xenoeconomics 1: how to measure capital formation?

if capital is an alien invasion from the future, the first thing needed is a way to see it, to measure it, since it evidently eludes us and appears as the history of capitalism. what we need is an index.

taking capital to be a process such as biological life, measuring its formation (intensification) should probably follow a similar logic.

a first immediate index to life’s formation is simply how much matter is trapped in the form of biological entities. a biomass index is readily available in fact.
given a certain mass, intensification is tracked by the alterations in that mass, so that an index of proliferation (reproductive success or fitness) makes itself necessary.
finally, probably due to the cosmic calculation problem, life intensifies also in how complex a metabolism is, so that it can miniaturise and thus function at a deeper time scale. (there are many complexity measures, all of them roughly represent the same insight: more degrees of freedom (more fine indirect expenditure of energy over a certain time for the same quantity of mass), but the network theory measure (number of paths in a graph) is the most amenable to the socio-economic dynamics that, as i’ll propose below, track capital formation. also, it’s only expected that a cybernetic intensification such as capital be described asymtoptically (i.e., teleologically). using Big-O notation can be useful when tackling capital’s complexity. Land, of couse, expects – by Moore’s Law – that capital’s complexification rate be O(2^n), that is, exponential on base two.)
taking this view, a list of three indexes to capital formation can be made:
  1. capital’s mass index, relative to total earthly mass (at least);
  2. capital’s reproduction or proliferation rate (arguably the trickies to spot);
  3. capital’s complexification rate
these will be the xenoeconomist’s primary tools to see the alien they’re hunting.
in mainstream economics, are there any indexes to which these can be roughly mapped? I initially thought of something in the lines of:
  1. gross world’s wealth estimate
  2. gross world’s growth rate
  3. technological innovation rate
but i have no idea if economists are tracking any of those things.
* * *
in a related thought, what if, taking Land’s lead, we are to think of capital as a collection of individual urban centers, such as life is a collection of individual organisms? then, i think, we get a little less tangled. we could use indexes of urban development to track capital formation. a rough and provisional mapping would be, respectively:
  1. urbanisation rate (% of people in urban centers)
  2. city proliferation rate (first derivative of the urbanisation rate in relation to time)
  3. average city complexification rate
Vincent Garton has pointed to me the first obvious objection to this urbanomist approach: it apparently ignores the deployment of capital in agriculture, which would be inconvenient, given the “green revolution”. a rejoinder could possibly be developed along the lines Land’s already touched upon here: it’s cities that provide big and stable enough markets so that industrial agriculture can develop, thus capturing one is already implicitly capturing the other. a better formalization of this is, surely, wanted.
a very interesting paper on China’s megalopolisation, made me think that megalopolisation could be another good proxy for the second metric, of city proliferation, since it’s a doubling down of urbanization (cities going to cities). but possibly it could be better captured by city complexity rates. i totally think Land’s theory of mega-cities as AI bodies gets traction in seeing the maps of megalopolises.
* * *
since we’re talking about measuring a cybernetic intensification, this Wikipedia compilation of measures of “Accelerating change” can be quite useful.

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.”


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.

capitalism = feminism (sketch summary)

bullet points, for starters

  1. as per Levi-Strauss, women are the first commodities in human societies, being traded in the marriage circle, to avoid incest (and, thus create genetic variation). this starts the expansion of exogamy in humanity.
  2. capitalism (economic modernity), as the process in which everything turns into commodities, and then money, and then…, is the process of the empowerment of commodities. they serve to rule.
  3. women, as commodities provided with brains are empowered as members of the economy. their character as primitive commodities gives them “a revolutionary destiny”, as they now tower upon those that once owned them. yes, modern society is gymnocentric, and will only get ever more so as capitalism intensifies.
  4. becoming women = becoming commodity = becoming capital. it’s only by dissolving into flows of information that anything survives within and throughout capitalism. any resistance is an undoing of these fluxes. resist capitalism, and the fatherlands win. dissolve into capital, and then… who knows?
  5. feminism is the drive towards the Technological Singularity.

to the Left #1

to the Left #1

i’ve been around the reactosphere lately. the most impressive thing about it is how much i can agree with people, and draw completely different conclusions. this is LRx: establish a Left that can argue with it’s main (and most interesting) adversary in contemporary society, the Neo-Reaction.

* * * * *

i’ve selected a few texts i want to answer briefly, and so produce some groundwork for LRx:

1) in “What’s The Neoreactionary Position On Akhenaton?“, David Grant develops four “neoreactionary themes in history”:

Number 1: The Only Morality Is Civilization
Number 2: Civilizations Follow Cycles
Number 3: Demography Is Destiny
Number 4: Men Were Better In The Brave Days Of Old

a proper LRx to those themes would be:

Number 1: Morality and Civilization are Unsensual Sacrifice and Reality Denial

to begin with, Grant’s identification of society with civilization is at the very least misinformed. uncivilized societies survive (and survive longer) and thrive, sometimes even take over civilizations.

second, the whole “hierarchy of civilizations” thing is terrible for any kind of optimization. the open conflict among societies is the only guaranteeing that we won’t be stuck in some form of eternal order, and in this conflict civilizations tend to lose in the long run. defending them is shielding from reality.

says Greer:

What sets barbarian societies apart from civilized ones is precisely that a much smaller fraction of the environment barbarians encounter results from human action. When you go outdoors in Cimmeria—if you’re not outdoors to start with, which you probably are—nearly everything you encounter has been put there by nature. There are no towns of any size, just scattered clusters of dwellings in the midst of a mostly unaltered environment. Where your Aquilonian town dweller who steps outside may have to look hard to see anything that was put there by nature, your Cimmerian who shoulders his battle-ax and goes for a stroll may have to look hard to see anything that was put there by human beings…

That’s one of the details Howard borrowed from history. By and large, human societies that don’t have urban centers tend to last much longer than those that do. In particular, human societies that don’t have urban centers don’t tend to go through the distinctive cycle of decline and fall ending in a dark age that urbanized societies undergo so predictably. There are plenty of factors that might plausibly drive this difference, many of which have been discussed here and elsewhere, but I’ve come to suspect something subtler may be at work here as well. As we’ve seen, a core difference between civilizations and other human societies is that people in civilizations tend to cut themselves off from the immediate experience of nature nature to a much greater extent than the uncivilized do. Does this help explain why civilizations crash and burn so reliably, leaving the barbarians to play drinking games with mead while sitting unsteadily on the smoldering ruins?

if you want reality to rule, civilizations seem the worst way to do it.

on morality, i’ll let old Land speak:

Reason is something that must be built, and the site of its construction first requires a demolition. The object of this demolition is the synthetic capability that Kant refers to as the imagination, and which he exhibits as natural intelligence or animal cunning. This is the capability to act without the prior authorization of a juridical power, and it is only through the crucifixion of natural intelligence that the human animal comes to prostrate itself before universal law. Kant is quite explicit about this in the second Critique; only that is moral which totally negates all pathological influence, for morality must never negotiate with empirical stimulation. The Kantian moral good is the total monopoly of power in the hands of reason, and reason finds its principal definition as the supersensible element of the subject, and thus as fundamentally negative. In other words, morality is precisely the powerlessness of animality. (Delighted to Death, pp. 141-2).

morality is the sacrifice of animal cunning. and that is shielding from biology.

Number 2: Civilizations Follow Cycles

this is absolutely sane. the role of the Left in these cycles is accelerate decline.

Number 3: Ecology is destiny

Demography is indeed important (and Grant is right in pointing out how leftism tries to ignore it – to its own demise, since it’s a powerful tool against order). But demography is a function of the interaction of human populations with it’s environment in a systemic – ecological – way. Demography is derivate from the complex interaction of biogeophysical elements in the biosphere. Gaia moves in mysterious ways, and we are part of it (capital autonomization notwithstanding).

Number 4: People Were Better Off In The Lazy Days of Pre-History

Following our Number 1 theme, it seems pretty clear that the ancient or medieval standards of masculinity were civilized notions, and therefore need to be washed away if we are to produce a return to reality. the “laziness” and “indocility” identified with hunter-gatherer peoples are the ones that LRx cares about and wants to maximize. Cthulhu prompts us there.

* * * * *

2) in his “Rules for Brotherhood“, Warg Franklin provides a neat description of how male groups may shield against their main vulnerability: women. unfortunately for them, that’s a good guide for feminist intervention and disruption of powerful male groups. he doesn’t elaborate on the reverse: how groups of females may be affected by male disruption (or even how vulnerable a mastristic coalition would be to patriarchal brotherhoods), but you can look up the history of feminist movement and see that it has been strongest when women grouped around clear goals of self-help, and waned when they wanted to focus on “changing society” at large. the exploitation of such dynamics of disruptions of brotherhoods and strengthening of sisterhoods should be the Left’s most powerful weapon (as of now, it’s been abandoned by the incessant theoritical arguments on “who is the most oppressed?”).

Franklin’s analysis of state power hold some true in that local male brotherhoods provide a bulwark against tyrannical state power (insofar as the state power is not “organically ordered”). but the tendency of organized brotherhoods is to take over the state, not eliminate it. sisterhoods may, on the other hand, be completely unable to control large nation-state affairs and indeed run them down into dysfunction. a much more interesting outcome, from the point of view of the Left.

* * * * *

3) Reactionary Future makes a wonderful rule:

A mechanical process will be gamed, it will give rise to the the left wing, and it will tear society apart.

another tactical insight fighting the Absolute that the Left has ignored (or took for granted) in the latest years: mechanize processes, and society will fall apart. the adoption of cryptoanarchy and a Left comprised more of technologists and engineers than sociologists and journalists should be the way to go. that those things have been refused by the Left is a sign of its current fragility.

* * * * *

4) looking through Social Matter’s Compendium, two articles strike me as incredibly useful. First there is the proudhonian solution adopted here described in perfection: AAA (agree, amplify, accelerate). Ironic intesification of evils is Satan’s holiest ways.

Secondly, there’s this law:

Successful rebellion is always, without exception, a mere tool of someone already in a position of power.

one corollary follows: true egalitarian rebellions are never successful (if you won, it’s not really Left enough).

* * * * *

5) The Anti-puritan’s “The Consenting Llama” is a masterpiece of the ways technology is Left’s best friend:

Isn’t technology great? Enjoy the decline.

* * * * *

6) last but not least, Spandrell’s “General Theory of Civilizational Decay” presents us with two great insights:

1) slavery is a fucking bad idea for thriving nations;
2) demographic invasion – however it’s done – is the best way to destroy civilization.

* * * *

in general, reactosphere tends to provide the Left (at least a Left conscious of its role in society as a creator of turbulence and disruption through order and hierarchy shattering) with the tools that can be more consciously used towards its proper ends, as well as great analyses of the work done so far.

thanks NRx!