Alter-Economies | Alter-Ecologies Workshop
4 June 2018, 10:00 - 16:00
Morning session led by Erin and Brian, Afternoon led by Niklas
Milieux Resource Center EV 11.705, Concordia University
Niklas Wild-Damiris’ Outline:
In this workshop I plan to discuss and build on Brian Massumi’s forthcoming: “99 Theses; for a revaluation of value”
First, I will reflect on his problematization of value from a Marx-inspired ‘critique of value’ perspective. Next, I will address the theses on derivatives: while agreeing with him and other recent scholarship that the digital incarnation of these financial instruments, could make their repurposing easier and thus free them from their main preoccupation with ‘money-capital accumulation’, there are issues that need to be resolved first, if such ‘creative duplicity’ can be effective. Two important and related ones are: the ontology of algorithms and the problem of formalization rather than of ‘quantification’.
I will make a few remarks on the character of self-reference and reflexivity as they pertain to formalism, and how money itself qua formal structure can be also approached thus.
I will also briefly comment on Blockchain, whose dubious impact will have more to do with changing the rule of law, rather than the dominant economic order.
A lot of Brian Massumi’s arguments are based on an inspired reading and intuitions culled mostly from Deleuze & Guattari and Whitehead. In my presentation I will suggest how they could be further enhanced and operationalized by drawing from Quantum Field Theory.
I will not get too technical on this point, for I want to move to what I consider the main topic for our discussion: I will dub it the ‘Eco-Eco Nexus’
Briefly, I would like to claim that the core issue climate change is driving home hard, and faster than anticipated, is how we ‘do/practice economy’ under the ‘warming condition’.
I will argue for a generalized sense of economy (which has some affinity with Bataille’s ‘general’ economy’ and also gets inspiration from Klossowski’s ‘Living Currency’ and Henry’s From Communism to Capitalism Theory of a Catastrophe)
However, my largest inspiration and aspiration is to theorize something after the spirit of Schroedinger’s What Is Life? I want to I ask: What is Economy? The question cannot be posed, I claim, without factoring the ecological context not as an afterthought, but as the constitutive precondition of human economic activity. Since I want to avoid what I take to be a conceptual mistake to ‘hybridize’ ‘capital’ and ‘nature’, I introduce a methodological innovation based on rethinking the status of theory in quantum physics and how it deploys formalism. This ties back to the concern raised earlier concerning the differences between formalization and quantification.
I conclude the outline of my position by returning to Brian’s powerful call for a ‘revaluation of value’. I will propose emending his analysis with a morphogenetic approach to ‘monetary value’ based on the self-referential status of prices and the ubiquitous and unavoidable presence of uncertainty as leveraged in quantum physics.
My Eco-Eco (Econo-ecological) Nexus is not merely a slogan to displace ‘The Cash-Nexus’, but a re-write of Spinoza’s ‘God sive Natura’: God or nature (a.k.a. ecology) is immanent to economy, which defines human existence. This implies, without getting overly religious or theological, that ‘God or Nature’ is always the other that is never far away. Agency at its most potent and arrogant is only a trigger whose consequences are beyond its control. And yet humans must act! Especially Today!
If so, financial Speculation, like the divination practices of old, could underwrite a common planetary ethos for ‘coping with what is spoiled’.
Given the weighty the topics I try to weave together, I will conclude with few ‘light’ remarks comparing the currently popular Latourian research programme with the Hayekian inspired neoliberalism.