Two modes of social responsibility

  1. Apodictic – univocal autonomy as a socially meaningful norm (ethical unanimity for every action; every action is hermeneutically validated by its norm). In plain terms: the utmost moral scrupulousity, methodological self-doubt and worry. Egocentric, where moral claims always redound to the “I” as their subject-object. “Do better, and don’t ‘do’ until you’re better.”
  2. Problematic – equivocal autonomy as a socially recognizable norm (ethical partiality in most actions; most actions indifferent to norms). In plain terms: the view that “doing one’s best” is sufficient, that careful deliberation is unnecessary. Geocentric, where moral claims dissolve in the world as a subject-object. “Life goes on.”

The Cofraternal Management of Materiality

Brief outline, for navigation:

  1. definition and explication of the term (¶1-¶4)
  2. As contributing to the secret of ownership: all productive ownership is ownership of men (¶5-¶7)

¶1. 📍 The cofraternal management of materiality: the sum total labor performed in a day minus the consumption enabled by the previous day’s labor

¶2. This difference manages the consumption of the subsequent day, as it is that labor-surplus which, for capitalists, engenders capital accumulation and thereby the endless stimulation of material goods. These micro-monarchies rise and fall, while their structure remains (largely) unchanged, save for the periodic advances of the economic and financial sciences. These tides of time wash away Atlantean fortunes, leaving nothing but idle tales for oracles – “Only follow the divine equation!”

¶3. Yet, the management is also that interaction of labor and leisure which repeats itself the next day. In this sense, labor at Day₁ = leisure at Day₂, if only ideally. It is this equality, experienced as such in consciousness, which enables the repetition of the work-day.

¶4. Thus, the management is “co-fraternal” insofar as all men mutually reap and sow lichen-like, in an odd symbiosis. Only the capitalists and the bankers engage parasitically, more or less, over and above their symbiosis. If this was not so, capital accumulation would be impossible – all would net 0. But it doesn’t, so some are, as we might say, double dipping. Their role as “owners” is nothing but a hylo-power, or a power over material, which enables a bio-power, or power over life. That is, for the working class (white and blue collar), all labor performance is spent as leisure and its sum conditions – I comprehend here everything, all nomological conditions, requisite for the worker’s return to work the next day. Thus, I include: housing, food, clothes, medicine, fineries, relaxants, etc. The working man is in symbiosis with all other workers – he buys their products for his own leisure, so he can produce products for theirs.

¶5. Contrarily, the capitalist and banker sit with idle hands, generating the money-form detached from production. The banker’s is a semiotic production, or an accrual of signs of value, managed according to market necessity and the banker’s specialization of labor. The capitalist himself, or pure owner, is nothing but a delegate of human hylo-power, or having-of-material which can control being-in-the-world. The very being of ownership as a delegation is the ontological condition for the accrual of capital, as the difference between worker labor and leisure cannot generate semiosy without a surplus. This redounds to the capitalist per se. Therefore, the ownership-status is actualized as the surplus-redundancy – without this, the ownership of the means of production has no meaning. Or, simply put, one cannot own productive material unless he owns men. No one has ever merely “owned” productive property – men must work it. This is the secret of productive ownership. Or, again: at bottom, the owner yields profit only because he is an owner.

¶6. One can thus construe 3 delegations. First, the life-delegation, picked up by half of the workers while the other half labors for them. Second, value-delegation, picked up by financiers as a transfer of numbers from credit to debit on arbitrary account-books. Third, material-delegation, or those who own and run supply chains (capitalists). We can add 2 more to these under the general head of social-delegation. The first is private, as human resources in businesses. The second is public, as the sum totality of government employees, bureaucratic and elected.

¶7. These five delegations form, we might say, the sum stasis of (American) society as it presently stands, pyramid-like. The masses circulate leisure and labor. They are controlled by semiosizing financiers, who inject money for material intercourse (ie, as the Federal Reserve). These are in turn controlled by owners, who allocate resources. These are in turn controlled by bureaucrats, who semanticize the procedure in whatever language one likes – business-speak (synergize, leverage, game changer, etc.), legalese (actus reus, affidavit, mens rea, fee minor, etc.), academese (pace, contra, videlicet, nota bene), etc. Each, however, is a mode of epistemic control which bears on the others: bureaucratic semantics have to be understood by a certain amount of the population; financiers require faith in fiat; owners require a docile populous, etc. Each level is hemmed in by each other. Call this the epistemic division of labor. Masses: average-everyday knowhow. Financiers: semiotic manipulation. Owners: material manipulation. Private Bureaucrats: semantic by-law manipulation. Public Bureaucrats/Elected officials: semantic legal manipulation. Here, everyone controls everyone else in a stalemate, each slowly suffocating the other. Freedom, for the moment, is found only for a calendar-circumscription at the empty center between these. We call it “vacation.”

Summary outline:

  1. definition of the term (¶1)
    1. labor performed always exceeds labor spent; this is surplus labor, the condition for wealth (¶2)
    2. this excess causes the repetition of the work-day (¶3)
    3. this creates a universal interdependence of the labor-leisure cycle, which some exploit (¶4)
  2. As contributing to the secret of ownership: all productive ownership is ownership of men (¶5)
    1. divisible into a total of 5 task-delegations (¶6)
    2. accreting an epistemic division of labor which yields social stasis (¶7)

Depression and Difference

Brief Outline, for navigation:

  1. depression’s essence, as I have experienced it (¶1)
    1. case (a): “good” does not imply “different” (¶3)
    2. case (b): “good” is not ascribed (¶4)
  2. good for human beings must be different analytically, or else it cannibalizes the very idea of a “good difference” (¶5-¶8)
  3. difference as self-ascribed must be good, for it always arises from a feeling of the goodness of being (¶9)
  4. difference as uncritically self-loving and egotistical, sameness as a criterion for criticism (¶10-¶11)

¶1. The essence of all depressive tendency as I have experienced it is a feeling or sense of unbeing which, as a feeling for me, is a feeling wherein I am not recognized or not congratulated as good for my work.

¶2. Now, what does it mean to sense congratulation? This is at once a personal statement, that one has done a good job. It is also a differentiation in the midst of and bound up with this statement, such that the normative ascription “good” also entails a descriptive ascription “different.” This is a more analytic way of simply restating what the past sentence already said in its first half. The upshot hereof is that when (a) good does not entail different or (b) good is not ascribed at all, one is liable to fall into depression.

¶3. How? Well, clearly, if “good” does not imply “different,” then “good” is a term whose predicate value is nothing existential. That is, if good merely implies “same,” then the predicate has nothing specifically different within itself as applied to a subject. If this is the case, then the subject, gramatico-logically speaking, is nothing new when the predicate is applied. If this is the case, then the subject may well incur any other predicate. In existential terms, where the “I” is the subject who is assessed as “good,” if the assessment in no concrete way entails a difference of being, then the emptiness of the subject-predicate relation redounds to an emptiness of all that warranted it. In this case, it is no longer a grammatical or logical posit to say that the subject may well not have been predicated of. Rather, it is an existential fact about the “I” that it may well not have been predicated of. Such a belief not only discounts all that led to the act of predication but, moreover, leads the “I” into a state of disarray where he cannot trust the alignment and configuration of acts which lead to definite ascriptions of self. In this case, the divestiture of “different” from “good” denies the power of good, such that (b) might as well have been the case.

¶4. The issue with (b) is far simpler, so far as one does not incur goodness as to himself. When this is the case, one cannot help but feel a complete languor of existence, as he knows nothing about himself which is worth being or doing. Indeed, when this is the case, all things seem to him worthless for, being in the world, what worth is it to him if he does not feel himself good and different in that world? For, in (b), good already assumes difference analytic to it. If it doesn’t, we are led back to (a), whose conclusions lead us to (b), and if ~(b) does not have difference already entailed, then we are lead to something vicious and vacuous.

¶5. Such is the nature of all depression as I have experienced it: either one sees himself good but does not feel different, or he sees himself neither good nor different. One could imagine a state wherein one imagined himself not good but different, but such a case would be again to divest difference from good, such that difference was a matter altogether descriptive. If this were the case, then we could say that any bad man were different from other men simpliciter, such that the answer to the question “Is a bad man different from most men?” would be “yes”. But if we assert this, then indeed any man could become different simply by being bad, a possibility which poses an issue in and for us so long as what is recognized as “different” becomes the same across goodness and badness. If this is so, then “difference” as present along with good and bad would itself be the same and, being such, there would be no difference from good or bad themselves with respect to difference. We might contend that good and bad are both difference-making but that, rather, their difference is simply a matter of moral degree. But if this is so, then good and bad redound to difference as merely descriptive, and nothing can truly be said of good or bad that is not ultimately reducible to mere difference. And if this is the case, then any man could understand himself as “different” on bad terms, his self-understanding would as yet be good, for he understands something about himself which gratulates him and brings him to a uniqueness which he feels at the bottom of his heart.

¶6. So we have a contradiction immanent to the triad of good, bad, and different. Either (a) difference must be imputed to goodness (b) imputed to both goodness and badness or (c) have some other relation not yet considered. We know (b) cannot be from the above for, if it is, good and bad become nothing but difference. (Why this can’t be is simple. (1) we use “good” and “bad” as though they were something independent of mere difference (a proof from experience). (2) We could no longer call any movement of the heart (the subjective condition for normative assessment, ie. the use of the terms “good” and “bad”) anything except a difference from its previous state, something which would destroy all self-understanding and, thereby, the grounds for the use of the terms altogether (a proof from priors). Clearly (2) is the stronger of the cases. Why self-understanding must be the ground for the use of different, good, and bad is clear – without self, there is no “other” and without the “other” there is no gramatico-logical subject. Without these, predication becomes invalid and the entire discussion collapses. Thus we need the self and thus we need good and bad. Q.E.D.)

¶7. Therefore difference must either be analytic to goodness or it must have some other relation to good and bad not yet considered. Why no other relations are possible is simple. Either difference is good or it is not good. Of course, “is” is said in many ways and, consequently, we might mean it as (a) identical to (b) a species of (c) merely some-such sometimes. We do not mean (a), for we can call x different from y without saying x is better than it. We neither mean (c), because if difference were sometimes good and sometimes bad, we would be left in ¶5. Thus we must mean that difference is a species of goodness. Now, being that by “difference is good” I mean that it is a species thereof, we must ask: is difference a species of goodness or is it not? Clearly it is for, if it isn’t, then we are again left in ¶5. But is this sufficient to deny another possibility? Yes, because no other possibility is conceivable save merely temporary characterizations of the relation which, if indiscernible a priori, have no meaning except in the situations in which they present themselves and, consequently, have nothing to them except then and there. If this is the case, then discussion hereof becomes null and no universal validity is possible. If this is the case, then the terms have no meaning whatsoever. But they do have meaning, so this meaning must be capable of being adduced. Being capable of being adduced, it is discernible (not necessarily so but sufficiently so) a priori.

¶8. Now that difference is a species of goodness analytically, the romantic-synthetic meaning hereof can be given. For, when a man understands himself as different, he always understands this as a mark of his character, that he is who he is and that none else stands beside him as such. He is different from all else, and this at bottom feels to him worthy of praise. Indeed, if a man felt himself different in any other sense, we might say he felt nothing of himself at all. The man who thinks “I am different – I am no good. Everyone else is good while I am inferior.” Does not really consider himself “different” but merely inferior, so that he really considers everyone else the same. His “difference” is in name only and, though he might use this word, this is truly a misnomer. How? For, a man who feels himself different from a uniform sameness really thinks nothing, as he has imputed all things together as One, a move which he cannot carry to finality because he still senses himself. But he senses himself in such a way as to chafe against the Oneness he posits and so, knowing this, he ascribes the minimum normative content hereto, the notion that he is inferior. But already on this analysis, we see that this is incoherent, for he simultaneously posits the Other as the Same and the Self as Different. For to propose the Self as Different against an Other Sameness proposes a cosmological binary whose validity is entirely solipsistic and, as such, it has nothing to it but this binary. But either this binary is a part of the Same or the Different, for nothing else exists. If the Same, then the “I” is lost as is the sham inferior difference. If the Different, then the world is all “I” and I am no different from it. Thus solipsism refutes itself. Thus inferior difference collapses into a nothing, as was said at the outset. Such is the nature of depression.

¶9. Now, if a man senses himself different in the true sense, he knows himself to be a one among many, such that any cosmological binary is an impossibility. No one can feel himself different and inferior among many. Why? Plainly: there is too much among many for any to feel inferior in a real sense. Rather, he only feels it in a homogeneous-depressive sense as in ¶8. Thus, the romantic-synthetic meaning of difference is always goodness, for self-difference is a feeling of self-love which, in feeling, destroys all solipsism and knows itself to be a being-in-the-world, and a difference-making and difference-being one at that. These notions redound only to the sense of being which opposes the sense of non-being of depression.

¶10. To not be recognized is, then, to feel a dull banality that the world keeps churning while your work goes on, that the manifold structure of all things retains itself while you persist and that, while some others are recognized more quantitatively in this manifold, you are not. Such is a legitimate-circumstantial feeling when one really senses this banality and sameness, and that the self-love that furnishes different modes of recognition does so in an uncritical manner which reaffirms this sameness. This is different from a depressive-cosmological feeling which imputes Difference to Sameness, such that the sense of Sameness is homogeneous and all-encompassing. No, loci of possibility are found in a legitimate-circumstantial sameness, such that difference internal to itself can come to the fore and break open all that has been heretofore seen as the same. This is the project of socio-ontological explosion (exploding sameness by criticizing it as such, as a loss of uniqueness) and it finds the consciousness of homogenous sameness as a moment within itself, for those who notice the Same are those who are just as likely to see themselves as the only Difference against it. It is no surprise that those who see only Difference are often the happiest, for they are quick to judge themselves Different and, therefore, to gratulate themselves whenever possible. They are the pseudo-difference-makers, the tech wizards who think their numbers will reformat all of life. Perhaps it might, but only because of extraneous factors over and above, rules making possible, their movements. Only those who see the Same are privy to these rules in concreto – those moving in the world as Different experience them as temporary abstractions, “rules of the game” to be manipulated.

¶11. If there are such rules, how do we change them?

Summary Outline:

  1. depression’s essence, as I have experienced it (¶1)
    1. as normative and descriptive (¶2)
  2. case (a): “good” does not imply “different” (¶3)
  3. case (b): “good” is not ascribed (¶4)
  4. good for human beings must be different analytically, or else it cannibalizes the very idea of a “good difference” (¶5)
    1. this point restated as a contradiction between good, bad, and different (¶6)
    2. this point restated as a deduction from the meaning of “is” (¶7)
    3. conclusively: because “bad difference” is solipsism, and solipsism is self-contradictory (¶8)
  5. difference as self-ascribed must be good, for it always arises from a feeling of the goodness of being (¶9)
  6. difference as uncritically self-loving and egotistical, sameness as a criterion for criticism (¶10-¶11)

A Dialysis of Life and Death

Brief outline, for navigation:

  1. One cannot speak of the future, as it is dimmer than the present, about which one is already in the dark (¶1)
  2. We are guided by the pretention to truth; at this moment, I am guided by the thought of death (¶2-¶3)
  3. Capitalism seeks to change the world by changing its material through labor-time (¶4)
  4. the capitalist-seller’s changing the world is always his changing of himself (¶8)
  5. pressure is the use of all figurative death with an upper limit of literal death (¶11)

¶1. To attempt to enunciate the principles of the future is a task doomed to failure. Very few can say what is; even fewer, if any at all, can say what will be. The most that can be said with any certainty, a certainty which happens to be absolute, is that what-will-be will not be what-now-is. For, the existential predicate (∃x) is at once a temporally-localized ascription, and one which is subjectively so. It is in this most fundamental of statements, the affirmation that something exists, that we enter into the secret underground, the catacombs, beneath which lie the much-debated disciplines of epistemology and politics. For, in this crypt, we see death merge with life, and all things come together in ways unforeseeable. Here lies buried that which is other from all consciousness, which is immanent to it and yet is its transcendental condition. I mean, namely, experience, or that which one is already doing before he even makes the attempt. One could merely wake up in the morning and already he will traverse the entirety of the crypt, he among its many keepers. He will at every moment traverse it again, forever, repeatedly, and he will continue to do so without his ever having known he has made the journey. Hereby little hobgoblins will begin to trail him and, as he emerges into the light of opinion, he will find himself shining and outshining those around him, others outshining him thereby. Each is helped by his own army of goblins, each peering out into the light from the darkness of immanent otherness. The goblins carry the torch of truth, he its object, his ideas the discordance between himself, the torch, and that of which he speaks. About this circus spins endless discussion, for the locality of these 4 entities (5 if one counts the goblins) is never set in stone. For this reason, no one quite knows what they are doing, for each is at every moment traversing underground tunnels with an infinite following, he a blind shepherd and the goblins his sheep. For this reason, all debate over words is a breath of air, a momentary shining whose showy reflection is but a display of things. How little we know of all that there is in light of this! How less we know of what will be!

¶2. And yet, despite this infinite gap between us and our objects, we speak always as though we had the things themselves gripped in our hands. How foolish! How more foolish for us to attempt to predict what follows from these grips! How little we can do this!

¶3. No matter. If we want to speak of the future, our goblins will guide us somehow and, though we know not how, they will show us something anywise. What is it that they give me now? What is it that they want me to see? These my passions now incline towards death, and it is this of which I shall write!

¶4. The only means to change the world is to control the lives of those who create it. The capitalist knows this all too well, for he believes that he can accrue his capital on condition of the difference between labor-power or any value-quanta he places into a product and that which he gains from its sale. It is in this difference alone that all profit exists, and it is in such profit that all capitalists are produced, if only in the most lightly bourgeois sense. For, we can distinguish between multiple methods of accrual, some of which are personal and depend on no other labor than that of the isolated individual. This solo entrepreneur retains a bourgeois character, albeit in a more medieval-Jacobin sense – he is an artisan become incorporated. This is to say that he is still a capitalist, albeit one far closer to a human potential that has been actualized in and by capitalist modes of labor organization. Therefore, the motive-explanation of what the capitalist “is” is somewhat insufficient, for it cannot explain this artisanal individual in himself. I rely on Marx’s account: namely, that the capitalist is he who behaves as one, and that this behavior (indifferent to motive), is rather the sale of products over and above the quantity of labor it took to produce them. Now, on Marx’s terms, such a quantity can never arise from the artisan, for he could only ever sell according exactly to his own labor-time. If he sold any differently and attempted thereby to turn a profit, he would not be “exploiting” himself, for the surplus labor time would redound to him alone. He is, on Marx’s terms, therefore, no capitalist.

¶5. It is the organizational distinction between laborer-as-creator and seller-as-owner which, socio-ontologically, engenders the latter’s position as a member of the bourgeoisie. Such a social behaviorist account is, therefore, indifferent to the motive of the seller-as-owner. Now, when this capitalist wants to “change the world,” he offers capital to some laborer as a consequence of his labor. Hereby, he objectively alters the socio-ontic conditions about him, for he has taken others under his monetary wing. From this change follows a market change, that is, the presence of the product for sale. From this follows the possibility and then actuality of sale, from which follows the accrual of capital. Such a triangle of change is real in every sense, for in all three moments ((1) seller-worker (2) seller-product (3) seller-sold)) the seller is at each moment the socio-agential actuator. That is, it is he and his intentions which “mind” men like himself. In (1), the laborer is only a material causality; in (2), the product a formal causality; in (3), the buyer/sold-state a final causality. In each case and in the scheme considered as a whole, the efficient cause is the seller. Hereby, all the world changes as it revolves around this seller, for he is its point of departure and return, its exitus and reditus, its alpha and omega. The capitalist is thus the agent of change par excellence, and he does so by subordinating all other kinds of causation beneath him.

¶6. Now, the capitalist does this essentially through a dialectics of life and death. For, no product-consumption is ever anything but a furthering of life in avoidance of death. The dead man wants nothing, for he has nothing to further. I mean this literally and figuratively; for this means the melancholic is dead – he wills nothing, for he is nothing. Life-living, or willing according to desire, thereby lies behind all motivation. This analytic truth is known a priori to the capitalist, who uses it to his advantage. He orients this truth towards his efficiency and, as an agent of change, thereby alters the whole world in magnetizing it. His intention, like electric, magnetizes inert steel and makes it gravitate towards him. The laborer wants the capitalist to employ him. The idea wants the capitalist to bear him through the laborer’s craft as a product. The market wants its niches filled, just as much as all space “wants” to be filled by being. Hereby, like the artist, the seller is a creator in imago Dei, in the image of God.

¶7. About the seller thereby circulates 3 changes. (1) A change among men, laborers and buyers. (2) A change in objective reality, or the presence of a product or service otherwise non-existent. (3) A change in subjective reality, or culture, as mediated through (1) and (2). This final change recurs both to (1) and to a fourth implicit change in the seller himself who, like a mythic hero, creates himself off the backs of those he has subordinated. He is nowise “good” in any of this. He merely plays a certain role, one which need neither be nor not be, but which has been constructed through a series of objective and subjective realities over the course of many centuries. The seller, now, is, therefore, a deposit of change, and he relies on this change for his action.

¶8. Now, because these changes are mediated through a life-death dialectic, the seller can only sell so much. In fact, he is simultaneously limited and determined by this dialectic, so that his selling at all is at once identical in its premises with what could not otherwise have been sold. His “this I have sold” is always an implicit “and that I have not,” but so it is for all intentional action. But this fact limits and determines the seller in another way. Namely, the seller can only conceive of himself in and by his sale; he is the thing that does the selling. What, then, can he be otherwise? Anything else he becomes is super-added to this function, for his world-changing and thereby self-creating capacity flows immanently from it. He is that and nothing else. He lives as that thing.

¶9. A life-death dialectic of sale is thus a life-death dialectic of the seller – of himself. In this self-creation the seller makes of himself a certain kind of man, namely, a man who can and does command other men, products, and a market of desires ready to be satisfied. The capitalist perceives himself on the side of life in all this but, a contrariis, he is simultaneously killing alternate possibilities. His life is thereby always a form of death. (This is not even to mention the market constrictions which warrant real, material death – of the planet, of animals, of men).

¶10. Now, if one foresees a future in death, he might mean it figuratively or literally. Literally, most clearly, he might mean the death of this man killing the world. Through a verbal sleight of hand, one might justify literal death on grounds of their figurative death. I intend to do nothing of this sort. Rather, I want only to put these affairs in the same category. For, if one puts men in a position where they might “do” in every action they take, then the intention-towards-death is only a matter of degree, and never of kind. That is, the intention that death result from an action is only the farthest extreme of a gradation of thoughts which begin “I want to do x,” whatever x might be. Now, I intend to avoid the explicit intention-towards-death altogether. Rather, I want only to keep it in place as a limit, a that-which-I-must-never-reach, so I can explore all options beneath it which, even if approaching it, never do so.

¶11. Now, when I consider the thought, what first comes to mind is a threat, which is too simple. Threats are mere words, and all the world has built itself up around the movement of words. Through some words, armies might be sent and directed, through others millions of dollars might be moved. Threats, then, are a low tier in the hierarchy I am intending. What imaginatively comes next are direct assaults, though these are too overt and easily outdone by official, ministerial words.

¶12. What one needs between the threat and the overt assault is a covert assault or, rather, something which poisons without life-ending, which harms without damaging. Something which, upon a point of no return, will irreparably damage but which, if demands are complied with, will produce desired results. This is pressure, and it is the essential tool of all effective protest and counter-power. What are the methods of pressure, and how might they be practiced intentionally?

¶13. As said at the outset, this is a meditation on death and, thereby, I can consider pressure nothing but a squeezing out of life, an exhaustion. This, therefore, is something like a theory of kinematic activism, or activism with a kinesis, or inner motility, whose force impresses on that of another. To will that others perish is too strong, too inhuman. To speak of these (if only figuratively) is, however, to warrant change. Is this not life-making in its own way? Yes, but not through selling. Rather, through politicking, albeit in a vulgar-activistic sense. (Isn’t even saying this striking to the reader? Doesn’t he or she recoil at the blithe discussion of such topics? If he or she does, then this very reaction has proved my point, for he feels the force of life inside him. At least, I do as I read this.)

Complete outline:

  1. One cannot speak of the future, as it is dimmer than the present, about which one is already in the dark (¶1)
  2. We are guided by the pretention to truth; at this moment, I am guided by the thought of death (¶2-¶3)
  3. Capitalism seeks to change the world by changing its material through labor-time (¶4)
    1. through an efficient causation which controls all other modes of causation (¶5)
    2. which is a sublimation of desire into efficiency, ie. as market-agency (¶6)
    3. material causality changes men, materials, and culture (¶7)
    4. this creates a mythic valorization in the seller (¶7)
  4. the capitalist-seller’s changing the world is always his changing of himself (¶8)
    1. this is a killing of other possibilities of the capitalist’s self (¶9)
    2. thus figurative and literal death can be considered in the same category, the latter a limit of the former (¶10)
  5. pressure is the use of all figurative death with an upper limit of literal death (¶11)
    1. and this can be considered hierarchically (¶12)
    2. with a view toward change, or life-making (¶13)

Perverse Instrumentalities

brief outline, for navigation:

  1. definition (📍) of perverse instrumentality
  2. list of instrumentalities
    1. limits of consciousness
    2. difference of time
    3. difference of space
    4. difference of having
  3. explication of the instrumentalities (¶1-3)

📍 perverse instrumentality – a conditional and practical syllogism [1] whereby a man reasons that, given his resources, he can do more than another. Hereby this man instrumentalizes these resources and those with whom he aims to do more than. These people are instruments in his design. Hence, the design is perverse – it makes men into instruments as a consequence of thought itself, regardless of what action is taken. Unlike Kant in the Critique of Practical Reason, who argues that human morality must treat men as ends in themselves, here reason is perverse, treating men “merely as a means.”

Key: “M” – major premise. “m” – minor premise. “cl” – conclusion.

1. Limits of Consciousness

Conditional: “if they don’t know of x, I can do y”

Practical Syllogism:

  • M: They don’t know of x (such that x precludes y)
  • m: I can/ought do y.
  • cl: I do y.


  • M: They don’t know of a government service. (Such that, if they knew, I couldn’t market to them).
  • m: I can market to them.
  • cl: I market to them.

2. Difference of Time

Conditional: “if they do not have the time for x, they cannot do x before I do y”

Practical Syllogism:

  • M: x takes an amount of time which one lacks (and x is such that time(y) < time(x))
  • m: I can do y before another does x.
  • cl: I prevent x by doing y.


  • M: Buying a house in cash is slower than buying it on credit.
  • m: And I can obtain that credit faster than another can obtain cash.
  • cl: I prevent their cash-purchase through my credit-purchase.

3. Difference of Space

Conditional: “If they don’t have space for x, they cannot do x as effectively as I can do y”

Practical Syllogism:

  • M: x effectively requires an amount of space which one lacks (and x is such that space(y) < space(x))
  • m: I can do y more effectively than another does x.
  • cl: I occlude x by doing y.


  • M: Filming a video is easier and more effective in a larger house.
  • m: I have a larger house.
  • cl: I occlude the smaller-house video.

4. Difference of Having

Conditional: “If I have resources n greater than another’s connections q, where n > q, then I can do more with n than another can with q”

Practical Syllogism:

  • M: q connections produce output z and n connections produce output y, where z < y.
  • m: I have n connections.
  • cl: I produce output y (superior to the man with q connections, who produced the inferior output z).

Note: this formula appears in all cases of having, especially:

  1. Material
  2. Intellectual
    1. Know-that
    2. Know-what
    3. Know-how
  3. Social
    1. Prestige
    2. Connection
    3. Appearance


  • M: Knowing a financier enables more rapid development of a business.
  • m: and I know a financier.
  • cl: my business development will be more rapid than another who does not know one.

¶1. In the above we sketch any possible reasoning whereby one attempts to outstrip another. These, then, are the a priori forms of competition (see [2] for the meaning of an a priori form). One cannot think competitively without thinking of one of these forms. Naturally, they descend from the most to the least universal (see [3]; Aristotle’s syllogism in the Analytics descends from a universal in the major premise). Perhaps the limits of consciousness could follow time and space (as in [2], Transcendental Aesthetic), though this is debatable, since consciousness is both the condition and consequence of time and space (as in [4]). We proceed, then: 1. Whole 2. Temporal part 3. Spatial part 4. Empirical obtaining.

¶2. Here, the whole of consciousness is epistemological competition, whereas spatio-temporal differences concern ontological-existential competition. Empirical obtaining is a historical competition. Here, history comprehends only what one was able to access during the duration of their lifetime. History, here, is thus a personal history.

¶3. In typical idealist form, each is only one side of the others, all sides of a coherent whole (see [5]). I call this whole “perverse instrumentalization.” All consciousness is temporal, and all consciousness is spatial (as in [2]). Yet, all time is conscious as is all space – there is neither (for us) without us. Furthermore, no man has “x” unless he is conscious of his having that “x”, in some respect (either actually or potentially, see [3], Metaphysics). Thus, each conditional is merely a slice of a more complex totality which, in actual reasoning, will comprehend each as a moment of itself. No man, I argue, will think merely of the superior time on his hands, but also of what can be determined in that time, namely, forming contacts, acquiring resources, etc. these judgments occur in and through time, and time through them. (Cf. Robert Pippin’s account of universal and particular in [6] – no universal positable without reference to a determinate particular). For, I do not think of any empty vacuous time where all is possible – time is no azoth [7]. Rather, I think of time as determinate, as possible then and there, for certain purposes [8]. These a priori forms, then, are the skeletons on which the muscles and sinews of action form – they are the condition for the embodiment of human perversion, of being-towards-death [9].


[1] Aristotle, “Nichomachean ethics,” in Volume 8: Aristotle II, 2nd ed., vol. 8, 60 vols., M. J. Adler, Ed. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1990.

[2] I. Kant, Critique of pure reason, [Private library ed. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1955.

[3] Aristotle and R. McKeon, The basic works of aristotle. New York: Modern Library, 2001.

[4] G. W. F. Hegel, K. Brinkmann, and D. O. Dahlstrom, Encyclopedia of the philosophical sciences in basic outline. Part 1: Science of logic. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

[5] G. W. Hegel, “Encyclopedia logic (brinkmann and dahlstrom).”

[6] R. B. Pippin, Hegel’s realm of shadows: Logic as metaphysics in the science of logic. Chicago ; London: The University of Chicago Press, 2018.

[7] B. Valentinus, Azoth sive aureliae Occultae philosophorum, materiam primam et decantatum illum lapidem philosophorum explicantes … Georgio Beato interprete. Johannes Bringerus, 1613. Available:

[8] J. Dewey, How we think. S.l.: Bibliotech Press, 2020.

[9] M. Heidegger, J. Macquarrie, and E. Robinson, Being and time, 35. reprint. Malden: Blackwell, 2013.

The Greatest Problem

Doing is perhaps man’s greatest problem. The rub of the problem is this: how is it possible to do anything at all? Will anything be anything, or will something according to someone always be nothing? How is it then that anyone retains the capacity for anything whatever? Is there such a thing as capacity, or is that merely a name for impotence which appears particularly potent in consciousness? Is that nothing but an idle play of metaphor, as Nietzsche says?

An Explication of Neo-Liberal Culture

Brief outline, for navigation:

  1. critique of neoliberal culture’s point of departure: givenness in consciousness (¶1)
  2. culture: the interface of the a priori and the empirical (¶5)
  3. (dialectical) cultural critique: the objectification of culture (¶10)
  4. rejection of mental illness – all human science bears a cultural, implicit aspect capable of critique (¶11)
  5. the facts of neoliberal culture (¶13-16)
  6. concluding exhortation: merely speaking one’s mind is an act of cultural resistance (¶17)

¶1. What is neoliberal culture? Where does it begin? It must begin with givenness, or what appears in and before consciousness. But what is the a priori justification for claiming that this or that is cultural? That is, what is the universally valid (or valid for all knowers) condition for the possibility of the claim? This must be present within culture. Why? If the a priori in question is anywhere else but in culture, then culture is subject to a universal premise. But culture is its own subject, and if we propose that it is subject to something beyond it, then we must propose something divine. Why? Because any human knower is already subject to culture – no one can speak without the influence of culture on him. How? Though other examples might be given, language is a priori a cultural object. Indeed, language subsists of rules independent of the consciousnesses of all who speak it – if such rules were given a priori and universally, no grammarians would be necessary. Indeed, grammar, in such a case, would not be cultural but individual, since its premises would be present in any consciousness without further clarification. But grammarians conduct that very clarification. Therefore, linguistic rules are not a priori, but empirical. (What I have in mind by such rules are, for instance, in English the phrasal expectancy that an adjective occur before a noun, as in ‘a fat cow,’ rendering ‘a cow fat’ a priori incorrect.)

¶2. To recap: although the use of language subsists a priori and universally in culture, its rules are empirical and given individually in culture. Thus, language is cultural a priori because language is necessarily cultural. However, although the rules or content of language are also themselves a priori cultural, they are not, with respect to any individual, a priori. Rather, they are empirical data, learned from without through the process of acculturation. Thus, that language has a certain correctness is an a priori datum. However, what that correctness consists in is empirically given to any individual. Thus, although Chomsky’s universal grammar may be a priori, these inert roots grow out into empirical practices demanding empirical investigation by grammarians.

¶3. Now, language is a cultural object par excellence because of this simultaneous a priori/empirical character. Even though language is a universally valid means of communication – everyone with whom we can communicate necessarily uses it (aside: here I also mean what GH Mead has termed the ‘significant symbol’ or ‘gesture’ as language, so that even deaf-mutes and those raised without ‘language’ as traditionally understood are linguistic; any empirical datum with an a priori aspect is linguistic, in my view. Thus we speak of the “language of ritual” or the “language of rhetoric,” etc. etc.) – its total content is not entirely present in any one mind at any one time. Indeed, no one at any time remembers all conjugations of a particular irregular verb, “write” for example – he must call them to mind. Thus, when he was doing some other thing, he was not thinking of the conjugation at that time. Only having been stimulated to think of the past tense conjugation, “written,” will he conceive of it. One does not have it “in mind,” or “in consciousness,” except when one explicitly does.

¶4. Now, one might contend that one has at any time a possibility of calling all features of language to mind, but is this so? Can everyone say he remembers the arcana of his 5ᵗʰ grade language arts class if only prompted? Who among my readers can define for me the dangling participle without the use of google? For this reason, I deny any a priori validity to this contention. If one has at any time a possibility of calling linguistic features to mind, this too must be an empirical fact, since one’s memory develops in and through empirical contact with stimuli. If you remember what you googled, you stimulated and remembered an empirical object, namely, the information in question. Now, you might construe it a priori after the fact in use, but this again must proceed empirically, since no language occurs except through an empirical datum, the empirical word, the empirical sentence, the empirical paragraph, and so on. Or, if one prefers: the empirical-vocal utterance, statement, and speech. Thus no language use is anywhere an a priori fact (this too as an empirical claim!).

¶5. It is the interface of the empirical and the a priori through language which determines its cultural character. Indeed, it is this which I define as the cultural as such: that which maintains an a priori form with an empirical content. Anything of which we predicate “culture” will follow this definition. Religion rests in an a priori notion of God but follows empirical rituals. Music rests in a priori affects in response to tones but incurs these through empirical stimulation. In short: anything which demands mass practice but must proceed empirically has a cultural aspect.

¶6. Thus, we speak of a “political culture” – that which everyone shares in concerning politics and the state a priori but which is simultaneously empirically given in the actions of politicians and voters. We also speak of a “dating culture” – that which everyone shares in concerning romance and dating a priori but which is simultaneously given in the actions and experiences of those who date. Entailed herein are “expectancies,” “probabilities,” and other conditions and consequences of human action. We subsume all of these under “culture” for their inner ambiguity: the interface of the a priori and the empirical.

¶7. Now, the ambiguity arises and must be subsumed itself under the cultural practice of using the predicate “culture” because we have nowhere else for the set of practices to which the term extends. When we mean to talk of that which is not definitely studied under a human science or that which is otherwise incalculable, we give it the moniker “culture.” Hereby we partake of something cultural – the assumption that some actions given in consciousness warrant no further investigation and are, therefore, merely “cultural.” “Culture,” then, is nothing but a thought-termination mechanism, a stop-gap to prevent penetration into the order and grammar of action. Where culture begins, science ends.

¶8. I might recap and say, then, that culture is the implicit, whereas science is the explicit. Thus, Aristotle’s political philosophy is deeply cultural since it accepts slavery a priori, on numerous readings of his work. Aquinas’s moral philosophy is also cultural because it accepts faith a priori, although Aquinas himself admits this. In the modern period, only Kant (himself cultural insofar as he postulates God, though I must bracket this for now) sought to critique the cultural in the philosophical. Thus, Marx follows Kant and claims that the critique of religion is the embryonic criticism of all culture since, hitherto, all that was assumed a priori about man was justified in and through divinity, a cultural artifact. The probing into culture is, therefore, the critique of implication, of “mystical consciousness obscure to itself.” Hereat I return to my opening premise, that culture must be its own subject, lest we posit divinity. It is only when culture is a natural force, subject to nothing but itself as the highest accretion of biological, chemical, and physical law that it can be probed into and critiqued. When we posit natural law of culture, as the economists often do via the market, we bear for ourselves a new God, a new highest subject to which we must submit. Anyone who dismisses the critique of culture does the same, culturally.

¶9. Now, where most sit still before the possibility of cultural critique is what with Hegel we can call “picture thinking.” This is the notion that the empirical datum is irreducible. Yet, science everywhere disproves this fact – as inquiry into causal probability, science demands logicism, or the incorporation of empirical data into law. Thus, most will cringe (perhaps rightfully) from the explanation of human behavior in general terms. Such explanations are often reductive and totalizing, subjecting culture rather than objectifying it. That is, reducers make culture subject to laws (typically their laws), rather than inducing the laws in culture subject to it. For, we are already in culture and, I repeat, the moment we subject it, we unconsciously posit a divinity above it. Thus, misogynists will posit the quasi-divine “natural” character of female submission; neoliberal pansies will posit the quasi-divine “natural” character of self-interest, etc. Here Spinoza returns in a most hateful garb! Such “natural” posits are only attempts at prophecy: “I, dear mortal, have the laws of Divine Nature, to which you are inevitably subject! Only follow me, and you will forever see paradise!”

¶10. If, then, we are to define neoliberal culture, we must critique it as an object. Any other definition will subject it to something beyond it, which deifies. Similarly, we can only proceed on this definition via our own experience, since any other definition of any culture in which we live is objectified through our encounters with it. Anything else will posit culture as a subject beneath us, rather than an object within us. It is this haughty, ignorant, illegitimate move which wins the ire of so many milquetoast thinkers who deny the possibility and necessity of cultural critique. Such thinkers would rather “do their part!” within the system, accepting it and its cultural baggage as pre-given. Yet, those who go too far and reject ideological thinking become self-enclosed, as they posit themselves as the quasi-divine object which subjects all culture beneath itself. A dialectical view of culture, by contrast, puts the self in the position of subject while making culture its object, so that the question of culture’s subjectivity is at worst bracketed and at best answered in the negative. I have attempted to perform that negative answer here through the datum of language. In ¶8-10 given the worst case scenario – moving on in quietist terms without absolute security in my point of departure.

¶11. Now, this dialectical view denies the a priori possibility of mental illness. How? Because individuals are everywhere subjects to culture, no givenness before any one individual can be dismissed except culturally. Why? Because all speech-acts entail a cultural moment, or a moment of subjection before a superior power of which they are unaware (culture), all givenness is valid qua cultural. Now, culture itself can and will pick up demands for expediency, the sustenance of life, and so forth. Thus, on my (admittedly radical) view, no view (even the most extreme and heinous) is wrong a priori. It can, at most, have a moment of a priori wrongness, but this is insufficient for its being wrong. Sufficiency accrues only when a culture empirically sanctions that a priori moment. Is this cultural relativism? No, for reasons that must be specified at a later time. In brief, if we assume that culture is its own subject and that it moves in and through consciousness, then, as with the rest of evolution, either consciousness will suit its niches or it will not. This suiting will demand a right and wrong in and for consciousness, and it is hereat that any so-called “objective” morality will arise – sustenance of human life, a priori moral dicta, etc. All I mean to say is that even this objectivity stands on historical ground, accreted through collective practices, and that we cannot deny this fact. For individuals, this means that there is nothing a priori about their givenness which can be denied. Rather, all diagnoses concerning the critique of that givenness (the first point of departure for symptomization) are in the last analysis cultural, and cultural critics (like Foucault, MacIntyre, Butler, and Agamben) are necessary to justify the final cultural move.

¶12. Thus, the point of departure for cultural critique in general and the definition of neoliberal culture in particular cannot be forestalled by a critique from individual eccentricity, or mental illness. Rather, because all such critique will proceed culturally, and it is exactly this which cultural critique aims to critique, the critique must be accepted in good faith, or else whoever would dismiss it a priori erects a new God before which all men must submit. I do no such thing. Let all speak, and let all listen! Then, let those who want life to win out quiet those who threaten it. Isn’t this all cultural history as it has ever proceeded, even in the darkest of nights? What demagogue has appealed to death as his winning principle? None exist.

¶13. Having defined culture as the a priori/empirical interface and its critique as undeniable on a priori terms, all that is left is to apply these generalities to neoliberalism in particular. The first fact (1) of neoliberal culture is the bifurcation of life into work and play. One works to play and one plays to work. One does his 9-5 so that he can reap the rewards of other goods and services produced by others on theirs. The second fact (2) of this culture is that, when playing, one ought be entirely at rest and present in his play. Play must never be a work, since one intentionally reserves his working thought for his job. All cultural critique is therefore automatically suspect, since this would be a job which ought exist within the confines of the academy. The third fact (3) is that persons are the data of culture and that culture must end with its own utterance. As said in ¶7, “culture” terminates thought as a “That’s just how things are,” and then implicitly, “don’t dare look further into it.” With the second fact, the termination thereby says “if that’s what you want to do, go be a social scientist and leave us out of it.” The fourth fact (4), then, is the implicit inadmissability of all culturally critical thoughts on grounds of hubristic subjection of others to oneself. Many will, in fact, dismiss this paragraph because each sentence implicitly invokes them. This fact alone will warrant their disgust for the thought “He thinks he can read my mind!” All minds are, thereby, assumed absolutely inviolable and subject to no theorizing. That is, of course, until marketing agents, psychologists, and sociologists perform their work! The fifth fact (5) is that a set of expectancies for social comportment must be admitted in consciousness as “normalcy.”

¶14. The first datum (a) of normalcy is the sui generis character of the social. That is, social relations and formations are assumed to have a natural character unto themselves whose consequences and conditions are inviolable. One automatically should have friends and should associate with others. This formality is a priori; its content is left an empirical datum subject to those with whom one associates. This datum is the condition for the possibility of all contemporary literature which stereotypes subjects based on friend groups and clothing. Such thinking permeates our language. One cannot say “jock” without thinking of a definite character type who associates with others of the same type – those who like and play sports. The same can be said of a “goth,” a “band nerd,” a “starbucks girl,” a “finance bro,” a “cs coder,” and so on. Each evokes a determinate constitution, the character of which enters the social sui generis. That is, how one comes to incur the moniker and associate with others of the same sort boils down only to some vagary about “feelings” or “desires.” The rest is social life in brute normalcy – people just somehow associate and accept the world in a pre-given manner; some associate based around one kind of pre-givenness (e.g. sports), others around another (e.g. a form of music), others around another still.

¶15. The second datum (b) is the universal subjection of men to other men. Unless one happens to associate with Marxists or anarchists (a fact already subject to fact 5.a above!) one is never free to speak his mind about how power rules over us. No, instead this fact will be sublimated into humor and jokes. There is a liberatory praxis herein – power is disarmed beneath its finitude. Comedians, particularly George Carlin, are adept at this kind of thinking. However, this remains unconscious and mystical insofar as humor maintains 5.a unto itself – it picks up sociality as something unquestionable and pokes fun at the fact it has not yet been questioned. Now, if one happens to associate with those leaning right or misogynistically, this fact will be taken up under a primitive deifying of “nature,” so that “power” is just a “fact of life.” Hereby thought is once more terminated, as culture becomes a subject of something about which we cannot control, “nature”. (How it is we have controlled any aspect of nature is, then, never mentioned). In most cases, however, (5.a) and (4) will be rallied to critique misogynists and fascists (if one is a liberal neoliberal, particularly Rawls) or Marxists (if one is a conservative neoliberal, particularly Karl Popper) to subject the individual in question and his analysis before the premises of neoliberal culture: the inadmissability of culturally critical thoughts and the sui generis character of the social. This constant thought-termination smacks of anti-intellectualism, status-quo-ism, and do-nothing-ism. It is, at its best, milquetoast harm mitigation. This is necessary work. However, it does little more than keep the Sisyphean rock of human culture in place while the gravity of ignorance pushes it down.

¶16. The third datum (c) of normalcy is the practical application of (a) and (b) as working and playing well. Working well means admitting the sub-datum (i) that the division of labor is all well and good and (ii) that we cannot know or question the total orientation of that labor, since it denies the normative character already affirmed in (i). Thus, each must go to his job, put in a hard day’s work, then return home. Playing well means going out with friends, joking with them about how aimless the world is, then returning home so you can go to work the next day and make money to do it all over again. This is the final compression of all neoliberal subjects into (as Herbert Marcuse terms it) a one-dimensional mold: work, play, and (iii) shut up. For, to speak is to violate the cultural expectancy which binds us to our work-play cycle; to speak is neither to work nor to play in the traditional sense. To speak and enter upon the critique of culture is to risk everything, since culture (as J. Huizinga, Hegel, and Marx argue) is the highest human achievement, “Objective Spirit” in Hegel and Theodore Adorno’s words. (Aside: one can only speak as an individual victim of other individuals. Here speakers assume (5.b) such that, for instance, African Americans are victims of white power (which, to be sure, they are), without ever questioning the condition for the possibility of that power. I affirm instead: African Americans are victims of white power foisted onto them by a cultural totality (neoliberalism) which uses white power to its advantage as a means of keeping groups separate and preventing an (admittedly romantic) universal brotherhood of men. The difference: while in the first speech the totality remains unquestioned and other practices of violence can be perpetuated, in the second the condition is struck a blow at its cultural root.)

¶17. Speaking, then, is the first and final act of cultural criticism. To merely expose what is given to oneself of the evils of the world is an act in resistance to that world. To break the mold of normalcy: to dare to blaze a path of absolutely self-given autonomy, to be a free spirit in the Nietzschean sense; this is cultural criticism complete and entire.

summary outline:

  1. critique of neoliberal culture’s point of departure: givenness in consciousness (¶1)
    1. otherwise, we assert divinity (¶1)
    2. because culture is its own subject, to which all else is subject (¶1)
    3. as demonstrated by language, which is a priori and empirical (¶2)
      1. language is never actually present a priori in consciousness (¶3)
      2. language is never possibly present a priori in consciousness (¶4)
  2. culture: the interface of the a priori and the empirical (¶5)
    1. “culture” as itself cultural (¶6-¶7)
    2. cultural critique as depending first on the critique of religion (¶8)
    3. cultural quietism is a cultural deism (¶9)
  3. (dialectical) cultural critique: the objectification of culture (¶10)
    1. necessarily given the empirics of language (¶10)
    2. possibly given the pre-established critique of religion (¶8)
  4. rejection of mental illness – all human science bears a cultural, implicit aspect capable of critique (¶11)
    1. as denying wholesale dismissal of cultural critique (¶12)
  5. the facts of neoliberal culture (¶13-16)
    1. life = work + play (¶13)
    2. work ≠ play (¶13)
    3. culture is ineffable; only persons can be spoken of (¶13)
    4. cultural critique is personal irresponsibility (¶13)
    5. normalcy is a set of expectances for social comportment (“how you ought to behave”) (¶13)
      1. the sui generis character of the social (¶14)
      2. men are universally subject to other men, a fact which can only be laughed at (¶15)
      3. the only normal activity is to work and play well, as (¶16)
        1. accepting the division of labor normatively (¶16)
        2. denying the possibility of normative critique from the standpoint of totality (¶16)
        3. keeping quiet about your thoughts (¶16)
  6. concluding exhortation: merely speaking one’s mind is an act of cultural resistance (¶17)