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The Cathedral and the axiomatics of capital

Today in my Cosmopolitics of Capital class, instead of discussing Lyotard´s evil book in connection to Moldbug and Land´s ideas, as planned, we spent hours considering bits of The Anti-Oedipus under the light of Neo-cameralist ideas and some remarks Land makes about the horror that is often triggered as an emotional response to (Neo-cameralist) statements about the Cathedral. We concentrated on the bit of chapter 3, section 10 where Deleuze and Guattari talk about class struggle and the bourgeoisie as a class eroder. There they describe how capitalism decodes the flows of castes, orders, and classes in the sense of feudal aristocracy, serfdom and peasantry. The erosion affects also the proletariat that is never associated with a specific job or type of service but rather a decoded abstract worker. This decoding is precisely what makes the proletariat universal and directly linked with the productive forces - which means, for Deleuze and Guattari, that they are potentially the schizo, the ultimate figure, in the book, of those who produce with no care for registration and distribution. Capitalist melting, however, is not done uniquely by the proletariat but rather it is triggered by the forces engendered by capital - and so it seems like the capitalists themselves are promoting the decoding of the previously existing flows. In fact, what the forces engendered by capital do is to forge social relations in the very process of production. This is why the proletariat is a product of these forces and each one of its workers enjoy a community which is not one of proximity, familiarity, nationality or anything else that comes before the process of production. Proletarian relations are not independent of production - and this is what makes the proletarian universal (and schizo).

The capitalists, on the other hand, do decode as they are part of the capitalist system but they have to simultaneously do the reverse movement: they have to maintain the axiomatics of capital. In other words, they have to maintain a structure, which is anterior and independent of production, that makes sure production is registered in their favor. This is what Deleuze and Guattari mean when they say that capitalism decodes the flows while keeping itself within the limits of its axiomatic. This is because of the erosion power of capital: it doesn´t stop to make way for the capitalists, rather they will eventually expropriate them. The capitalist, rather than a sailor on a safe boat, is more like a surfer on the agitated waves of capital. So, the bourgeoisie has to make sure some social relations anterior and independent of production are in place - this is why they are committed to the Oedipus operation. Without families, they have no inheritance, no non-business alliances between the different bosses, no safeguards against the tides of capital - and no way to ensure the proletarian will not become a full-blown schizo producing collectively for those who are in the always enlarging global production chain instead of working for his household. Oedipus does the main service of the capitalist axiomatic. But Oedipus engenders, among other things, the comfortable situation of the capitalist bosses. In fact, they surf as if they were linked by Bluetooth to other surfboards, some of them too powerful to sink. These Bluetooth surfers are almost entirely protected from the forces of the waves they surf on because they are protected by their family links, their connection to the state (that will come to rescue them when in troubles, like in 2008) and to their ties with a nation (see urges for the British government to help out Thomas Cook...).

Now, this (pre-production) relations form a mafia of powerful people that protect each other and include increasingly the colonial institutions (IMF, World Bank, UN agencies), the international media and sectors of the university and the non-government organization. This axiomatics is precisely what separates the schizo from the capitalist - the proletarian regime from the bourgeois rule. Yet, the anarco-capitalists (call them the citizens of An-Capstan) tend to hate and despise this mafia. They believed neo-liberalism would help to wipe them away - it didn´t, quite the opposite, it made the mafia stronger. They believed libertarianism would be the way out - but it is hard for a democratically elected government, like George W. Bush´s, not to intervene to save the banks - another government would come along and do what the powerful assemblage of interest want. Neo-cameralism is a way out of this, within the confines of the An-Capstan. Moldbug calls this assemblage "the Cathedral". It protects the powerful through the democratic regime - state, revolving doors, directly or indirectly private financed electoral campaigns. The Cathedral dominates by creating a consensus that makes sure the axiomatics is in place. From the point of view of a Marxist analysis, to be sure, the Cathedral is inevitable because capitalists are not specially protected by capital. They will be abandoned and they need to have a security scheme in order to keep in power due to the capital they currently own. The axiomatics is not really something that could be fought with the help of the capitalists - they need the security that only something like the Cathedral can provide.

Now, Land insinuates that Moldbug (and his own Dark Enlightenment piece) have to be read less with fury and more with a diagnostic eye. Neo-cameralism is perhaps the name of an experiment. Or rather it is the name of a critical endeavor in some form of fiction theory (just like sci-fi, it is maybe precisely about the current days). Neo-cameralism exposes the Cathedral, not only by saying it will fight it but also making clear that the Cathedral is the blurred and implicit device through which Neo-cameralism is itself already in place. Neo-cameralism makes the Cathedral explicit. The friction between freedom and democracy is precisely the name of where we are now. (Incidentally, the most Landian-in-style part of the Dark Enlightenment piece Land signs is maybe his quote of David Graeber saying capitalism is incompatible with democracy.) What the Neo-cameralist experiment would then convey is that critical theory - and social critique - can only be done now as a dead pun. Or worse, that it can only be done by electing presidents, removing the UK from the EU, being thoroughly cynical. Criticism has maybe found its cynicism dead end.

If it is so, it is because of the always more empowered axiomatics of capitalism. As the insecurity of capital grows, the insurance policies of the bosses have to grow proportionally. If there is anything like the Cathedral as a common enemy, it is due to capitalists have to do more than melting and decoding, they have to ensure melting and decoding goes on in their own terms.

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