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(http://www.thenewreader.org/Issues/1/SubvertingTheDebtMachine)

To change production one needs to ‘expropriate the expropriators’ and distribute ‘property’ in a different way. And this is the problem posed by the current crisis that the liberals and the social democrats do not want to see – or better, a problem they see very well, but cannot accept!

The economy of debt makes no distinction between waged workers and non-waged workers, between the employed and unemployed, between material and immaterial labour. We are all in debt. At the same time, the creditor-debtor relation has an immediately global dimension, which transversally commands and acts on all divisions between rich and poor countries, established and developing.

The creditor-debtor relation is thus several different things at once. It is a mechanism (dispositivo) for capturing social wealth; it is a mechanism of control because, through credit, it redefines the allocation of investments; but it is also a new form of measurement and evaluation. The mechanisms of evaluation that have been introduced in all realms – the university included – come from finance. Finance has instigated this process, claiming that the Fordist factory was an opaque situation that was, from its point of view, impossible to measure. In order to be able to invest, for example in a company, finance required all possible instruments of evaluation – a perfect transparency that has been provided since the 1980s and 1990s by new standards of accountancy.

The creditor-debtor relation is thus several different things at once. It is a mechanism (dispositivo) for capturing social wealth; it is a mechanism of control because, through credit, it redefines the allocation of investments; but it is also a new form of measurement and evaluation. The mechanisms of evaluation that have been introduced in all realms – the university included – come from finance. Finance has instigated this process, claiming that the Fordist factory was an opaque situation that was, from its point of view, impossible to measure. In order to be able to invest, for example in a company, finance required all possible instruments of evaluation – a perfect transparency that has been provided since the 1980s and 1990s by new standards of accountancy.

Measurement is again a principle that Carl Schmitt introduces, arguing that the result of appropriation, what is acquired through ‘conquest, discovery, expropriation’, must be ‘measured’, ‘weighed’ and ‘divided’. Today measurement has not disappeared: as finance and credit demonstrate, it has just become ‘subjective’. This form of measurement is certainly new and it is arbitrary, depending solely on logics of power. The logic of evaluation and measurement is imposed on all aspects of life by introducing the figure of the expert and of evaluation into the school, into the police, into the university, into hospitals, even into the government, et cetera. This hierarchical structure needs to be overthrown, focusing on social reappropriation and the sharing of knowledge. I think it is absolutely fundamental to break this logic of measurement, of evaluation, of the expert.

‘Our destiny is the economy’ – that is a power relation, a relation between those who manage power and those who are subjected to it, and where those who are subjected have the possibility to revolt, to overthrow the situation. Subjectivation does not occur around democracy as a given, but starts from machinic processes of exploitation and domination that become democratic through struggles.

The logic of representation is replaced by the functional, operative logic (diagrammatic, Deleuze and Guattari would call it) of money/credit. This logic does not pass through representation, not even through signifying and representative semiotics (language) or through deciding ‘subjects’ à la Schmitt. The logic of ‘production’ and the logic of representation (political and linguistic) work together in capitalism, but on the basis of the supremacy of the former. And in the crisis, the logic of production pervades the entire political space.

What is ‘human capital’? ‘Human capital’ is s/he who responds systematically to the modifications that are artificially introduced in the ‘environment’. Human capital is no longer the ‘atom of liberty’ of classical economics, but a systemic and subordinated variable of which the different behaviours must adapt, be compatible with, and respond ‘just in time’ to the signals given out by the economy. Neoliberalism wants to extort from indebted man what it has not succeeded to obtain from human capital – the capacity to respond in real time to needs of the ‘creditors’.

We live in a permanent state of exception. As this has become the rule, it is by now useless to even continue referring to it as exception. If the sovereign is he who decides in these conditions, the sovereign of today is Capital. This evidently implies a radical change of the concept of sovereignty – its end, actually – that defines the limit of Schmitt and of all the theories that return to him (Agamben, etcetera).

Capital is not a ‘person’ – the Schmittian presupposition for the decision – and not even a group of persons, but a ‘machine’ (or more precisely a number of machines) with its subjectivations or personifications. Moreover, Capital does not have a territory in itself, nor the ability to express the ‘warm values’ capable of constructing a community or a society, as the German ordoliberals would claim. The market, business, and competition are based on principles of dispersal, not of unification. They systematically destroy what holds a society together. Capital always needed to make use of borrowed territories to compensate for its lack of political integration.

Subverting the Debt Machine—Maurizio...

Added by André Fincato
Updated 4 months ago

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