and autocratic leaders testify to that. Then, instead of the fundamental values of the modern world contained in the Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen from the French Revolution, arriving in the centre are the values of the nation, culture, race, and religion. Political post-totalitarian revolution ends as an identity politics. That means that they are only changes in the values in culture, rather than the radical and total politics of “changing the world”. Instead of the “events” that are so celebrated in the political ontologies of neo-Marxist philosophers, we have only that which makes the “essence” of our age a subject without substance, or a subject without events. This can be called whatever you like—decentred, “tricky”, spiralling, this or that subject. But one thing should be more than obvious. The position of such an entity can only be that which Confucius once said regarding the concept of universality: a white horse is still a horse. In principle, the question of the subject necessarily presupposes the time of the total objectification of man and what still determines him as a man—thought and language. A subject without event is of the same rank as freedom without power.
What really happened? Just and only the following. The subject of revolutionary politics loses its justification in the clash with the logic of a corporation as a non-place. “Behind” this lies nothing than a pure plan of immanence: the entities of the post-human network event correspond to what Vanja Sutlić in his seminal book entitled The Being and Contemporaneity from 1967—as well as Heidegger in Four Seminars— called stability in change. The event, therefore, boils down to the establishment of the “zero point” of the liberation of the “people” from tyranny, dictatorship, and despotism. Nothing more and nothing less. When an entity cannot justify itself by elevating itself to the very event of the revolution as a radical and total change in the metaphysical framework of God-Being-World-Human, the subject then breaks down into a micropolitics of resistance and subversion and necessarily becomes an identity politics. On the barricades, the rebellion is happening, but against whom and what? Capital as such? Unfortunately, for all enthusiastic utopians, angry righteous militants, mystical fighters against the world’s injustices, and those who actually have something to lose from work to life and dignity, barricades and guerrillas are only fragments of that which Guy Debord calls the integrated spectacle (Debord 1995). It is an event without events, a frontal conflict of binary oppositions that are no longer relevant to the logic of late capitalism. The state is now without sovereignty and society without integral solidarity. Capital in this regard no longer has a “natural enemy”. The reason lies in the fact that the working class is “outdated” and “delayed” in relation to the total acceleration and transformation of the rhizome networks and fractals with which technoscience operates in the engineering of artificial life.
Capital drives work, not vice versa. This structural perversion explains why speculative financial capital nowadays embodies psycho-figures like Gordon Gekko, the main character of Oliver Stone’s movie Wall Street, a real rhizome in the corporate network of endless greed for pure value. Greed should be not called the psychopathology of a deranged individual. On the contrary, it could be a reckless embodiment of the will to power. Therefore, Gekko is not mad an-sich. In that figure, we are faced necessarily with a pure embodiment of the “spirit of new capitalism”. The madness is thus completely conscious of its own rationality. Undoubtedly, that is a reason why the system works flawlessly in global crises. There is no such thing as “human nature”. Of course, there are states and situations in which someone “is” what he/she has “become”, because what determines the conditions and situations already presupposes the possibility of the “subject” of its own execution. In turn, this means that the system simultaneously creates and does not create psychopathic individuals. It is only thanks to the feedback system and the environment that it is possible to outgrow the monster from the gloom of indifference towards the Other. All this may possibly be due to the disappearance of society in the neoliberal ideology of capitalism with the outcome of the loss of the subjectivity of man at the very beginning of modernity. The French sociologist Gabriel Tarde saw in the early 20th century how the process of rationalization in industrial capitalism creates a new form of mass indifference towards the public/common space of democratic politics. The transformation of the civil public into the mass audience of the staged event is an unbreakable way of creating “emptiness” in the value of order. Dictators in the era of post-democracy might be possible because society has become a mass, and the mass becomes the reign of mediocrity in the era of the media construction of events. The banality of rule in mass society stems from indifference to the technique of ruling. Everything should be regulated by calculation, planning and construction: from sports to art, from the sublime to radical evil.
(2) The subject of the revolution is no longer in what has been achieved by Marx’s deduction of categories, itself derived from Hegel’s reversed dialectic on the grounds of real materialist history. Instead of the proletariat that abolishes itself through its realization in the absolute work of machinery, a substitute of neoliberal global capitalism—the precariat— emerges (Lorey 2010). As a result of the corporate capital strategy in creating a “new Earth” and a “new people”, a highly educated class of unemployed can be nothing but what it really is, and this is a temporary state of disposition for capturing the axiomatic machine of global capital in its fluid flow of nets and codes. The fluidity of capital flows corresponds to temporary employment. Serious life in the shadow of the rule of technoscience and bloody ethnocultural wars become the main marks of the global order of capital without labour. The problem is that both subjects—which are always in relation to the total power of the technoscience in the form of corporate cognitive capital (artificial intelligence and artificial life)—are only the substitutes in the movement of what is necessarily “late” and “outdated”. Only buildings, industrial complexes and factories are not obsolete. Apart from the apocalyptic graveyard of modern technology, we are facing the waste of the information age almost every single day. We can see how this is not limited only to product design, but how it also extends the brain of the software that drives the appliance that becomes unsuitable for new complexity operations. The only real problem that affects contemporary information technology, as well as contemporary art itself, comes down to the increase of memory. What is outdated the most is life itself within the work of the subject. It is irrelevant whether the subject is understood as the creator of new technical worlds or, in turn, as Lacan’s and Deleuze’s decentred subject of desires. Theoreticians of new media are prone to say that the media is faster than man. The same goes for the capital in the form of the acceleration of its substance. Revolutions are crucially “outdated” because society, in the total acceleration of techno-science and information technology, must adapt to the fluidity of networks or fall into the quicksand of history forever. This scenario cannot be very comforting for the ability to master whatever remains of history. That is precisely why this is not the scenario of any dystopia of the future. On the contrary, this is what is reckless and the only real in all its traumatic void of any other definition except the bare facticity of the very thing. A subject that is not even an answer to the question of “what” is the essence of man within the network of corporate nonsense—nor the answer to the question of “who” this is or “who” the ones are who determine the rules of the game in the transformation of the condition of the global order—obviously cannot aspire to the desire for freedom, equality, solidarity and justice. All of that shows how this world is approaching the edge of chaos.
The question of the subject is, in its turn, always an issue about the “zero point” of thought. Who really thinks? I or We? The thought is thinking, and language speaks. The subjectivity of the subject, thus, denotes a feature of thinking, but paradoxically no longer in language as Being, as in Heidegger’s thought, but dwelling in an experimental laboratory by constructing “being” as a techno-genesis and accelerating time to its disappearance into the black hole of information. In the movies The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life, both directed by Terrence Malick, as a sort of philosophical meditation on the origins and end of the human in the angelic landscapes of verdure and atmosphere of ocean solitude, we begin and end with these issues: Where do we come from? Where are we going? Are we here by chance or do we accomplish a mysterious goal? What is the meaning of all this suffering if we are finally awaiting bliss and nothingness? Who are we? Are we raindrop or dew? Whoever talks about a subject necessarily talks about the intentionality of the action of that and such a subject. Already this proves to be a problem. How do I act at a time when an entity in its subject does not have a place (topology) for the realization of the possibility of existence? Modern society, therefore, did not remain without its subject in the sovereignty of citizens as the foundation of the nation-state. It was constituted by the subject of disjunction. This means that, from the very beginning, the subject of the revolution was its own double, as Foucault says in his critique of Kant’s thinking. The transcendental subject doubles in the empirical and vice versa. Capital doubles in its drift into work and vice versa, but this processof taciturn or constant transformation remains one and the same in its differences. What might be “the same” in the differences? Nothing but the subject as its own object in a state of stability in change. Who, then, is the subject of revolution as the event of a total and radical change of this world? The answer is apocalyptic: capital as the substance of the whole process from the beginning to the end, from the formation to the disappearance, from the “source” to the black hole of Being. Where does all this come from and where does it go? Now-here and nowhere.
The complete teleology of capitalism is, therefore, a negative eschatology. Revolution is not a process of transformation, but a total and radical change of the “same” in its differences, so that new and different become “the same” at the same time. Revolution and crisis, hence, are conditions for the stability of the capitalist mode of production. This is the most astonishing thing in the whole narrative of the rise and fall of the subject in modern times. When there is nothing left behind, it is the time for immanent transcendence and its doubles, such as the politics of resistance and spectacle, or the culture of subversion.
3. Metapolitics of identity: From resistance to subversion
Let us go back to the main assumption of Boltanski and Chiapello in their book The New Spirit of Capitalism. If it is analyzed again in its own starting point, we will see something even more uncanny. The defeat of the student movement of 1968 was not the defeat of the “revolution” against capitalism as such, but rather the defeat of the structural possibilities of association between the two faces of modern work or the “subjects” of values in modern society. Remembering all theoretical attempts to illuminate the essence of 1968 and all that which would follow from the paradigm shift of labour in the paradigm of culture, which is convincingly witnessed by the key sociological concept of cultural capital in the works of Pierre Bourdieu in which economic and social capital is involved (Bourdieu 1977), we will notice that the reasons for the impossibility of workers and students meeting in the struggle against capital were, in fact, in the apparently paradoxical structural disorder of the relationship between the two opposing “classes”. One belonged to the industrial drive of early modern factories, while the other was the beginning of the development of this famous cultural capital or cognitive capital of late modernity. The former class represents a traditional class of physical labour, and the latter is one that is formed by a combination of technoscience, cybernetics and information in the space of the cognitive “knowledge factory”—the university as a corporation. It might not be possible to establish any work except the philanthropic and utopian work between workers and students. Namely, the ethics and awareness of the position of misery and the exploited proletarian class are beyond the point, whereas what is in question is the objective position of that which Marx in Capital called the dialectics of productive forces (technology and science) and relationships in production (the whole spectrum of social interactions).
The problem is, then, that between the work and the capital, a new powerful mediator comes into play. This develops precisely as a result of Marx’s dialectics of historical progress (productive forces + productive relationships = corporation as Absolute). This mediator has been created by the logic of the unconditional progress of capitalism in the sense of innovations in technology and improvements in the living conditions of consumer societies. When the consumption of the 1960s became the trademark of the final frontier of Western civilization instead of work and production, signs and designs were introduced to substitute the real world. Semiocapitalism is the sovereign governor of the space of the inhumane. When meditating comes into play between physical and cognitive capital, the result might be visible in their mutual permeation of each other. What is born from the “new” in this process can no longer be overcome as a matter of “superstructure”, as was normal for the capitalism of the 19th century. Culture, in all manifestations of the aesthetic construction or design of the information society’s life-world, will then have a decisive function of a new ideology. What determines the new spirit of capitalism is nothing other than the fact that culture has become a new political economy of capitalism. It encompasses cognitive capital in the form of knowledge that perfectly embodies the new productive forces of progress, such as technoscience and cybernetics, and the production relationships, such as all corporately-formed spheres of what we call the irreducible residues of social life (education, social welfare, healthcare, the service sector, cultural industry, entertainment). A whole library of books about the post-modern or informational economy of human and cultural capital has been written before now. One thing is common to all these sociological attempts to explain our era of contingency and entropy. Absolutely nothing outside or “behind” the very mega-machine of capital as the driver of social change—and, at the same time, of the disappearance of society in the total mobilization of techno-science—can in any way turn this “frantic ship” away from its nihilistic journey of the conquest and realization of the absolute desire/will to power beyond all human limits. The problem is that the whole of the turn in which ideology becomes a culture, and culture an ideology, has taken place within a radical transformation of social relations mediated by what Deleuze calls the axiomatic machine of capitalism. But what is meant by the fact that there are no longer any oppositions of consciousness and unconsciousness, truth and lies, nature and culture, progress and advancement?
With the rise of cybernetics and information systems, society has become telematic. Communication that today has the shape of social networks represents a new techno-culture of the body that dictates the difference between the living and the inactive, the not-living. Therefore, the transition of ideology into the form of a new culture denotes an inevitable process of interactive communication. Virtual spacesof resistance interfere with the real-time restraint of space. We could determine the social order itself as the inhuman structure of post-human networking technology in which one system communicates with another. No human culture is of any kind of significance, except techno-culture. Indeed, the significance of culture in terms of the traditional humanistic project boils down to that which is on the margins. Everywhere in the world, the humanities are immersed in crisis. The unrelenting technoscientific march towards the future seems to have no alternative. Therefore, the only options are adapting to this march or disappearing on the horizon of “progress”. What is important and has significance is no “culture” at all. On the contrary, power derives from the techno-genesis of societies based on the logic of emergent networks in the increasingly interactive activities of the assemblies, in which the collapse of one system, state, or culture is the necessary way towards the existence of another. We live in an era of total entropy. Any illusion about a resounding alternative coming from the immediate culture of resistance is only a way towards the kind of ethics that Michel Foucault, at the end of his life, proposed in his lectures at the Collège de France. Care of the self becomes the only model of a fully shattered subject of this culture, which breaks down in many different directions (Foucault 1988).
Identity politics, namely, includes minority rights in the pluralistically cultured societies of the West, but it also implies collective and individual rights. Perhaps it is appropriate here to talk about the difference between the politics of resistance, or “micropolitics” in Foucault, and the various methods of the rebuilding of radical conservative ideas of the discipline of post-modern society. The beginning, of course, was 1968 in Europe and the United States, with the students’ rebellion, the emergence of countercultures, and post-colonial movements for the national and racial identities of the oppressed. In sociological theories of globalization, identity politics is considered as a fluid field of struggle for its own recognition of the irreducible Other-ness (women, racial and national minorities, LGBT populations). It seems that Calhoun’s typology of identity, accepted by Castells in his analysis by giving it credibility in its current use, is applicable here. In short, identity politics denotes contingency and resistance, the negation and affirmation of the differences within the existing order in which nation-states at the end of the modern order of sovereignty determine the boundaries of belonging to the community. The foundations of the politics of identity are—in the case of post-modernity— untenable, that is to say, what is at work is the creation of a new way of affiliation. Instead of birth and the organic community of origin, now it is only significant to reconcile “destiny” with freedom of existence. Living as a nomad or a global “man without qualities” means being in between the borders of nation and race, the organic community and the traditional order of value. Identity politics has become, thus, a small cultural transformation of the original subversion of modern exclusivity. Or, put in other words, when the same term applies to fundamentalists and rebels, to post-fascists and post-communists, to the haters of modernity and to the radical advocates of freedom without borders, then the term has exhausted its meaning. The goals were originally in the democratization of modern society, moving the boundaries of tolerance towards the Other, establishing different criteria of value, the autonomy of the free individual. It has not all gone forever, but with the retribalization of the global order and the neoliberal ideology of consumerism, it has been reduced to the spectacle of lifestyles.
As in negative theology, if one wants to define the concept of God, one does not start with the analogy of beings but from what should be contrary to the ideas of the perfect and perpetual, the good and just. The power of identification in a global but not cosmopolitan sense derives from the awareness of the possibilities of apocalypse and disaster. The ecological threats, the demographic explosion and the information bomb—not to mention the strict (un)controlled intensity of nuclear conflicts (North Korea and what will go on in the new balance of fear between the United States and Russia, China, and India)—bring about the question of the survival of mankind as being the only remaining question of identity. But it seems that something could be even more important than this “pathetic” collective consciousness in the present state of the risk of the disappearance of the world at large. Hannah Arendt argued that the 21st century will become the century in which immigration will be the test of the conscience of humankind. In this regard, the meaning and sustainability of the idea of democracy will be measured in general. The last illusions of well-being and tolerance break down in a terrible way. Sweden and the Scandinavian “silent model” of integration into the cultural order of prosperity after the rioting of immigrants becomes a painful point of identity politics. The global level is also a local level in its most perverted form of the social re-articulation of power. Where the scenes of burning cars in the world’s great cities are seen, there is at play a structural crisis of global capitalism everywhere. The paradox is that the crisis does not appear to be a political exaggeration. This clash on the ideological level of the conflict of cultures is just another side of the social reorganization of the system. Instead of the policies of multiculturalism and interculturalism, everything attests to the strengthening of something that has the signs of the conflicting interests of capital, transnational corporations and nation-states in the transition from culture to conflict identity politics.
What, then, is the posthuman condition of entropy? First of all, this might be a situation in which the radical and total revolution of thehistorical-metaphysical assemblage of Being-God-World-Human is no longer possible. When the metapolitics of identity exhaust their reserves of resistance against the “system” and “order” in the constant subversion of ideology—whether it is comprehended as a dialectics of “false consciousness”, as a semiotics of cynical power, or as a hermeneutics of knowledge/power with all the devices that we have at our disposal today— there is a new spirit of capitalism available, and culture comes to the scene as a subversion. The closed circuit of “resistance” and “subversion” constantly changes its face and features. In his reflections on the history of the notion of Being, Heidegger has mentioned—in a number of places— the concept of “communism” as an ideology within the totalitarian rule of the world and technical warfare at the end of history. But what has caught special attention is the attitude that
No ‘revolution’ is ‘revolutionary’ enough. (Heidegger 1998, 69)
The main problem might be as follows. When the event is absent, or its expectation is greater than its real effectiveness, then a pseudo-event occurs in different shapes. In the history of early Christianity, various versions of the “cancelling” of the second coming of the Messiah are mentioned. Expectations, therefore, have the implacability of impatience and resignation. It is like the ironic parallel between the Apocalypse and Marx planning to write three volumes of Capital. Just as it will not be time for the second coming until the secret meaning of the Book of Revelation is grasped, it will also not be time for the Revolution until the last will and testament of the Capital are written. In the place of a historical circuit that reverses or completely abolishes the metaphysical framework of the whole of history—as Marx, following Hegel, wanted—comes a substitute in the form of an immanent transcendence of the system. Unlike the “big narratives” of philosophy as metaphysics of the history of Being (logos, idea, energeia, subject matter, spirit, work), we are faced with “little narratives”. Difference and Other overwhelm both Being and identity. In the overlapping tendencies of the logic of substitution and pseudo-events, there should be nothing more behind and beyond the very core of life, because there is nothing other than the formation of identity in difference. Translated into the language of the social articulation of the struggle to power, we can call this resistance and subversion. So, resistance might always be reactive, and when it is active it is always opposed to what gives it the condition of acting-out. All micropolitics of resistance are from this point also a struggle for the “values” of that which is not Being, but it happens in the awareness and existence of differences as a minority policy in the society of control. The difference between resistance and subversion emerges in that the first constitutes a meta-politics of minorities and the latter a meta-culture of minorities. In both cases, at work is the becoming revolutionary action but without the true event of a revolution. This denotes an action that does not “undermine” the ideology-politics of the new spirit of capitalism precisely because the subversion as a culture has already been integrated into it, as with the prophecy made by Debord when, in 1988, the typology of the spectacle as ideology—further to the concentrated (fascism, Nazism, Stalinism) and the diffuse (liberal capitalism)—articulated the third, final stage of the integrated spectacle.
1. The new spirit of capitalism, unlike the old, leaves nothing to chance. The control of the future process of creating events presupposes the existence of crises and conquering wars of low intensity and high entropy. Techno-science as a driver to accelerating what remains of society in corporate networks of contingency leads to the end of the subject in the artificial genesis of artificial life (AL). It is no longer a form of cultural capital, but capital without form, substance-subject in the form of cognitive “work”. All the processes of interaction between “nature” and “man” are reduced to the experiment of reproducing life. In this respect, the “future” is no longer the thing of utopias. The future present could be a dystopia in the movement from crisis management to crisis production, from information control to the implosion of communication.
2. The networks of resistance and subversions within the spirit of the corporation are no longer anywhere “behind” and “outside” the worldhistorical order without alternatives. If there is an alternative to neoliberal capitalism as a paradigm of globalization, then it might only be one that connects dictatorships/despotism/autocracy and post-democracy, legitimate system violence, and the “divine violence” of which Walter Benjamin speaks as the ultimate blow of the endless justice. All political systems today are in the service of transnational corporations. This means that oligarchies and corporations represent the “essence” of networked societies of control. Corruption, hence, is not an anomaly in the system. Without corruption, there is no new debt/spirit of capitalism. There are no exceptions. The alternative does not exist either “behind” or “out” of this single world in which all differences and multitudes are nothing but planetary trends of ethnocultural folklore. If there is no alternative, what is left? Nothing other than the Same as the new beginning of history without the pathos of change and without the cynicism of the stability of metaphysics in pseudo-events. There is no alternative because the new spirit of capitalism is by itself an alternative inside the stability in change.
3. If all the “revolutions” are not “revolutionary” enough, then the problem is not in the construction of a “new society” (the defeat of them Enlightenment represents a defeat of the critical theory of society in all its essential attempts at “negative dialectics”) but in the destruction of technoscientific thinking of “progress” as computing, planning and construction. Thinking cannot be “revolutionary” because it is not preceded by the unpredictability of the event. The thinking, thus, that opens new perspectives can no longer run in fear in the future as productivity without end in the infinite chain of states of optimal control.
4. “The beginning of historical thinking takes place in the technical constellation of nihilism” (Sutlić 1994, 162). If this constellation continues in the experiment with “new life” from the spirit of techno-genesis as a radical construction of artificial worlds, is it still possible and necessary to seek the other beginning of history beyond nihilism? Is it not time for the turnover in the very essence of techniques itself that allows us the thought as an experiment of the construction of the “new” and the thought as a reflection of Being and time that is not marked by the destruction of what endowed history with its historicity, a man with his true dignity?
5. We live permanently at the edge of the chaos. This is our destiny and salvation from the total control of the acceleration of what remains of society. The more chaos, the less control. Doesn’t this seem like an “alternative” in the bare essence of the totally controlled process of becoming-the-world?
6. Time, which is increasingly accelerating, becomes—like life itself— artificial time, with no differences between what could be authentic or vulgar ways of existence. Artificial time corresponds to the question of the essence of artificial life that has its origin in the artificial mind. In the corporate world of networks, all becomes only structures and functions, numbers and quantifications in the sign of the boundless and the immeasurable. Capital in its form of cognitive networks of neurons is determined qualitatively by becoming the subject without substance, the machine for the accumulation of space as well as a time machine of “bad infinity”.
7. It is time for an event of the upcoming community because time is accelerating and growing increasingly distant and will no longer exist except as an intense duration in the total agony of the Real. The time remaining may still be sufficient for the experiment of absolute freedom. It is only just that is left to the joyful adventure of thinking and living together.
This text was first published as Chapter Six of the book by Žarko Paić, NEOLIBERALISM, OLIGARCHY AND POLITICS OF THE EVENT – AT THE EDGE OF CHAOS, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020.
Žarko Paić is a Professor at the University of Zagreb, where he teaches courses in Aesthetics and Media Theory. He publishes frequently in philosophy, social sciences, and art theory. His publications include Theorizing Images, eds. with Krešimir Purgar (2016), and Technosphere Vol. 1-5 (2018-2019), White Holes and the Visualization of the Body, (2019), Neoliberalism, Oligarchy and Politics of the Event – At the Ege of Chaos (2020), Aesthetics and the Iconoclasm of Contemporary Art - Pictures Without a World (2021).