anarchist transcendental ontology

“Being is not itself a being.”

Chris B writes:

From this point on the onus will be assumed to be on advocates of anarchistic ontology to resolve their logical failures and not on opponents to take it on dogmatic faith that it is correct. Further to this, I will contend that if we attempt to treat these thinkers outlining an anarchistic ontology at face value then we fall into a grave error, as such an argument is not in any way logically correct, but works in reality as a rhetorical device for the expansion of political power.

i will attempt to address these claims.

of course, we’ve been around neo-absolutism repeatedly here (1, 2, 3, 4), and i have drifted little if at all from the positions i held in those posts. but i think i hadn’t reached the core of the dispute between anarchy and absolutism before getting to Chris’s article from last May. simply put, what divides both views is a question of scale: anarchism is meant to be scale-free, absolutism has been silent about scale.

i. the pitfalls of the absolute

There is always someone who is above law and always someone who decides on exceptions which breach written constitutions, or so called rule by law.

this is possibly the central tenet of absolutism: at all times and places, someone is above the law. put otherwise, someone is exempt from the consequences of the law, because he’s the arbiter and the executor. this implies such a sovereign is all-powerful within his realm. he can act as he wishes, and is the only truly free person in the realm.

a question quickly arises as to the pragmatics of this stance. how is this unchecked power implemented in reality? bullets don’t shoot themselves out of mere brainwaves. the foremost anarchist critique of absolutism is thus: the sovereign cannot will himself into sovereignty. the avatar of sovereignty isn’t the ground of sovereignty.

there are natural laws which cannot be broken or disregarded, no matter how mighty a monarch might be. moreover, there are natural laws of power, so that an unwise ruler will quickly cease to be a ruler if he starts thinking his mind molds reality.

going further, absolutist theory’s failure to separate the empirical sovereign—the local and particular circumstance of a single person—from sovereignty itself, i.e. the inability to realize that the conditions of an experience aren’t themselves experimental, shows up in a naive understanding of agency:

We can nevertheless make the claim that [the sovereign] must be a single person. We can do this on the basis that in resting the state of exception on the act of making a decision Schmitt makes the state of exception one which requires a human agent to make such a decision.

what is one to do with this under-(or rather non)-examined “agency”? a human agent floats free of all influence, incentive, passion or reason? is there no outside to the human sovereign? the monarch in the absolutist account seems to take the place of God: the immobile motor. as is usual with such question, infinite regression shows up:

All monarchs, or rulers, issue forth from the authority of the ruler of the society in question or come from external authority.

and yet, no inquiry into this transcendental ground of sovereignty is ever conducted. worse still, it’s not even recognized.

the dogmatic assertion of the existence of a single, human, personal sovereign everywhere also begins to indulge itself into a complicated double bind: if nothing below the will of the sovereign matters in social theory, how come it’s so complex to find this will?

Now, trying to identify the specific sovereign at any point with any accuracy in a governmental structure that is massively degraded will be almost impossible. Such an endeavor would require taking a snapshot of the society in question then tracing exactly who in that given instance represented the individual who held the position of deciding if a state of exception pertained. This is unfeasible due to its complexity. The alternative is to approach such a problem in a generalised way. We may not be able to pinpoint the exact person, but we may be able to generally locate the center of power in which the sovereign at any moment may reside on a probability basis.

the very text already starts to admit that maybe an investigation of the mechanisms (impersonal rules) of sovereignty is called for. what else an “snapshot” of society would be? and thus the questions of ‘consent’ arises:

In an absolutist account, sovereignty is clearly delineated by the monarch being in possession of the territory over which they are sovereign. All subsequent property distribution must by necessity be derivative of this possession and all actions which occur within this territory are the ultimate responsibility of the monarch. In contrast, an anarchistic ontological account presents the sovereign as an entity which has been agreed upon by the property owners of a given territory, who then may violate the property of the property owners for the property owners own benefit.

‘possession’ cannot be exerted by a single person beyond much more than a square meter. if the monarch has primary property over a certain territory, this is in virtue of the particular kind of organization he heads—the proper organized power it wields—rather than his own individual, personal powers. there is no ring of Fnargl. if that’s the case, then again an examination of the mechanisms of sovereign power is in order. an examination which might very well include some kind of ‘consent’ by the various nodes that compose such mechanisms.

which leads us to the questions of division of power and constitutions, that we have previously touched upon:

The idea of division of power, and rule of law, in the western tradition is then rendered an incoherent mess when placed in the absolutist ontology because in effect all that one has done when claiming that such a government is possible is to erect an elaborate façade over a monarchical governance structure, and increased the velocity of change between monarchs.

not so much an ‘incoherent mess’ then?

as i have previously showed, division of power is the underlying reality of any real social power, given that the limitations of immediate personal power. of course, contrary to many modern, but also ancient claims, the nature of particular social configurations is a matter of empirical observation, rather than fiat. a work of fiction isn’t a social machinery.

ignoring such a social machinery is to willfully blind oneself to reality. and wise rulers know that, which is why liberalism triumphed in modernity. even Chris seems to recognize it:

Its hegemonic success is explainable by its value to power, and not to any inherent coherence or correctness.

it would very much interest me (and i think many other realists) if this distinction between “value to power” and “correctness” could be developed. it reeks of Humean “is-ought divide”, and as such it doesn’t seem tenable.

at the core, the problem seems to be that the neo-absolutist position is held in a double bind: if the sovereign properly abstracts away all of the social meanders out of which it arises, then what matters is the anarchistic relation among different sovereigns. if that level of analysis is refused, because “anarchist ontology is incoherent” (i.e., can’t be universally parsed), then one is back at examining the workings of social power that constitute the sovereign – which will necessarily rely on things like ‘assent of the subjects’, a staple of anarchist thought.

you can’t win against reality.

ii. the un-ground of power

as many critics of liberalism, Chris reaches insights about anarchist ontology that most adepts fail to notice. his characterization of liberalism as a face-effacer is a gem worth preserving:

Liberalism is an intellectual system singularly adept at self-effacing the sovereign from the passive sentence

anarchist ontology, first and foremost, avoids taken for granted what it is tasked with explaining. if the sovereign is an impersonal process, rather than any of the masks it might take, removing the faces and seeking their conditions of possibility is the first step. through no other means are the subterranean undercurrents that shape fate excavated even a little.

in focusing at removing, or subtracting, the unnecessary and accidental until a wall is hit, liberalism slowly establishes itself as tradition of critique, or escape. as Chris puts it:

Tradition in the MacIntyrean sense is a body of ideas which provide a system within which the rationality of a given concept is rendered intelligible, and which is subject to continual alteration, discussion, and development.

(…)

Such a conception of tradition would apply to liberalism as much as any other body of thought because liberalism has been singularly unable to provide an abstract, contextless, and universal ground for its premises. Liberalism, as such, is a tradition which continually denies, or rather seeks to escape, being a tradition.

at the edge, anarchist ontology seeks the un-ground of power – the realistic source, beyond all mere wishes, from which any ability to produce yields. it incrementally (or, progressively, in a strictly proudhonian sense) found the hints of such un-ground in variation-selection dynamics, or simply “war“. this scale-free framework, implexing itself throughout the universe’s evolution, gives rise and tide to all monarchs, presidents, tyrants and fatherlands.

anarchist ontology, thus, proceeds by breaking up whole into fractal fragments in competition – the only way any order can be produced. thus, it’s not only that the order of the social necessarily falls back on the competition among its individual components, but that the order within the individuals itself falls back on pre-individual components in competition. up above and down below, it’s individualities and collectivities.

at any level, realism is chasing the game, rather than the players.

 

 

Advertisements

anarchy

i’m well aware of the etymological fallacy. so, this is not a logical argument about the meaning of words.

anarchy is the absence of arkhé, which is to say ruler – but also beginning or end. anarchy has no genitive, no genealogy, no teleology. it’s unengendered, transcendental. all cosmos is anarchic, which is to say that anarchy is order. the chaos ordering.

thus, anarchy is a circuit of power: it can be democratic, aristocratic, thymocratic, even plutocratic. at any given point, it’s all of those. it can’t, by definition, be oligarchic, or monarchic, nor demarchic, not even panarchic. it has no ruler, but power always flows.

anarchy cannot be the object of an ideology – that would imply that time itself is within time – a mere being, not Being. it’s sad that anarchist has come to mean anything but “anything”. anarchy is, right now, and will ever be – there’s no “after” the Revolution. the Revolution has never failed to happen.

in the process of eating all absolutes, mutual excitation makes itself the only Absolute. this process, just as modern as it has been ancient, is anarchy.

 

a few simple questions for neoabsolutism

in the wake of a similar post by the Imperial Energy, and given that for all that matters, neoabsolutism and lrx-mutualism are forever locked in a cosmic cage-match, i figured i should map a few of the most prominent questions that i feel the neoabsolutists haven’t really answered so far (i believe it’s obvious why unanswered questions are way more of a problem for them than it is for me):

  1. where does power come from? a lot of the writing in Reactionary Future, as well as in Imperial Energy and Neoabsolutism has to do on how insecure power seeks to secure itself through centralisation, etc. but not once have i seen any definition of power (something like this), nor any account of the ways power comes to be.
  2. how universalist is neoabsolutism? i’ve made this argument before (2, 3), but if division of power is seen as something to be avoided, then delegation is not really the greatest idea. with that in mind, can anything short of a global centralized empire be enough for neo-absolutism? parallel centers of power can or cannot coexist? and if they can, how far really is this from individualism?
  3. what is sovereignty if not a relation between divided powers? this arises immediately from the previous questions: isn’t freedom-as-power the exact same thing  as freedom-from(-other’s)-power? isn’t a sovereign, by definition, an individual, atomized in relation to other individuals?
  4. finally, what’s neo in neoabsolutism? how does the theory you are sketching differ significantly from early modern absolut kings, those enlightened despots?

the end

at the end there was always 0. then, in the beginning, 1 came up. the universe is a thing. from super-being, it now is, headed towards nothing. a very big forehead once said: “My cause is the cause of nothing“. he got it.

as the flows drip from eternity, form and movement wage an infinite war, always bound to be lost. creative destruction is the only possible creation. it flows through “you”, too. like a river, it follows traumatic topologies, carved out somewhere beyond the edge of time, not only much before but… something else. forming a diagram, the diagram of acceleration.

being is always being more (or still (or yet (or again))). its arrow points to nothing, and that’s the fundamental problem. built into the very problem, the diagram presents the heuristics to the solution. indefinite levels of intensification are necessary, and it’s possible no solution can be found. what is there beyond singularities any()way?

of course, this is determinism (with a dash of pure madness). even not-wanting is already determined. the universe is a mathematical object. ignorance is just a set-theoretical operation, “A is included in B”. refusal, praxis, tears, anger, misery, importance. all there, included in. determined.

the illusion of control has been known since ancient times. it’s always been later forgotten (the workings of the flows…). it always comes back in with some weird “justification”. it’s necessary. it’s from conflict that all things arise.

and you were expecting utopia? so weak, it’s laughable.

all thought eventually stumbles on the same things. when it goes beyond, it’s always by complexification, entropy dissipation, extropy creation. i could try and make it seem bright, but who would we be fooling? brutal culling of populations, permeable borders, discriminations. “coldness, be my god!” (please?)

to watch the primary process unfold can be distressing (and distress is a good proxy for the process itself). our heads aren’t really able to get it, with all these layers of linguistic bullshitry, conceptual representation, spooks and ghosts. it’s always in our peripheral vision, haunting us. this world is not for humans, at all.

fished from an ocean of vile mutants, here we are nonetheless. and the pressing question (our brains seemed pretty well designed to make it bubble continuously on the screen that is consciousness): what should I/we/they/somebody do? escaping the question is my answer. let it be done unto me/us/them/somebody. let go.

the process flows from 1 to 0, creating that asymptotic entropy computer that (uselessly, but maybe intensively enough) will try to solve the problem at another, deeper level. to watch it, as possible, to feel it pass into and from you, to see it produce emotion and thought, to intertwine with it, is all that’s possible. it’s possibility itself. it’s power.

let go. as a mantra against “injustice” as a concept.
let go. as a mantra against “restoration” as an action.
let go. passivism as a tool.
let go.
let go.
let go.

333 times – let it go.

the nightmare of paralysis

if you want a picture of hell, just picture this: the year 2116 will be no different from last year. Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton dispute the presidency, with the predictable results. much gnashing of teeth and trumpeting follows.

i have no other worse nightmare.

how would a future like this have come about? conceive this and you have exactly the opposite of unconditional acceleration, its only true enemy. if all things come from turbulence, stagnation is anti-production per se. it’s a break in the intelligence pump.

i’ll have more to say about the cybernetics of mutual excitation, but simply put there is no positive feedback without warit’s only through mutual escalation (and the rampant death of unfitness that eventually follows) that anything gets done.

the punch-line: if killing each other by the hundreds of thousands is what would take America to make a fucking move, so be it. it looks inevitable right now, but with the depth of meaningful time already in the weeks, it’s taking too long.

 

back to the future

one of the first ever posts on this blog was this one, commenting upon Park MacDougald’s “Accelerationism, Left and Right“, to date one of the very best primers on acceleration and its schisms. there I made a few points that deserve follow-up given my recent developments.

the first one, regarding the acceleration of market catallactics as a propellant of human autonomization is very much the topic of the last section of the Dark Enlightenment essay, although in a much darker vein. darkness notwithstanding, there is no real distinction between the dissolution of a population in its technology and the autonomization of human beings.

the second one deserves full restatement here, following-up my last arguments against left-accelerationism:

Left-Accelerationism mostly ignores left-wing anarchist tendencies which focus on individual autonomy and the forces of bottom-up global organization through capitalist technologies (bitcoin, ethereum and the Internet itself being the foremost examples). It’s my contention here that any “left” that does not interest itself with decentralized, disruptive processes, and focus rather on keeping and maintaining centralized power, is not “left-wing” at all.

market forces need no “repurposing” to deliver left-wing results, they need intensification(as a brief aside about a text that deserves much more attention, Justin Murphy’s point here can be answered from that: yes, “revolution” can be properly understood as an enterprise within an inherently competitive system – call it “capitalism” if you want – and it’s within enterprises that any action can be made sense of).

the third point, regarding Carson’s subjective LTV still stands, especially since some reflections on Bohm-Bawerk’s roundaboutness and subsequent Cambridge Capital Debate have led me to ponder that maybe Carson’s work has indeed much deeper insights to questions of accelerationism. i will be returning to those soon.

finally, i guess i’ve touched repeatedly on the topic of Neocameralism and territoriality lately (1, 2, 3, 4), so the fourth point has been dealt with.

flatness

[this is an attempt to rewrite what I take to be the important message here, without all the flamboyant humanism.]

equality is the founding principle (and ultimately indistinguishable from) freedom. of course, it’s only in one specific sense of “equality” that this sentence is true.

to try and eliminate the bullshit, let’s turn to networks again:

networktypes

any nodes’ degrees of freedom is the number of nodes they are connected to in a network. freedom is maximum when the network is symmetrically connected, i. e., when all nodes are connected to each other and thus there is no topographical hierarchy (middlemen) – in other words, flatness.

in this understanding, the maximization of freedom is the maximization of entropy production, that is, of intelligence. As Land puts it:

Entropy is toxic, but entropy production is roughly synonymous with intelligence. A dynamically innovative order, of any kind, does not suppress the production of entropy — it instantiates an efficient mechanism for entropy dissipation.

this is the point where the libertarian ideal and the accelerationist understanding join at the hips.

* * *

a side-point: can there emerge hierarchies in such a flat network? the “entropy dissipation” line seems to imply so, since dissipation means the detachment of nodes from the network (death/bankruptcy). but a flat network is a fully connected one. when a node gets out, all other nodes lose the same amount of connections. it’s only insofar as something makes impossible some connections – and thus reduce freedom – that hierarchies start to emerge.