20220723162556 ⭐ premissive philosophy∶ refutations
Table of Contents
- Critics: Their Frame and their Mind
- Liberal-Bourgeois Criticisms
- Marxist Criticisms
- Philosophical Criticisms
- Dismissive Criticisms
Critics: Their Frame and their Mind
¶1. Who is the critic? At the highest level of abstraction, critics are the bastions of human freedom, albeit unreflectively. Critics are, in fact, the authorities on freedom, since they experience in an intuitive and immediate givenness a resistance to one thing or another. In their inability to look at matters charitably, to construe all things in the profoundest light of paranoia and skepticism, critics take all mental measure to secure the status quo as it presently stands. For this reason, critics are often the most ruthless in their analyses and, as it were, “see through” me and, by their lights, “my bullshit.”
¶2. Critics are able to attain to such a high level of analysis through their lack of concern with the positive as a logical moment. Thus, as said in the System ¶25: “critics…want only to negate their objects indeterminately.” By positive, I here mean what either is claimed to be or should be. Thus, if I say “Food should be free,” I make a positive claim about the world. However, if I say “food shouldn’t be able to be distributed by corporations,” I make a merely negative claim. How? Because I have merely said what should not be the case without explicating what should exist instead, I have not determined the world in any way. Rather, I have merely said how it should not be - I have determined only myself against that world. For, indeed, the indeterminate negation has no content - it is merely an opposition to content, for some reason or another.
¶3. At the psychological level, critics attain to deep analysis because their focus, their purposiveness of reason, is concentrated merely on the failures of a thing. They are not concerned with how a thing could be positive, or how it may be anything. Rather, to the critic, all statements stick out as spines on a cactus - they make the critic recoil. The critic therefore seeks above all to expose such prickly points of pain, to assert how the pain points render the whole of the thing incoherent, as I explicated in ¶77 of the System. At the logical level, therefore, critics are the most astute analyzers of things into incoherence because they are everywhere looking for the absolute criteria of positivity - self-consistency. Indeed, positivity in this form is dead, but more has been said on this in ¶80 of the System. To recap: all self-consistency is ultimately a vacuous self-identity, and so anything worth saying must be living and therefore contradictory with itself. The critic, of course, does not recognize this - they have been given the greatest enlightenment task - sapere aude! Indeed, when a critic opens his mouth, he has done exactly this - and he is to be praised for it. For, the critic must be considered as a gift of the enlightenment, not an obstacle to be overcome and ignored. They are neither to be converted nor proselytized, but understood, their criticisms incorporated into the system as it stands. (Aside: if critics saw dialectical thinking in full, they would realize the idiocy of their claims from the dialectical standpoint. This would, of course, leave thought in a position of incoherence, since criticism itself would be impossible. This knot, the fact that reason can be equally approached with a view towards the positive contentfulness of self-identity and with a view towards the emptiness of its content, must be addressed in the future. Perhaps this is an antinomy of reason; if so, it must be born out in society.)
¶4. Of course, critics’ task is fundamentally parasitic, and nothing can overstate this claim. Where positive men and women want to create worlds, critics merely want to tear down. Critics are, like tapeworms, blood-sucking creatures which consume the life-force of all which seeks to live. Indeed, they must be. On a Durkheimian view, critics represent life’s struggle with itself - they are an aspect of the epistemic division of labor. Of course, they are, for positive men and women, the most annoying aspect! However, they cannot be dismissed on grounds of subjective annoyance. Rather, sociologically, they must be accepted and loved as moments of society’s self-realization. For, indeed, critics are a priori conservative, seeking to retain the status quo without any original innovation. Theirs is merely a repetition of the most lukewarm innovation. They cannot, however, be blamed for this. Considered as agents of society’s most secure, most solid, and most fecund realities, they must be praised for their work. For, it is good work - it just so happens to flirt with the death of everything which might well be to their benefit!
¶5. By way of tangent, it is worth saying again that the positive men and women of the world seek to create, while negative men and women (critics) seek to sunder. They do not, I must say explicitly, seek to destroy. Rather, critics want merely to tear down what attempts to accrete itself without firm foundations, to dissolve any potential ideological apparatus which might regress the entirety of society. For this reason, positive and negative men and women (who I will hereafter call visionaries and critics) are everywhere in antagonism, and it is their conversation about the “right” of society which ensures its stability. It must also be said here that no one man is exclusively visionary or critic. I am a visionary with respect to my system; I am also a critic with respect to neoliberal economics, the Republican Party in America, and several other things.
¶6. The aim of this article is to lay before my critics what I believe to be their arguments against my system. I wish to do so both (1) to pay them the respect they deserve and (2) to provoke them to more advanced criticism. For, if anything in this world is certain, it is this - I will inevitably be criticized. Rather than dealing with milquetoast criticisms first, therefore, I have chosen to set them aside beforehand. For, rather than arguing with critics over the sufficiency of my system, I would prefer to set their first criticisms before them first, then argue with them about whether or not those criticisms hold good. If they do, I will work them into the system. If not, I will forget them.
Claim: “By creating a system of thinking, you’re essentially preventing anyone from criticizing what you do, since you can obfuscate your actions by the density and mass of your long-winded prose.”
¶7. I create my system neither (1) to foreclose criticism nor (2) to protect myself against it, but only to anticipate it. The theory of anticipation means only this: that by determining myself before I act, I might stand as I act rather than fall. To fall under the weight of action is no hard task - each act creates a new world for which each actor is responsible. The hermitage of self-determination is, therefore, an attempt at self-armament.
¶8. A moment of this is a shielding - instead of criticism shooting me through, I can refer critics to my principles. Instead of being burnt asunder by the collective spotlight of disdain, I might mirror that spotlight and reflect it back onto critics. Hereby I want not to deflect them, but to reflect them. Deflection is dismissal, reflection is conversation. My shield is therefore also a skeleton, a backbone which, like the polymers of the DNA molecule, enables the nucleotides to combine freely without fear of collapse of the whole. My system is no different: it is the backbone of my thought, the essence of which is its DNA. The DNA, then, contains the backbone at each step.
¶9. Reflection is the opportunity to stake out positions beforehand, so that the limits of discourse are known. Hereby I both shield myself from criticism and, as though sheathed beneath the shield, store knives with which to cut up opponents arguments at the joints - the laws of apprehension, judgment, and inference.
¶10. Now, the dismissive premise says, under all its aspects: “I need not consider the truth of your premise, because…” Only where I use my system to justify such a premise so I gatekeep. I make all commitment not to do so. Instead, I will consider every salient objection within the confines of my principles. The easiest move for me to make is to say that a criticism is external to my principals, and therefore can be dismissed. But I have already rejected every dismissive premise. Therefore, I can make no such move and, if I do, I will depend on my dear critics to hold me to my commitments as laid out here.
¶11. Thus, in recap, anticipation is threefold. (1) It shields from criticism reflectively, so that I am self-determined. (2) It provides the backbone for the freedom of my thought, so that I might stand without the weight of undetermined subjectivity. (3) It carves up reality, so that critical premises can be assessed not for dismissal, but for incorporation. Hereby the system grows stronger, my subjectivity larger, my freedom ever-advanced.
Claim: “Your reasoning is too one-sided. You’re only 22 years old. How can you expect to know anything about how others think? How can you expect to know anything at all? More than this, how can you expect to say anything of something as universal as ‘reason’? Do you mean to say that you have determined all possible iterations of reason? Such a task is impossible, since you are one man reasoning among other men. Yours can never be more than one instance of the type - you cannot attain to the universal with your mere particularity!”
¶12. As I wrote in ¶111 of the System, my thoughts are currently in an embryonic state. As things now stand, my work is only an act of arbitrary will and, in this respect, I am the first to admit its vulgarity and one-sidedness. It is, at this time, an idle plaything. It is not ready for the organization of men, nor can I expect it to be as such for many years to come. Many refinements are in order, and I would not seek to found anything definite upon it until they are completed. The point, once more, is to create a system of reason sufficient for action, namely, action oriented towards interpersonal recognition.
¶13. The more intense side of this criticism, in my view, rests in the insufficiency of the particular to attain the universal. I have attempted to preempt this claim by noting that it is ultimately my final iteration of the system which will aim at universal validity of its claims. Until then, a moment of arbitrariness will and cannot fail to be admitted. Anything short of such an admission will be bad faith, incoherence, and should win the ire of any right-thinking person. Now, I believe I am, at this moment, universally justified in my assertion about the sufficiency of the system for action via the metaphysics and epistemology of experience enunciated in the Preamble, especially in ¶20 - our experiences and knowledges will always differ. For this reason, I have set before me the task of explicating my knowledge and experience, doing so with a view towards its final coherence as universally valid. Thus, the System is an instance of this universal rule - it is my taking an added step to clarify what always obtains between men: their differences of experience and knowledge. By doing so, I will do what all men also already do - act in and around other men. However, by doing so on my terms, I define myself before I do so.
¶14. Now, one can say the same of all disciplines practiced for the management of the world today. I break from such disciplines and have elected to create my own, for I am of the belief (like Hegel and Marx) that the world is inherently contradictory, and that we must work to set those contradictions aright. I have seen no such attempt in the way that I envision it in any pre-existent discipline. I make this judgment based upon the nearly 400 books that I have read.
¶15. The most salient form of this criticism arises from my explicit ignorance of the social sciences, especially psychology and economics. One can only reject such sciences on a relatively paranoid-critical view of knowledge, one which I am neither original nor inventive for adopting. This view begins with Marx, Nietzche, and Freud, unified in this fashion by the philosopher Paul Ricoer as the “masters of suspicion.” By this, Ricoer means something inclusive of and yet beyond epistemological suspicion. For now, I confine myself to his epistemological meaning, that meaning being that each takes what Louis Althusser calls a “symptomatic view” of their subject-matter. For Marx, this is bourgeois political economy; for Nietzsche, this is western culture; for Freud, it is his patients and the entirety of the western psyche. In each case, the masters look for something behind the surface, looking for its manifestations. This essentially semiotic method is shared by Hegel and Peirce, albeit more subtly. Regardless, on their terms, the human sciences can be considered as accommodations to a prevailing system of thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. For Marx, this system was capitalism, as class conflict warranting the proletariat as revolutionary subject. For Nietzsche, this was impending nihilism and the emergence of the übermensch. For Freud, this was neurosis, requiring the talking cure to bring latent contradictions in the psyche into manifest, expressive consciousness. In each case, the surface is rejected for something beneath, located in its makeup as a means of its possibility. For later thinkers like Foucault, regimes of subjectivity lie at the bottom of the human sciences; the paranoia of Judith Butler, Julia Kristeva, Kwame Appiah, and Sally Haslanger can be fit under this generality as well.
¶16. I am of the opinion that much of the human sciences can be treated in this way, such that they can be ignored or at least bracketed. I do not mean to say that they do not have valuable insights for a project of the future - I believe they do. Rather, I mean only to say that their insights must be bracketed for the time being until we achieve something self-consciously oriented towards freedom. At the present moment, only Kant, Hegel, Marx, arguably Freud and Lacan, and perhaps Foucault give us such an orientation. It has not yet been politicized - only Marx, Foucault, and those of the Frankfurt School tried to make it so. I am here attempting to carry on their legacy. As an aside, it is worth mentioning here that such a project of explicitly departing with science as it hitherto existed is a rather old epistemological move, as Thomas Kuhn argues in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. What I am attempting is not, therefore, something hubristic per se (although I am the first to admit that I am a bit too egotistical to submit to the regimes of knowledge-production as they currently exist.) Rather, I am after a new kind of knowledge production, one men can create among themselves by intentionally doing so. This, I believe, is the vision Hegel and Marx were after - I want only to move it forward. (It is for this reason that I have chosen to write at such lengths on the matter. This task is none other than the furthering of human freedom, the essence of our being as a species. To dedicate to it anything less than the utmost diligence and attention is, I believe, a dangerous disrespect.)
Claim: You are clearly only interested in a project aimed at people like yourself. What is your view towards everyone who doesn’t care about freedom, who isn’t interested in self-consciously associating with others?
¶17. In what I believe is the most radical piece of my thought, I must respond to this quite indifferently. In a word, I cannot concern myself with those who are not interested in looking to complete themselves. At this moment in human history, consciousness has been sublimated into regimes of production and consumption, not regimes of community and self-creation. This is quite a shame, and many online now realize this through monikers like “bot” and “NPC.” These epistemological regimes enclose subjects in their roles in such mechanisms. As such, it is quite easy to view my work here as one such enclosure among all other enclosures. This is, in a sense, the view that post-modernists like Baudrillard and Derrida take of Marxism, at least in its denuded form post-1960s. By their lights, perhaps the common-sense lights of the 21ˢᵗ century, any attempt at systematic thought is a mere specter, a ghost of thought.
¶18. Perhaps this is so - I will not be able to tell until I attempt what I am after. In this respect, against the post-modern sensibility, I put my faith in thinkers like John Dewey, Jürgen Habermas, and Lawrence Kohlberg . In Dewey I see an attempt to experiment with educational institutions, to form men in ways hitherto unattempted. I see something similar in Kohlberg, who took deep inspiration from the methods of the Israeli kibbutz system. The two of them replaced the totalization of pre-20ᵗʰ century thought, the iron totalizing of post-Hegelian thinking, with social experimentalism. Kohlberg in particular wins my immense respect on this front, as do the “utopian” socialists of the early 1800s. Kohlberg was a man very much after their hearts, albeit within the confines of society as opposed to without. I model what it is I intend to do on his work, both in form and in content. For this, reason, the practices of moral cultivation through the liberal arts take center stage in the section on conceptual practices, ¶85 of the System.
¶19. All of this amounts to two claims. First, I am being exclusive in content but not in form. All people can watch my videos, all will be able to join the community I intend to form. Few, however, will be chosen from among all. Only those who agree with the content of my work will stay - everyone else must find something else. I am not interested, for the moment, in a system with which every single man at this moment in time can find himself within. This is the final end-in-view, but it would be the greatest hubris of human history to believe that one man could engineer a system of thought about which all mankind could conform. No one has done such a thing. For now, I am after a system which will be the point of departure for a new way of living and being in the world, an explication of the work Hegel and Marx attempted with lessons learned from the 20ᵗʰ and 21ˢᵗ centuries, as I discuss in ¶113 of the System. Second, therefore, I cannot pretend as though I am after brute universality first and foremost. I am not. I am after the creation of a world, and that world is to be mine. Eventually, it must be indifferent to me. For now, I create it upon an act of will, since I know of no other point of origin. There is a tenuousness thereby - once I die, will the force of the system remain? This is hard to say, and it will be kept in view as the project progresses. It will be the work of critics outside of the system to ensure that this all-important problem remains front and center of my work and that I do not become lost in the forest of egoism.
Claim: This is just being selfish! You want to make a world all your own while thousands of people across the world are suffering! You aren’t worth anyone’s time! People need to be helped right now, and anything short of that is wasting time and resources.
¶20. My system must begin with selfishness, since selfishness is at the moment the very being of society. If one takes Hegel seriously, one begins to think intuitively in his scheme. I suppose, in this respect, I’ve drunk the Hegelian kool-aide. Regardless, I will explicate my view in his terms. For Hegel, being is immediacy, or uncritical self-identity. Essence is self-othering, and Conceptuality is return-to-self through what was othered. At the moment, society, as particularized in the thinking underlying any average person’s regimes of thought, has its Concept in the Enlightenment sapere aude - dare to be wise. The “think for yourself” attitude is the first premise of western thought as it now stands, in direct contrast to the collective-religious ideological thinking of the early modern and medieval periods. This Concept has its Being in selfishness, since it is the “I” which must do the thinking. As many have rightly pointed out, this has resulted in a quasi-free play of egos, in which families rise and fall and the tides of the market. In many respects, this has only made ancient elitism more subtle. Many ruling-class families today built their wealth at the beginning of the enlightenment, if not before it formally began. In this respect, today’s politics are something like a show, behind the scenes of which lies their Being, selfishness. In this condensed view, I hold that the present, in its very Being, is founded on a mode of socio-ontology and epistemology which create its political outcomes. I do not thereby mean that politics is controlled and that non-elite humans have no agency - this is plainly false. Rather, I mean that the ontological and epistemic structure of the totality is, on human terms, malformed.
¶21. The ontology of this has just been sketched - it lies in the manifest elitism of the world. This itself, however, depends on its epistemology, which is an epistemology of selfishness. By this, I mean that human knowledge is, at bottom, fleshed out in a manner which is ultimately redundant to selves and assessable by them. This is nothing other than the discrete value quantum, or the value-form, or money. Of course, the Bible long ago declared money the root of all evil and, in this respect, it is not far afield from my own position. Similarly, the Romantics Carlyle and Ruskin declared modern society nothing but “anarchy plus a constable” mediated by the “callous cash-nexus.” My view is, in this respect, neither new nor innovative. What is innovative is my understanding of Marx’s epistemological suspicion: that knowledge itself is reproducing our state of affairs. Marx himself understands this after Hegel, such that the Concept of enlightenment has failed to live up to itself. Indeed, under socialism, Marx believes that every worker will be able to take any role - to know whatever it is that he wills to know. Can one say this now, even theoretically? Marx’s answer is, “No, even a priori as a pure possibility, one cannot say this.”
¶22. Of course, Marx is critiquing the labor movement as a moment of otherness within the Being of Selfishness, itself within the Concept of Free Subjectivity (ie. the sapere aude). Marx sees the labor movement as something like an ideal type of Selflessness, which would complete Selfishness in a new concept, some new iteration of freedom. This, in broad strokes, is the essence of the Marxist faith in communism considered socially, or between men. The failure of the labor movement, however, means the failure of Marxism as a praxis and as a faith in the future. If, then, we want some faith in the future, if we want to be able to look toward the future and have hope in something, we must attempt to replace the Marxist point of departure. In this respect, I consider myself deeply heterodox, although not so heterodox as Marcuse and the Black Panthers, who alternately considered the possibility of African Americans as a revolutionary subject (the moment of Otherness in cultural dialectics). For Marx, Otherness being the Essence of society meant that the proletariat had the ontological and epistemological right to seize the means of production. The Panthers claimed the same of African Americans of White society. [need a source on this]
¶23. But, with the whole of the 20ᵗʰ century behind me and living through the beginning of the 21ˢᵗ, my view is decisively different. In capitalism as it stands today, no “group” stands as a revolutionary subject. No, like Baudrillard, I affirm that the semiotic aspect of capital (the signifying function of the value-form) has come to the fore. By this, I mean that an epistemological shift has taken place rendering the very idea of a discrete revolutionary subject obsolete. In this way, the antagonism of Marxist and Hegelian thinking has been sublimated, rendered diffuse throughout the whole of society. This, in essence, is the insight of Deleuze and Guatarri, but also of Dewey in a less radical sense. With Baudrillard, however, I take the innovative view that the internal antagonism of semiosis itself is the grounding driving force for human freedom. Indeed, it is the relation between present and absent, this and not, which is motivating social change. This radically abstract view takes it that information is the form of the revolutionary subject, whose content is now universal. All men, even the elite capitalists can be part of the revolutionary subject. I have not yet fleshed out what this view means completely. Under the Hegelian grid, however, it means something like this: the Enlightenment has failed to live up to its Concept of free knowing because its Being of Selfishness has othered into fragmented Selflessness which has not recuperated itself into systems of knowing that selflessness. That is, epistemological regimes have founded themselves so deeply on selfishness that it has become an ossified datum of epistemology itself. This accounts for Adorno’s regression thesis, albeit under a slightly different garb. In my view, regression is only a new mode of appearance of some old ways of thinking, namely, tribal insularity, etc. These have appeared as residues, as failures of Reason to sublimate them into society. In this sense, with Siegfried Kracauer, I argue that society has not yet been made Reasonable enough. That is, the regimes of reason presently existent have left so much residual matter out of itself that Reason has begun to cannibalize itself, to render itself unreasonable. This will pose the end of civilization as we know it.
¶24. Thus, to end the vicious cycling of Selfishness and fractured Selflessness, a new System of Reason is needed to inaugurate a new mode of determinate freedom, to conceptualize what it is to be Selfless at all. This is none other than the System of Premissive Philosophy. Hereby, I believe that I explicate the fracturing of Selflessness as it currently stands, overcoming the binary of selfishness and selflessness in and through the same.
¶25. This view is a radically non-economic reading of Marx, and it treads on a liberalizing of his views. For this reason, I pose it here only as the philosophical basis of my work. The economic aspects of Marx’s work are deeply important to his understanding of dialectics. Similarly, the complete explication of semiotics as the motivator behind my philosophy will mirror the place of economics in Marx’s own reasoning. Where economics is the subjugator of Marx’s revolutionary subject, the proletariat, semiotics will for me be the subjugator of my revolutionary subject form, information. Bridging the subject’s form and content, in my view, will occur through the internet - a tertium quid, a means of information distribution the likes of which the world has not hitherto seen. In this way, the internet has a special place in my thought as the vector of the Conceptualization of the Enlightenment, at least as it exists now. At this moment in history, it is the vanguard of the future.
¶26. To make the vanguard role actual, we must pick society up at its very Being, namely, selfishness. Doing this means using selfishness as a means to sunder itself, to bring it into contradiction with itself as a means towards Selflessness. This is, by and large, how non-profits work. I am, then, working towards something like a post-Marxist non-profit, in just the same way the Bolsheviks were after a Marxist political party.
¶27. By way of conclusion, all of this is to say that I am an academic at heart. I am interested in a close, academic view of freedom and liberation - I am not interested in activism, yet. A new theory of the present is needed to justify a new kind of activism. Nothing has engendered as much faith in the future as the Marxist meta-narrative, and it is crucial that its potency be recovered. The incredulity towards meta-narratives that Lyotard used to inaugurate the Post-Modern condition must fall by the wayside. It must be replaced with a new post-narrative view of the world, one in which narratives become things we create through intentional experimentation, what JS Mill called “experiments in living.” I am thus not a-political in a vulgar sense. Rather, I am interested in a completion of the very idea of politics, of the very idea of activism. This, I believe, was also Marx’s intention, at least in his letter to Ruge.
¶28. Put more succinctly, selfishness is self-consciously part of my method. I will use it to show its incoherence, to render its conditions untenable, and to thereby move beyond them. This answer is speculative, but it is mine. If you don’t like it, keep yours. The details of what this means, how it will be completed are offered in the section “Against Individualism”.
Response: “So you admit that you are selfish! You are, therefore, nothing more than a fraud. You are using big words and fancy language to justify your selfishness. All your ‘speculative’ talk is nothing but a ruse to get people to listen to your selfish lies!”
¶29. Although I will address the use of language and philosophy in the section “Against Obscurantism,” for now I must point out two things. First, your response here is an act of motive speculation, as already discussed in ¶68 of the System. I will define the term here once more. By “motive speculation,” I comprehend three moves of any person B towards an initial speaker A: (1) noticing that B is acting otherwise than he proclaims (2) questioning what the condition for this “acting otherwise” is (3) resolving this “acting otherwise” in something hidden, namely, the motive for person A’s speaking at all (4) the synthesis of the past 3 moves into what I call the “motive reduction,” or the realization that A’s speech-acts (what he publicly proclaimed) are merely means towards an ulterior end.
¶30. The act of motive speculation is rather easy. It is, in essence, the beginning of social wisdom. It is, however, one of the most annoying consequences of enlightenment thought. To be sure, it did not arise with the enlightenment. One can see its use in Aristophanes’ ironic critique of Socrates; in The Clouds, one finds a Socrates who debates the nature of the guts of a gnat and asks the bearings of the thing on the nature of life, only for him to be (literally) shit on. (Aristophanes means to show the idiocy of the Socratic elenchus hereby). One can also see it in Lucian and Erasmus’s critiques of the Stoics - both find their beards and ascetic moralizing a mere show, behind the scenes of which both do what they will regardless. This is also Chaucer’s critique of the medieval Church vis-a-vis his obese abbot. In short, motive-speculation, or “doing otherwise than you say,” or pointing out “hypocrisy” is the beginning of all social criticism.
¶31. With this said, the critique of persons is an empty and vacuous critique, since it is a brute universal. That is, anyone and everyone can be critiqued from hypocrisy - this is the upshot of my preamble and the attempt at pragmatic architectonics. You will always have different experiences from me, so you can always point to the incongruity of my words, since they don’t fit with your experiences. You are neither enlightened nor wise for this move - you are merely doing what every good enlightenment subject should do. Good on you for this! You have not regressed to the level of medieval word-salads! This is hardly a feat, since we have been engaging in this universal act for the past 300 years. But, good on you anyway for it, you smart little subject you!
¶32. Second, therefore, for you to maintain the motive-reductive piece of your motive speculation of selfishness, I would ask that you write to me noting how it is sufficient that everything I say is selfish. Of course, I have admitted that my method as thus described begins with selfishness, that it has its being in selfishness as the being of the world. If all you have to say to this is a mere sentence, then I’m afraid you don’t have much to say! Quite literally, in fact - your 1 sentence might well be torn to shreds in the meat-grinder of my system. I will have more to say on this, once more, in the section “Against Obscurantism.” For now, if you really mean what you say, I ask that you write me saying so. If not, leave your idle thoughts to yourself - they are too short and too puny for me to consider beyond what follows.
¶33. To consider them momentarily, however, I will respond thus: I am simply not interested in “on-the-ground” work, yet. I am not interested in a world where “right” is so narrowly circumscribed as to only include the endless task of merely mitigating the harm perpetrated by the worst of the species against the most vulnerable. Neither will I accept a world in which, simply because I wish to live my own life exactly as I want it, without harming anyone else, I am thereby complicit in such perpetrations. No - I will not accept a world in which my choices simply by being otherwise than what you want me to do are thereby the wrong choices. If you believe that individual actions arithmetically accrete into social outcomes, I ask that you write me explaining this in full. That is, if you believe something like this: “If everyone would just do x, then some good outcome y will result,” then you must explicate such a conditional. For you, so far as I can tell, “If only you would just go work for a non-profit! If only you would help organize! If only…then the world would already be better!” Such moralizing smacks of Christian authoritarianism, and I will not have it. Your thinking stinks of Protestant shortsightedness - I am trying to create an agnostic air freshener. Go join the ranks of the Calvinists if you want to be an elect. I want to set people free, not lock them in arbitrary “if only’s,” to turn them into moral slaves. The only way to do so, in my view, is to breathe the fresh air of calm repose, to think clearly and carefully about what matters in this world. If you are not interested in such a task, go away. I am interested in this task, and I will continue to be so regardless of such simple-minded thinking. I like to think, and I like to do so on my terms. I will not be told by anyone that I am not “allowed” to do so, because doing so is simply “selfish.” If I am only selfish, exclusively selfish, then I ask you do all you can to stop me.
Claim: “So you subscribe to the conservative myth of the sovereign individual, is that right? You seem to think that individuals should be able to be free to do whatever they want. This is conservative nonsense. People need to put aside their personal desires and do what’s right for the good of everyone, not just themselves.”
¶34. You cannot be so simple-minded as to think that what is immediately given to you without even a minute’s reflection is right and wrong for all people at all time. If you believe so, I’m afraid we will never agree on anything. Your thoughts are vulgar and simple. Go read - bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Karl Marx. What you have is only the beginning of right and wrong. As Lenin says, “hate is the beginning” of class consciousness. Your simplicity and brute conviction are not sufficient for directing anything more than 1- or 2-sentence moral imperatives. Such simplicity cannot, and in fact does not, run the world. All it runs is an isolated person’s desire, your feeling of right and wrong. If that is what you are interested in, say so - admit it. If you don’t, you are nothing but a sham. I should like to see the law that says “Just be a good person lol”, the Supreme Court ruling that says “Yea just like go donate to BLM haha.” There is no such thing, because such simplicity is empty and nearly meaningless. More will be said on this, once more, in the section “Against Obscurantism.” For now, let this suffice: brute convictions of right and wrong are not sufficient for critique of what I am attempting.
¶35. In the assessment that I think individuals should be free to do whatever they want, you have already violated the content of what I am attempting. I think individuals should be free to think on the right terms - the terms of interpersonal, egalitarian recognition. A space with explicit rules for such recognition must exist if it is to become a reality. Otherwise, there will be no such reality, and all of this will be empty speculation. It is for this reason, at bottom, that I am against activism at this time - a public semantics and logic of recognition does not exist, nor does an institution which aims to make it so. We must make recognition a real, social reality. Then we can begin to act. Only in a world where action stands upon the firm ground of staring each other in the face with full love can action be meaningful. Before that, all action will proceed on the utmost precarity.
¶36. To this affect, I do not believe in sovereign individuals, bare monads which are absolutely consistent across all circumstances. Individuals are shaped by their circumstances. As such, my task is to create the circumstances which will shape them into those who can think and act freely, who will do freely. As Dorothy Day quotes of Peter Maurin in her Long Loneliness, the goal is to create a world where people can more easily do better. In this sense, I am methodologically individualistic - I believe that the critique and formation of private, individualistic consciousness is the beginning of the critique and formation of collective consciousness. I believe this forms geometrically, not arithmetically, as liberals do. Liberal seem to think that ideas collect in an arithmetic fashion, like matter. The reality of power laws, however, demonstrates that noetic stuff follows a geometric and often exponential path - actions and beliefs snowball. Thus, the aim of the critique and formation of private consciousness, the focus on the individual subject, is to create such a geometric expanse in collective consciousness.
¶37. Now, as concerns “putting personal desires aside,” I simply do not believe that any right desire can be wholly and truly contrary to collective ends. Capitalism has created for men and women a set of circumstances in which life has been artificially dirempted into labor and leisure. I have published how I believe this has happened in my “Explication of Neo-Liberal Culture”. “Personal desires” now conveniently oppose “collective ends” in average, everyday thought. This creates the possibility for an authoritarian rhetoric of “putting aside” of “manning up” to the difficult work ahead. I believe this is a false antinomy, and I do believe it can be resolved through a scrupulous engineering of labor and leisure such that all who assent can live lives in a harmony of the two. The socialist William Morris has called this setting labor to the maximum of what is useful, ridding ourselves of all that is useless. Thomas More and the utopian socialists have already attempted this. Even today, “intentional communities” already exist which are doing the same. To do so again is not to engineer an experiment with no precedent nor to create a relic of the past. The utopian dream is alive and well right now. I am only attempting to give it further form by combining it with the intellectual successes of Hegelian and Marxist dialectical thinking, particularly the logic of recognition.
¶38. Now, this clearly falls back on the critique of exclusivity, insofar as I am not interested in anything more than a community. At this level, many of my statements will appear to use conservative rhetoric. I often make use of exhortations to action, ignorant of the obvious critique, with which I agree, that individuals often do not have the resources to take action. I am doing nothing more than attempting to create these very resources, which I believe will be resources of the future. In this respect my plan is intrinsically progressive and forward-looking; it, however, retains moments of conservative thinking as a means to generate action.
¶39. I have created a list of these resources as I currently envision them. They proceed in five (potentially six) stages, imitating the history of cultural and intellectual development of the past 2000 years, with final form given by the educational theorist Kieran Egan. Resources will proceed in 5 stages; in the first stage, the seven liberal arts will be given concise overviews with resources for self-education. These will be met at the same time with panel discussions and educational sessions hosted on Discord or Slack. In the second stage, the seven arts will be considered in their public-critical aspect. Logic, for instance, will be considered as dialectic, or the art of communicating to others in argumentative debate. Grammar will be considered as dialogic, or the rules of not merely communicating, but listening and recognizing the otherness of the other in their difference from you. In the third stage, technical disciplines (ie. the human sciences) will go beyond the liberal arts. In the fourth stage, critical theories of the human will be introduced to circumscribe the liberal arts and the human sciences - to show how discourses of power and control operate in and through them. In the fifth stage, philosophy will be presented as the queen of all knowledge, as knowledge’s reflection into-itself as the only genuine creation of new knowledge. A potential sixth stage will consider irony and somatic knowing as limits to philosophy, or as the Otherness immanent to all knowing as such.
¶40. Hereby, I am aiming neither to repeat the past nor “recapture it” as a golden age to which we need only return. Rather, as Marx states in his letter to Ruge and in the 1844 manuscripts, the aim is to complete the past, to show it in its finitude as something that cannot be “forgotten” because newer developments have superseded it. Rather, the aim is to show that the tools of the liberal arts and modern technical disciplines have insights that allow us to better control ourselves and that, contrary to what others may think, using them towards this end is the beginning of human freedom, at least as intellectually considered.
Response: “But what about non-western ways of knowing? What about those who aren’t interested in knowing at all? What about the cognitively deficient? What about those who have to work merely to survive, who are too tired for your demanding program of self-cultivation? Your ignorance of these facts still smacks of conservatism.”
¶41. All videos on the liberal arts will consider indigenous, African, and Asian methods of knowing. Logic will, for instance, consider Mohist and Nyaya Logic in addition to western Aristotelian and Boolean logics. Now, for those who can self-cultivate but refuse to do so because they would rather indulge their desires, I pass no judgment on them. They are simply not called to what I am offering. What I have here is only an offer - I cannot as yet claim it to be more than this. As for those who wish to participate but cannot do so, the ultimate aim of my project is to create a pool of funds and, thereafter, a communistic system of mutual aid, so that all members can become free of the market. I do not anticipate that this will become a reality for at least 5 years, if not a decade or more. That is to say, such people are in my mind - I simply do not yet have the resources to accommodate them. They deserve the greatest care and attention, and it is for them that I have initiated this project. However, because they are the most downtrodden in the system as it currently stands, I cannot assist them until an alternative system has been created within which they can finally be incorporated.
¶42. My narrative-logic of practice will be something like this: (1) expansion of access to the liberal, technical, and critical arts (2) formation of a “brain trust,” an association of individuals with common interests in escaping the market (3) the offering of an option to all those who want it to do otherwise than the capitalist system allows them. I want to give people the option to do otherwise. I can only do this with many other people involved who are interested in this project. As already said in “Against Exclusivity,” all will be called and few will be chosen. I cannot concern myself with those who are not interested in serious self-cultivation. If you are not interested in this work, I have nothing for you. For me, living as a human being means living well as a human being, and this means undergoing the trials that civilization has created to cultivate that living well. Perhaps, in the future, my view will change. For now, I only intend to make my offer to those who want to think and live well. Those who would rather consume, keep eating fast food, buy plastics, and use clothes made in Uruguay or India may continue to do so - they are simply not committed to my project. Such a view is founded on what I call “methodological indifference,” which I discuss below.
Response: And what about race? What about gender? What about all such identities which have special knowledges apart from your merely white male identity?
¶43. Yes, what about them? It is worthwhile to note that some of the first civil rights leaders in America were communists. It was for this reason that associating with civil rights activism in the 50s and 60s was so frequently ridiculed. The communists were what I like to call “methodologically indifferent” to identities. They, in essence, adopted the Pauline view of the Church - “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NIV). Of course, Paul will also say that women must remain silent (1 Corinthians 14:34) and that slaves obey their earthly masters (Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22). Here, as Aquinas later explicates, all are free in and through the just law, the New Testament, promulgated by the True King, Jesus Christ. In this sense, the Christian exposition of this notion is deeply logocentric, hierarchical, and paternalistic. I am not interested in such an exposition. Rather, I assert it here to cache out where I stand.
¶44. Now, the Communists adopted this view similarly, insofar as the Party, its Line, and the infallible DiaMat could direct the future as the ruling class saw fit. Thereby, the Pauline-Thomistic view of freedom and identity was merely reiterated. (Adorno critiqued this in and through his critique of fascism as “identity thinking.”) I am not interested in this repetition. Rather, I am interested in its informational reconstruction, with advances made by JS Mill, John Dewey, Michel Foucault, and Gustavo Guttierez. Now, I take something like a whiggish view of intellectual history. It is essentially the view taken by Oliver Wendell Holmes in his Path of the Law, which is incidentally the same view taken by Hegel in the Phenomenology of Spirit. That is, with history, human knowledge folds in on itself and becomes more complex and more free, if only potentially. Kant and Copernicus are the foremost examples of this view - with the latter’s transcendental deductions, the dialectics of 1700 years of philosophy folded in on themselves through the “Copernican turn” to the subject. This move, on a Hegelian-Holmesian view, could not have happened without that prior 1700 years and, just thereby, represents a genuine advance in freedom beyond them. Now, if we say that Communism and Christianity as they had developed had not yet incorporated the views of later liberals like Mill, Dewey, Foucault, and Guttierez, then we cannot say that returning to their suppositions is immediate. Rather, it is mediated in and by the new suppositions of advanced liberal thinking. Thus, when I say that I am patterning my position on St. Paul and the Communists, I mean only the notion of the dissolution of identities in a common term, not the paternalistic-regressive means thereto.
¶45. Now once more, I inaugurate this view as “methodological indifference” - that is, I am indifferent to oppressed identities and their knowledges as they currently stand. What we must aim at is a dissolution of all such knowledges into a common knowledge, but we can only do this by attempting to construct that knowledge. Now, this is not dismissal - these knowledges must be heard and given weight. But they can only be so with a ground in place which enables them to stand - this is the aim of my system, considered from this vantage point. Thus, I am not after the privileging of the black perspective, the female perspective, or any perspective. All perspectives must be heard, except of course those that deny the presuppositions of the system (namely, recognition.) (This is only Karl Popper’s paradox of tolerance). This view is only possible through the genuine liberal advances of especially Dewey and Foucault, neither of which would be meaningful without Mill. The latter two assert collective intention as arising in and through everyday experience. In Foucault especially, self-consciousness of that experience concretizes as an identity. In this respect, the ultimate goal is to abandon identities, not Balkanize them into oblivion. This is what I am after - a state of society, of associated living, in which all are free to think and feel without ridicule, without fear of harm or hate. To do this, a common system must be in place which presupposes this as its end. This, once more, is the system I have created. It will reconstruct the dissolution of identities in a common term while (through liberal advances) retaining the otherness immanent to those identities apart from the common term.
Claim: “So you just want a world without hard work of any sort. All you want is a childish dream world where you are taken care of, where you face no strain. Such a desire is laughable, idiotic, and, once more, childish! Everyone knows that work is eternal - you cannot create your ideal space without such strenuous work.”
¶46. This view has its chief representative in Emile Durkheim, whose notion of labor in Moral Education takes on a brutish, Sisyphean character. That is, Durkheim thinks hard labor is something with which men must always concern themselves, no matter its organization. Of course, Durkheim has not seen the superabundance with which the world has become acquainted since the 1950s, nor has he seen the amount of labor now dedicated to innovation on a daily basis. In short, this view is simply antiquated. Although real data must be collected to corroborate this hypothesis, I posit it anyway as my current understanding of the hardness and softness of labor. My hypothesis: most labor as it is currently practiced is unnecessary, as no rational system of unanimity unites the market; labor goes on coercively because labor directors are not aware of a unanimous “otherwise” and, instead, go on working anyway. Consider: a businessman directs his underlings to market a product to an advanced degree, demanding further labor; he wants this because he as their supervisor will generate a certain degree of commission, which he wants both for his respect in the company and because he wants to buy a Bugatti. Now, he knows he must make at least as much as is sufficient to by the Bugatti, but this prices is only coherent within a system of prices, that is a system of relative exchange values. Thus, the semiosis, or exchange of meanings and signs of value, between the Bugatti and the marketed product must be mutually interdependent, since the sale of the latter enables the purchase of the former. And this must be true of all items on the market - all products sold must condition each other interdependently. Now, the Bugatti could only be desired for purchase, considered valuable with a consumer willing-ness-to-pay, in a market where the Bugatti exists. Therefore, a certain amount of labor is required for the marketing of the product by the businessman’s underlings directly so that he can make the purchase.
¶47. Thus, a certain degree of labor is expended for a certain purchase, a purchase which need not be purchased at all. The same cannot be said of food in the abstract, housing in the abstract, or clothing in the abstract - the rendering of these 3 life-necessities is sufficient for life itself. Thus, at the most basic level, the only labor one need expend to live is the labor of producing one’s own means of subsistence - all else falls into the semiotic interdependence described above. Everything in the above example supposes one is already participating in the system. If one wishes not to, he need merely intend not to do so. Now, what of electricity? Of piping, of so many other things? These epistemic divisions of the labor requisite for living must be tabulated and, only after they have, can the community I intend to design begin truly separating from the world and establishing itself as something independent from the semiotic interdependence above.
¶48. We will, through this rational means of labor direction, artificially constrict the very possibility of a market by artificially constricting the possibility of desire. In doing so we will, essentially, start from the first material premises required for life (food for nutrition, housing for security, clothing for protection) and wipe the market clean of its fattening nonsense. I mean this quite literally in addition to its figurative use. All the luxuries which make possible bourgeois obesity will be impossible, since only that labor scientifically required to maintain life will be brought about first and foremost. We will engineer the bare minimum needed to convert raw materials into the stuff of life - this will be our first goal. I now envision a world where men can live on wheat grass and filtered rain water, where their clothes are synthesized out of the sun. This will constitute the absolute minimum of life-making.
¶49. Now, once this bare minimum, this bare life, has been absolutely and inviolably secured, then the market can come to fruition anew. Anyone who wants merely to live independent of such luxuries can do so - they can afford a life all their own. Then, if they so desire to enjoy whatever is above the bare minimum required for life, then and only then need they expend any hard labor, need they participate in the system of semiotic interdependence. If they do not wish to do so, as I do not, then they can live free and independent, contented in themselves to do whatever they desire (within the realms of the bylaws of the community). Hereby, all labor will be rendered soft and smooth, supple and free. For labor will come about without any semblance of insecurity or precarity. Rather, it will be absolutely guaranteed by the scientific method as a nearly a priori fact of living. It will, of course, be a priori to the community itself.
Response: “But you are already using items created in and through the semiotic interdependence you speak of! The very computer you wrote this on was created in and through that interdependence as the capitalist market.”
¶50. Much like financiers parasitically generate money from the life-force of individuals’ actions, so will my community parasitically generate life from the semiotic-force of market actions. That is, financiers drive the market through loans and leverage - this is the essential expedient of finance capital. To do this, financiers forego spending some of their money and loan it to another. For this task they charge a fee, sucking the lessee dry as soon as the terms of the loan-contract are due. My community will not loan the stuff of life. Rather, we will loan out from the capitalist market its goods. Of course, by the capitalists’ terms, we will have “purchased” those goods. For us, however, we will have merely leant them from the capitalists and used them for our own ends. As Lenin is quoted after his death:
They [capitalists] will furnish credits which will serve us for the support of the Communist Party in their countries and, by supplying us materials and technical equipment which we lack, will restore our military industry necessary for our future attacks against our suppliers. To put it in other words, they will work on the preparation of their own suicide. (“Remembrances of Lenin,” p. 147)
I intend exactly this. Through the use of the labor and knowledge sublimated into the capitalist system I will create a new system, a new microcosm with determinations exceeding those of the macrocosm - the capitalist market. My community will suck the life out of the old world, orienting labor towards the creation of absolute, inviolable security for men and women.
¶51. A moment of this work will be, as stated in the Dialogist Manifesto, the emergence of a bivocal semiotic scheme, one in which life-necessities are absolutely separated from life-superfluities. The distinction between these categories must have a clear and concise semantics and, moreover, the convertibility from one into the other must be established. Indeed, so that this might continue, the semiotic logic of the value-form must be more completely understood by me. This is, at the current moment, the deepest gap in my knowledge and it must be remediated rather soon. (I envision, right now, a space in which the move from necessities to superfluities will create a black-market conversion of money for the former into the latter, rendering the entire project obsolete. This problem must be forestalled in the establishment of the semantics of the scheme.)
Claim: All you really want to do is hide behind words. If you were intent on helping people, you would just go out and do it. The fact that you have to write all this nonsense speaks VOLUMES about how sick and twisted you are - you are a gross, malevolent being hiding behind a bunch of nonsense. We already have a working system. All you want to do is wrap it around yourself so you don’t have to do any work. You, like that fat pig Marx, are a lazy moocher who just wants other people to do work for you.
¶52. As already said in ¶107 and ¶108 of the System, the present embryonic state means all that I have in mind is not entirely clear. I have listed clear intentions and steps to be taken, however, to do this - (1) write every position take in the system as a list of premises (2) make sure every term used is absolutely univocal (3) ensure that no phrases are in my premises or arguments are obscure (4) create a chart of judgments to be universally binding on all who practice the system, as commitments of (a) belief (b) reason (c) action. In addition to this, a glossary will be created so that every term used in the System can be understood in its univocal character as I intend it. In the final form of the system, a symbolic semantics will supplement this so that the limits of language need no longer be an issue. Like Kripke’s semantics, I will derive from this the possibility of that of which I am speaking, so that every single term and premise follows from the utmost univocal, singular, and unquestionable beginnings.
¶53. If you still find this insufficient and think me suspicious, again, please write to me justifying your motive speculation. If you don’t and you take to twitter to say something pithy and vile, I’ll have nothing more to say to you.
¶54. Now, why have I taken the time to write all of this, both the System and these Refutations? Aside from the synthetic considerations placed in ¶113-¶115, I might say in more analytic terms that I am concerned with spelling out all that is requisite for my vision as clearly as I see it. I am not interested in accommodating myself to the world, in participating in the division of labor as it currently stands, then partying on the weekends to distract myself from the emptiness of it all. No, I want rock-solid foundations of life itself, and I will not stop until either I die or this vision has been established. In order that such foundations be in place, I clearly had to write them down. And, in order that I write them down, I had to read deeply and widely to ensure that I know what it is I am aiming at.
¶55. But why so much? Plainly, because the ideas I am trying to work out are diffuse and obscure – all foundations are. Indeed, I am discussing in my System the limits of consciousness and any possible recognitional semantics. I am also attempting to frame the limits of language-use which conforms to those semantics. This is no easy task, and I cannot spell such matters out through simple sentences. No, they require windy exposition which is not as yet complete. Schopenhauer’s World as Will and Representation amounts to a combined total of 1400 pages. My System as it currently stands does not even amount to 30. Perhaps it will expand as I write additions, I do not know. For now, suffice it to say that, in order to mean more, to fill one’s meaning with content, one must say more, and one must do so until his or her meaning is sufficiently clear to himself.
¶56. This is no lazy task. I simply want the world as close to my vision of it as I can achieve. I cannot rest until I have created it.
Claim: All you’ve done, then, is create a system to justify what you want. You’re still justifying your own selfishness. You just want to paint a world that you’re comfortable with.
¶57. This may be so, right now. Again, my system currently justifies itself on an arbitrary act of will, not on universally valid premises. I have attempted to create such grounding in the Preamble of my system - whether or not I have succeeded will depend on the public’s reception and agreement (or lack thereof) with its conclusions. If the public finds my reasoning iron-clad, then I will begin to claim of the system universal validity and will, thereby, cease claiming the act of will as its justification. At such a point, I will no longer be instrumentalizing anything. Rather, because the public will have sufficiently agreed with my reasoning, they will have assented to it. They will be the ones who instrumentalize themselves.
¶58. The ultimate aim hereby is to create a system which allows universal comfort, universal love. I am after a semantics of speech which explicates ambiguities, which orients itself around the logic of mutual recognition. At this moment, such logic is left to pure chance. There is nothing scientific and intentional about this. If we are to ascend out of the dark night of cultural ignorance and into the light of reasonable action, then we must have in mind a system whereby such action is possible. The world that I found on my will is just thereby a world in which all are able to freely exercise their own wills, within the confines of collective agreement. It is a world where harsh judgment rightly receives the same, for it sunders the recognition on which human communities is reasonably (and thereby rightly) founded. I want a world where the community can exercise its will freely, where people can live together in harmonious, creative self-expression. I am, therefore, not creating a world of people subserviently to me. As already said in ¶19, the ultimate aim is for the practice of the system to go on after my death, without me. I am not after a cult. I am after an intentional community with explicitly enumerated logic and semantics of human interaction. Hereby as little as possible between men will be left to chance, and the satisfaction of desire will be a matter of collective action.
¶59. I call this notion of freedom “determinate freedom,” or freedom to will as one desires within the realm of an explicit set of determinations. All culture already determines freedom implicitly. In law, we begin to do so explicitly. I want to continue to do so explicitly, without entering upon the law.
Claim: You seem to think that you can make the world whatever it is you want it to be. You can’t make yourself a unicorn. You can’t make people “just be” harmonious. People are selfish, brutish, and nasty. You can’t just dream up a world and pretend that, with the right things written down, it’ll come about all by itself. Such a claim is pseudoscientific.
¶60. I must experiment. Even before I properly inaugurate the community proper, I must experiment. I intend to combine the methods of qualitative data collection (interview and categorizing) with quantitative methods (linear regression, statistical inference, etc.) to generate models of healthy community life. These models will, in my view, be the scientific basis to continue with such experiments.
¶61. No social scientist besides Kohlberg has attempted to create communities and test their efficacy. I am after a repetition of his method, albeit with greater determination than even he attempted. This work depends upon the intuition that the human sciences depend for their content on a necessary moment of agency. That is, a collective practice depends in part on the amount of people that believe in it with a specified degree of determinacy. The market system depends on enough people believing in the money-form as an item. There is no necessary guarantee of that belief. Marketing in particular enjoys the pretensions of an applied science. It uses data from psychology concerning emotional attachment and color responses to tincture its claims about product development and branding. Yet, it relies at every step on the pre-existence of individuals pre-determined in such a way as to create a product, create a brand, and so forth. More than this, it collects its data from subjects already enmeshed in the system wherewith it seeks to assert itself. There is, in other words, no true “control” population for marketing. The only real “control” group would be an isolated tribe from the depths of the Amazon, Africa, or Papua New Guinea. But, of course, marketing does not concern itself with such populations, for that is not its job. It has no a priori claims to scientific fact, since it pre-gives its means and ends in and through capitalism. Show me the marketer who wants to sell a burger to an Amazonian as a confirmation of his theory of emotional transfer! You can’t, since marketers are not concerned with such abstractions. They want one thing - money - and this is pre-given for them.
¶62. The same applies a fortiori to economics. Indeed, as David Graeber has adeptly shown, modern economics’ anthropological ground depends on a systematic erasure of modes of commodity production, distribution, and consumption which do not fit with classical and neoclassical models. Neither Smith nor Hayek nor Keynes nor Friedman can deal with collective child-rearing or cooking in their systems - their models depend methodologically on the assumption of either (1) individuals or (2) households in micro and (3) states in macro. The very ontology of their work excludes new forms - by design. Hereby economics systematically excludes more fecund alternatives and thereby creates the world it envisions - isolated family units which buy and sell from firms. This sham organization exists for many reasons, none of which can be called “scientific.” There is no “control” economy, for there is only a global economy and micro-economies shaped by economic assumptions. Instead, there are control “variables,” manipulated to and fro within a totality which remains unquestioned.
¶63. Of course, what the human sciences realize and what most are loathe to admit is that social scientists are creating the world they want to see. Marketers create demographic segments and, thereby, perpetuate and exacerbate whatever conditions produced them. The best example of this is had in the generational hypothesis, a heuristic designed by business consultants for marketing but which now has permeated culture so deeply as to be common parlance. What Plato called the bard’s rapture is today called mania. What Homer said was a sign of the Gods’ delight is today medicated with lithium. By calling a human trait an abnormality, psychologists thereby create a world in which that trait is such an abnormality. To be sure, it was always “other” from the norm. With the stamp of science, however, it is signed, sealed, and delivered to the hands of companies for profit and exploitation. It is for this reason that the social sciences often lack controls - not only is it impossible for such a control to exist when one’s assumptions concern the social world as such, one’s action in that world always ends up controlling that world. What was free before science becomes controlled by that science; thereby, the world becomes a dead letter, nothing but a stomping ground for those who seek to rape and pillage. There would have been no Epstein without Pareto, and there would have been no Pareto without Smith.
¶64. This is essentially Adorno’s view as given in his Aspects of Sociology, and I agree with it almost entirely. I depart with it insofar as it is radically skeptical to an almost paranoiac degree. Sciences are, on a pragmatist view, nothing more than methods of problem-solving. On such a view, skepticism is enabled insofar as the problems to be solved are always posed by moneyed interests - this is Dewey’s critique of science. Yet, at the same time, there is ample room for such bourgeois social sciences to make genuine advances in the consciousness of freedom, if only in a one-sided fashion. Marketing can reveal human universals concerning the tendency of humans to consume certain products. It can only do so, however, when it is stripped of its capitalist veil and instead treated as something like a material psychometry, or as measuring of the mind’s responses to different materials. This is not “marketing,” but rather its scientific-problematic core.
¶65. On this view, science is nothing but a systematic approach to controlling the world and solving problems. Therefore, we need only pose the problem and attempt to solve it with the use of reason. Hereby, we will have achieved science. This is, perhaps, what distinguishes palmistry, physiognomy, and tarot reading from the oft-declaimed pseudo-sciences of historical dialectics and psychoanalysis. In the former, one has mere reading of signs as an index (ie. treating it as another sign) for broader life-tendency. Using the tarot as an example, one reads the spread’s presence of an inverted fool, for example, as a sign of mistaken choices. This depends on at least 3 signs: (1) the inversion of the card (2) the iconography of the fool himself (3) the placement of the fool in the scheme of cards known as “tarot” or “tarrochi.” One reads these signs not as directly correspondent to anything about the objects in the hands of the reader. Rather, one reads them as indirectly correspondent to the life-tendency of he or she about whom the spread is intended. Thus, one transposes one semiotic order (that of the card iconography) into that of another (that of life choices and consequences). It is this transposition, in essence, which constitutes the pseudo-scientific character of the tarot. One can contrast this against psychoanalysis, wherein speech is taken as a sign of inward life - manifest content signifies latent content. This sign relation is a transposition warranted by the numerous case studies of Freud. In this respect, the work is pseudo-scientific insofar as it relies on an element of authority, yet not so insofar as it avows itself of a single object across its semiotic orders (namely, the patient.) The same can be said of historical dialectics - they pseudo-scientifically rely on Marx’s corpus but rather scientifically concern themselves with the analysis of society. In this way, Marxism is no more pseudo-scientific than Austrian economics, as some writers have pointed out.
¶66. But, one must note, before the advent of mathematical economic methods, economics too was purely verbal and thereby only a relationship of men to others’ corpuses. Ricardo’s work depended squarely on that of Smith and Malthus. Indeed, both could only collect problematic data as much as Freud or Marx could have. It is rather that, so far as I can tell, the latter two thinkers’ views challenged much of the status quo and, as such, were radically attacked. Bernayes, whose thoughts were deeply inspired by his uncle Freud’s, was able to use them in PR and, in this way, escape his father’s facing of pseudo-science. Where Bernayes made money, Freud did not.
¶67. I have attempted here to consider problems concerning the factuality of human science. Among these: its absence of a genuine control, its creation of its world, and its continuity with those practices typically called “pseudo-scientific.” For these reasons, I find the pragmatist answer once more sufficient - a science is only that mode of reason which controls the world through problem solving. A practice is scientific in direct proportion to the degree to which it solves problems of control indifferent to subjective testimony. Hereby, we exclude the problem of belief in something like tarot as a factor in “control.” Tarot and astrology may make people feel like they are in greater control. Such feeling could only be corroborated by externalities such, for instance, as greater social cohesion, greater cooperation between the individual assenting to the practice and the rest of the world, and so forth. But, at the highest level of abstraction, these are none other than the criteria with which all human sciences take themselves to be concerned. Durkheim’s healthy society is morally constituted in absence of anomie. Psychologists’ healthy individuals are constituted so as to function normatively in their society. Sociology and psychology merely have a more scientific character than the tarot and psychoanalysis because, given the data collected from each, the methods of the former have been demonstrated to bring to fruition such criteria more so than the latter.
¶68. Thus, on this view, to claim my practices pseudo-scientific is not the blow that many think it is. Rather, it is only a statement of effectiveness of control. This, once more, is only something that real experimentation can bear out. If my experiments fail, I will happily be called a pseudoscientist. Until then, all one can express is a ready-made doubt concerning the viability of such experiments. The judgment of pseudo-science cannot proceed until experimental data have been collected comparing it against the pre-established criteria of a science. For, this is what it is to judge a thing scientific, or pseudo-scientific to compare it against effective methods of control for superior or inferior viability. For the human sciences, this is none other than the systematic control of men by other men.
¶69. Thus, I do not dream up a world and attempt to put it into practice. Rather, I dream of a hypothesis collected through my having lived on this planet, having seen the signs of the world’s incoherence. I want to institute a science of criticism to break open those signs, to free mankind of its entrenchment in ready-made dogmas concerning what it is to live as a human being. I want to experiment with a space of such breaking open, to attempt something in radical departure from all that has foregone. I do not attempt to bring a world into being out of nothing. Rather, with the right presuppositions, like all other human science, I want to create the world with which such Suppositions conclude. Instead of the atomic individual buying cigarettes and cocaine, I want the enmeshed individual creating life and love. I have assumed him. I need now only create him. Call me Prometheus!
Claim: Your view wants to have its cake and eat it too. You seem to be saying that superfluous products stem from malformed human practices. Therefore, if you get rid of those practices, you will get rid of those products. But you are platforming yourself on such products! You effectively want to be rid of the very conditions that made you possible! At your worst, you’re an incoherent hypocrite. At your best, you want nothing but regression to the past and to a more pure, “primordial,” state of being.
¶70. Not quite. I am after a more human configuration of human labor. At the moment, we have an inhuman configuration. Men create and design products for other men to use up and consume. Our very model of economic productivity is dependent on this: create objects to be used and abused (as per the dictates of the old Roman law), not materials to be lived with. In this sense, capitalist production as we conceive of it now is deeply patriarchal - we want to rape the earth and impregnate it with our spirit. It is no mistake that Bacon, the father of empiricism, uses the language of brutalization and torture to describe science. This, at a high level of abstraction, is intolerable and, dare I say, downright wrong.
¶71. It is a romantic dream to envision a world in which people merely create in harmony with the world. No such dream can be made actual, since no such world is actual. The world is exploitative, abusive, and torturous - this much is absolute. We however need not be as such to each other. If that is what you think, that someone will always do damage to someone else somehow, then we must part ways. I, unlike you, believe in the perfectibility of men - I believe we can strive to create conditions for our betterment. We need only imagine them. You, I suppose, believe in something like man’s eternal stagnation. That is fine - I am not interested in you. Go enslave someone, since you think we haven’t progressed. There’s no room for you in my project.
¶72. Determining ourselves and the logics of use explicitly, we can overcome the fetish-character of commodities as Marx has described it. we need not be bound to the fetishism of cruel and indifferent nature. We need not be like pigs smearing our shit in the mud. If that is who you want to be, go and do it on Wall Street like the rest of the financiers. I don’t associate with such filth. I prefer to live among men who want to live in the light of conscious reason, not pigs who prefer to wallow in shit. If that is who you want to be, I won’t stop you. Don’t you, dear pig, stop me!
¶73. All of this is to say - we need not regress to determine human activity anew. Whether or not more fecund modes of human association and material culture can be imagined is a question of practice, and it cannot yet be determined at this moment. A collective stove would, in the abstract as I sit and write, undermine the productivity of consumer electronics. Similarly, a strict diet for all members of the group would limit the amount of culinary innovation. In a word, determination will squash certain material possibilities. But this is necessary any time a determinate order rises out of the darkness of indeterminate chaos. It is this determination which will prevent the brutalization of men by other men. Will it necessarily also prevent the production and consumption of the very iPad I type this on? That is difficult to say. What can be said is that, as we strive in and towards more humane configurations of labor, certain commodities will become irrelevant. As the consciousness of use and abuse falls away in favor of living-and-creating-with, perhaps we will no longer need tissues and toilet paper. Perhaps instead we can use rags knit by those who want to do so. As the consciousness of hedonic satisfaction is replaced by the eudaimonism of social normativity, the labor expended on producing candies and sodas will instead be expended on cookies and cakes! Perhaps instead of synthesizing sucrose we will break sweet breads together at community tables, laughing in the labor of each other’s lives rather than sitting in front of the TV with our Coke and our burgers while burly men throw balls! Only concrete, experimental praxis will be able to say for sure.
¶74. I inaugurate the above response “determinate use-making”: the orientation of partial modes of productivity, distribution, and consumption towards a total end - the humanization of all things human through the determination of the uses made of things and men by other men.
Claim: What you want, it seems, is that individuals just get into the right mindset and start following you. You want an entirely individualist method of social change. In essence, you seem to be saying: “Come believe the right thing, and everything will work out!” What about social and institutional factors?
¶75. Again, what about them? We must begin with the individual. Where, at the level of private consciousness, the Being of bourgeois society is selfishness, at the level of social ontology it is the individual Self. Thus, if we are to change society and complete the a priori project of bourgeois liberalism, we must take our point of departure from the total ontology on which that project stands - the individual self.
¶76. Of course, this cannot take the form of moral exhortations like various current pseudo-progressive movements do. The feminist movement tells the abstract male self to do better. The environmental movement tells the abstract human self to buy this and not that, donate here and not there, recycle this-way and not that one. The anti-racist movement tells the abstract white self to uplift black selves. In a word, all bourgeois “progressivism” attempts only to determine the individual self in the abstract. It attempts to concretize that abstract self through the determinations of exhortation, whether through shaming (“White people should be ashamed of police brutality!”), scare tactics (“Your children won’t live to see the Amazon!”), or grandstanding (“We are breaking the glass ceiling! What are you doing?”). All such moves want to determine only the abstract selfhood of the liberal bourgeois subject. They do not, and can not, approach him in his concretion, for the concrete liberal bourgeois subject is too manifold for their claims. So it goes - I must use a paper straw while Jeff Bezos flies in private jets. The abstract possibility of one particular environmental issue has been determined while the manifold concrete conditions remain unchanged.
¶77. What I intend to do is offer the abstract self an opportunity for a determinate concretion in and through practices of self-determination. This has already been established in the System in the epistemological and ontological bases for the liberal arts. What I point to here is those same bases In a more concrete set of clothes. Strategically, the liberal arts take on the character of essentializing liberal bourgeois selves. That is, they determine those selves after a certain set of texts and practices. Thereby, selfhood is othered from itself and sublimated into the practice of liberalization, one which can only occur in community or selflessness. Only hereby can liberal society complete itself as not purely abstract selves determined in and through the market but abstract selves containing within their memory practices of selfless community in and through Epistemological liberalization.
Response: But what about individuals who don’t have time to do your work and join your community? What about people who need help right now and can’t afford to take part in your idle plaything of thought? Your individualism is the problem. You should be helping them already, not typing these very thoughts and responses! It’s completely hypocritical!
¶78.As said elsewhere, the very instigation of this system is the fact that time is so determined that we are compelled to labor for superfluities. The division of labor of late bourgeois society means working for pittances to spend on pittances. That single mothers and working families struggle to get by is a disaster. A world in which a family of any size is not guaranteed food, water, and shelter has made a grave mistake. This is a collective task and a collective responsibility.
¶79. Once more, however, I cannot accept a solution to achieving this responsibility which coerces consciousness into a state of shame to remediate it. I will not be shamed into helping others. I want to help them out of love, not out of hate. I will help them by creating a space for an alternative configuration of human labor-time. Thereby, I will attempt to bring into contradiction the realities of their lives and, thereby, engender a semiotic explosion whereby the contradictions of the past system are both apparent and salient.
¶80. My system does not, therefore, depend on everyone undertaking it. Rather, as discussed in ¶42, I only require enough that a brain-trust can be created for the collective determination of the community’s practices. Thereafter, semiotic explosion can proceed as a disintegration of capitalist society. This speculative answer will satisfy few who raised this response, since it is rather airy and optimistic. To those who are weary of such a plan of action, you must begone. I will proceed with my (by your lights, I suppose) egoistic, vain, narcissistic, and cult-like plans. I anticipate that all such terms will be thrown about quite a bit as my practices come into full view.
¶81. In the end, dear critic, you and I are concerned with the same people. In the final stage of my narrative as addressed in ¶42, we will have enough resources to accommodate all who would join us. In a latter stage, I intend to create cells across the country so that people need not migrate or move. (But now I am only wildly speculating about the world I would like to see!) Where you want to help them right now through immediate action, I want to help them through the mediation by the greatest achievements of human society. Such a project is not for everyone.
¶82. Now, what I intend to create before the final steps sketched above are achieved are the preconditions for semiotic explosion. I inaugurate these preconditions “determinate resistance,” or what has elsewhere in critical-theoretical literature been called “everyday acts of resistance.” I am not interested in mere acts, however. Rather, I am interested in a unified consciousness of resistance which will furnish such acts. Both Marxism and Critical Theory have attempted to form such a consciousness, but neither has attempted to completely unify itself with critical pedagogy. Some might argue that critical pedagogy is itself already a unification of critical theory with pedagogy. I would agree with such an assessment. What I mean, however, is something more than this. That is, I am after a critical pedagogy which sees itself as a means in and towards the narratives painted by Marxists and Critical Theorists. In Paulo Freire and bell hooks, critical pedagogy still occurs within an abstract consciousness. For Freire, this is a group consciousness, typically a colonized group. For hooks, this is an individual consciousness, typically someone white or male blind to the problems faced by racial minorities and women. Neither uses the tools of the formation of consciousness, education, towards the end of creating a new society. Rather, both assume in a simple conditional: “if we educate critically, a better society will follow.” I intend to furnish this conditional with real, material conditions, to explicitly join pedagogy with social-political action.
¶83. Determinate resistance, then, is to be a unified consciousness and its consequent actions which resist the world as it pre-exists. Hereby, my methodological individualism naturally passes over into a systematic movement. How? Once enough individuals begin practicing determinate resistance, coordination and organization will be possible. With organs of power in place, a system of pedagogical influence can be created such that (1) consciousness-formation (2) action and (3) reproduction of (1) and (2) can be repeated indefinitely. This is essentially the model practiced by the US post-WW2 to prevent any intrusions of socialist tendency. I intend to reverse it, to cultivate that very tendency.
¶84. As said already in ¶39, this will primarily consist in an immanently unified form-content whole representing each of the 7 liberal arts in its private and public aspect. Hereafter, the tools of technical-modern arts will be exposed, both in their self-same and contradictory characters. These tools will not only liberalize consciousness, enacting the a priori moment of my plan, but will determine its ability to resist the world, thereby enacting the empirical moment. In this latter, the public will have the resources to practice liberal artistic methods of carving up the world and to refer to the authorities that created those methods. In a word, men and women will have intellectual power given them by their forefathers and foremothers. With these tools in hand, debate (I can only hope) will become richer, more fully formed, more human. More than this, individuals will more easily be able to organize and resist coercive power structures through the powers of suspicion that the liberal arts will cultivate. Indeed, suspicious hermeneutics will become a public affair, clarified as such! Men will unite around my system as a method of critiquing the world together. I can only hope that others will attempt the same and that I will not be the only pedagogue of my stripe.
Claim: You’re an ideologue then, aren’t you? You want everyone to conform to your ways of thinking. Or, a priori, you think there is a determinate way of thinking and that all the world must conform to it. Philosophically, then, you are most certainly an authoritarian idealist.
¶85. I prefer to see myself as a soft idealist. Hegel, by contrast, is a hard idealist. For Hegel, the actual is rational and the rational is actual because rationality is one instantiation of actuality. Therefore, what rationality uncovers is just thereby itself, namely, the instantiation of actuality. Now, for Hegel, this means that meta-level concepts (Being, Nothing, Becoming, etc.) have a mystical character to them. Like Jung’s archetypes, Hegel’s meta-concepts are somehow embedded in the collective unconsciousness and in actuality itself (perhaps a meta-meta-concept). Robert Brandom’s soft idealism, however, is only pragmatism (since he is self-avowedly a pragmatist.) On Brandom’s view, like Hegelian ground-level concepts (E.g. of empirical objects like trees, of social objects like the state, etc.), even meta-concepts are historically contingent and subject to revision.
¶86. On John Dewey’s view, as I read him, this amounts to a radical democratization of ontology, such that the very constitution of rationally cognizable ontology itself is subject to perpetual revision. On the a priori accusation, therefore, I answer staunchly in the negative. What I am undertaking right now is one possible determination of reason. At some point, I will have to incorporate predicate logic, probabilistic logic, and all advances made to reasoning since Kurt Godel and Saul Kripke. Thus, as said of my pedagogy of logic, I do not attempt to inscribe my system as universally valid, yet. For now, it proceeds arbitrarily and self-consciously so. Now, once its logic has been sufficiently established, my System attains to something like Brandom’s room for historical revision of meta-concepts. It will only be hereby that the System can reconstruct itself at its most subtle, a priori level. It will hereby refute all logocentrism and, thereby, authoritarian idealism of thought. None should be compelled to admit the system. Rather, the system should be compelled to listen to its practitioners, take up their concerns, and reconstitute itself in and through them.
¶87. Thus, like all philosophers, as already said, I am aiming at something like universal validity. If one wishes, at the level of interpersonal intercourse, to construe this as my being an ideologue, then this is a term I fully embrace. I am only after men and women having in their hands a system, a practice, a yoga for more completely understanding each other. Of course, this must mean that, at some level, everyone must be more or less on a similar page warranting that understanding. Of course, men already expect this of each other indeterminately - no one expects to understand the schizophrenic, for they are on their own page (and that is just what it is to be called mentally ill, from the standpoint of discourse). I am only after a further determination of this, as has already been said. This determination must be up for debate and reformation just as much as common law is, once more, on the Hegelian-Holmesian view. I intend, considered in this light, for my system to advance an organized set of principles for interpersonal human behavior, debated by scholars for centuries to come. Perhaps that is more than I will achieve, but it is among the ends I have in view.
Claim: You speak of determining people, yet you do not say how they will be determined. It seems all they will be determined to do is dislike exactly what you dislike, as mediated through buzzwords about exploitation, oppression, and so forth. How is it that people will be determined free, to come to the same conclusions you do on your own account? That is, how will you not leave men vacuously wanting a better world once they have criticized this one? What is that new world?
¶88. As said variously, I am founding this new world on a logic of recognition. This is its first positive content. Second, I am founding it on the practice of the liberal arts. This is its second positive content. Third, I am founding it on material practices centered on creativity rather than use and abuse. This is the third and final positive content. What it will be to have this new world will be, more or less, for any given resident thereof to judge that these three items are present. Thus, as Marx said, “the freedom of each will be the condition for the freedom of all.” Thus, men will not be “vacuously” wanting a new world. They will begin to make that world as soon as they begin practicing (1) recognition (2) liberal arts and (3) a material culture of creativity. This world’s details will accrue materiality as men with the right resources join the group. Eventually, we will, I can only hope, create a system of food distribution, pooling of funds and property, and so forth. A new kind of market will be created - though I can only envision this further as it comes to fruition.
¶89. Now, as for ensuring that I am not merely re-creating in others the sentiments about the incoherence of the world that I have in myself, I must set out to summarize and explicate my views on the necessarily exploitative character of society. I will set out hereby the a priori foundations of my work on which the assertoric and problematic premises of my more public-facing rhetoric will concern itself. In this way, I will (in my general public-facing work) aim only to reproduce in others the same feelings I have in myself. I will found this on the a priori documentation, so that those who wish to read for themselves can do so. Again, this work will aim at a priori universality. It will not attain this until the relevant communities have said so. Until then, the practices of collective reading and the liberal arts must be sufficient to furnish a priori resistance to my establishing legions of mere followers. No, those around me will have read much the same as me. They will thereby be experientially free to conceive for themselves why the world is as it is.
¶90. Of course, this experiential freedom must be made formal and explicit through the use of bylaws and cultural rules. A culture of speech must be cultivated against an authoritarian culture of repression. A culture of openness to externality must be cultivated against a cultish culture of closed-off secrecy.
Response: But then won’t you be forming people at bottom based merely on your convictions? You can’t begin to form others responsibly when you haven’t finished forming yourself.
¶91. I reject this line of reasoning for its hampering of any kind of overt action. Indeed, if one does not begin to take such action somewhere, if only through the arbitrations of his will, he will never take them. There is no knowledge sufficient for action, no amount of experience sufficient for perfection. The two, knowledge and action, constitute different ontological orders and are, as already said in the section on pseudo-science, incommensurable. Action, in its a priori character, always begins, as Kant has argued, with an arbitrary, universal postulation of the will on which practical reason can proceed. “At bottom,” all we are doing is acting on our wills and convictions. All one can levy, with such a truism in view, is that I am simply too young and inexperienced to begin to trust mine. Such conservative being-out-of-fear has already been refuted in the section “Against Insularity.”
Some creators are deeply interested in what I can only call epistemological, motive-reductive control. Their argument inevitably runs as follows:
- You are a white subject who benefits from white supremacy.
- You cannot speak beyond the limits of that benefit.
- Only a non-white person can point this out.
- I am a non-white person and I point this out.
- Your argument, through its ignorance of non-white knowledges, sidelines them and re-affirms white-supremacy in some way.
I will not admit of this control. If you aim to make this argument, you must allow me to DO something with it. If I can’t do anything with it, I might as well sit in a corner and lash myself like a puissant Christian dimwit under punishment for spilling holy wine. “Forgive me (non-white) father for I have sinned!” I am not interested in your forgiveness, nor will I lay prostrate before you like a bitch bearing her pups.
If your argument is to mean, it must let me DO. If it is to do this, I demand that it point to a semantics whereby your judgment for a “non-white knowledge” can be defined. Cite a source, or otherwise make an argument. I can’t know what you mean hereby unless you cite something or otherwise argue for it. Hereon I will an addendum to the relevant content. If all you have to say is “umm you’re excluding black voices,” then I can’t fix that. I can’t change that. Name a voice I’ve excluded. Give me a book or an article to read. Do SOMETHING so that I can change and improve. If you don’t do this, your argument is piss in the wind.
Then, you must show how my re-affirmation of white supremacy is INTER ALIA necessary to the video content. That is, you might say that my ignorance of a non-white voice is already a white supremacist move. Fine! I’ll include at least one black author in every video - I almost always do. So, since you have nothing on me here, you must show how I’ve done something which, despite claiming to promote liberty ““ACTUALLY”” just reaffirms white power, like the ignorant little white bitch boy I am. This is how I feel as I read such comments - lacerated, torn to shreds. Show me how, somehow, pointing to what I have has marginalized someone. Demonstrate it. Once you do, your comment will be put in a google doc. If all you have is a sentence or two, expect me to delete it. I don’t have time for moralistic whining. Spend some time to generate a coherent thought and be heard. Otherwise, shut up.
The aim of any legitimate criticism must be to replace subjects with objects, to replace culture with science. Hereby the critic points out where uncertain action should become a certain process, where unpredictable immoral activity can be taken up in and by a moral procedure. For this is morality - to will that one’s intention be universal (Kant). I add: nothing can be universal unless it is given in consciousness as such, and this cannot occur except through a determinate process and procedure. For, to prescribe a universal datum is to prescribe a means thereto - there is nothing universal about a merely normative claim. There is, however, universally inscribed in claims which consider an unconditional means to an end a universal content. This is a method, pure and simple. This becomes science if unconditionality is itself testable, so that any subject can attempt to repeat the process. If not, the method is pseudo-scientific and falls back into mere pretense.
Therefore, whatever does not prescribe a process does not complete morality as a science, but rather leaves it in the chaotic void of merely cultural, inactionable shaming. The shaming, merely cultural critic wants me to wear a dunce cap, to beat me into emotional submission. The good-willing, scientific critic wants me to do better and helps me along. He shows me the way: he enlightens me. If, then, a critic prescribes no process, he or she does nothing but repeat themselves infinitely. 1 They are vacuous, and their meanings cannot be understood over the screeching sounds of their whines!
Critics must be scientific anti-racists, or they have nothing at all!
Response: But who are you to say this? Minorities have no obligation to help you do better. YOU are in the wrong. You must correct yourself.
Surely. But I cannot do so if all you have is a whining sentence or two. Either (1) give me a book to read or (2) write a paragraph making your case. If you can’t do either of these, you have done nothing. You have given me nothing to act on; you have only struck in me a sense of my inferiority and worthlessness. If that’s what you want, fine - only say so. Be clear that you just want to shame me. If that isn’t what you want - only say so. If you don’t, I will ignore you, for that I the only action I can take with such vacuous, pitiful nonsense.
Who am I to say this? A man working out a theory of action. If I cannot take action, then I cannot be a better person. (If you think otherwise, only say so! Send me an email, explain yourself.) Do you expect me to be better ex nihilo? What Christian dogmatism! What uncritical idiocy! Give me a book or give me death. Show me a way or show me nothing. There is no middle ground - either you are for a better world or you are not. If you are, help me make it. If not, be quiet or be deleted!
¶92. Having spent most of my time refuting the intuitive-critical responses from the most erudite of the status quo, I would now like to address my more niche critics. Those from a Marxist background will likely find my analysis, both in the premissive system and in these refutations, rather vulgar and infantile. Indeed, in many respects, it will appear that I have regressed to Proudhon’s level of bourgeois collective ownership. As a preliminary, total refutation, I say: no, I reject the commodity-form and the money-form on Marx’s analysis. Having not read Capital Volumes 2 and 3, I can only say that I rejected it per Marx’s analyses of the circuited of MCM’ and CMC’ as well as that of relative and absolute surplus values. Marx’s accounts hereof are invaluable to my project, as they are the theoretical antecedents for the theory of bivocal (and, perhaps, ultimately multi-vocal) exchange. I will address more refined criticisms in turn.
Abandonment of the proletariat
¶93. I have abandoned the proletariat as the unique “child” of bourgeois society with the onus of transcending it because of the sociological and economic developments subsequent to Marx and Engels’ writing. Contrary to their rather insular, binary view of society as a strict opposition on the basis of ownership, the invention of manifold exotic financial instruments throughout the 20th century has deeply obscured the owner-owned relation. Who, for instance, owns who in a third-order derivative concerning the amount of debt a Tunisian landlord plans to sell in 5 months? Trading on such speculative possibilities across millions of micro-transactions has, so to speak, changed the face of the game. Finance capital has, in my view, altered the superstructure of capital’s manifestations. And, per Hegel, this can only mean a change in the essential conditions of that Manifestation. For most 20th century thinkers, the cultural upshot hereof is “universal proletarianization.” I cannot speak to my subscription to or denial of this view. I can only say that it must be analyzed and taken in turn, critiqued, in much the same way that Marx critiqued the very advent of the proletariat with 1789 and 1848.
¶94. If the essence of the view holds, and I believe it does, if not its complete concept, then the proletariat as a discrete, essential category must be abandoned. Why? For Marxists, the proletariat can only be defined over and against the bourgeois as its residue, as its slave in a master-slave dialectic. If all, including those who under an 1865 Marxist analysis would have been termed bourgeoisie, have undergone a proletarianization, then the very condition for that 1865 definition no longer exists. Hereby, it is not a matter of choice that the proletariat be abandoned. Rather, it is a matter of the objective conditions of labor and capital. Indeed, it is worthy enough to note that labor and capital have so closely fraternized that the average union saddles its workers with a 401k and insurance benefits to keep them in line. This is certainly a gain for workers, but can they be said to be only laborers-for-capital when part of their remuneration is commingled with the capitalist exploitation of other laborers, namely, the speculation on their labor-value on the market? (The 401k is a financial instrument.) This represents the converse of the phenomenon - the universal bourgeoisification of men through finance capital. If the proletariat and bourgeois, at least in the west, have so deeply interpenetrated that the antagonistic condition for their essential characters no longer exists, we must search for a new center and de-center of liberal-bourgeois dialectics.
¶95. I have attempted to sketch this at the most moral and abstract in ¶20-23 through the opposition between Self and Selfless. If the social-economic, objective categories of self-formation, owner and owned (bourgeois and proletariat) have interpenetrated such that everyone is both owner and owned of everyone else in an obscure, incoherent way, then all that is left is the incoherent circling about of the self and its contender, the selfless. What is the concretion of these terms? Perhaps it is something like the petty bourgeoisie as aligned with the wage-slave against finance capital and corporatists. Hereby the essential opposition between proletariat (white/blue collar work) against bourgeoisie (finance capital / corporation owners, CEOs, boards of directors, etc.) remains, albeit with in a form with a greater degree of inner differentiation. Indeed, the opacity of the Marxian opposition and, therefore, the revolutionary subjectivity of the proletariat is somewhat denuded through this differentiation. More work, in my view, must be done to flesh this out.
¶96. To be sure, I do not take the Self-Selfless antagonism to be a replacement for the bourgeois-proletariat opposition. No, not at all. Rather, through the interpenetration of the bourgeois-proletariat opposition there has emerged an occlusive opposition within private consciousness founded on the being of the society in which the social-economic bourgeois-proletariat antagonism emerged. This occlusive opposition is the self-selfless antagonism, for it masks all social categorizing beneath itself as a fundamental datum. It is not, but it believes itself to be. In this way, its function for consciousness is to hinder the recognition of further objective contradictions by rendering all contradiction and antagonism merely subjective. But seeking out how this subjectivity descends into objectivity (the clarification of the denuded opposition in ¶95) must take this opposition as its point of departure as its demystification. In short, what Marx undertook in his critique of Hegel must be reinscribed as a critique both of late liberal society in general and its epitomes - Karl Popper, Robert Nozick and, above all, John Rawls. Indeed, my self-selfless opposition hails rather directly from his “veil of ignorance” thought experiment.
¶97. The foremost symptom of this interpenetration is the absence of the workers’ movement, that which Marx himself sought to critique. In its absence, we can either hope to kindle it anew, to begin a new critique thereof, or to work with the objective situation as it presents itself. My appearance of a return to Utopianism takes the latter route.
Abandonment of revolutionary praxis
¶98. The charge of abandoning direct political action is rather extreme. In my view, as already discussed, I do not aim at denying politics but rather working towards its obsolescence. Marx aims at no such thing. Indeed, for him, the proletariat is to wield the ready-made instruments and infrastructure of the bourgeois state to enact socialism. I am not interested in such a project, both because no mass proletarian movement exists and because, if it did, it would likely be quickly rendered an impotent moment of the capitalist order.
¶99. It has become clear to the point of banal truism that the bourgeoisie as Marx understands it is clearly too clever in its semiotic power. It has, to speak like a mystic for a moment, taken on the character of an egregore, a collective consciousness so advanced that it supervenes any one individual capitalist, CEO, company, or supply chain. Bourgeois consciousness as embodied in the money-form has proven so recalcitrant that all else has been subordinate to it; all else, that is, except perhaps its contender, proletarian consciousness. Indeed, proletarian consciousness remains the last vestige of concrete-historical proletarian action. That is, where the proletariat founded itself (in the earlier Marx’s work) on its seeking of the immanent unity between existence and essence in and through concrete acts of labor, the bourgeoisie founded itself on the very diremption of these two through the money-form as the objectification of men. The latter renders existence (the produced object) alien over and against the proletarian. Bourgeois consciousness has, through the money-form, become everywhere a fact. Proletarian consciousness, contrarily, has become, through the continued necessity of brute submissive labor, the same. The two have entered into a lichen-like relationship of mutual growth. This accounts for the recalcitrance of the bourgeoisie - it has depended on the equally recalcitrant character of the proletariat.
¶98. This general opposition between work-done and form-exchanged demands a new mode of praxis which seeks to sunder the very semiotic possibility of the latter. Marx, at his most epistemological, sought only to render the expression of the former by the latter incoherent. I am seeking something deeper - the very possibility of the latter altogether. That is, as I have said in ¶23, I am seeking a complete destruction of a univocal semiosis of labor, not merely the expressive-representational moment of that semiosis. Here is where Peirce’s work becomes central. With his classes of signs, 3, 10, and 56, we can begin to sketch a universal epistemological grammar whereby items of consciousness ascend into representational concretion. Thus, Marx’s critique of the money-form will be taken up in a still stronger critique of semiosis.
¶99. On this critique will be founded not an interjection of the political method into the state, but a removal of the method from the state apparatus altogether. That is, where Marx thought the critique of representation could engender a new mode of political praxis, I think that the critique of all semiosis must demand a new mode of human praxis, political and otherwise. Marx, in my view, had not recognized how profound his insights truly were. That is, he had artificially circumscribed his view to merely money and politics whereas, in reality, his critique of both applies to the entirety of human cognition as such. It is for this reason that revolutionary praxis must be abandoned - it stands on artificial assumptions about money and politics.
¶100. I am confident in the method of utopian semiotic explosion in its place because of the internet, as said in ¶25 here and in ¶115 in the System. That is, because mimetic behavior has advanced to such a degree that it can be propagated through its own polysemous modalities (namely, acts of uploading, publishing, representing en masse leading to consuming and repeating of those very acts) we need not rely on the artificial univocity of the state to do our bidding. That is, Marx (speaking speculatively) saw in the state a middle term between the insularity of capital and the free creation of human action. In this respect, revolutionary action was to capture the middle term to evacuate it of its hindrances to the conclusion, free action. Given the historical fact of the fraternizing of labor and capital in the state, such a speculative syllogism must be abandoned. In its place, I propose a triad of capital - collective-subjective determination - semio-mimetic explosion. That is, instead of the state directly mediating free-creative action, a view Marx inherits from Rousseau and the radical republicans of 1848, I believe (in a rather jaded view of politics), that the state can be liquidated and made to whither through mere indifference to it. Only then will free-creative action appear, through an agoristic middle term. Thus, after the capital-determination-explosion triad, I envision a determination-explosion-freedom triad. In this respect, I take an essentially anti-statist, anarchist view of the state’s role in the formation of human freedom.
¶101. To summarize, political praxis is evacuated by subject-determinative praxis, which results in an anarchistic position towards the state by a methodological indifference towards it. This is no mere “choice” to abandon Marx’s position. Rather, it is the necessary conclusion of a radicalizing of Marx’s semiotic insights.
Abandonment of Hegelian “science”
¶102. It would seem that, in my work, I abandon the project of Marx’s appropriation of Hegel. Indeed, this seeming is correct. I do abandon such a project, for I have abandoned the Hegelian project. I construe this project as “progress in the consciousness of freedom” and, hereby, I take myself to no longer concern myself with such a project per se. Indeed, Hegel takes his metaphysics of history to entail the per se enaction of this project. I disagree with the haughtiness of such a premise. At most, progress in such a manner is incidental to other objective factors in the realm of Spirit. Certainly, sciences and epistemologies become more complex with time. But does consciousness per se gain in freedom hereby? Only a science for the progressive testing of such a claim can affirm or deny it. I am not after the creation of such a science. Rather, I am only after the use of Hegel’s work as a point of departure and as an analytic grid whereby I can perform my work in good faith.
¶103. Thus, I abandon Hegelian thinking as a science, but not as a method. That is, I abandon its per se conclusiveness, in much the same way that Bacon abandoned Scholastics’ conclusiveness of Aristotle.
Abandonment of the party
¶104. This flows from my abandonment of a directly political project. Without politics in the foreground, I do not intend for my work to aim at anything like the concrete universal that is politics. Rather, I am after a partiality that comprehends itself as such. Namely, elective affinities and voluntary associations apart from capital. Doing so, contrary to Marx’s method, will engender a roundabout and indirect rather than direct method of contradiction-raising.
¶105. It is this importing of the theory of social contradictions into my method which I take to differentiate me from the utopians of old. Where the utopians thought that their communities could flourish outside of capitalism in a kind of self-sufficiency, I assume no such thing. Rather, I know full-well that the supply chains and managerial systems of late capitalism will flow into my community as tributaries into a main stream. The aim will be the damning up of this stream and its flooding of the surrounds. It is this flooding that I take to constitute semiotic explosion.
¶106. My method, then, is no retreat into privacy. Rather, it is an interpenetration of the public and the private, the privacy of hearth and home carried into the public.
Vagueness of Terminology
¶107. As already said in ¶115 of the System, glossaries will be produced in due time. Please be patient with me until then. Please feel free to send me emails asking for clarifications on the most obscure aspects of the System as well.
Incoherence of Reasoning
¶108. If anyone in my audience finds any of my reasoning invalid or improper, I ask that they email me saying so. If this is the case, I will take it on myself (eventually) to formalize my statements as much as is possible.
Lack of rigor
¶109. As said several times, I am aware that my method is idiosyncratic, vulgar, and incomplete. For these reasons, I once more cannot promise the complete rigor that a fully-fleshed-out system of philosophical labor would engender. I can only, to the contrary, promise to correct errors as they arise and hope that the system profits thereby.
¶110. I am aware that the most troubling aspect of the system is its circularity. I contend, however, as articulated in the System, that this is a virtuous circularity engendering action. It is hereby that the System is justified - it allows action by creating it.
¶111. I enumerate 4 premises which will be used to dismiss all of my work outright. I will take them in turn. Before this, however, I say that I need only concern myself with them insofar as each attempts to enclose he or she who affirms them against me. Thereby, that I address them at all is, perhaps, to my detriment, since they do not serve to inform but merely to self-congratulate. In this respect, they are the outer shell of an impermeable host. I will not, therefore, attempt to refute them, for their a priori character makes them irrefutable. Rather, I will only show their predictability and one-sidedness, so that I might dismiss them.
¶112. This dismissal can take three forms: overthinking, pathology, and avoidance of responsibility.
¶113. “You’re just overthinking things.” This premise awards the claimant with the view that all that I say is not worth their time since, in their view, one need not do the thinking I have to arrive at my conclusions. Such a view is fully predictable, as it closes off the claimant to all I might say. Hereby, they do not face me either in form or content - they ignore me all together. This premise is, then, nothing but methodological ignorance.
¶114. “You’re clearly expressing some deep-seated issues.” Or, more bluntly: “You’re just depressed/schizoid/neurotic.” These engender the same methodological ignorance as above. Being irrational, the claimant’s self-perceived irrationality can be free of me.
¶115. “You’re just a white guy that doesn’t want to take responsibility for who he is.” Instead of being mentally unsound, here my identity is unsound. There is some truth to this, but as a stand-alone premise it is a merely moral chastisement, as said in ¶34. This again only serves to self-enclose the claimant rather than helping me along. It wills only hatred and blame. It wants only moral prostration.
¶116. Nothing buttery, or claims of the form “You’re nothing but x” is a more robust form of just-ism. As such, it takes the same three forms as the above albeit with less lenience. Just-ism allows the claimant plausible deniability on grounds of sarcasm or exaggeration. “I don’t mean you’re only this or that. I was exaggerating by saying you’re just that. Clearly you’re other things too!” With the use of “nothing,” however, that plausibility is denuded as the hardness of the claim rigidifies. Once more, such claims are predictable and can, therefore, be dismissed outright as already having dismissed me.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any further comments, corrections, or questions. I will respond to you as soon as I can.
cf. Koselleck in Future’s Past p113. He claims that among the aims of history is the revelation of “structurally sufficient conditions” for the repetition of “analogous” events. I would demand that the critic perform such a task. If I am criticized without a view towards the repetition of the event, then you can only want shame for my having conducted an event already passed. And this does nothing but vindicate you, and is thereby no criticism. Therefore, I am justified ignoring both it and you. ↩
This line appears after every note.