The metaphysics of capitalist radicality

From the Lundi matin collective (#308, 11/10/2021), a text-intervention by Jean-Marc Royer …

La critique d’un ordre social et politique a besoin d’une perspective, d’un horizon de sens pour parvenir à problématiser les analyses; le seul point de vue qui vaille en ces domaines, c’est celui de l’émancipation humaine.

Jean-Marc Royer, Le monde comme projet Manhattan

The Historiography of Misery and the Misery of Historiography

1. Contrary to a thriving European-centred vision, capital accumulation began around 1470 with the expropriation of African peasants and not with the movement of enclosures in England. These slaves were the first proletarians hired in thermo-industrial production in Sao-Tomé, an island that would become the most important world sugar market in the sixteenth century.

2. In addition to African and American ethnocides and the looting of these continents, this accumulation continued through a four century long slave trade, which is to say that Western capital was built on centuries-old crimes against humanity.

3. The incomprehension of what the proletarianisation of individuals in factories means – namely the relinquishment or privation of what is most profound in one’s being – explains the perenniality of a Hegelian-Marxist teleology combined with a secular messianism according to which it was necessary to overcome a historical contradiction or to go through a process of “creative destruction” to reach the socialist paradise …

4. If there is any certainty now, it is that it is and will remain necessary to oppose by all means the “development of productive forces” which inevitably bring the world to its destruction. Changing the legal ownership of these devastating forces will not change this.

5. When a century and a half later, romantic works are still qualified as the “critique of artists” on the grounds that social criticism is absent, this manifests a persistent misunderstanding of what the reigning proletarianisation of individuals is, and now in more universally alienating forms than ever before thanks to GAFAM and platform-States.

6. In the West, the destruction of ancient relationships with the world since the end of the eighteenth century initiated the final stage of a civilisation which, for having organised a general regression of humanity, will be the shortest in all of terrestrial history, whatever the end and the form.

Major ruptures in the history of the living

7. Eugenics should be understood as a transgression of the prohibition to murder in peacetime under the aegis of modern scientific knowledge. The questioning of this prohibition of murder, which is the foundation of all social life, was the essence of the capitalist West’s “family secrets” at the dawn of the twentieth century.

8. Due to the fact that it was no longer possible to bury the remains of soldiers, to pay a final tribute to the dead, or to mourn such a large number of disappearances, the industrialisation of death during the total war of 1914-1918 took us back two hundred thousand years in the slow process of hominisation which saw the birth of the first burials accompanied by the respect which was henceforth vested in deceased relatives.

9. After eugenics and the Great War, the general expansion of an industry given over to Fordism-Taylorism was the other determining material factor which deepened a proletarian dehumanisation that was to spread to the scale of the planet. It was on this deadly ground that various forms of fascism developed in the West.

10. As historians Enzo Traverso and Eric Hobsbawm propose in their own way, the period between 1914 and 1945 should henceforth be known by its real name, that of a “thirty years war” which will have caused dozens of millions of dead.

11. If an interminable wall of lamentations hides the dramatic and universal depth of Auschwitz-Birkenau, by contrast, no sovereignly organised memory supports the nature and the particular characteristics of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nor of their civilian or military consequences over three quarters of a century.

12. As a new type of crime against humanity, coupled with a lasting ecocide, nuclear power constitutes a major break in the history of living beings on Earth, which is why negationism in all its forms also tends to universalise itself. This unprecedented and still operative regression forces us to completely reweave the fragile threads of history.

13. A veneer of calculating rationality protects nuclear power from criticism. Could this be because, as heir to Relativity and particle physics, nuclear is the eldest son of twentieth century science and has even taken it to the zenith of its power?

14. The long history which leads to the “Thirty Years War”, to Auschwitz and to Hiroshima, is that of a civilisation whose defining social relations, relations that became dominant by the end of the 19th century, will not have taken long to express their essence in the most “complete” way.

15. Under the influence of scientific-military-industrial complexes, after 1945, a generalised war on life would gradually set in during the so-called “Glorious Thirty” years of post-war peace and progress. At that moment, capital radicalised itself, becoming predominantly a producer of death and no longer just of “value”, or if you will, of “value fully indexed to death”.

The Eroticisation of Death Heralds a Sepulchral Winter

16. The general eroticisation of death has become necessary for the circulation of “blood minerals” and more generally of commodities and capital. This eroticisation constitutes the height of fetishism which is already, in itself, a negation of life. We will have to remember that this is also the basis of fascist ideologies.

17. When death is eroticised to this point, it is a clear sign that a civilisation is collapsing. It would not be the first. The problem is that it has become global and so have its means of destruction.

18. The naturalisation of the effects of capital is an obstacle to the analysis of its original morbidity. One of the difficult tasks of criticism is to historicise and politicize death when, moreover, they spectacularised it.

Life has Before it its Greatest Trial

19. New beliefs maintain that thanks to science and technology, the Real will have acquired another status: from fundamentally unattainable, it will very soon be allegedly within reach. But to transgress the foundations of social life, to deny the finitude of the world and our own, is to leave no one unscathed.

20 A digital zombie with a lowered head in the daily Metro-polis and whose imagination is already entirely structured by calculating/transgressive rationality, strides forward towards a trendy barbarism.

21 It is no longer very easy to outline a desirable societal horizon since the Hegelian dialectic, since the linearity of history and progressivism, are no longer the order of the day; because it will no longer be enough to prolong “promises” which have turned out to be deadly.

22 Of course, the current structuring of the imaginary resonates with capitalism, but this also constitutes its Achilles heel. And if we had to scan the access code to appear “up-to-date”, we would suggest the following numbers: 1793, 1848, 1870, 1936, 1968.

A conference organised within the frame of the Cycle de conférences grand-est: Voyage vers un avenir non Atomique, Wednesday, March 20, – Nancy Chapter IV : Projet Manhattan : Le commencement de l’ère nucléaire? Une autre histoire des débuts de nucléaire, with Jean-Marc Royer

Day 2: Thursday, March 21, 2019 – Les conséquences philosophiques et politiques de l’invention du nucléaire

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