The radicalized dyad of technology and the organic which I will term the human-in-human resorting to the terminology of non-standard philosophy (Laruelle), homologous to and drawing on the idea of the cyborg (Haraway), cannot be reduced to a meaning or truth. François Laruelle’s human-in-human is neither physical nor transcendental (or linguistic) but rather a radical hybrid of the two. In other words, the human-in-human which is a cyborg escapes philosophy or the reduction to a “truth of the real” as a real that pretends to be more real (perfect) than the real itself. By virtue of its determination in the last instance as a radical dyad, the human-in-human is non-human or “inhuman” (Haraway), monstrous along with the animal, the machine and the darkness of the out-there.
The human radical constructedness grounded in – although not reducible to – the binary of technology and the organic (or “nature”) does not make it more rational, more “intelligent” and less physical, less animal. Quite to the contrary, the kernel of the hybridity does not contain a purely technological or rational purpose – it is as unruly, as meaningless, as “merely material” as the animal. The kernel of hybridity is the “lived” or the experienced without a subject, i.e. the experiential or the pre-subjective “taking place.” The hybrid is, therefore, an instance of the real which precedes language or the transcendental. It is in-human or, put in Laruellian terms, non-human.
The first movement toward transforming it into a meaning, elevating it into a form which plays a role in an organized universe (=philosophy), is a movement toward humanization aligned with the Enlightenment project. The latter represents a metaphysical project consisting in a secularized version of the theological-philosophical idea of humanism and the role of nature (and reason) in it. In other words, the non-philosophical approach to the idea of humanity and the role of technology in its constitution, regardless of whether conceptualized in terms of the classical humanist tradition or in the post-humanist one, is the necessary condition for transcending the anthropocentric naturalization of technology. Non-philosophy identifies the inhuman or the non-human real as the identity in the last instance of being human or of participating in the “species being” (Marx) of humanity. One of its first names is human-in-human, a non-philosophical designation which refers to humanity without humanism whose agency can also be called non-human (analogous to Haraway’s inhuman).
Humanity is a theologico-philosophical creation and it is always naturalized. Thanks to philosophy and theology, nature is always humanized. As long as the technological component of the radical dyad called the cyborg can be humanized or transformed into pure transcendence constituting the only accessible reality (= pure rationality), it is neither monstrous nor inhuman. It is not posthuman either. It is profoundly humanist. As a consequence, it will also be naturalized. The rationalist mind determined by its anthropocentrism in the last instance will unavoidably mimic and reproduce nature. Therefore, in spite of the commitment to hybridization it will never be inhuman or monstrous. The inhuman is that which escapes rational conceptualization, that which has no meaning or reason for existence: senseless, brute existence, mere matter regardless of whether organic or artificially produced.
The technological extension and the biological body are both alien to subjectivity which is essentially and unavoidably a philosophical creation. In other words, subjectivity is always already philosophical. It is nothing but the automaton of signification which re-presents the human or constitutes it as representation, what makes in (non-)human is precisely its failure to fully represent. Technology precedes subjectivity – just as the body does – and it cannot, therefore, have an ontological status – it is pre-philosophical. It precedes it as téchne (τέχνη) precedes philosophia (φιλοσοφία). It the real vis-à-vis the subject of language. The hybridization of the two constitutes a category of society or the “species being” of humanity. Perfecting the imperfect nature – because “irrational” – cannot be its purpose since the idea that nature contains meaning or sense, i.e., a certain causa finalis, is theological-philosophical. In order for something to be susceptible to perfecting, it should contain the tendency to be perfect. Minimally, it should be grounded in the possibility to constitute a meaning, a purpose. It should contain a telos, i.e., it should be a theological category.
A Marxist position with regard to technology is a non-philosophical one. That is why the Marxist science does not envisage an ontological status for technology. According the historical and materialist (without philosophical materialism) science of Marxism technology is a function of the social reproduction of the species being (of humanity). Technology represents one of the two constituents of the radical and non-human dyad as the determination in the last instance of humanity. As it is a social function it does not constitute an ontological substance. In metaphysical terms, it is not ousia but something closer to tropos. That is why, in the last instance, technology is prosthesis of the organic. Together they represent a non-hierarchically constructed radical (=dialectically insolvable) duality as the determination of the species-being.
Contemporary capitalism is enabled by the absolute rule of pure speculation over the inhuman or the non-human kernel, not just the physical. However, the organic or the physical is the component of the inhuman binary that is fully objectivized and unilaterally exploited with technological means. It is exploited by the automated capitalist speculation by means of technology, rather than by “technology itself.” It also alienates the technological from the species being in order to exert violent exploitation of the physical in the form of “resource,” either as labor force or as mere material to be used in industrial mass production. The realization of the automated reason is surplus value and, in a more optimistic variant, simply value. In other words, its realization is yet another category of the specular, that is, of value. The speculative automated reason is essentially philosophical and exploitative with regard to matter, whether organic or synthetic. It does not have existence outside the self-enveloped and philosophically determined reality of the speculative mind or the automation out of joint.
2. Auto-acceleration of capitalism as speculation and the automaton of signification (production of value)
According to Marx in Volume 3 of Capital, the inherent laws of the capitalist political and economic order will nourish and exacerbate the contradiction between pure speculation as the primary mode of operation of capitalism and the material it aims to control and exploit. Speculation is production of representation, or of value including both surplus and use value, whereby the latter (insofar as value – an estimation – rather than the practice of use) is just a derivative of “surplus value.” Value is always surplus value even when anchored in the practice of use. The automaton of signification – value creation – is unstoppable and self-sufficient whereas the intervention of the real (or the mere material) is an intrusion of the senseless into the automated production of sense, viz., value. Speculation out of joint will assume a life of its own, detached from the material possession of capital as private property or as simply having actual money. Speculative capital, the capital with which the finance industry operates today, is potential money, pure speculation.
Contemporary finance capital, or the so called finance industry, relies and profits from the operations of circulation as a process per se and as tautology, divorced from any grounding in the material basis of capital. The “capital” of contemporary finance industry has been “information,” “knowledge,” and political power.ii According to Marx, such a development is necessary and inevitable as the last stage of capitalism producing a “new financial aristocracy, a new variety of parasites in the shape of promoters, speculators and simply nominal directors; a whole system of swindling and cheating by means of corporation promotion, stock issuance, and stock speculation. It is private production without the control of private property.iiiThis stage is metastatic for capitalism, ensuing into the greatest and most productive contradiction that should lead to self-dissolution.
What our contemporary media and corporate political powers call “crisis” seems to be, by all of its constitutive characteristics, the final stage of capitalism which Marx describes as “self-dissolving.” It unveils the reality of economic production and social and technological progress as unfolding virtually independently from the “material basis” (monetarily re-presented materiality) of private capital.
The acceleration process, which is bound to happen through what Marx called “the credit system,” the ever growing distance between actual paying and buying of a commodity, and the possibility of an ever expanding “intermission” of the credit period, divulges the spectrality of capital, money, and private property. Acceleration through the “credit system” as the final stage of capitalism is announced and elaborated by Marx in Volume III, Chapter 5 of Capital. As the US Government Report on the 2008 financial crisis shows, Wall Street CEO’s do not have to invest any real or actual private property, and practically no capital of theirs has to be invested in order to initiate, manage, and profit. Quite the contrary, it is the private property of the poor that had been invested and then defaulted as the post 2007 crisis occurred. By no material investment of one’s own investment, “industrialists” create an unstoppable growing capital that enables them and the government to control the society as the highest form of politico-economic power. The illusion of capital’s materiality and material property, serving as the basis for an economy, has become apparent through the financial speculation whose final form has come down to sheer swindling. Albeit aiming at pure profit and exploitation of the poor only, the crisis has also and unwittingly shown that the “emperor had been naked” for quite some time—that capital as the material and real basis of economic processes is a mirage. On the basis of this particular contradiction, the “stock exchange managers” have managed to amass most of the material resources for themselves.
Acceleration is immanent to capitalism. Capitalism is unstoppably accelerated by the inherent laws of speculation itself, and therefore that of de-materialization.
“On one hand, the acceleration is technical; for example, with the same magnitude and number of actual turnovers of commodities for consumption, a smaller quantity of money or money tokens performs the same service. This is bound up with the technique of banking. On the other hand, credit accelerates the velocity of the metamorphoses of commodities, and thereby the velocity of money circulation. […] Acceleration by means of credit, of the individual phases of circulation or the metamorphosis of commodities, and later the metamorphosis of capital, and with it an acceleration of the process of reproduction in general. (On the other hand, credit helps to keep the acts of buying and selling apart longer, and serves thereby as a basis for speculation.) Contraction of reserve funds may be viewed in two ways: as a reduction of the circulating medium on the one hand, and on the other, as a reduction of that part of capital which must always exist in the form of money.”iv
Acceleration does not take place in the form of finance capital only, but also in the area of material production, i.e., in technological-militaristic development. The unstoppable development of the means of production, which is also the means of exploitation of the (non)human and animal species, is constantly accelerated. It’s called technological development. Technological development is subject to private property, its goal is the creation of surplus value; inventions are in the possession of capitalist oligarchs exclusively. The imagined political revolution via technological acceleration requires a reversed model of ownership and reinvention of the social role of technological development. In order to achieve these goals, following the model of associations of producers advocated by Marx, the technological processes should be appropriated by the actual producers. As a consequence, this will lead to a replacement of the spectrality and superfluity of capital (money) by real and tangible social re-production.
In what Marx announces as the late stage of capitalism, i.e., in finance capitalism, the process of signification—of turning a material, physical good into market value or commodity—is mainly carried out through mere “swindling.” In this process, the “private ownership of property” has been proven to be “just ownership” as Marx predicted—a mere instance of the material to be exploited by the “stock exchange managers.” As the essentially speculative nature of the capitalist economy has accelerated, the central contradiction has moved to an extreme. According to Marx, the contradiction taken in extremis must be resolved by self-dissolving the impossible, unsustainable, contradicting couple. If the unsustainable and bubbled up speculative aspect of the contradiction culminates, if it exacerbates the fissure with the real and the physical that it introduced in principio, it will founder as the real starts to “act on its own,” escaping the control of philosophy (= ideology of capitalism). Unruly as it is, thanks to its brutal, physical force, or/and the force of the real, which can include material actions carried out by inanimate agencies, it will disperse the ruling webs of meaning, or the existing universe consisting of “estimation of values. “ Such a process would lead to the self-dissolution of the founding binary of capitalism, because the reality is constituted by, grounded in, and conditioned by social process, rather than capital investment (in the form of actual monetary assets). Materiality of contemporary reality lies in society, in its physicality and effects of a conditioning real, rather than in the symbolism of money.
Lecture at “Reinventing Horizons” Conference, March 19th 2016 in Prague (Tranzitdisplay Gallery)
i Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. 3: The Process of Capitalist Production: Interest and Profit of Enterprise, ed. Frederick Engels (New York: International Publishers, 1894), available at Marxist Internet Archive (1996, 1999; 2010) http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch23.htm, accessed on 17 April 2015
ii Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report: Final Report of the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Publishing Office, 2011).
iii Marx, Capital, Vol. 3: Interest and Profit of Enterprise , (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1959), available at https://
iv Marx, Capital, Vol. 3: The Role of Credit in Capitalist Production, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1959), available at https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1