As I see it, capital is best understood as a social fiction: a socially constructed fictive reality. Capital consists of denominate numbers (whose units are the numeraire) which we cooperatively, or under duress, pretend or accept can refer validly to real quantities and which we use to manipulate real quantities. By “real” I mean real stuff. To shorthand that, if it has measurable mass, energy or momentum it is real stuff.
I argue that we need to understand the crucial difference between the real (in the above definition) and a human or social fiction. I will keep things aphoristic for brevity. Everything is real. Not everything is true. Even a fiction is real. A fiction or a false statement is constructed as patterns in media just as a true statement is constructed as patterns in media. To shorthand the difference between “real” and “true” in these senses, a crooked stud in framing is real but it is not true: using “true” in the sense that a carpenter uses the term “true”. I often have recourse to this brilliant definition by Peirce.
“That truth is the correspondence of a representation to its object is, as Kant says, merely the nominal definition of it. Truth belongs exclusively to propositions. A proposition has a subject (or set of subjects) and a predicate. The subject is a sign; the predicate is a sign; and the proposition is a sign that the predicate is a sign of that which the subject is a sign. If it be so, it is true. But what does this correspondence or reference of the sign, to its object, consist in?” – Charles Sanders Peirce.
If we consider representations or models which attempt to be accurate in at least one particular, it is clear that we can have true models (true in at least that one aspect) and false models (false in at least that one aspect). What do we mean by “true” here? Technically, we mean a homomorphic correspondence between the model and modelled object or process. Homomorphism is the best way to conceive the “true” relation. A homomorphism is a structure-preserving relation between statement or model and the object (the predicate in Peirce’s statement). The “true” consists in the structure-preserving relation.
With respect, I feel CasP is failing of its own radical promise and insights if it does not arrive at the full conclusion that the untrue “representations” – they are actually prescriptions not representations – of money, finance, capital with respect to reality and as calculations for the manipulation of reality ought to be wholly and radically abolished. Naturally, this would need to be a stepped process not an instant, wholesale abolition which would immediately collapse into total destructive anarchy. But if we cannot envisage and then action, stepwise, the abolition of capital what are we doing? I argue we are doing nothing but pursuing a hobby in the interstices of capitalism to distract ourselves from our existential plight.
The complete abolition of capital and capitalism is an existential necessity. It has become empirically clear that the existential crises of climate change, the sixth mass extinction and the clearly imminent pandemicene (to name three) are not in any way solvable by capitalism. These crises are created and exacerbated by capitalism and its wholly prescriptive approach which recognises no natural limits and uses its fictive denominate numbers to manipulate real stuff in a manner which is clearly destructive of life on earth.
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by Rowan Pryor.