Capital = Compound Interest (August 2020)

I can't escape the conclusion that "Capital" is compound interest plain and simple.

This is in many ways synonymous with technology: the ability to compose processes such that they become a lever.

Compound interest is what allows us to break biological limits.

This isn't a blanket defense of whatever people may or may not define as "capitalism", but it is saying that the idea of just flat out "abolishing" capital amounts to primitivism, and primitivism is itself not only silly but just wrong: technics singles out humans.

The whole idea of the market "coordinating" things is half-assed metaphysics that obscures the real issue of emergence: emergence comes from disparate things finding a way to "compose" according to some part of them that is reconcilable.

Which leads to misguided debates...

The dream of course being that one can find a way to have things "naturally coordinate" in a way that doesn't lead to troubling amounts of asymmetrical accumulation. Otherwise, communism would have to amount to economy by committee, and that doesn't really work.

Yes, communism can work depending on how you define it, but only insofar that no government micromanages every last aspect of economic life like a puppet on strings. Planning exists in every economy: it's a question of who's doing the planning.

The degree to which an economy is "centrally planned" not a single metric to begin with, but even if it were, you'd see less differences between "socialist" and "capitalist" countries than you think, because compound interest inevitably creates things at greater and greater scale, and "planning" at each of these scales is part of the process of bootstrapping to yet another scale.

It's not a question of top-down or bottom-up, it's a question of laying down some ontogeny around which new emergent processes crystallize.

And of course these processes have innumerable crises—how could it be any other way? If power accumulates too much, you'll get things like exploitation, tyranny, and grifting. If the affordances are there, actors will utilize them.

I don't see any way around these constraints except for dealing with what's right in front of us. This isn't Burkean fatalism: simping for the status quo is just as oblivious as basing doctrine on hypotheticals.

But industry, computation, robotics, transportation, plumbing, electricity, science, mathematics, and so on, all of these things have one thing in common: tehy're systems that arise by carving out parts and connecting them to each other; what Deleuze & Guattari meant when they spoke of "desiring machines".

It's also what Marx meant by the commodity form: industry as a loop facilitated by standardized parts.

And Marx was largely right about the turbulence caused by surplus falling down the gravity well of compound interest, but I defy anybody to explain to me how technology is a separable concept from this loop.

Besides which, how could you define "surplus value" unless you have a system by which things are interchangeable? Do you see what this implies?

Again, this is not fatalism. Letting Capital run amok is suicidal: its logic is not the whole of civilization and to leave its power unchecked is a neglect of the ecology of which it (and we) are situated, and inevitably would end in feudalism and environmental catastrophe.

But no, you can't "abolish Capital" unless you find a way to abolish technology. All technology comes from coupling parts in ways that enable new couplings. If Capital only seems to emerge in the industrial age, it's because that's the visible part of the exponential curve.

This should not be mistaken for accelerationism. What I am suggesting is that there is no way out of this without some contribution from a science that continues in the same tradition as thinkers like Marx but develops an appropriately comprehensive view of our affordances and constraints.