a neocameralist reconstruction of the US Constitution

the original US Constitution was very amenable to neocameralist restructuring. in fact, pretty much all was already in place, except for the language.

voters were property owners (the closest you got to a real shareholder) who elected a board of electors to point an executive officer. the federation was a consortium among States for mutual protection, so we had corporate representation (Senate). the Congress, as the representation (direct and indirect) of proprietors/shareholders, controlled the funds that went to the executive office.

this is all pretty much in tune with corporative structure. the glitch was with Supreme Court and the whole ideological apparatus

instead of the CEO appointing the justices, I would make justice a single church-like institution with the aim of controlling the legality of shareholder actions. in turn, it would be controlled only by the executive branch’s decision on law enforcement.

Cathedralist institutions (universities, media) would cater to either justice-church sentimentalities or become themselves shareholders.

of course, late 19th century and FDR reconstructions of the Constitution made it impossible, but a neocameralist US of A was once possible.

escaped velocity.

much more than the MAP, “Escape Velocities” is a neat summary of left-accelerationism in all its strands. in one respect especially, it shows everything: it’s got so much going for it, but then it drops the ball out of fear of sinning.

a few examples while you drift through the text:

  • you start recognizing genealogy, and the drop it after 3 paragraphs. fear? it certainly will drive you down weird routes.
  • it’s a mistake to recognize Land’s position (and, to a certain extent, even D+G’s) as “the worse the better”. it’s precisely the escalation of the process (capitalism) that is sought after. “better” and “worse” are already transcendent to it. why criticize something in these terms?
  • i’ll save the usual request for a specification of what “neoliberal order” can mean besides “the Cathedral”. but it sounds an awful lot like “the Devil”.
  • Nick Land, a heretic. could this indictment be made by anyone but a priest?
  • “today the best we can hope for is marginally improved consumer gadgetry”. what were you expecting, Eden?
  • it’s notable, in fact, that Williams’ diagnostic is precisely the same as that of NRx: decay, deceleration, stagnation. it even has the same structure of the decelerator: the neoliberal Cathedral. why disagree on the solution? the Theonomist at least has a proper excuse: usury is against the law of God.
  • “This process leaves Land’s theory unmoored and incapable of justifying itself”. why does it have to justify itself (to priests)? why survival isn’t enough?
  • on Negarestani’s use of Longo’s critique: the world can’t be machinic, because that would mean we can’t know it (because our computers don’t have a very good resolution for such measurements). what matters is how the world can be for us?
  • when talking about speed and acceleration, does Williams want to preserve the physical analogy that was originally present? because there’s absolutely no sense putting speed and acceleration as distinct or opposed, if he does. speed is the first derivative of space in relation to time. acceleration is the second (i.e., is the first derivative of speed in relation to time). acceleration is the variation of speed. how the hell “acceleration > speed” could make any sense? or, what the hell does “acceleration” have to do with navigation? this is a question that itself never waver…
  • onto more substantial diagnostics: where are your values coming from? because “accumulation-for-accumulation” and self-perpetuation are things immanent to the primary process. from God?
  • and ain’t they themselves being played by something? it becomes obvious at a point: the priestly endeavor of “freedom by means of rules”, based on a rational, enlightened order that enables us to runaway from drive, from the animal unconscious, apparently comes out of nowhere. the rational thinkers are to be sanitized, non-sensual beings, completely oblivious to the sublimated hierarchies of sexualized politics. priests can’t have sex, and Kant knew it. “morality is only good when it hurts”.

to get to the real meat, though, Williams names, by the end of the piece, two main strands within l/acc:

1) the epistemic accelerationism of Negarestani and Brassier. 

it could go so far, when it recognizes that there’s “a direct identification of the processes of scientific discovery with nihilism”. how far is this from the asymptote that Metcalf already had in Neo-Futurism:

the operational political, economic, and sociological codes of universalized humanity contract – to the point where, condemned to endlessly circulate in an interminable statistical survey, they finally collapse into a black hole where meaningless signs reduplicate themselves. This is the secondary process. The humanities in flames.

yet, both Brassier and Negarestani refrain from such identified endgame, and try to rehabilitated Reason (God?) and flee from the nihilism entailed by the very overflow of data now made available. isn’t that just fear?

2) the political accelerationism of his and Srnicek’s, which identifies (aesthetically, at least) with metis, the cunning intelligence of the trickster and the bricoleur, and talks about dealing with contingency. but in the same breath it refrains from creative destruction – something that is pretty obvious in political horizons nowadays – and approaches “repurposing”. it doesn’t even want to destroy capitalism, or compete seriously with it. it doesn’t want war, it wants capital to stand still and be peacefully sucked.

maybe this is the most finished expression of the fundamental fear within l/acc’s heart: the fear of war. it wants to be Prometheus without actually fighting the gods, and, in fact, while it sides with the priestly caste in affirming the holiness of our Lord and Savior, Reason. Williams knows, deep down, that any call to war is already giving up the possibility of a universal “we” – and thus of anything nearly “Left”.

competition is a sin, reserved for heretics. and yet, the l/acc’s position won’t remain unchallenged, from every side. if they don’t step up to war – if their desire to self-perpetuation doesn’t strengthen – they are bound to disappear.

the cosmic calculation problem

this is a great primer on the (economic) calculation problem, in its lineage from Mises to Carson, via Hayek and Rothbard.

the calculation problem revolves around the problem of how to distribute scarce resources between different productive endeavors (consumption can be bracketed as per Say’s law). if there wasn’t any scarcity, communism would be perfectly doable: waste wouldn’t be a problem, so poor distribution wouldn’t matter at all.

scarcity, of course, can never be abolished. not by fiat, but also not by mega-production (even if it’s perfectly balanced). scarcity will be here with us because time is always already running out.

there is the second law of thermodynamics. in this closed system we call the universe, entropy always goes up. which means anything of value – air, water, planetary surface, metals, life, concentrated solar energy, solar energy itself, etc – will eventually be dissipated into a heat death.

unless you manage to send energy – without any loss – back in time (closing a loop of infinite wealth), efficiency will always be a problem to be solved. the calculation problem will keep haunting even the most shining programs of “post-scarcity commune”.

of course, entropy is the one problem of the universe. if it isn’t solved, it dies. the palliative solution so far has been indefinitely postponing. which is achieved through entropy dissipation, the bright name for “letting the unfit die off”. thus value is created, ever more locally.

but at some point, if something else isn’t found, heat death will reach even the highest of extropy towers.

need. more. time.

bit-nations and sovereign services

okay, since we’re talking about immigration, it makes sense to talk of higher level  libertarian solutions everyone will ignore.

if you don’t know Bitnation yet, be sure to check it out. it’s, quite simply, an free associative nation. deterritorialization taken to extremes.

now, the problem of immigration is a problem of knowing who to trust. in modernity, “institutions advance by substituting for trust”. bit-nations (the one extant, and the many yet to come) do that for societies: you can anonymously associate to a network of mutually reassuring parties.

of course, if you took to Bitnation’s site, you’ll see they are merely the network, not the space. some people within the network supplies it with a few embassies across the world, that can be accessed by their members (for a fee). but this could be made by another service provider, such as a sovcorp. we’ve been talking a quite lot about them lately.

couple these two concepts: a bit-nation makes a deal with a sovcorp, so that the members of such nation can access (for a fee) the sovereign holdings of the sovcorp. rent a city. various bit-nations can hire the services of various sovcorps, creating an effective market for sovereign services. this is almost ancap proper, come to think of it.

this solves the problem of immigration even more easily, as I’m sure you realize.

a (sensible) libertarian immigration policy

there has been a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth lately, from all camps, on immigration policy. from some quarters, even the slightest approval of aliens is a clear sign of racial treason and insecurity. from others, anything less than total open borders is a serious offence.

i’ll here outline a simple and mostly effective immigration policy that, as usual with simple and mostly effective policies, will be totally ignored:

  1. home buyers become citizens, since the nation belongs to proprietors.
  2. tenants, employees and invitees remain under supervision of their sponsors (landlords, employers or hosts), until they can afford the equivalency price of houses (and thus citizenship).
  3. tourists can come and go (nobody lives forever in a hotel), and eventually they will be pressed in section 1 or 2.

couple this with “only citizens vote”, and 90% of the problems go away immediately.

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.

the diagrams of acceleration

I’ll start by drawing what I take to be Nick Land’s view on the complete circuit of acceleration. then I’ll take a look at the leeches – decelerators – that he proposes. then I’ll sketch my own view of the necessity of runaway “suppressors” to keep the positive feedback running. in the meanwhile I’ll try and speculate what exactly l/acc and r/acc can mean in this view.

* * *

Land posits a positive feedback cycle at the heart of modernity. this cycle, he insists, is a techno-commercial or techonomic one. the second part of this loop is already pretty well expressed in Marx’s M-C-M’ model. From Fine & Saad-Filho’s Marx’s Capital:

cycle of capital

I’ll simplify this to:

cycle of capital 2

similarly, Land proposes technology and science evolve in a similar cycle, a techno-scientific effort. as he puts it:

“Acquiring knowledge and using tools is a single dynamic circuit, producing techno-science as an integral system, without real divisibility into theoretical and practical aspects. Science develops in loops, through experimental technique and the production of ever more sophisticated instrumentation, whilst embedded within a broader industrial process. Its advance is the improvement of a machine.”

thus:

cycle of science

finally, the techno-commercial loop that characterizes modernity would be this:

cycle of modernity

below the levels here portrayed, it’s conceivable every node is, in itself, a positive feedback loop. finance capital, product design, gadget invention and theory building being the immediate sub-levels.

the more it happens, the more it happens.

* * *

I won’t lie, I’m no great connoisseur of left-accelerationist thought. so I won’t talk a lot about it. my point of contention comes mostly from this line in the MAP:

“capitalism cannot be identified as the agent of true acceleration”

which implies something else is the true accelerator. what could that something else be?

I’ve heard hinted now and then that it could be the “industrial cycle” of technological development. since I’m guessing l/acc types want to pose capital as, at most, a once sympathetic medium for acceleration (now utterly decelerative), I’m supposing that such “agent of true acceleration” is the science cycle pictured above. is that correct? I’ll suspend criticism until this is more thoroughly established.

* * *

as for “right acceleratism”, insofar as it can’t be identified with Land’s stance of “unconditional acceleration“, remains very poorly formalized or even addressed. some kind of transhumanist monarchism maybe? if that’s it, their interest is much more on the acceleration of the science cycle, as well, but with a subordination to very different norms than those that presumably would govern l/acc-type cycles. insofar as it isn’t an explicitly anti-capitalist monarchism we’re talking about, the commercial side of the cycle is still present, but with how much force?

lots of mysteries remain. but I won’t invent adversaries where none appears to be.

* * *

ok, enough for accelerators, why aren’t we seeing a techno-commercial singularity, if such dynamics is indeed at the heart of out times? Land proposes a decelerator. what would it amount to?

a few ways to break the cycles and compensate for them:

  1. taxation: this deviates resources from capital and buries them into the consumption of the tax-receivers (namely the Cathedral bureaucracy). trash and shit.
  2. regulation: there are various ways this could work, insofar as regulation is very inventive. but the main pattern has to do with deviating capital from the most rentable (i.e., (self-re)productive) investments, into those that are most likely to become un-recyclable thrash, at least in the long run.
  3. politicization: this deviates brain-power from technological producing theories into, well, bullshit research departments, especially through politicization of academic funding of hard sciences.
  4. protectionism: since this protects technical developments from properly feeding back into the commercial cycle, it breaks the link between technical advantage and capital accumulation, leading lots of resources into stupid gadgetry.

all these being forms of fucking up the incentive structures that allow the accelerative cycle to be. in diagram form:

the cathedral

if the Cathedral is actually efficient, the more it happens, the less it happens.

* * *

my theory of constitutionalism is based mostly on the premise that, given real conditions, capital needs not only to accelerate – as is intrinsic to it – but also to suppress its decelerators. constitutional orders are a good way to tame politics (and thus the Cathedral), and there’s a historical case to be made on how capitalism correlates to good constitutions.

here, I’ll limit myself to the abstract form of these “runaway suppressors”. they are complimentary to the runaway producer of techno-commercialism: the less it happens, the less it happens. in such a way that they intrinsically contain a program for their own dissolution: as soon as their object of suppression vanishes – thus liberating the productive process that engineered them – they themselves vanish. it’s friction that produces them.

suppression, in such analysis, means compensating the compensators. a few forms for that to happen:

  1. counter-taxation: mechanisms through which taxation is dodged or reversed (anything from tax dodging, money laundering, corporate welfare, etc).
  2. illegibility: ways through which agents become invisible to the state apparatus, and thus can operate beyond, behind or beneath its regulations.
  3. cypherpoliticsbecoming grey to the colorful politics, effectively avoiding social outcomes based on political discourse. cryptographic media use, in a way that allows science to become neutral because anonymous. also, other uses of unidentity. (seriously, the link explains way better)
  4. exit: if some idiot thinks tariffs are a good idea, you move. neo-nomadism should be a thing already.

as resources flow back into the cycle, acceleration happens at ever higher rates. the formalization of said mechanisms into a diagram of suppression applied to the decelerator is a feat for another post, though.