the terrible community of financial capitalism

July 14th, 2010 | 3 comments

the terrible community of financial capital (spiral formation)

IV. 2

As post-authoritarian formations, the corporations of the “new economy” constitute terrible communities in the fullest sense.  And no one should see any contradiction in the similarity between capitalism’s avant-gardes and the avant-gardes of its opposition: they are both prisoners of the same economic principle, the same need for efficiency and organization, even if they set themselves up on different terrain.  They in fact serve the same modalities of the circulation of power, and in that sense they are politically quite near one another. Tiqqun, Theses on the Terrible Community

In Tiqqun’s Theses on the Terrible Community [translation / French original], what is the terrible community? The community is an illusive circulation of isolated dividuals — subjects struck through with the schizophrenia of capital. Sacrifice holds it together, to an ideology or cause, be it for profit or for the people, and every terrible community revolves around a Leader. The terrible community can take many forms: a corporation is a terrible community, as is any workforce. In particular, Tiqqun seems to have in mind the activist community, or any anarchist squat, insofar as it projects itself as outside to, or at least resisting against, what Tiqqun calls democratic biopower. Yet the activist community just like the business community are both terrible communities, beholden to rituals of sacrifice, isolated existences, vertical hierarchies, and even worse, self-policing and self-censorship. I would like to ask Tiqqun (if they can be addressed) as to what they think of the branding of communities – the Muslim community, the gay community, etc. – in terms of their alleged coherency, unity and collective responsibility within the mediasphere of Spectacle.

Tiqqun flattens all communities to the relations of their form.

IV. 11

The terrible community only feels its own existence when it has crossed over into illegality.  And anyway, all sado-masochistic human exchanges outside of commodity relations are devoted in the end to illegality, as the violent metaphor for the surreptitious misery of this era.  It’s only in illegality that the terrible community perceives itself and ek-sists, negatively of course, as something outside the sphere of legality, as a creation freeing itself from itself.  While never recognizing legality as something legitimate, the terrible community has nevertheless still managed to make the negation of it the space of its existence. Tiqqun, Theses on the Terrible Community

With illegality arises a question, or rather a proposition: is not the most conscious terrible community, the one most alive, not that of some anarchist movement or fringe group, but that of financial capital itself, the terrible community of all those traders and brokers in junk bonds and hedge funds, those money managers who climbed to the heights of financial abstraction, and crept beyond to the very edges of financial legality?

The financial community crossed over into illegality. Hell, it bought and sold the legal system. It understands full well every ounce of Tiqqun’s phrase that “all sado-masochistic exchanges outside of commodity relations are devoted in the end to illegality.” Indeed, the financial community long exceeded the mere trading of goods, or even that commodity relations – whether it be that of the signifier itself, of money, or of bodies, or of resources, products, processes or objects in general – should determine the basis of trade negotiations, future assessments, currencies, stock prices or debt obligations. The financial community reified, beyond the paradigm of legality, the profiteering of sado-masochistic force itself. When buying and selling against the probable failure of toxic assets, in such a way that utterly erases all ties to any kind of commodity relation, then the financial community trades in nothing but sado-masochistic violence wrought through the power of mystic numerosity. Credit and debit are concepts applied through the distribution of financial “justice” – the simple equation where debt is judgement, bankruptcy, death. The financial community  disregards with sheer contempt the consequences of capitalizing the very human relations outside of commodity relations – where thousands of Blooms would be forced to foreclose and enter into bankruptcy – and their sacrifice is to worship the most pure, abstract illegality, the unleashed violence of abstract Moloch. Or so it thinks.

As any escort will tell you, their clients are businessmen: lawyers and traders and nameless members of the financial community. It is no surprise they purchase sexual pleasure. But it is the form of its purchase that remains obscure to those outside the world of call girls and the GFE. For this purchase is an exchange of power. Money becomes the fe/male slave. Finally, abstraction is laid to rest. Money is realised with control over the body: I HAVE BECOME BIOPOWER, I AM SIGNIFIER. With the casual deposition of bills on the dresser, the abstraction of toxic asset trading becomes flesh, and all that was hazy and muddied in time and space crystallizes in the illegality of prostitution. Prostitution and the purchase of pleasure are the only ways to drive home the illegality of abstract crime, to make it real, to make the community real to itself.

The terrible community of financial capital perceives itself and ex-sists – negatively, of course, “as a creation freeing itself from itself” – in a Hegelian formation otherwise known to conservative ideologues as “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps.”

The negation of legality is indeed the space of the terrible community’s existence. It is precisely here that financial capital exists as a community, with its Leaders, its sacifices, its ideologies, policing and censorship — and its realisation, or reification, in the purchase of fe/male slaves, where the profession of prostitution is the necessary supplement to the abstractions of financial capital.

How does one destroy such a terrible community?


The time of the terrible community is spiraloid and of a muddy consistency.  It is an impenetrable time where the planned-form and the habit-form weigh on lives, leaving them paper-thin.  One might define it as the time of naïve freedom where everyone does what they want, since the times wouldn’t permit anyone to want anything aside from what’s already there.

One might say that it is the time of clinical depression, or rather, the time of exile and prison.  It is an endless wait, a uniform expanse of disordered discontinuities. Tiqqun, Theses on the Terrible Community

In this spiraloid (see above), time is cyclic, rotating in a fictional present, and yet muddy, impenetrable. Cash-in on the upswing of the cycle, and gain all the benefits of paper-thin lives: the accumulation of numbers that signal paper, paper that stands-in for the hallucinatory aura of ore. The financial community did what it so desired; its desires were perfectly attenuated to what all communities want: to become-illegal, to play the Outlaw, to wear the Cowboy pants. The financial community couldn’t possibly imagine anything else. How could it possibly  harness its brilliant hyperabstract minds to do anything other than develop the most complex ways to bank-out & cash-in? For the financial community is the terrible community for us all — the meta-community that acts in its totality as the Leader we love to hate. It only wanted, after all, what was already there, that Common Dream of the American People: to get very fucking rich, by fucking everyone around. In its illegality, in its realisation of its own existence, the financial community broke its clinical depression and smashed Nietzsche’s cycle of the endless wait, making haste with the snatch & grab. It was only after that the realisation came thundering down, that it was, indeed, only ever a terrible community, a community all the more vapid for every member was beset by the void of the Leader, and that all it had, waiting for it at home, was the couple of exile and prison, and not its call girls (though always the even more terrible core of the family) once the money dried up — only then did it realise that its snatch & grab had failed to secure all it ever wanted, the mysterious power of the snatch itself.

If you want to destroy the terrible community, then it is through where it realises itself, reifies itself, claims its own existence, and becomes flesh, that one must strike.


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