Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Undecidability of Capital

1.  Prolegomenon
2.  Derrida on his Knees
3.  The Secret
4.  Spirit:Time
5.  What is Capital besides Capital? (or Postone ‘de-forms’ Marx)
6.  The Subject as Double Substance

1.  Prolegomenon

Why is it that capitalism does not have to work – in the sense that communism does?  Whether it works or it is perceived to be broken, almost irreparably – nothing can affect its survival – its perpetuation.  This seems to be anti-Darwinist or anti-evolutionary.  An organism which survives merely because it is – not because it is the best or fittest.  Broken eternal capitalism is a prime example of ‘inoperative power’.  Its indifference to perfection or even desirability is already rooted in the indifference of money to ‘whatever commodity’ as long as such a commodity can ceaselessly perform the miracle of turning money into more money.  As Marx writes: “The capitalist knows, that all commodities, no matter how shoddy they look or how bad they smell, in faith and in truth are money, (…) and besides that, miraculous means to make out of money more money.” [“Der Kapitalist weiß, daß alle Waren, wie lumpig sie immer aussehen oder wie schlecht sie immer riechen, im Glauben und in der Wahrheit Geld, (…) sind und zudem wundertätige Mittel, um aus Geld mehr Geld zu machen.” (Karl Marx, Das Kapital Erster Band, Marx Engels Werke abbreviated MEW Band 23, Berlin, 1975, p. 169)]  In a similar vein, Marx of the 1844 Manuscripts notes that the capitalist can make a greater profit from derelict ‘cellar-dwellings’ rented to the proletariat than from the rent from palaces – as capital although a science of wealth, is also a science of perishing (darben) – both in the commodities it can convert to ever greater value and the molding (including deforming) of desire necessary for their willing consumption.  “Das rohe Bedürfnis des Arbeiters ist eine viel größere Quelle des Gewinns als das feine des Reichen.  Die Kellerwohnungen in London bringen ihren Vermietern mehr ein als die Paläste (…)” [“The raw desire of the worker is a much greater source of profit than the fine one of the rich.  The cellar flats in London yield more for their landlords than the palaces (…)”, Ökonomisch-philosophische Manuskripte (1844) in Marx Engels Werke abbreviated MEW Band 40, Berlin, 1990, pp. 551-552)] 

 Marx speaks of the ‘rawness’ of capital towards the underclass complementary to the ‘fineness’ towards the monied class corresponding to Wesen (essence) and Schein (appearance).  Capital or what Marx calls in his 1844 manuscripts – the national economy – acts upon the whole of what is human through its regime of desire and desirelessness.  It imposes on both the capitalist and the worker an unnatural asceticism.  They assume the ‘life mask’ of the “usurious miser and the ascetic productive slave” (Marx, op. cit., p. 549) – under the premise that what I expend I have taken away from the accumulation of capital.  Here capital is indistinguishable from the ‘science of morality’.  The uneasy duality of luxury and frugality (excess and dearth) flowing through capital and its national economy is split between the human agents of capital and itself.  Human renunciation nurtures the luxury of capital.  As Marx writes: money can travel, go to the theatre, to balls, eat, be a patron of the arts, knowledge, move in society…The less you are, the less of yourself you expend, the more you have deposited in your second alienated imperishable life, your capital.  On the other hand desire in the sense of a feeling of lack, a need aroused in me by the other in order to lure me into spending money on whatever commodity is supposed to fill that lack is an absolute condition of any accumulation of capital.  Long before the capitalist market, Socrates, standing in the agora, observed – “how many things there are which I don’t want.”  Epicurus following in that tradition of resistance to desire advised a correspondent who asked him how to increase his wealth - decrease your desires.

 Desire (Drang), which Schelling saw as “the pre-form of spirit”, is immanently corrupted and in a permanent state of mauvaise foi as a hostage of capital. (see Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialektik, Frankfurt, 1982, p. 202)  The ‘inoperative’ – saves himself up from labour – in the way the worker used to save his money instead of wasting it on “fleeting desires”.  The inoperative’s asceticism is the abstinence from activity, from action.  One renounces action.  Could this antinomy of luxury (debauchery) and asceticism in capitalism underlie the movement in Schopenhauer’s thought-construct from affirmation to negation of the will to live?      
Capital does not necessarily imply an ever evolving higher level of civilisation – but can do just as well or better with a worse one, as long as the basic conditions of capital or M-C-M’ (money-commodity-more money) themselves are given.  Self-preservation is not an absolute value – it should hover at the point of neediness.  Neediness is the appropriate mode for the self-preservation of the worker (includes all non-capitalists in capitalism); it is also “the principle of national economy”.  In this way morality protrudes into the “essence” of the national economy. 
Capital or money have desires (Bedürfnisse) which must be satisfied, the worker must practice being without desire, being wasted.  

The Roman Empire was built on Roman Army bread made of spelt flour, the Egyptian pyramids on pharaonic bread made of kamut flour – the British Empire (Bath), says an Englishman – an old Bluecoat boy – was built on ‘Mother’s Pride’.  One of those white nothing loaves.  Less than air.  The British are the Luftmenschen in the succession of imperialists.  The Scots at least have their oat biscuits – they eat them like the Indios in the Andes chew on their coca leaves – to stave off exhaustion while mounting the heights in thin air.

Just as in the figure of just going on there is an implicit ‘belief’ in the unending repetitive character of a series or rule, we carry around an apriori syllogistic rhetorical structure in thinking which presupposes that one thought must follow from another thought and so on.  But must it – does it?  In the same way actions, occurrences follow from other actions or occurrences in the empirical or historical world – otherwise they are merely ‘contingent’.  But can they both follow and not follow – be related and unrelated.  In an absolutely contingent world this would probably be possible.  The assumption that things or thought must follow from one another imposes a (science-esque) mimetic flux on the form of phenomena – their way of changing or passing by staying the same – a kind of flux of identity.  This is also a flux of logos – logos implies that everything must be connected with everything else.  Logos can appear in the form of a hierarchy of principles exerting force through various stages of methodical generalisation until it reaches bottom at the empirical data.  Both the flux and the scale are ancient models – although the hierarchical logos as Adorno and Horkheimer develop in Dialectics of Enlightenment was at the threshold of Enlightenment – in Bacon’s treatises on science. (see Max Horkheimer und Theodor W. Adorno, Dialektik der Aufklärung, Philosophische Fragmente, Amsterdam, 1968, p. 17)  

Each moment of the flux is a repetition of the one before so that in going on there is only before never after.  Badiou is quite taken by Beckett’s ‘bad verse’ (vers de mirliton) about such a flux of the same – what are numbers other than this.  In the counting of numbers there is the utter assumption that more will always be the same as less – the unit of one added to a transfinite number is no different than the unit of one added to one.  Is this truth?  Is the following of the same by the same a kind of verification of the same?  Would then conversely a following of the same by the other be a falsification of the same?  Or of the other?  In the following of the same by the same there is only a change by substitution – that which was in the place of now moves out of this place – or as Badiou would say is then non-being.  But it is replaced by a replica of itself – so the following of the same by the same is an unending substitution of being by non-being.  This is the thing’s undecidability.  Beckett’s verse is a kind of faux-Heraclitean homily:
“Flux causes  (one notes already that flux itself is seen as a ‘cause’  sm)
 That every thing
 Even in being,
 Every thing,
 Thus this one here,
 Even this one here,
 Even in being
 Is not.
 Let’s speak about it.”
(quoted in Alain Badiou, “The Writing of the Generic: Samuel Beckett” in Condtions, London, 2008, p. 251)

This just going on expressed in Beckett’s verse has nothing to do with Hegelian being-becoming says Badiou, - it is a site of the generic human in a work of fiction – yet it is situated within the historical epoch of the ‘Hegelian’ becoming of capital.  How is that possible?  The generic human as a fiction of just going on of the same subsists within or parallel to the transformation of the same in non-human capital.  Are they then simultaneous to one another?  Badiou is “happy” to call the economy of Beckett’s texts “ancient”.  More precisely, Beckett’s fiction is composed according to the “five ‘supreme kinds’ of Plato’s Sophist” (Badiou, , op. cit., p. 254) .  “We could say that these supreme kinds, Movement, Rest, the Same, the Other, the Logos (…) constitute the reference points, or primitive terms, for an axiomatic of humanity as such.” (ibid.)

The truth of generic humanity in a work of fiction in the ongoing epoch of capital is ancient.  Although the generic in Badiou’s sense is a reduction of all quality to quantity, an unbinding of all that is bound, which can only occur in capitalism.  Between one nostril and the other lies the Sahara, says Giacometti.  Beckett’s art is a work of fiction – a “fiction of generic writing” (Badiou) – but in every fiction there must be something which is not fiction otherwise how would one recognize it as fiction?  In Beckett’s case it is the generic (“oriented towards essence, or Idea”, Badiou, ibid.) which is the non-fiction of his fiction. 

“That the thing can simultaneously be held in the place where it is and in the place where it is not is given in the image of the flux; this flux, however, is never the synthesis of being and non-being, and is not to be confused with Hegelian becoming.” (Badiou, op. cit., p. 252)  This balancing of the thing between being and not-being in the flux of the same (mimetic flux) is what Badiou calls its undecidability.  But Beckett’s flux of the same seems to elude simultaneity – for if something is to come, something else has to go.  What kind of myth is that?  The myth of the number?

2.  Derrida on his Knees

I saw an odd clip of Derrida on You Tube – speaking about Heidegger in some dreary shabby classroom (Jacques Derrida on Martin Heidegger 2000).  One sees a few smirking auditors behind him.  He is dressed in a pristine black jacket and grey trousers, as if one could take his sartorial elegance for granted although somehow out of place, he holds a microphone, he is in front of a table on a dais painted black or dark blue.  The table is covered with a blue cloth.  The most incongruous element in the scene is that he is ‘standing’ on his knees.  No explanation.  A sheer fact.  Hard to interpret.  Is that a partial definition of a fact?  It resists (desists?) any ultimate interpretation – but allows for an indefinite amount of speculation.  This could be an axiom of ‘speculative realism’.  The clip itself was not very revealing either.  Derrida disagrees with some things Heidegger says about “animality” (“that animals don’t speak, don’t die, are poor in world” – he is suspicious of this, - “it has heavy consequences”).  He also “parts company” with Heidegger about other things such as technology, epochality.  His tone of voice and facial expressions are emphatic, demanding.  Derrida’s tie hangs suggestively below his belt – the angle of his tilting – like a plumb line – showing how much he deviates from the shortest distance to the floor.  The impression is one of self-dwarfing.  Is Derrida assuming the position of the ‘penitent god’?  God who asks forgiveness from humanity?  Benjamin suggests this aspect of God-ness in his fragment on “Capitalism as Religion” – God is implicated in the debt/guilt of capitalism and must seek atonement.  Sacrifices are made to atone the guilt of God.  The crucifixion was another act of God asking forgiveness from his creatures for their creaturely-ness.  Or is Derrida rather enacting a kind of Dostoyevskian gesture of humility – such as those required or carried out by the various capricious holy men or holy fools who populate his novels.  In The Possessed penitents visiting a famous holy man must approach him on their knees.  When he elects to accept their penance they are made to drink a horribly over sweetened tea (according to their degree of sinfulness) all the while still on their knees.  The enigmatic holy man in The Brothers Karamazov, the ailing Starez, goes down on his knees in front of Dmitri, one of the brothers, during a tumultuous family audience of the Karamazovs in his hermitage cell.  No one knows why.  It is just the mystery of the divine holy impulse.  Although a sceptical monk who witnesses this genuflection – attributes it to the showmanship of the dying Starez.  The holy man senses a crime will take place.  Later one will say he foresaw everything.   
Dmitri had just ridiculed his father for wooing a woman desired and courted by both father and son.

Is Derrida the penitent at the feet of Heidegger, the holy man – or the self-effacing holy man bending his knee to the ‘sinner’ Heidegger in absentia?

The Starez, a figure much admired by Wittgenstein, is a monk whose historical religious function (not just his but the institution of Starez-hood) is to accept the soul and will of those coming to him and to rule it as his own.  This is the spiritual way – through slavery to freedom.  Something similar happens in de Sade’s societies (communities) – except it is solely of the body.  “Abolishing the property of one’s own body as of the other bodies is a phantasy inherent in the operation of the perverse; the pervert inhabits the body of the other as his own and thus infuses the other body with his own.” (Pierre Klossowski, “Sade und Fourier” in Lektüre zu de Sade, Frankfurt, 1981, p. 224)  The Starez rules the body through the soul, de Sade’s figures rule the body through the body.  Starez’ rule is theocracy – de Sade’s is biopolitics.  

Derrida was trapped/caught on a video by a random contingent spectator/camera who extracted this moment out of a continuum of an unknown duration.  Although some element of choice or decision can be read into Derrida’s kneeling position – at least it is physically difficult to spontaneously kneel while giving a lecture (like opera singers acting a role while singing) and equally difficult to abruptly end such kneeling.  This extract of less than a minute, the epitome of insignificance, could have remained a recorded fact among the millions circulating seen and unremembered on the internet (just like thought itself – you have to have thought much to forget much as Robert Walser said), if it had not been ‘seized’ by a second act – that of my protocol and futile (useless) interpretation.
Perhaps this fact is not just on video but also in writing somewhere already, a ‘curated’ video  - although unknown to me.  My act of impaling by writing is my own first appropriation of this visual fact – the ‘trace’ of an inexplicable gesture.  Is my writing a third degree of reality?  First the act of kneeling – the capture of that specific moment as in a witnessing by the camera operator is the second.  The use of knee bending in literature has less power than the fact of Derrida’s filmed kneeling, although it may have been itself an ‘onto-theatrical’ gesture.  In literature such an act would seem ‘excessive’.  In ‘life’ or the filmed version Derrida’s kneeling radiates the “brutality of the fact” (Francis Bacon) – no amount of interpretation can change or erase it.  One can only shake one’s head like the woodcutter sitting in the ruin of Rashomon Gate staring into the rain in the beginning of Kurosawa’s film Rashomon and repeat “I don’t understand.”

The imperviousness of the fact (factum brutum) is the ‘secret’ – Derrida’s secret is his own gesture of powerlessness.  The kneeling position mimics an amputee – one does not see his feet anymore.  That of course is the front view – the fortuitous angle.  Those behind Derrida were not privy to this illusion of a footless lecturer – as in any magic trick - it all has to do with the position of the spectator.

The room itself seems to be miniaturized.  The scale of the room where the audience is sitting is greater than the site (spot) where Derrida is kneeling on the dais.  The room seems to shrink down on him like an inverted pyramid.  As a dramatic character he is reminiscent of Mnouchkine’s interpretation of the tragic king Richard the Second in her staging of Shakespeare’s eponymous play.  Richard is obdurate and arrogant – unaware until too late of the conspiracy against him by his rebellious vassals.  The actor portraying the king was made up to an extreme pallor – looking almost Japanese – and confined to a wheeled vehicle – a hybrid of a wheelchair and a chariot – as if he had wheels instead of legs, already lowered in stature, before being toppled or floored by his adversaries.  Derrida is the king and at the same time one of the conspirators against the king  - “Je suis la plaie et le couteau!” (I am the wound and the knife!, Baudelaire, “L’Héautontimorouménos”).

Is Derrida’s kneeling a symptom of his circumcision neurosis?

3.  The Secret

The secret is like a fact, because it is of language but not only of language – it is also the withholding of language.  Otherwise it would not be a secret.  It can potentially be the infinite withholding of language, if the secret is ‘kept’ absolutely – it ceases to be just a secret, it ceases to be in total.  The absolute secret tends to nil, to void, to absence.  So it is a fact of absence.  The attributes of language cease to inform it – no rhetoric, no sophistry can take hold of a secret.  The secret can be of a fact – besides being a fact – for instance the secret identity of someone, the secret hiding place of something valuable, stolen – but all secrets must be susceptible to being known or unknown.  The ‘secrets of the universe’ are not really secrets – because no one ‘has’ them either to divulge or conceal.  Hence truth is not a secret as the concept of aletheia might imply – something which comes out of its hiding.  Wherever it is hidden or revealed – whether it is seen or unseen (told or untold?), the truth is indifferent to this hiding or disclosure.  Does Wittgenstein have anything to say about the secret – except that he is silent about what cannot be said?  But is that a secret?  A secret must be sayable – even if not said.  A secret is not the ineffable.  Truth is indifferent (adiaphoric) to its being true or being known.  So a secret could not necessarily be truth.  But could a fairy tale or a fiction be a secret?  A secret ‘must’ be true or its withholding would be of no consequence, but truth is not a secret.  As a secret withers away in its untelling – to this degree it exposes itself to the danger of the ‘unthought’.      

But what if anything does the secret have to do with semblance (appearance) or ‘Schein’ – with the veil of the aesthetic?   
Benjamin discovers a philosophy of semblance in Goethe’s “Elective Affinities” – and of what seems so nearly the same – of the secret, veiled being.  But he is rather confusing in his manner of determining the occult transitions from semblance to secret and the eventual revelation of the secret – and if this is the same as the unveiling of semblance.  Can semblance ever be unveiled?  One could assume that in the logic of Goethe’s aesthetic there is either semblance or no semblance (the unveiling of the secret) – nor can there be a slow crumbling away of semblance, just as fictions neither age nor become more true.  Ottilie is the character in whom Goethe lays the signature of beautiful tragic semblance.  She is semblance whose tragedy is to have been chosen as the semblance of tragedy.  She is both figure and transfiguration – the static center of what Hebbel likened to an “automaton in an anatomical theatre” (quoted in Walter Benjamin, Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften, in Illuminationen, Frankfurt, 1961, p. 135) – her semblance is not compelled by external suffering or violence to its demise.  The semblance, which represents itself in her beauty, is one of imminent departure – a figurine meant to be broken, a soft light soon to be extinguished.  She is Goethe’s idol of tragedy itself – an embodied fetish of the transition in the novel from the cathartic affect to the sublime. 
Eben dieser Übergang ist es, der im Untergang des Scheines sich vollzieht.  Jener Schein, der in Ottiliens Schönheit sich darstellt, ist der untergehende.  Denn ist es nicht so zu verstehen, als führe äußere Not und Gewalt den Untergang der Ottilie herauf, sondern in der Art ihres Scheins selbst liegt es begründet, daß er verlöschen muß, daß er es bald muß.” (ibid., p. 139)
[“Particularly this transition is the one which occurs in the demise (Untergang) of semblance.  That semblance, which represents itself in Ottilie’s beauty, is a sinking one.  It is not to be understood, that distress and violence lead to Ottilie’s perdition, rather it is grounded (begründet) in the type of her semblance (Schein), that it must go out, that it must go soon.”]
When Ottilie fades away as it is inscribed in her semblance to do – she is not unveiled in her demise – she confirms rather Goethe’s belief in the Platonic doctrine that beauty is inseparable from semblance – the further removed from beauty and semblance, the closer to life – but not truth.  Beauty or the illusory beautiful in a work of art is closest in vicinity not to truth but to the expressionless (das Ausdruckslose), which seems to vaguely correspond to the secret. 

Plato’s theory of beauty does not refer first to beautiful semblance in art (as the work of art) but to beautiful life.  But this is because Plato is caught between despising and shunning art as unacceptable mimesis and his ideal of philosophy as anti-mimetic discourse.  Yet beauty as Schein is not merely an imitation of life – if it were it would be reduced to economy – the reproduction of life in its manifest sense where bodies represent other bodies – or so it would seem.  This mimetic nature of the ‘general economy’ (Bataille) can be traced back to its “abysmally mimetic” original event – the work of death or the sacrifice.  The body of the sacrifice represents or imitates the body of the community or its economy – which is the same thing. The ‘work of death’ is substituted for and anticipates the ‘work of life’.  This is almost the opposite movement to that of a Heideggerian ‘unconcealing’ qua aletheia – as the sacrifice or work of death ‘reveals’ in advance what is normally concealed by the ‘work of life’.  First comes the unconcealing – then the concealing. (see Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Typography, Mimesis, Philosophy, Politics, Stanford, 1998, p. 124, note 124)

Benjamin’s aesthetic of beautiful semblance as necessarily ‘irrevocably’ veiled has little to do with any kind of ‘unconcealing’.  On the contrary – beauty’s “law of essence” (Wesensgesetz) is such that it only appears (erscheint) veiled.  Without the veil, beauty would cease to be beauty.  The veil is also its constitutive secret – Adorno speaks of the necessary “enigma character” (der Rätselcharakter) of art.  That is why art cannot be appropriated through understanding – the more one ‘understands’ the further away the art, it veils itself in the misdirected understanding of the spectator.  The only art, which can be understood totally without a remainder, is not art at all.  “Als konstitutiv aber ist der Rätselcharakter dort zu erkennen, wo er fehlt: Kunstwerke, die der Betrachtung und dem Gedanken ohne Rest aufgehen, sind keine.” [The enigma character however is recognizable as constitutive, there where it is missing: works of art, that are exhausted in consideration and thought without a remainder, are not any.]
(Theodor W. Adorno, Ästhetische Theorie, Frankfurt, 1970, p. 184)

A standard move of deconstructionist philosophy – in the literary sphere, obviously most amenable to such procedures of extraction and subtraction, is to carve out a figure from a text (for instance Bartleby) which functions then as a type or model.  Rather than seeing this as the collapse of the aesthetic, the fabrication of such a type is the way of ‘mastery’ or conquest of the text.  The seemingly trivial question appearing as the title of Heidegger’s essay on Zarathustra reveals the predatory intention – “Who is Nietzsche’s Zarathustra?”.  One knows that whatever the answer  - it will have only one timbre – the destruction of the enigma.  Out of such a destruction of the source, power is set free for the reconstruction of an anti-aesthetic ontological monument – in this case of Nietzsche himself.  The monumentalizing drive articulates itself in Lacoue-Labarthe’s etymological frenzy (fever) surrounding the word Ge-stell (Heidegger) which he traces to its provisional ‘Greek’ origin in “stele”– meaning statue or monument as that which is present and erected.  “What predominates and what joins poiesis  (or even techne) and technology—in a common, though unequally, unthought [impensée] of aletheia—is precisely the static determination of Being.
Ge-stell is primarily and fundamentally the stele. (…) this amounts to saying that Ge-stell is a word for presence—with presence here interpreted as stele, or, since it is always necessary to conjugate everything with (the forgetting of) aletheia, unconcealment interpreted as erection.” (Lacoue-Labarthe, Typography, op. cit., p. 69)

(Heidegger and Badiou, two points on the curve of ontology, stand for non-metamorphosing or barren philosophy – never anywhere else than with itself alias Being – unable to subtract from itself (not even as sacrifice).  Although errors are fertile – the fertility of errors is a substitute or disguise for the sterility of philosophical monuments like Being.  Heidegger himself laments the impossibility of Dasein having or perceiving itself from a distance.  The asphyxiating closeness of Dasein and its shadow Angst or Sorge (Care) is reminiscent of baroque aesthetics – the nearest possible conjunction of vision and the visible, automatic sight. [See “Baroque Quantities”, Faust Series Opus 9, 13th November 2009 for a reference to the baroque and the monadic enclosure]  Heidegger in his regretting the loss of distance, longs for the romantic ‘mood’ – gone for ever.  Being is not romantic.  Philosophy as ontology is the economy of stagnant value – value from which all movement, speed of circulation has been extracted.  Although Badiou contends that philosophy circulates between ontology and truth procedures.  But why should the inverted world suddenly transport or convey truth?)        

What would be the purpose of such a bizarre collection of figures cut out of their original textual ambient and turned into statues – the purpose for philosophy (of the Heideggerian-deconstructionist provenance)?  It seems that for Heidegger it is the only way philosophy can engorge itself with poetry not for the sake of the aesthetic enigma – but to furnish itself with the means of representing itself in figures or types (Gestalt).  Thus one will find figures from Nazi propaganda such as Ernst Jünger’s Der Arbeiter Herrschaft und Gestalt (The Worker - Rule and Type) next to scavengings from poetic sources such as Rilke’s Angel and of course Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.  Once they have undergone philosophical branding – the ensuing types become indistinguishable convicts in philosophical detention, ‘bad’ and ‘good’ company herded together in one confinement.  The intention, desire, relentless strategy is that such figured types displayed behind philosophical bars, painfully unconcealed in a metaphysical freak show, can never become enigmas again.  Aesthetic loss is philosophical (ontological) gain.  Poetry (art) becomes directly metaphysical (truth bearing) but only when imagination (fiction) is seized upon by philosophy.  This approximates what Badiou (also in the wake of Heidegger) would call the state of being a “condition” of philosophy; he admits that all these conditions are necessarily external to it.  Art or especially poetry is one of those conditions.  Lacoue-Labarthe makes this ‘dependency’ of Heideggerian philosophy upon that which it would also subordinate most explicit: “For if Zarathustra is a figure, in the strongest sense (and we will see in a moment that for Heidegger it is a historical necessity that commits metaphysics, in the process of completing itself, since Hegel, to (re)presenting itself (sich darstellen) in figures, as well as to representing (vorstellen) transcendence, from the perspective of the “subjective” determination of Being, as the form, figure, imprint, type of a humanity. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, Jünger’s Worker, even Rilke’s Angel – (…)” (Lacoue-Labarthe, op. cit., p. 52).  More tentatively, Lacoue-Labarthe asks in a footnote if one shouldn’t add “Freud’s Oedipus and Marx’s Proletarian” to the row of “subjective” determinations of Being.  “Marx’s Proletarian” though would utterly resist being trimmed to a ‘type of a humanity’ – if any type at all, then a type of Capital.  If though Lacoue-Labarthe’s perspective is of a ““subjective” determination of Being”, then one could more plausibly conceive of ‘Marx’s Capital’ as fitting into this series of types.  Marx identified Capital as the ‘automatic subject’ of its own production process in the first volume of Capital – Capital in Marx’s dialectical presentation is already metaphysical and would not to have to undergo any forced conversions to achieve such transcendence.  The capitalist, another possible ‘type’, may seem to be pursuing ‘subjective purposes’, but only insofar as he is the ‘conscious porter’ (“bewußter Träger”) of “the objective content of circulation – the valorisation of value (…)” (Karl Marx, Das Kapital Erster Band, Marx Engels Werke abbreviated MEW Band 23, Berlin, 1975, p. 167). 

The capitalist is a conscious subject only to the degree that he ‘loses’ his subjectivity in his imitation of the restless movement of unceasing profit – the self-processing process of capital.  Capital, on the other hand, is the “automatic subject” of its own self-valorisation, because, despite its constant alternating metamorphoses into money and commodity, it never loses itself in this movement.  “It (value) moves constantly out of one form into the other, without losing itself in this movement, and transforms itself in this way into an automatic subject.” [“Er geht beständig aus der einen Form in die andre über, ohne sich in dieser Bewegung zu verlieren, und verwandelt sich so in ein automatisches Subjekt.” (Karl Marx, Das Kapital, MEW 23, op. cit., p. 169)]  The capitalist, as the subject who loses his subjectivity in the subjectivity of Capital, is only such when he functions as ‘personified capital’, or when his subjective purposes are those of capital endowed or gifted with his own “will and consciousness” (for what is subjectivity other than will and consciousness?) – those purposes being the “growing appropriation of abstract wealth”. (ibid., pp. 167-168)  
Could one speak of an ‘original’ or a ‘derived’ type – the archetype and its ectype?  Would Capital be the original (metaphysical) type, the capitalist the derived one – in the sense of the creator and the created?  The purposes of the capitalist, says Marx, are never use-value (Gebrauchswert), only profit – value for capital.  The authenticity of the derived capitalist type or subject – as type is a subjective determination of being according to Lacoue-Labarthe -  is greater, the more the ectype capitalist personifies the (original) archetype capital.  The more the capitalist is conscious of his will the more he (his will) personifies or transports the will of capital.  The more his will is the will of capital, the more authentic and free it feels, the more lost it is in capital.

The identity of the capitalist’s will and the will of capital is what constitutes the moral certainty of the type.  In an almost Schopenhauerian sense, the capitalist is an “appearance of the will” (Erscheinung des Willen) of capital, the same will which is objectified in any other thing alias commodity or money.  Musil writes in the second volume of “Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften” – in a conversation between Ulrich and Director F. “Das Geld ist ein Vernunftwesen.” (Money is a being of reason.) because money decides where it wants to be spent – he should have said – money is a being of will.  Ulrich, the logical mathematical hero of the novel seems to imply that the ‘ecstatic society’ Kakanien – Austro-Hungary in the last year of its belle époque 1913 - is at the most intermittently rational, whereas money is the guarantee of a continuous flow of ratio.  Money is always rational.  Money means “Großkapital”.  The ‘reason’ of money is also the model for the logic infusing Musil’s caricature of a scientific action-culture – quantitative, exact, barbaric– the “logical structure of the world” (Carnap).  Besides “Großkapital” – the types, which inhabit this world, are merchants, warriors, hunters and scientists.
The other half of the story – “world history” - is ‘love’ or passion.  “Denn die Weltgeschichte ist mindestens zur Hälfte eine Liebesgeschichte.” (motto of Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, Hamburg, 1987, Band II)
Musil’s source for his observation “Money is a being of reason.” may have been Heraclitus – a fusion of two of his axioms: “Fire is gifted with reason.” [“Das Feuer ist vernunftbegabt.” In Heraklit Fragmente, München, 1986, B64a, p. 23] and “For fire exchange is everything and fire is for everything like money for gold and gold for money.” [“Für Feuer ist Gegentausch alles und Feuer für alles wie Geld für Gold und Gold für Geld.” op. cit., B90, p. 29]  By a simple substitution – fire is like money, money is thus gifted with reason.

This money though is not the money of the Schatzbildner (hoarder of treasure), who wishes to ‘rescue’ or extract it from the circulation sphere, it is money which follows money (which is to say capital, the ‘man of the crowd’), best rescued in exposing itself over and over to circulation.  Money follows money also means money imitates money in the pursuit of ever greater surpluses – even to its own perdition as in the case of a general crisis of finance, ‘credit crunch’ or more specific fraudulent schemes - the Ponzi scheme etc.  ‘Money makes the world go round’ deteriorates (disappears) into money chasing its own tail.

This moral certainty of the capitalist ectype translates into the cult of authenticity of the bourgeois subject – his supposed absolute identity with himself or ‘facticity’.  This authenticity, says Adorno, is a lie, a fiction of identity – or rather the true identity of the circulation sphere with itself.  As a type – the authenticity of the bourgeois subject – merely certifies (determines) its absolute replaceability or the ultimate fungibility of things, their quantifiability as epiphenomena of capital (fetish).

The ‘authenticity’ which Adorno rejects is an attribute of something which is in itself false – the bourgeois subject – the substrata of any ‘authenticity’, it is more than false, it is a ghost, says Adorno, following Schopenhauer.  For Adorno ‘inauthenticity’ is a way of rescuing the ‘human’ never in itself ‘original’ – always an imitation of other humans.  The ‘authentic’ is a cipher for the spectrality of the subject – or the “trotzige und verstockte Beharren auf der monadologischen Gestalt” [“defiant and stubborn insistence upon the monadological type (Gestalt)”, Theodor W. Adorno, “Goldprobe” in Minima Moralia, Frankfurt, 1980, p. 204]

Theatricality overturns the false life of Echtheit – authenticity.  Inauthenticity is a mimetic form – as in playing oneself (recalling Nietzsche) – the inauthenticity of the subject becomes true to the degree that his authenticity is revealed as a lie: “Die Gleichsetzung von Echtheit und Wahrheit ist nicht zu halten.”[“The equation of authenticity and truth is not sustainable.” Adorno, op. cit., p. 202].  

The inversion of Echte (authentic) and Unechte (inauthentic) leads Adorno to the conclusion – “Was nicht verdorren will, nimmt lieber das Stigma des Unechten auf sich.  Es zehrt von dem mimetischen Erbe.” [Whatever does not want to wither, accepts rather the stigma of the inauthentic.  It draws on the mimetic legacy.” Adorno, op. cit., p. 204]

But one cannot be sure if this is not a piece of counterfeit (spurious) advice – as Adorno calls this mimetic behavior the “Urform von Liebe” (Ur-form of love) in which the “priests of authenticity” scent “Spuren jener Utopie, welche das Gefüge der Herrschaft zu erschüttern vermöchte.” [“traces of that utopia, which could shake the structure of domination”, ibid.].  One can almost hear Adorno mocking Bloch as one of those ‘priests of authenticity’.  But is Nietzsche really one of them?     

Heidegger’s answer to the self-posed question, “Who is Nietzsche’s Zarathustra?” - is that he is the teacher who has come to teach the overcoming of the spirit of revenge.  Revenge casts all objects as degraded objects.  This spirit of revenge (“persecution”) is supposed to have pervaded all thinking until this day – “(…) all representation to this day of beings with regard to their Being (…)” (Martin Heidegger, Who is Nietzsche’s Zarathustra?, Review of Metaphysics, March 1967, p. 421)  Yet what is Heidegger’s or the onto-metaphysical appropriation of an aesthetic enigma in the vulgar attempt to demystify it – anything other than a revenge – Heidegger’s revenge on Nietzsche?  Considering Nietzsche’s self-stylizing of his philosophy as theatre (Schein) or the theatre of self-semblance, the antidote to Being – Heidegger’s requisitioning of Zarathustra for the moral improvement of ‘humanity’ is tantamount to the closing down of Nietzsche’s theatre.  “Meine Philosophie umgedrehter Platonismus: je weiter ab vom wahrhaft Seienden, um so reiner schöner besser ist es.  Das Leben im Schein als Ziel.” [“My philosophy (is) an inverted Platonism: the further away from true being, the more pure beautiful better it is.  Life in semblance is the goal.” Friedrich Nietzsche, Kritische Studienausgabe 7, Herausgegeben von Giorgio Colli und Mazzimo Montinari, München, 1988, Nachgelassene Fragmente Ende 1870 - April 1871, 7 [156], p. 199]
Still, Heidegger must admit at the end of his essay in the “Note on the Eternal Recurrence of the Same”, that he remains confounded by Nietzsche: “Nietzsche himself knew that his “most abysmal thought” remains an enigma.” (op. cit., p. 431)

There is no theatre without a revenge tragedy.  In this sense Tadeusz Kantor’s theatre of degraded objects, realities (such as the funfair) and actors is an exemplary theatre of revenge.
4.  Spirit:Time

If the capitalist is the subject whose subjectivity is lost in capital – does that mean that the proletariat is the subject whose subjectivity can be found in capital?  Does Marx imply this symmetry – or are they both lost?

It would seem there is rather an asymmetry or even rupture in Marx’s theatre of capital.  The capitalist is the “character mask” of capital – but what mask does the proletariat represent?  Or – what does the proletariat personify in the sense that the capitalist personifies capital?  The proletariat qua proletariat seems to be so reduced, so much an appendage of the production process that he does not even have (need) a mask.  He does not personify labour – he is labour.  Or rather abstract labour.  Abstract labour is quantified labour – having no particular qualities besides being average social labour.  The measure of abstract labour is the time of its working.  Does the proletariat personify time – the particular time of the production process?  Does it acquire its potential universality – meaning beyond the regime of capital – from its intimate relation to time?  A time beyond capital?                                                                              

Although the capitalist is a personification of capital – in a sense possessed by capital, having ‘sacrificed’ his will and consciousness to its ‘eternal return’ – he is not conscious of such a sacrifice.  As the personification of capital he is not aware of himself as “pain and contradiction” (Nietzsche) – he regards himself in the glow of capital as ‘free and authentic’.  The eternity of capital imbues the capitalist ‘subject’ with a share of its own immortality.  As the character mask of capital the capitalist is pure pleasure (Lust) – and pleasure as Nietzsche writes in “Also sprach Zarathustra” seeks eternity.  But pleasure like will is semblance (Schein) and appearance.  Being, says Nietzsche, is only pain and contradiction – but we live in that other illusion or semblance – that of becoming – in every moment of which the “secret of pain” must lie dormant.  Semblance determines “empirical being” – although that is not “true being”- but there is no ‘way’ to this true being.

As the character mask of capital, the capitalist has no immanent relation to time, he is not constituted qua character mask by time in the way the proletariat is determined by time – the unitary socially average time of abstract labour.  The capitalist is ‘above’ time in the way capital is timeless, eternally metamorphosing in its repetitive fashion of self-valorisation and self- devalorisation (‘crisis’).  The proletariat is the embodiment of quantified unspecific labour time.  His ‘role’ in Capital is not ‘above’ time but ‘in’ time – he is of the order of finitude, hence ‘closer’ to being than the semblance of infinitude embodied in capital and its personified agent – the capitalist.  This being in time of the proletariat is another way of saying that the physical life and life in capital of the proletariat tend to ever closer identity.  The time for his physical reproduction is a quantifiable but varying fraction of the time he serves capital – the ‘remainder’ is gratis time in which value arises.  His life-time is a function of his formal quantified time for capital.  Hence, the capitalist feels ‘free’ and ‘authentic’ in his personification of the immortality of capital, its absolute semblance of eternal return or will (in Nietzsche’s sense).  The proletariat on the other hand feels inauthentic (closer to ‘true being’) and unfree as the ‘personification’ of abstract labour or his absolute identity (in terms of the absolute negativity of capital) with formal ‘empty’ time.  The proletariat is conscious of himself as finitude, as time, in his state of being the measure of the time of abstract labour.  “We are not measuring time, we are ourselves a measure of time.” (Shannee Marks, “Body of Grammar: Body of Pain” (Exhibition Writings from The Accident Colony Triptych, Austrian Cultural Forum London 2008) in Night Work Philosophy Interrupted, forthcoming)
For Marx abstract labour and the time of abstract labour as its measure fuse to near identity.  Time is also the mark of quantification – or ‘wound’, a kind of ignominy imprinted (branded) on the proletarian organism. He is nothing but time, nothing more or less than what he quantifies in his abstract labour.

Quoting a factory inspection report of 30th April 1860 in which the ‘open secret’ is acknowledged – “Moments are the elements of profit.” – Marx expressly describes the worker as “personifizierte Arbeitszeit” [“personified labour time”, Das Kapital, MEW 23, op. cit., pp. 257-258]  He refers not to Hegelian concepts but to the factory jargon of the time – the usual appellation for workers who worked full time was simply “full times”, children under 13 who were only allowed to work six hours were called “half times”: “Der Arbeiter ist hier nichts mehr als personifizierte Arbeitszeit.” [“The worker is nothing more here than personified labour-time.”, ibid.] 

The truism “time is money” refers to this obliquely in terms of circulation - the price paid by the capitalist in the circulation sphere for the purchase of time (the commodity labour-power) - the only commodity which yields more time than needed for its reproduction alias surplus value or money.  “When time money ist, so ist es vom Standpunkt des Kapitals aus nur die fremde Arbeitszeit, die allerdings im eigenlichsten Worte das money des Kapitals ist.” [“When time is money, then it is from the point of view of capital, only the strange (fremde) labour-time, which is in a literal sense the money of capital.”
Karl Marx, Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Ökonomie, Europäische Verlagsanstalt Frankfurt, reprint of the Moscow edition of 1939 and 1941,
p. 528]

Average social labour-time and abstract labour collapse into one.  Here Marx follows Hegel’s determination of time as presented in the second volume of his Enzyklopädie:
Weil die Dinge endlich sind, darum sind sie in der Zeit; nicht weil sie in der Zeit sind, darum gehen sie unter, sondern die Dinge selbst sind das zeitliche; so zu sein ist ihre objektive Bestimmung.” [“Because things are finite, therefore they are in time; not because they are in time, do they decline, rather things are themselves the temporal, to be like that is their objective determination.” G.W.F. Hegel, Werke in zwanzig Bänden 9, Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften II, “Die Naturphilosophie” Frankfurt, 1978, p. 50]

Hegel refers to time as “die totale Negativität” [“total negativity” (op. cit., p. 55)].  Time passes into space and space into time as “the point”.  The concrete point is “the place” – unity of here and now (space and time).  Spirit is also a category of negativity – Hegel attributes to it the title of “absolute negativity”.  One can see a kinship between two ‘competing’ categories of negativity – time as total negativity ‘haunts’ spirit as absolute negativity.  Transposed to a Hegelian Marx perspective – one could regard these contradictory negativities as the site of an incongruous rupture between capital as spirit and the proletariat as abstract labour/average time.  Is that perhaps the contradiction intended by Nietzsche when he writes: “Wahrhaft seiend ist nur der Schmerz und der Widerspruch.” [“Truly existent is only pain and contradiction.” op. cit., p. 204]  There is perhaps no way to this “true being” – but the site of rupture indicates such an ‘abyss’ where the transfigured ‘pain’ of average time embodied in the proletariat (“the broken Ur-pain” – Nietzsche, ibid. p. 205) contradicts absolute semblance or “pleasure” (“the complete Ur-pleasure”, ibid.) embodied in what Nietzsche calls will, Hegel – spirit, Marx - capital.  Although for Hegel spirit (Geist) incorporates (is) both contradiction and pain even evil – its dividedness (Entzweiung) belongs to the nature of spirit.  Geist is constituted as a contradictory unity or identity of itself and not itself - necessarily exiting from itself into its negative, its other, implying pain and contradiction to return to itself as the idea – to become upon its return the idea returning to itself.
(see G.W.F. Hegel Werke in zwanzig Bänden 10, Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften, III, “Die Philosophie des Geistes”, Frankfurt, 1976, pp. 25-27)  Since Marx and to a certain extent Nietzsche are materialist thinkers – contradictory entities although mutually determinant remain painfully separate.

Following Nietzsche, the absolute negativity of spirit itself can also be translated into notions of time – it is the timelessness of total pleasure in eternal contradiction with the finite time of broken pain. The rupture between infinite capital and finite proletariat rives Marx’s oeuvre itself.  The early Marx saw the world primarily through the living being of the worker, the sensuous qualities of labour attesting to the specifically human in its species-being (Gattungswesen) and its capacity for suffering, hence under capital in a state of abject harm and alienation – the later Marx was obsessed by the demonic so-called esoteric abstraction capital, the baroque apotheosis of political economy.  This baroque tyrant endlessly contemplating itself – showing itself to itself in a broken mirror, its quasi-spirit, casting all its ‘exoteric’ parts in its own image.  The proletariat became a figment of the baroque ‘allegory’ of capital – and the bridge to the living being of labour was more or less interrupted – or at least so it would seem to some interpreters (like Moishe Postone) of Marx’s “mature” work.  Yet at the end of the chapter on the transformation of money into capital Marx conjures up a grotesque scene occurring after the buyer and seller of the commodity labour power leave the simple sphere of circulation “the veritable Eden of innate human rights” – and the “physiognomy of our dramatis personae” goes through decisive changes.  The antinomy of pain and pleasure implicit in the opposing personifications (‘masks’) of capital and abstract labour becomes physically visible.   “Der ehemalige Geldbesitzer schreitet voran als Kapitalist, der Arbeitskraftbesitzer folgt ihm nach als sein Arbeiter; der eine bedeutungsvoll schmunzelnd und geschäftseifrig, der andre scheu, widerstrebsam, wie jemand, der seine eigne Haut zu Markt getragen und nun nichts andres zu erwarten hat als die – Gerberei.” (Marx, Das Kapital, MEW 23, op. cit., p. 191) 
[“He, who before was the money-owner, now strides forward as capitalist; the possessor of labour-power follows as his labourer.  The one with an air of importance, smirking, intent on business; the other timid and holding back, like one who is bringing his own hide to market and has nothing to expect but—a hiding.”, Karl Marx, Capital Vol. I, translated from the third German edition by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, edited by Frederick Engels, New York, 1967, p. 176] 

Average labour-time though as a quasi-epithet of the proletariat is not directly (immediately) the biological temporality of the individual ‘Dasein’ who is a worker. 
The labour-time of the social body is infinite – it is the time of the species.  Not the individual lifetime is the measure of value (nor the reproduction of said lifetime) – but the total average lifetime of the species insofar as it is available as average social labour for capital.  The social body now and to come but also the past in the form of ‘dead labour’ is the infinitude of finite beings to be set against the infinitude of the accumulation of capital.  The singular member of this infinite set of finite beings is precisely not conscious of his own death in the mass of the species-time.  There is no being-towards-death of the species.  The species does not die, cannot die – not as long as it is needed by capital.
The temporal unit, which Marx emphasizes, is not the lifetime of (generic) abstract labour (the worker as ‘personified time’) – it is the working day.   Each day, the worker must be able to replenish his expended energy – muscles, brain, nerves etc – to be able to go on the following day.  His time is not the time-toward-death – he has little opportunity to be concerned with that – it is the time towards tomorrow and all the other tomorrows.  It is a time of self-preservation but not for self – for capital.  The ‘self’ of abstract labour, or embodied abstract labour is not really self – only the armature or phantom of a self.  How can one know (recognize) one’s ‘own’ time when it is merely devolved into the social average – in other words a statistic, a number?  The average social time is the ‘substance’, the essence – the lifetime of the individual is appearance, contingency, accident.

The time of production or average social time – the socially average labour time – implies at least two kinds of quantitative reduction of ‘human’ time.  Marx emphasizes that abstract labour is measured and has its magnitude in the time of simple labour – devoid of any particular qualities - for instance labour skills.  This is the invention of capitalism as the social totality.  In addition, being exchange value, the commodities are made equivalent to one another especially in their all being expressed in terms of the general equivalent money (‘the great leveller’), hence the labour time expended in their production must also be quantitatively equivalent. 
The aim for capital – is that the time abstract labour spends in production earning the means of subsistence should itself diminish – leading to more and more ‘disposable’ time for capital.  Disposable time (‘time regained’) is itself reified – it becomes a commodity, in its turn raw material (use value) for “varied new products which impose themselves on the market as uses of socially organized time.” (Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, Detroit, 1983, p. 151)  What else are ‘social media’ than reified time, what Debord calls “spectacular time” – “the time of consumption of images (…) and the image of the consumption of time” (Debord, op. cit., p. 153)?

Some of this time may even appear as leisure or holiday time for the worker – but as Guy Debord notes – in the society of the spectacle – all time in and out of the working day is subsumed under capital, becoming “pseudo-cyclical time”: “Pseudo-cyclical time leans on the natural remains of cyclical time and also uses it to compose new homologous combinations: day and night, work and weekly rest, the recurrence of vacations.” (Debord, op. cit., p. 150)  But this pseudo-cycle of the spectacular is only possible because the initial violent wrenching of the proletariat-to-be from his pre-capitalist setting creating ‘free’ producers – was the “violent expropriation of their own time”. (Debord, op. cit., p. 159 - italics in the original)  The time of abstract labour is also a degraded time and essentially static.

5.  What is Capital besides Capital? (or Postone ‘de-forms’ Marx)

Capital is the present owner  (whereby present=eternity) of all time – past, present, future – but itself has no time, is not time.  History begins with the loss of innocence – but not second innocence, the timeless time of capital.
As another second innocence, the work of art has a tenuous precarious correspondence with the semblance (Schein) capital.  Loss of innocence is always also the loss of time – that to which the work of art strives to return, to regain it.  The work of art is the imaginary place where the lost is found (although the finding is not imaginary) – the work is always past – dead labour (die tote Arbeit) just as capital is also ‘congealed dead labour’.  (Adorno saw Mahler’s music as one of “absolute lostness”, but in which like in Proust’s À la Recherche du Temps Perdu lost time files past again in a ghost parade.)  The dead work mourns itself and that which has been lost, but is at the same time necrophilia – hence the potential of baroque contagion in every work of art.  The baroque is a cult of the exquisite corpse (the crucified body for example) – a reverse vanitas, the side of life is more horrific than the side of death.  The baroque corpse (the dead work of art) keeps its secret like nature.  But does that mean the secret is objectified in the work of art, in nature?  In capital?  Or is the objectified secret already (in) second nature?  But how does one know if the secret is kept or not – if love and death have the power to strip away the veil of semblance, as Benjamin writes in his essay on “Die Wahlverwandschaften”, are they not nature?  Nature betraying its secret to itself?  Second innocence like second nature as in the work of art (der schöne Schein) does not aspire to the fullness of being (seinshaltig).  It claims for itself the fullness of not-being.  In this sense, Nietzsche as the philosopher of semblance and the destruction of semblance, is also a Gesamt-antidote to Heidegger.  Nietzsche’s point of departure is tragedy, theatre – the world as a work of art.
Unser Schmerz ist ein vorgestellterunsre Vorstellung bleibt immer bei der Vorstellung hängen.  Unser Leben ist ein vorgestelltes Leben.  Wir kommen keinen Schritt weiter.  Freiheit des Willens, jede Aktivität ist nur Vorstellung.  Also auch das Schaffen des Genius VorstellungDiese Spiegelungen im Genius sind Spiegelungen der Erscheinung, nicht mehr des Ureinen: als Abbilder des Abbildes sind es die reinsten Ruhemomente des Seins.  Das wahrhaft Nichtseiende – das Kunstwerk.(…)Das Sein befriedigt sich im vollkommenen Schein.”
[“Our pain is an imagined (one):  our imagination always gets caught in the imagination.  Our life is an imagined life.  We are not moving a step forward.  Freedom of the will, every activity is only imagination.  So also the working of genius is imagination.  These reflections in genius are reflections of appearance, no longer the ur-one: as images (copies) of the image (copy) they are being’s purest moments of rest.  The true not-being – the work of art (…) Being contents itself in perfect semblance.” (Friedrich Nietzsche, Kritische Studienausgabe 7, Herausgegeben von Giorgio Colli und Mazzimo Montinari, München, 1988, Nachgelassene Fragmente Ende 1870 - April 1871, 7 [157], p. 200 – emphasis in the original.
Note: Besides imagination Vorstellung means idea or representation.)]

The destructive impulse of Nietzsche’s philosophy of semblance is directly opposed to Heidegger’s ‘Destruktion’.  Nietzsche dissolves being in semblance – Sein in Schein – in the work of art.  There is no ground towards which ‘life’ is moving.  “We are not moving a step forward.”  We only heap copies upon copies.  We are not looking for an “Ur-One”.  The “copies of copies”, the forest of simulacra, are being’s moments of rest – but being (Sein) cannot exist without semblance (Schein).

So what is capital?  Capital is pure quantity, but cannot itself be quantified.  “(Das Kapital ist nicht einfache Quantität, noch einfache Operation: sondern beides zugleich.)” [“(Capital is not simple quantity, nor simple operation: but both at once.)” (Karl Marx, Grundrisse, op. cit., p. 519)]  Capital like semblance (Schein) as a category of aesthetics (in the sense of transcendental semblance) exemplified in the work of art is not opposed to an essence (Wesen) – but it is a self-sufficient semblance for us.  Like Benjamin’s “schöner Schein”, which he found absolutely formed in Goethe’s tragic figure of Ottilie – capital as semblance encompasses in its appearance its own decay.  Its decay is not its ‘essence’ – it is integral to its semblance.  But as semblance or semblance of decay – this decay in itself has no age, its decay is always new and always old.  All its self-negating properties such as the eternal return of valorisation and decapitalisation (‘crisis’) are included within its semblance or ‘totality’.  Capital thus is without history.  As a value-form, capital performing as semblance has its origins in another more elementary semblance – in money.  It cannot be deduced as an aesthetic category (as it appears for us) from the material ‘natural’ substrata of production – but is itself an advanced formation of the mercantile economy of money.  “Welthandel und Weltmarkt eröffnen im 16. Jahrhundert die moderne Lebensgeschichte des Kapitals.  Sehen wir ab vom stofflichen Inhalt der Warenzirkulation, vom Austausch der verschiednen Gebrauchswerte, und betrachten wir nur die ökonomischen Formen, die dieser Prozeß erzeugt, so finden wir als sein letztes Produkt das Geld.  Dies letzte Produkt der Warenzirkulation ist die erste Erscheinungsform des Kapitals.(…)Jedoch bedarf es nicht des Rückblicks auf die Entstehungsgeschichte des Kapitals, um das Geld als seine erste Erscheinungsform zu erkennen.  Dieselbe Geschichte spielt täglich vor unsren Augen.
[“World commerce and world market open the modern life history of capital in the 16th century.  If we disregard the material content of the commodity circulation, the exchange of different use-values, and consider only the economic forms, which this process produces, we find its last product to be money.  This last product of the commodity circulation is capital’s first form of appearance.(…) However, we have no need to look back to the history of the genesis of capital to recognize money as its first form of appearance.  The same history plays daily before our very eyes.” (Karl Marx, Das Kapital, MEW 23, op. cit., p. 161)]

Capital is ahistorical in the sense that each day it repeats its own history – its birth out of the head of money.     

Yet capital has its own ‘internal’ temporal side – mostly neglected in discussions of its spiritual nature – this temporal side though is not value-creating but rather the limit of value, negative and sterile.  It is the time of circulation which determines the speed of turnover and accumulation, in other words the realisation of value.  This time itself must be deducted from any value realised in the actual circulation process.  “Die Zirkulationszeit kommt nur in Betracht in ihrem Verhältnis – als Schranke, Negation – der Produktionszeit des Kapitals; diese Produktionszeit ist aber die Zeit, während welcher es sich fremde Arbeit aneignet; die durch es gesetzte fremde Arbeitszeit.
[“The circulation-time is considered only in its relation – as a barrier, negation – of the production-time of capital; this production-time is however the time, during which capital appropriates strange (fremde) labour; the strange (fremde) labour-time it has installed.” (Marx, Grundrisse, op. cit., p. 528)]

But as there would be no value if the product would remain in the warehouses, all labour which is part of “bringing the commodity to the market” belongs to the production process and adds value.  The product is only a commodity when it has entered circulation.  These two different times – the circulation time of capital, the periodicity of its turnover measured in a year and the “natural work day” as the measure of labour-time – together comprise what bourgeois political economy ambiguously calls the “labour time” of “working capital”.  The mystification, says Marx, which ensues, “liegt in der Natur des Kapitals.” [“lies in the nature of capital” (Marx, Grundrisse, op. cit., p. 534)]    

Some of this mystificatory “nature of capital” seems to swirl about Moishe Postone’s exegesis of Marx – a certain immanent ‘undecideability’ regarding the nature of capital permeates his text “Time, Labor and Social Domination”.  He seems to rediscover some of the illusions of the political economy which Marx sought to dismantle – as if they were new truths – falling into the traps of Marx’s dialectical presentation.  For instance – in his zeal to unseat the proletariat as the “subject-object of history”, a view he denounces in “traditional Marxism”, Postone contends instead that Marx’s category of capital has all the attributes of Hegel’s ‘spirit’.  Instead of the proletariat Capital is the epochal hero of Marx’s epochal oeuvre – and the “subject-object of history”.

As the name of Marx’s work is Capital and not Labour, it is not surprising that it would be seen as the overriding subject of its own production process.  For Marx though capital is a very strange sort of subject – as he writes in the Grundrisse – capital is at all times in its process of valorisation the negation of itself as the overall subject of the movement, which Marx most frequently calls circulation.  “Das Kapital aber ist als Subjekt der Zirkulation; die Zirkulation als sein eigner Lebenslauf gesetzt.  (…) Das Kapital ist daher in jeder besondren Phase die Negation seiner als des Subjekts der verschiednen Wandlungen.
[“Capital is as the subject of circulation; presented in circulation with its own life cycle. (…) Capital is thus in each special phase (of circulation sm) the negation of itself as the subject of the various transformations.”
(Marx, Grundrisse, op. cit. p. 514)]

Oddly, the complete ‘life’ of capital, so exhaustively charted by Marx, as it moves in and out of the circulation sphere and production process is missing in Postone’s presentation.  Despite his bias towards capital as the primum movens of history – he concentrates like those authors he criticizes almost exclusively on labour and the sphere of immediate production.  

Postone is not content with anointing capital as subject of its so-called self-valorisation process - he designates capital as the subject of history, as secular ‘spirit’, claiming that this is how Marx intended his critique be understood.  Implicit in Postone’s inference is the notion that the repetitive cycle of capital valorisation and devalorisation, what Marx calls its lifeline (Lebenslauf) – its own reproduction and self-destruction process – is identical with historical process or historical time as such. 

Postone cites a crucial well-known passage from the first volume of Capital where Marx analyses the “general formula of capital” as proof of his contention:
“At this point in his exposition, Marx describes his concept of capital in terms that clearly relate it to Hegel’s concept of Geist:
It [value] is constantly changing from one form into the other without becoming lost in this movement; it thus transforms itself into an automatic subject ….In truth, however, value is here the subject of a process in which, while constantly assuming the form in turn of money and of commmodities, it changes its own magnitude,…and thus valorizes itelf….For the movement in the course of which it adds surplus-value is its own movement, its valorization is therefore self-valorization….[V]alue suddenly presents itself as a self-moving substance which passes through a process of its own, and for which the commodity and money are both mere forms.
Marx, then, explicitly characterizes capital as the self-moving substance which is Subject.  In so doing, Marx suggests that a historical Subject in the Hegelian sense does indeed exist in capitalism, yet he does not identify it with any social grouping, such as the proletariat, or with humanity.  Rather, Marx analyzes it in terms of the structure of social relations constituted by forms of objectifying practice and grasped by the category of capital (and, hence, value). (…) they possess the attributes that Hegel accorded the Geist.  It is in this sense, then, that a historical Subject as conceived by Hegel exists in capitalism.” (Moishe Postone, Time, Labor and Social Domination, Cambridge, 2003, p. 75)

But is this the Subject as conceived by Marx?  Why would Marx consider capital the subject of history when he develops its forms so as to show that in its operation it is ahistorical – repeating its own history over and over again every day?  Irreversible history – the Doppelgänger of the eternal present of the life cycle of Capital – is itself a semblance (result) of a universal quantified time of capitalist production or “circulating capital” in the wide sense.  The seeming paradox of at least two different unitary times of capital would disappear if circulation were not the historical-ontological ground of Capital from which it goes out and to which it returns.  The two times: the cyclical unitary time (revolutions) of Capital in its complete repetitive cycle of being always what it is not at any particular moment - unifies within itself as its ‘necessary illusion’ – the irreversible time of universal world history. 

This ‘universal history’ though is not really history at all but as noted by Guy Debord, it is “(…) still only the refusal within history of history itself.”  
“145  With the development of capitalism, irreversible time is unified on a world scale.  Universal history becomes a reality because the entire world is gathered under the development of this time.  But this history, which is everywhere simultaneously the same, is still only the refusal within history of history itself.  What appears the world over as the same day is the time of economic production cut up into equal abstract fragments.  Unified irreversible time is the time of the world market and, as a corollary, of the world spectacle.” (Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, Black & Red, Detroit, 1983)

Irreversible history haunts the cyclical “life-act”(Lebensakt) of Capital as its other ‘present’, its ‘spectacle’.

The theme of ‘being of haunting’ – the ‘present’ is the unchanging eternal cycle of capital whereby present has no meaning.  If there is only present then present disappears.  History is the shadow of that eternal non-present present.  History which seems to be the most concrete of all is relegated to a negligible vaporous trail of the quasi-biological yet undying organism (organic cycle) of capital.
(Whatever does not belong to any temporal determination – is transcendental, because it seizes possession of all times.  Such as sin (Kierkegaard), decay (entropy), or the accident? Is it possible to raise the temporal itself to the power of the transcendental? To transcendentalize time?)

Capital transforms itself in the circular movement of its circulating self in its various phases of money, commodity, production process, more money, in the market, in the circulation, as rent or interest bearing capital, as credit or finance – at any specific moment always that which it is not as the subject of the whole.  If it were to be what it is, it would cease to be in its own endless process of valorisation meaning it would cease to be at all.  Hence it is temporal only in a formal sense –it can never be historical. 

In all the unitary time of capital there is not one atom of history.  Neither can one find, as Postone claims, an “immanent logic of history” in its “alienated form of social relations”. (Moishe Postone, Time, Labor and Social Domination, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 270)  In another passage Postone seems to retreat from this claim – citing “Marx’s analysis” whereby “the capital form of social relations (…)is blind, processual, and quasi-organic.” (ibid.)  Capital then is a form of ‘second nature’ – the quasi-organic – as such it cannot constitute an “immanent logic of history” – rather it is itself posited by history, not in itself historical or susceptible to self-transformation in reaction to ‘events’.  It is a parasite of events and as such absolute semblance.  When Marx refers to history in relation to capital he speaks of a “natural historical process” – a movement of the natural world for which he has discovered the general forms. 
But Postone will again attempt to rescue the historical dynamic of capital, its so-called immanent historical logic – which he seems so eager to establish.  Despite its ‘blindness’ capital is at the same time, value – somehow the more noble part of capital for Postone – and value “(…)is, as we shall see, a category of efficiency, rationalization, and ongoing transformation.  Value is a category of a directionally dynamic totality.” (Postone, op. cit., p. 272)

Marx defines value in the first chapter of Das Kapital as having as its ‘substance’ abstract human labour, whose measure in turn is the time of labour.  Abstract human labour represents a multiple complex process of reduction and quantification of human activity.  Abstract labour is first of all the most ‘simple’ form of labour or labour in its simple form – this is of course an ideal of simplification.  Marx suggests other ways of determining this simplification – it is also an average – but not just any average, it is average social labour determined by the average productivity at any given time in the social body alias capitalist society.  Marx does not describe the exact way such a social average is constructed – not in this chapter – its operation is merely assumed.  The social average is an indefinite unknown means of quantifying labour, which together with the apparent ‘visible’ abstraction of the measure of time determine the value produced by abstract human labour.  This labour thus is not the least qualified nor is it the most qualified – it is an average. (The process of proletarisation described by Marx as “original accumulation” was in most cases a degrading of the skills of labourers – the transfer of these skills to the more efficient machine for the purpose of cheaper production of larger quantities of commodities – irregardless of their quality.)  Average social time, the composite of these various processes of reduction or laying bare of labour, is not pure quantity although it is a measure of standardisation.  Value is measured by the simple duration of labour-time required for its production as a function of the standard amount of time needed for this act in a given society according to its average level of productivity.  This standard of average social labour is a hybrid of cultural, social and technological parameters – itself a model of reified time.    
Any system based on an average level of productivity, as is the case in capitalism, can hardly be said to be a “directionally dynamic totality” – as Postone argues.  On the contrary, one of the peculiar inner contradictions of capitalism – is its persistent aim to rest at a plateau – the average – to move from unrest to rest – approximating more what Benjamin refers to as a “Dialektik des Stillstands” (dialectic of stagnation) than a dynamic tendency.

Physicists studying cities and corporations have recently confirmed the same tendency of stagnation despite ‘dynamic’ appearances– from a statistical mathematical perspective.  Corporations are feeble – this is capital – they have a longevity of about 40-50 years.  Cities are indestructible – this is history – the terrain of the ‘multitude’.  Cities are a more likely subject of history.  Citing the work of Bettencourt and West, Jonah Lehrer writes in the New York Times of 17th December 2010: 
“At first glance, cities and companies look very similar. They’re both large agglomerations of people, interacting in a well-defined physical space. They contain infrastructure and human capital; the mayor is like a C.E.O.  But it turns out that cities and companies differ in a very fundamental regard: cities almost never die, while companies are extremely ephemeral. As West notes, Hurricane Katrina couldn’t wipe out New Orleans, and a nuclear bomb did not erase Hiroshima from the map. In contrast, where are Pan Am and Enron today? The modern corporation has an average life span of 40 to 50 years.
This raises the obvious question: Why are corporations so fleeting? After buying data on more than 23,000 publicly traded companies, Bettencourt and West discovered that corporate productivity, unlike urban productivity, was entirely sublinear. As the number of employees grows, the amount of profit per employee shrinks. West gets giddy when he shows me the linear regression charts. “Look at this bloody plot,” he says. “It’s ridiculous how well the points line up.” The graph reflects the bleak reality of corporate growth, in which efficiencies of scale are almost always outweighed by the burdens of bureaucracy. “When a company starts out, it’s all about the new idea,” West says. “And then, if the company gets lucky, the idea takes off. Everybody is happy and rich. But then management starts worrying about the bottom line, and so all these people are hired to keep track of the paper clips. This is the beginning of the end.”
The danger, West says, is that the inevitable decline in profit per employee makes large companies increasingly vulnerable to market volatility. Since the company now has to support an expensive staff — overhead costs increase with size — even a minor disturbance can lead to significant losses. As West puts it, “Companies are killed by their need to keep on getting bigger.” ”   (Jonah Lehrer, A Physicist Solves the City, New York Times, December 17, 2010, online)

It seems the physicist’s findings are a mathematical echo of Marx’s discussion in Volume 3 of Capital of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall (“As the number of employees grows, the amount of profit per employee shrinks.”) as always accompanied by the irresistible self-destructive need of capital to concentrate in ever-greater conglomerations (“ “Companies are killed by their need to keep on getting bigger.” ”). Odd that West presents his findings as if no one had ever discovered these ‘laws’ of capital before.

These looming elements of the ineluctable and recurring crisis of capital – the tendency of the rate of profit to fall and capital’s fatal drive towards unlimited concentration - both utter counter-movements to any dynamic of rational efficiency – are dismissed by Postone as “surface phenomena” of capital. (see “Time, Labor, and Social Domination, op. cit., page 311 note 15)  Postone’s “theory of capital” ‘de-forms’ Marx’s critique of political economy in the attempt to free capital of any blemish which could spoil his interpretation of capital as the apex of history or perfect ‘spirit’ – akin to Hegel’s Geist.

6.  The Subject as Double Substance

Although dismissive of the so-called “surface phenomena” of capital as accidental or insignificant for the analysis of its nature – Postone presents another such “surface phenomenon” – capital as an “automatic subject” (see passage cited above) as the proof, that Marx saw capital as the subject of history, as Geist.  Recalling his presentation of the “general formula of capital”, Marx reveals at the end of the next chapter entitled “The Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital” that this general formula is merely that which is visible in the sphere of circulation. Marx comes to the temporary seemingly paradoxical conclusion that because a capitalist in the long run exchanges equivalents – capital cannot originate in the circulation sphere, but neither can it not not originate in circulation.  “It is (…) impossible for capital to be produced by circulation, and it is equally impossible for it to originate apart from circulation.  It must have its origin both in circulation and yet not in circulation.” (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. I, translated from the third German edition by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, edited by Frederick Engels, New York, 1967, pp. 165-6)

He concludes the following chapter on the “The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power”” almost in symmetry to the ending of the chapter on the “general formula”, so as to warn the reader – what he has seen in the preceding chapters is how capital appears to expand itself spontaneously – but is not how this expansion alias surplus value really arises.  The new element he has introduced by the end of the sixth chapter – is that unique commodity which has the power within itself to create value – the commodity of labour power.  So if at the end of the chapter 4 in which Postone’s “automatic subject” holds sway Marx writes:
“Value therefore now becomes value in process, money in process, and, as such, capital.  It comes out of circulation, enters into it again, preserves and multiplies itself within its circuit, comes back out of it with expanded bulk, and begins the same round ever afresh.  M-M’, money which begets money, such is the description of Capital from the mouths of its first interpreters, the Mercantilists.(…)M-C-M’ is therefore in reality the general formula of capital as it appears prima facie within the sphere of circulation.” (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. I, op. cit., pp. 154-155)

At the conclusion of chapter 6 Marx dispels this appearance – showing it to be at the very least incomplete:  “Accompanied by Mr. Moneybags and by the possessor of labour-power, we therefore take leave for a time of this noisy sphere, where everything takes place on the surface and in view of all men, and follow them both into the hidden abode of production, (…)Here we shall see, not only how capital produces, but how capital is produced.  We shall at last force the secret of profit making.” (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. I, op. cit., p. 176)

Marx, the dramatist of capital, is constantly alternating in his presentation between the action on stage and how it appears to the audience (who are also the actors) and that other view from behind and below.  On stage the capital spectacle is an automaton – a beloved entertainment in Victorian times – “self-processing value”, “automatic subject”, “self-moving substance”, all the forms of the “general formula of capital M-C-M’ ”.  This is a formula inherited from older forms of capital – usurer, merchant capital – grasped as a system in mercantilism.  Appropriately, mercantilism was also a system of state economy.  The illusion that money directs itself under the tutelage of the state lives on in all forms of monetarism.  But Marx was not an early monetarist, assuming that money and money supply exist in a solipsistic ‘other’ economic cosmos apart from production – as Postone sometimes would like to suggest. 

(An inchoate ghostly mercantilist-monetarism haunts Postone’s occasional futurist utterances about capitalism – in such a future the market would be abolished, not the capitalist mode of producing ‘value’.  The market would be replaced by an ‘administration’ (of what?), “another mode of coordination and generalization” and the “law of value could also be mediated politically.” (Postone, op. cit, p. 291).  This sounds suspiciously like some sort of corporatism operating outside of the world market, usually associated with the fascist phase of capitalism – is this the New Chicago School?) 

Marx, though, in demonstrating how money is transformed into capital, has only set up the scene on stage to unravel it in the following chapters.  The capitalist does not just buy cheap and sell dear – he buys and sells at the value of commodities.  Marx exposes though the other indispensable commodity which capital procures in the circulation sphere – the commodity of labour power.  This commodity must be consumed by capital in the production process so that capital can re-emerge and expand itself in the circulation sphere.

So in a Hegelian sense capital flows out of itself into its negation – labour-power metamorphosed in the production sphere into abstract labour which creates value – to return to the circulation sphere where this value must be realised as M’ or capital.  But Postone further twists Marx and his inheriting of Hegelian dialectical forms.  For Postone Hegel is the source for Marx’s so-called discovery of capital as the “subject-object of history” which Postone paraphrases quite literally: “For Hegel, then, the Geist is simultaneously subjective and objective – it is the identical subject-object, the “substance” that is at the same time “Subject”(…)” (Postone, op. cit., p. 72)
But Hegel’s substance is precisely itself and not itself – “Geist and not Geist” (Adorno, Negative Dialektik, op. cit., p. 199) – and as such dialectical.  Without the “work of the negative” the substance, even if the substance were “the life of God” would be empty, bland and lifeless writes Hegel.  Adorno also criticizes Hegel for “blowing up” Geist into the “Whole” – whereas the “differentia specifica” of Geist is that it is a Subject, “subjectivistic”: “Geist, der Totalität sein soll, ist ein Nonsens (…)” [“Spirit meant to be totality is nonsense (…) ibid.] comparing this thinking to the logic of totalitarian singular parties of the 20th century.
Postone revives a vulgar “identity-philosophy”, denuded of the negativity inherent in both Hegel and Marx.  Waxing lyrical, he turns Marx’s critique of capital into a positive concept of pure affirmation – Capital as Geist, Subject and “homogeneous totality” (see Postone, op. cit. pp. 78-79), whereby especially for Hegel Geist is inherently contradictory and divided (entzweit) – in other words negativity. 
Marx was able to recognize the dialectic of capital and its negation abstract labour as a double subject or a hybrid substance through the forms of Hegel’s Logic and Phenomenology (e.g. Herr-Knecht, master-slave).  This negativity of substance with itself is reciprocal – capital being also the negation of abstract labour.

Contrary to Postone’s claim, that the “mature Marx” of Das Kapital had abandoned his critique of Hegel’s dialectic as an inverted mystified one which had to be turned upside down to discover its “rational core” in the “mystical cover” – Marx reiterates, in an approving response to a Russian reviewer of the Russian translation of Das Kapital, precisely this view in his Afterword to the second German edition of Das Kapital Volume I (London 1873).  But in its “rational form” Hegel’s dialectic disquiets the bourgeoisie, because its movement leaves nothing fixed, in its positive grasp of what exists it always includes the negation of what exists implying a “necessary demise” of capitalist social formations – all the more realistic, according to Marx, given the cyclical nature of capital and its always imminent “general crisis”.  The essence of Hegel’s dialectic is “critical and revolutionary” (Marx).  One wonders why Postone is at such pains to prove Marx has ‘recanted’ his revolutionary ‘demystification’ of Hegel’s dialectic. (see Postone, op. cit., p. 75)

Yet, Postone seems to stumble himself over this ‘duplicity’ of substance in Marx’s Capital – when he remarks in the vicinity of his claim that capital is the identical subject-object of history, that Marx refers both to abstract labour and capital as substance: “(…)at the beginning of Capital he (Marx) himself makes use of the category of “substance”.  He refers to value as having a “substance”, which he identifies as abstract human labour.” (ibid.)  A few sentences later Postone switches to capital as substance – but now immediately also Subject and Geist.  He is unable to show how both capital and abstract labour compose what Hegel designates, in the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit, as “The living substance (…) which is only insofar as it is the movement of positing itself, or the mediation of the process of becoming different (emphasis sm) from itself with itself.” (Hegel, Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit quoted in Postone, op. cit., p. 72)  Hegel continues to emphasize that this “living substance” far from being identical with itself – is as “Subject, pure simple negativity, precisely so the splitting of the simple; or the opposing doubling, which is again the negation of this indifferent diversity and is its opposite:” [“Sie (die lebendige Substanz) ist als Subjekt die reine einfache Negativität, eben dadurch die Entzweiung des Einfachen; oder die entgegensetzende Verdopplung, welche wieder die Negation dieser gleichgültigen Verschiedenheit und ihres Gegensatzes ist:”, G.W.F. Hegel, Vorrede, Phänomenologie des Geistes, Werke in zwanzig Bänden 3, Frankfurt, 1976, p. 23)]

As Marx writes – capital is produced in circulation and not in circulation.  It is precisely due to this splitting or doubling of capital and abstract labour as the source of value, realised in the circulation of capital, that makes it impossible to grasp capital as an identity of any kind – neither of itself with itself (Postone) nor of itself with itself and not-itself – abstract labour.  When wealth (stofflicher Reichtum) as in quantities of goods (use-value) does not enter into the circulation sphere – due to forced inactivity, contraction – as in the crisis of overproduction or in a crisis of finance (like in the present – all those abandoned unfinished ghost estates in Ireland) – although these goods have been produced in the capitalist production process through the agency of abstract labour they will still have nil value – or less, as negative value, loss or debt.  The production process – so emphasized by Postone – is the site of the potential valorisation of capital – but it is also the site of the consumption of commodities, variable capital (labour-power) and constant capital (machinery, raw materials, etc)  Without the transfer of commodities produced in the production process to the circulation sphere – where they are converted into money again, they remain mere material wealth.  Hence money is not less original in the production of capital than abstract labour.  Abstract labour may be the source of value – money is the form of the realisation of value and surplus value, in other words capital.  Ricardo emphasized labour as the source of value – but Sismondi showed how value is always in danger of disappearing in the crisis, devalorising.  If Marx would truly think as Postone suggests – he would have fallen behind the level of insight of a Sismondi.

Postone most peculiarly excises the market and property relations from the process of production of capital.  He quarantines abstract labour in the production sphere, where it supposedly creates value without the intrusion of money in this process.  In this purified world of capital – class struggle and exploitation melt away like “les neiges d’antan”.
“Note that the market-mediated mode of circulation is not an essential moment of this dynamic. (…) If the market mode of circulation does play a role in this dynamic, it is as a subordinate moment (…) To focus exclusively on the mode of circulation is to deflect attention away from important implications of the commodity form for the trajectory of capitalist development in Marx’s critical theory.” (Postone, op. cit., p. 291)

The commodity form only exists in circulation.  What else is the commodity form other than the receptacle of dead congealed labour, stripped of its qualities, like Duchamp’s Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, in which form it circulates (as money or commodity) in the circulation sphere – just as abstract labour is the quantitative form of living labour engaged in the production process of said commodity form?
Circulation without the commodity is empty.  The commodity without circulation has no value.  In an absurd way, Postone’s ‘theory of capital’ misses above all capital.

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