There are many virtues to cryptocurrencies, local currencies, and sharing economies (with which things like Uber and Airbnb in fact bear no relation). As part of an ecology of alter-economic endeavors, they all have a role to play in constructing a postcapitalist future. However, none can be said to revalue value. All repeat, each in its own way, essential characteristics of the capitalist equation.
The speculative engine of surplus-value might provide a model for the revaluation of value.
Scholium. The key to revaluing value might reside in reverse engineering a dynamic that is carried to its highest power in the most advanced, and seemingly regressive, segment of the capitalist economy: the financial markets. It may be necessary to go right for the heart in order to drive a stake through it, so as to make vitality live up to its potential (or potential live up to its vitality).
What is a quality of life, construed as a value? The answer is simple: a qualitative life value is something that is lived for its own sake; something that is a value in and of itself, in the unexchangeable “currency” of experience.
Scholium. A life-value has value to the exact degree to which it is incommensurable with any other experience. It is the singular color of an experience, such as it is, all of its own, that makes of it a life-value. In fact, a quality of life has value in exactly the way we say a color or a sound has a value. It has the value of the qualitative character of its own occurrence.
Lemma. The use of the word “occurrence” is not gratuitous. Quality of life, as a value lived for its own sake, is evental. To reclaim it amounts to folding the nonchronological time of capital back into the eventfulness of life’s qualitative in-the-making.
A life-value is a surplus-value of life.
Capitalist surplus-value, like all surplus-value, including surplus-value of life, is defined by the generation of an excess of effect. It’s all about leveraging (to use an ugly economic term for something that, like the surplus-value it produces, has a much broader processual scope and is not confined to the economic realm).
Scholium a. In leveraging, output does not observe a linear relation to input. Effect is incommensurate with cause. This can occur because the effect is emergent. It spins off from its conditions without being completely determined by them. A leverage effect embodies a more-than. Its occurrence cannot be explained by any particular underlying factor, because what it spins off from is the way in which multiple factors come together: it is an irreducibly relational effect that comes to more than the sum of its contributory parts.
The leveraging of surplus-value is an intensification of process.
Scholium a. The generation of capitalist surplus-value through the wage relation is the classic example of leveraging, taken in the broadest sense as the extraction of a relational more-than. The excess of value skimmed off from the work process is more than a simple equation between the cost of the labor time put in and the market price of the resulting product. It arises from an intensification of the labor process: from increasing “productivity” toward gaining a “competitive edge.” It is the differential in productivity between a given enterprise and its competitors that yields capitalist relative surplus-value. The means employed to carve out this performative differential is what Marx referred to as the “extortion” inherent in the wage relation.
Scholium b. The intensification of the labor process is the result of multiple, interacting factors belonging to heterogeneous formations and levels of life, having to do with qualitative differentials, including a good many exterior to the factory floor or corporate office. These bear on everything from educational background, training, team-building strategies, personal and professional time-management skills, motivational factors of all kinds, the development and deployment of technologies of attention, the transportation system enabling efficient commuting, patterns of migration bringing workers to the labor market and, last but not least, what the workers do on their off time that leaves them more or less labor-ready and enhances or vitiates their performance during work hours. There is a plethora of contributory factors, whose tentacular reach snakes into every corner of life. Profit sums up in a single number the integral way these contributory life-wide factors come together to produce a quantitative more-than.
Lemma. The intensity of a process pertains to the spread of qualitative differentials it integrates: how far and in what way it sends its feelers into the crannies of the field of life.
Profit is a surplus-value of life before it is an economic value.
Scholium. Profit is a quantification of the way in which a certain complex of life-factors have come together to spin off an excess productivity-effect, which in the end is black-inked into the ledger in the numerical form of a return on investment. Profit marks the conversion of life-quality into what really counts in the capitalist system: economic quantity under perpetual increase. Corporate ledger books, and on a wider scale economic indicators, are indexes of this conversion. They are indicative signs of the economizing capture of surplus-value of life. The capitalist capture of surplus-value of life is an appropriation. By the time it hits the ledger books, it has been converted into private property.
The wage relation is just one example of the generation of capitalist surplus-value. In a rapidly automating economy, its de facto primacy is increasingly threatened. On the internet and in the financial markets, surplus-value is generated directly as a relational movement effect. This suggests the concept of surplus-value of flow.
Scholium a. On the internet, the relational movement effect is generated by the way in which heterogeneous tendencies complexly play off of each other, spinning off monetizable trends captured through data mining. The profit generated is a quantitative expression of the life-wide cross-contagion between flows of affect, attention, and appetite. The surplus-value of life it captures is a surplus-value of flow. The quantity of profit skimmed off bears little relation to the formal input of time, labor, and investment. Consumers become informal producers, limitlessly contributing their life-time and vital activity, not to mention their donations of fixed capital in the form of data-minable devices. The resulting meme-effects may leverage returns exponentially. This widening disproportion between input and output consequent to surplus-value of flow is a major reason the labor theory of value must be reconsidered.
Scholium b. The concept of surplus-value of flow is an extrapolation from Marx’s analysis of interest-bearing capital as money “already pregnant with surplus-value,” such that the profit generated “is not the result of the act of purchase, the actual function that it performs here as money, but rather of the way in which this act is connected with the overall movement of capital” (Marx 1991, 463; emphasis added). This idea of the “pregnancy” of an act with surplus-value is generalized here to cover all movements plying the capitalist field, as they phase between the immanent outside of potential and take-up by apparatuses of capture. The pregnancy with surplus-value is pregnancy with potential, primed for relational emergence-effect production. Under neoliberalism, surplus-value of flow takes on an increasingly central role, as turnover accelerates and more and more sectors are catapulted into movement by globalization. This growing importance expresses itself in an obsession among investors for liquidity. The generalized concept of surplus-value as pregnantly connected with the overall movement of process can be designated by the name machinic surplus-value (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 232–35). Machinic surplus-value is a synonym for surplus-value of flow emphasizing its imbrication with computerization and automation.
Scholium c. The move beyond the labor theory of value is present in embryonic tendency in Marx’s own work. The concept of machinic surplus-value as proposed here radicalizes Marx’s analysis in his famous “Fragment on Machines” (Marx 1993, 670–711). Marx analyzes automation as the objectification of the “general intellect,” whereby “social knowledge” becomes “a direct force of production” (706; emphasis added). More than that, “powers of social production have been produced, not only in the form of knowledge, but also as immediate organs of . . . the real life process” (706; emphasis added). The “immediate organs” are automated machines: “self-acting mules,” he wryly calls them (706). Although Marx himself does not go so far, it is clear from the vantage point of the digital future he did not live to see that when the distributed (“overall”) movements of the “real life process” become a “direct force” autonomously driving the production of surplus-value—thanks to the self-acting code mules let loose upon the world by Silicon Valley to work the global data mines—the correlation of surplus-value to “necessary labor-time” is attenuated to the breaking point. Marx himself says as much: “Capital itself is the moving contradiction, [in] that it presses to reduce labor time to the minimum, while it posits labor time, on the other side, as sole measure and source of wealth. Hence it diminishes labor time in the necessary form so as to increase it in the superfluous form” (706; emphases added). Today, the increase in the “superfluous” form (unanchored from “real labor” and “real wealth”) comes most dramatically in the nonhuman form of the automated data mining of our online movements on social media and the internet in general. Here, the diminishment of necessary labor-time tends to the infinitesimal limit. The human input is contracted into the thinness of a click. With each click, we are hard at “work,” even in leisure, for the production of capitalist surplus-value, all the while absorbed in our real-life process and its intensifying relational reticulation through the ever-densifying social media.
Lemma a. In the digital world, surplus-value of flow is synonymous with surplus-value of information.
Lemma b. The financial markets operate on surplus-value of flow, in exemplary fashion. They, too, leverage differentials.
Scholium d. Financial derivatives are pure operators of surplus-value of flow. “They are commodities that exist purely within circulation” (Bryan and Rafferty 2007, 148). “They are products of circulation, not significantly of labor” (Bryan and Rafferty 2006, 154).
The leveraging of differentials is a characteristic of the capitalist process at all levels.
Lemma a. The analysis of the differential mode of operation of the capitalist process has far-reaching consequences for a number of core issues, including capitalist subjectivity, class, the status of the “real” economy, and even the nature of the human in relation to capitalism.
Scholium a. For the financial markets, the differentials take the form of spreads between economic sectors, national currencies, financial instruments, and most especially time intervals, as a function of which all of the other differentials fluctuate. The differentials are in overall movement relative to one another over time (T18). The financial markets game the differentials—none more than the time differential—toward the generation of surplus-value of flow (Knorr Cetina and Preda 2007).
Scholium b. Capital comes in many forms. It is not confined to the financial markets. It comes in forms other than investment money and financial instruments. Labor, to the extent that it is used to leverage an excess-over, is a form of capital (“variable capital” in the Marxian vocabulary). Equipment used to gain a competitive edge is also capital (“constant capital”). As is copyright-protected intellectual property used to unlevel the informational playing field. Prestige value, such as star status, is leveraged as a form of social capital. Reputation is another leverageable form of social capital, both in its traditional and emerging online forms. By neoliberal reckoning, an individual human being itself is a form of capital. The financial markets play the differentials between all of these forms of capital, and more.
Lemma b. Under neoliberalism, an individual human being figures as human capital.
Scolium c. An individual is human capital to the extent that it manages to locally embody the overall movement of capital. The individual dips into the flow in such a way as to fashion its person as a miniaturization of the overall movement. Its life-activity becomes a quantum of capitalist surplus-value, to its self-driving core. Its job is to surf the movements of capital: to make itself competitive across the successive waves of the rapidly changing job market, or as an independent entrepreneur (the preferred choice for “millennials” who are in the loop). This life-surfing fashions the individual as an ambulant personification (T67 Schol. c; T68-T69) of surplus-value of flow. The individual’s job description is its life description: to strategically play the qualitative differentials that compose its field of life. These include, among others, the differentials between leisure time and work time, skill development and the application of acquired knowledge, friendship and networking, discipline and improvisation, energizings and replenishment, immediate satisfaction and tactical deferral. A fundamental task is to glean surplus-value of information and leverage it. This involves producing surplus-value of perception (Massumi 2014a; T34 Schol. e), not to mention surplus-value of sociality—a whole spread of qualitatively different surplus-values. The dynamic bundling of these different surplus-values composes the integral surplus-value-of-life that characterizes the individual as human capital. It is ultimately this surplus-value of life that is captured by the capitalist process. A unit of human capital is a quantum of surplus-value of life subsumed under the overall movement of capital as a function of its own dynamic self-driving. One is captured by one’s own perpetual movement of self-fashioning. Human capital was invented by neoliberal capitalism to replace the figure of the worker in an attempt to render obsolete the antagonism between worker and capitalist that structured the preceding industrial phase of capitalism. What better way than to make the capture by capital self-acting? To make the individual’s becoming-itself a capital equation? The ongoing neoliberal project of disabling that antagonism flattens capitalist subjectivity into a single figure: the “entrepreneur of oneself” (Foucault 2008, 224–26). This project is successful to the degree to which complicity becomes the fundamental mode of existence of the life of the individual in the capitalist field, at every level of society. The ensnaring complicity of the creditor-debtor relation replaces the worker-capitalist antagonism as the dominant differential tension. This internalizes what was an antagonism marking the outside limit of the system (a potentially fatal “contradiction” in the traditional Marxian vocabulary) into an economic operator fully within its orbit, entirely subsumed to its logic. The creditor-debtor relation is the black sun around which the neoliberal production of capitalist subjectivity comes to revolve (Lazzarato 2012; 2015).
Lemma c. The ability of financial capital to leverage the spreads between other forms of capital, extracting surplus-value of flow from their complex pattern of movements, gives it a power of overflight that makes it meta-capital (Bryan and Rafferty 2006, 13).
Scholium d. Financial capital is the epitome of capital, carrying what it can do, as driver of surplus-value, to the limit. In the neoliberal economy, the financial sector takes off from the “real” economy. It unleashes surplus-value of flow at the meta-level, declaring its independence from the “underlying assets” of the productive economy. Financial capital’s autonomization of surplus-value of flow takes the form of derivatives such as options, hedging, and credit default swaps. With options and hedging, profit is made from speculating on ups and downs of the movements of underlying assets, capitalizing on volatility itself. With credit default swaps, secondary financial instruments are constructed by dividing and recombining existing assets (“tranching”). The idea is that a strategic mix is more secure than an unbundled collection of the same assets, because the lowest-grade assets can default without bringing the whole house of cards falling down (this is “securitization”). However, with the trading of the bundled assets, a new tier of assets is created, in a wholly derivative way, without anything new being produced—aside from the ability of the new financial instrument to circulate independently. The value of the derivative can fluctuate in a way that is largely unanchored not only from the ownership of any underlying assets, but also from their individual valuations (Bryan and Rafferty 2006, 10–13, 18, 37, 52, 66, 74–75, 129, 154, 184). Securitization segues into pure speculation. In reality, the underlying “assets” are not necessarily assets in any normal sense of the term. In the case of credit default swaps, they are debts (mortgages, car loans, and student loans being the prime—or subprime—examples). The secondary debt market performs the capitalist magic trick of making debt a credit instrument, in ways far more powerful (leverageable) than simple interest-bearing capital. The very distinction between an asset and a liability is erased at this meta-level of capital, along with the significance of the distinction between productive and unproductive economic activity. At this level, capital is effectively self-abstracting from the “real” economy. Financial capital can never untether itself entirely from the productive economy. But the fact that under neoliberalism it is the leading economic sector (the value of the financial markets far exceeds that of the productive economy) is highly significant. The emphasis on financial capital is in fact one of the key defining characteristics of neoliberalism. The neoliberal economy is increasingly anchored in the tendential unanchoring of financial capital from the productive economy. The tables have turned, to the point that it is the productive economy that might more accurately be considered secondary to financial capital. The two realms of the capitalist economy still revolve around each other, but the power relation has shifted, turned upside down. This self-turning of capitalism on its own head vastly increases volatility . . . which only further feeds the ability to game surplus-value of flow, actually strengthening the financial sector, which up until now has been able to skate past the periodic crises that inevitably result. The workhorse of industrial capital has been displaced by the cat of financial capital. Neoliberalism repeatedly throws the economy into air, trusting it to land back on its feet (onto the backs of the self-acting mules it rides). Under neoliberalism, in Herman Minsky’s oft-quoted dictum, the high-risk surfing of volatility has become so integral to the economy that it is now the case that “stability is destabilizing” (Minsky 1982, 26). Seen in this light, the jargon of “securitization” seems like a bad capitalist joke.
Lemma d. Nevertheless, an alter-economy that takes off from the model of finance rather than that of currency might be able to postcapitalize on the logic of derivatives—taken more broadly than in the narrow economic sense (Martin 2015) and in potentializing connection with the notion of surplus-value of life—to leap beyond productivism and the grindstone paradigm of work (T91 Schol. b) that forms a bond of enemy-brotherhood between capitalist and traditional Marxist political economy. Such a project would move instead toward a paradigm of creative play (T94, Strat. c).
Scholium e. The digital automation of financial trading intensifies the role of surplus-value of flow by accelerating data analysis and as a consequence the speed of turnover of financial transactions. This boosts capitalism into hyperdrive. Surplus-value production effervesces. Machinic surplus-value production overall asserts greater and greater autonomy from its would-be human masters’ conscious control. It is important not to forget that other forms of surplus-value are co-involved in this phenomenon. There are always decision points or pressure points where human intervention is desired or necessitated. Given the superhuman complexity of the movements under way, and the inhuman speed of their turnover, the intervention cannot employ the means that the human has traditionally used to define its exceptionalism: deliberative ratiocination, methodical rationalism. Both day traders and floor traders speak of heightened or altered states of attention and perception, often articulated in terms of “gut feeling” or intuition (Lee and Martin 2016, 79, 90, 134, 245, 271; Knorr Cetina and Preda 2007, 132). These are surplus-values of perception. They capitalize on a self-acting excess-over the normal state of perception and the manner in which, under normal circumstances, it feeds deliberative thought and decision-making. The gut generation of surplus-values of perception, directly articulated with the complex movements of finance with a view to the extraction surplus-values of flow from them, is a way in which the human strives to become equal to the machine. The “human” intervention must strive to enact a becoming-machinic of the human (paradoxically, through intuition). The human is annexed to the machinic process. This is an exemplary case of the “real subsumption” by capital of human life and capacities whose general form, at the core of neoliberalism, is human capital. The neoliberal concept of human capital is explicit about its becoming-machinic. Human capital, in the words of one of neoliberalism’s founding fathers, is based on “an all-inclusive concept of technology” that encompasses the “innate abilities of man” (Schultz 1971, 10). The individual human being becomes a humanoid vector of machinic surplus-value production: a two-legged self-acting mule.
Scholium f. The neoliberal subsumption of human life under capital that peaks on the trading floor, and is embodied more broadly in human capital, is the culmination of a process that has run through human history. It makes palpable something that retrospectively appears to have been the case all along: humans are not the masters of the capitalist process. They are captives of it, down to their own self-fashioning. Humans do not run capitalism, capitalism runs through the human. They do not direct its development, its self-driving annexes their becoming. Human capital is the self-accomplishment of capitalism as a power formation.
Lemma e. This is another way of stating the truism that the differential between the human and the machine is pivotal to capitalist dynamics, and that “human nature”—which is in fact human-becoming always-in-excess-over any stable nature it may claim for itself at any given time—is entirely bound up with the playing out of this differential.
Capitalism is a more-than human of the human. It is a processual driver of human becoming.
In spite of this—or rather because of it—there is no sense in lamenting the ascendancy of financial capital over the financial economy, as if one were more real and more human than the other, and therefore morally superior. The path to a postcapitalist future is not to be found in rescuing the good old “real” economy from the bad new economy of “fictitious” capital.
Scholium. By what standard of measurement is the extortion of labor upon which the “real” economy is based “better” than the human-capital subsumption of life associated with the financialization of the economy? Both are regimes of power that capture and mutilate life.
Lemma. Embrace the more-than human of the human (Manning 2016). Turn it. Deviate its becoming.
The primacy of the time differential makes futures the paradigmatic financial instrument. Ultimately, it is the future that is captured by capital. The capture of the future is the capture of potential, change, becoming. Such is the power of finance.
Scholium. The forms of financial capital discussed earlier are species of futures, in the extended sense.
The differentials that are leveraged through speculative finance index qualitative life differentials. The change in the economic numbers over time indexes the way in which qualitative life differentials play themselves out. Capital games that play.
Scholium. For example, fluctuations in national currencies, so fundamental to the hedging strategies regularly used by corporations to act upon the future, reflect differentials in quality of life and political power between developed economies and developing (or unraveling) economies. Differentials of this kind are collective, bearing on populations. They are relational, bearing on the way in which the individuals composing those populations actively come together to form a complex, ever-fluctuating field of life. They are restlessly transindividual. When a price is made on the trading floor, an interval of field-fluctuation peaks in a single quantified data point. The changing relationality of the collective spread funnels into the registering of a single discrete quantity, fixed in the books once and for all: captured. The n-dimensioned heterogeneity of the life factors conditioning this capture is reduced to the one dimension of the economically registering profit-point. The transindividuality of the field of life channels into a punctual event of accumulation, individually owned. An n-dimensional ecology that is everyone’s and no one’s (that is “common”) is packaged into a possession, enclosing the wide-open world of life-relation in a private appropriation. This is the perpetually replayed “tragedy of the commons,” which is not a historical phase of capitalism but its permanent modus operandi, summed up in the word “accumulation.”
Lemma. The production of all surplus-value is transindividual, in that it involves turnover, and the turnover is conditioned and energized by qualitative differentials. The financial markets are just one example, albeit a privileged one.
Capitalism is coextensive with economization: the process by which the qualitative field of life is economically appropriated and subsumed under the principle of perpetual quantitative growth.
Understanding the economic system is one thing. Understanding the process of life’s economization through which the capitalist system’s operations feed themselves, as an apparatus of capture, is quite another.
Speaking about “the economy” as if it were a self-sufficient system with set “needs” that must dictate to life, and must be given precedence in governmental reasoning, is to ignore its status as an apparatus of capture: a self-feeding system opening onto a wider processual field, whose differential flows and energies it uses to power itself.
Scholium. The economy is an open system (T11). It needs its immanent outside of the field of life more than its immanent outside needs it (which is not at all), because it is nothing other than the process of appropriating the potentials to be found there. Economization depends on the life-field’s fluctuating n-dimensional spread for the creation of the qualitative differentials it quantitatively mines. In a postcapitalist future, the tables will be turned. Life will dictate its qualities to the economy.
There is a crucial difference in nature between intensity and quantity that needs to be taken into account of the economization of the field of life. Surplus-values are creatures of intensity.
Scholium a. A surplus-value, it was said earlier, is an emergent effect that is relational: it comes of the singular way a multiplicity of contributory elements come together to spin off a collective effect. The effect has a quality of its own that it owes, genetically, to the qualitative differentials between its conditioning elements. But it does not reproduce those differences. It spins off into its own singular character. It adds its own difference to them. The singularity of the emergent effect is not reducible to the contributory parts, even in aggregate. It is more than the sum of its formative parts. It is in self-additive excess over them. The emergent excess-effect’s singular quality brings to expression the intensity of its contributory factors’ coming-together: it culminates the playing out of the tension inherent in their qualitative differentials. It expresses, in and as its own emergence, the way that the tension holds more potential in itself than the linear causal connections among the contributory elements could ever claim credit for. This is a creative tension. The contributing elements can, of course, be numbered. But it is not their quantity per se that has intensity. It is their manner of coming integrally together in number that has an intensity. The intensity expresses itself in a supplementation of their number: the emergence of an excess-effect. The expression of intensity is supernumerary. It is important to hold onto the idea that intensity does not express itself. It is expressed in an emergent quality that supervenes upon (comes self-creatively in addition to) the contributing factors’ number, and which counts as “one” on its own account, in the manner in which it singularly affirms its own character. “The many become one and are increased by one” (Whitehead 1978, 2).
Lemma a. Intensity is immanent to expression. It is enveloped in the expressed quality that spins off from it. It is not itself expressed as such. Intensity belongs to the immanent outside of the field of emergence.
Lemma b. Because intensity does not express itself, except in what emerges from it, it is easily annulled.
Scholium b. The primary mechanism for the annulment of intensity is undue explanatory trust conferred upon quantification: the mistaken belief that the count of a field of emergence’s participating elements can be explanatorily substituted for their creative tension. Attempting to grasp intensity and the potential it harbors through quantitative analysis amounts to misconstruing the immanent outside as external: as an exterior standing in opposition to an interior. This in turn amounts to eliding the difference between processual ecology and systemic environment. In a systemic environment, elements and operations can be treated as units, singled out and recombined, enabling counting and quantitative analysis. The systemic mobilization of quantification gives it awesome power. It builds this power by capitalizing on intensity, even as it explanatorily annuls it.
Lemma c. Systems also harvest surplus-values.
Scholium c. Systems run on synergies: emergent, relational effects that raise a system’s operation to a higher power. This is called efficiency. Efficiency is the intensification of a system through the production of a surplus-value of interaction between its parts that is carefully contained within the system’s internal circuit of operations (this is why we tend to speak in terms of efficiency “boosts”). This internalizing capture of intensity is what gives systems their vitality. It is their life-line. It is their metabolism. It runs them. In capturing intensity, systems are availing themselves of processual potentials. They are systematically dipping into process, to boost their internal functioning. The annulment of intensity is never total. The annulment of intensity is the mark of its selective appropriation.
Affect has to be factored in to arrive at a comprehensive account of the distinction between intensity and quantity.
Scholium a. Temperature provides a template for understanding the distinction between intensity and quantity, with attention to the place of affect. Compare eighteen degrees centigrade on a sunny autumn afternoon to eighteen degrees on a rainy day in spring. The temperatures are the same, but the weather conditions factoring into each are entirely different. Upstream of the registration of each temperature lies an infinity of factors belonging to qualitatively different registers and scales—friction between particles, rays and refractions and reflections of light, streams of wind, water evaporation, heat concentration and dissipation, and many others. It is the coming together of these factors that composes the state of the weather. More precisely, it is their differentials that compose it. The state of the weather spreads across them, taking up their many-dimensioned difference into itself, without erasing it. Rather, each weather state adds its own difference to theirs. It adds its unique emergent quality, arising as the resultant of their conditioning difference. Multiple contributory factors fold into the weather to make its global difference, as an integral emergence-effect. The way in which the factors come together to yield a spring temperature of eighteen degrees is entirely different from the way in which they come together to yield the same autumn temperature. We feel the difference. The two seasonal weather states affect us differently. They each integrate their conditioning factors in their own singular way. We feel their respective singularities. We feel cold in the autumn temperature and bask in the same spring temperature as the long winter begins to break. We are a part of the relational mix. Our affective state resonates with the conditioning factors, registering it on a purely qualitative scale. That scale envelops its own differentials. In its singularity can be discerned a number of mutually enveloped qualitative dimensions, also differing in nature one to another: seasonableness, comfort, the sense of the passage of time, bodily spring reawakening, a fore-hint of hunkering down for the coming winter. The differential of the multiple conditioning factors, as registered in a singular qualitative feeling integrating its own multiplicity of contributory differentials, is an intensity. Our affective state resonates with the intensity of the weather. Then the thermometer comes along and registers the same weather states on a numerical scale. It factors out the qualitative differences, into a single figure. The single figure does not explicitly register the singularity of the qualitatively different weather states. It annuls their singularities, blurring their compositional differences in the unicity of its own quantitative expression. It gives a single, definite expression to the singular, indefinite multiplicity of conditioning differentials of the great outside of the weather. It transposes their difference from their outside field of emergence onto a number scale showing them to be the same. On the temperature scale, the events’ intensities are represented by an identical number. They can now be treated as equal, their differences bracketed. They have been calibrated. They have been rendered commensurable. They have been made comparable. They have come in from the outside, and now enter together, on an equal basis, into other compositional fields plied by systems operating in ways foreign to the weather in its home field. They can now figure for the science of meteorology—and the business of weather reporting and forecasting that spins off from it. The differences conditioning the two states are not erased from the history of the world. They are only annulled for the purposes of a new order of operations enabled by their now quantitative status. The contributory differences of the weather field do not go where numbers can. They cease to make the same kind of difference. Their translation into circuits in which numbers systematically travel make them make a different difference. They have been converted. Their allegiances have changed. Our skin registers the singularity of the events as they happen. The thermometer gives them a sameness that makes them commensurable for all time. Affect resonates with qualitative intensity, in the field in which it occurs, sharing in its event. Measure converts qualitative intensity into a quantity, transporting it into a different field where it contributes to events of a nonweather kind (events of surplus-value of scientific knowledge production and the corporate capitalist surplus-value production tying into it). Both the affective resonation and the measurement can be seen as emergent effects of the weather. They remain in a certain relation. The measurement indexes the weather conditions. This enables the conversion to move in the reverse direction, for example from a weather forecast to our preparations for an outing. But in the reconversion, the eighteen degrees centigrade figures in a general way. The singularity of any given instance of eighteen degrees, and all of them en masse, have been translated into a general indicator. Even if the temperature forecast proves numerically accurate, it still will not express the affective reality of how our skin resonates with the conditions out in the field. Under certain conditions, we may still feel cold in eighteen degrees in the spring, experiencing an untimely hint of autumn. There is always an excess of emergence-ready qualitative conditioning over the captive accuracy of their quantitative indexing. Affective resonance ultimately resists measure. Relation is always more lively than its systematic registering. There is an excess of liveliness over any indexing of it. This lively remainder left over after capture is surplus-value of life.
Lemma a. Affect expresses intensity without annulling it.
Scholium b. Affect is an immanent differentiation of a field of intensity. It expresses the difference made by the differences composing the field. It does not separate itself from the field, even as it differentiates itself from its conditioning factors. Weather-affect stands out from the weather not in opposition to, but as a function of, our body’s immersion in it. Affect is an immersive emergence-effect. It brings the qualitative differences of the field into emphasis in the field, expressing the singularity of its own immersive character.
Scholium c. The issue of affect’s relation to intensity is intimately tied to the basic Spinozist definition of affect as the “ability to affect and be affected.” This base definition must always be completed by the corollary that the playing out of an ability to affect and be affected coincides with the crossing of a threshold accompanied by a registering of the feeling of that transition. Affect comprises the differential between these two aspects. It involves many subdifferentials on each side. On the registering-of-the-feeling-of-the-transition side, the subdifferentials concern the way that an affective quality always includes a sense of another, related quality differing from it. The way a spring-like change in the weather can include an autumnal accent was one example. Another is the way that love and friendship always mutually include each other, in a patterned contrast having different emphases and activating different attractors, such that the differential between them plays out into different tendential orientations according to the case. On the ability-to-affect-and-be-affected side, the subdifferentials include things like contrasts of position, disposition, movement pattern, resilience, and plasticity. On that side, affect pertains to an intensive field. Back on the registering-of-the-feeling-of-the-transition side, it pertains to the coming to expression of the field’s intensity. This two-sidedness gives the concept of affect a conceptual spread. The word affect can be used to encompass both sides, or it can be used to refer preferentially to one side or the other. “Intensity” can have the same spread, since affect does not separate itself from it but rather brings it to an emphasis of immanent expression. Accordingly, “intensity” can drift toward synonymy with “affect.” Each time “affect” is used, it is important to be aware of the conceptual spread of its double-sided nature. Each time “intensity” is used, its imbrication with “affect” should be noted. In what follows, intensity and affect will mainly, but not always, be plotted to the two contrasting sides, with “intensity” referring to the field differentials of the affect-and-be-affected-side, and “affect” referring to the expressive registering-of-the-feeling-of-transition-side. The reason for this choice is that it allows for a juggling of agendas. When qualitativeness is being specifically addressed, the word “affect” will tend to be used, exploiting the fact that its resonating-with intensity remains purely qualitative. When the capacity of the field of emergence to lend itself to quantitative capture is being focused on, “intensity” will be used preferentially, because intensity can also resonate with quantification (T44 lemma; T46; T50 Schol. b), so that it makes sense to speak of “intensive magnitude” (T77). At times, the phrase “affective intensity” will be used to encompass both sides of the affect/intensity equation. These are not hard-and-fast rules. A certain forbearance, and terminological agility, will be asked of the reader.
Lemma b. The temperature example, and the preferential use of the term “affect” to refer to the expressive registering-of-the-feeling-of-the-transition side of the equation, should not be taken to imply that affect is essentially a question of human perception.
Scholium d. The differentials whose tension spins off an integral affect as an emergence-effect registering the intensity of the field, immanent to its event, affect each other. Otherwise, they would not be in tension, and nothing would play out. In the weather example, the friction between particles, rays and refractions and reflections of light, streams of wind, water evaporation, heat concentration and dissipation that spin off into an affective registering of their field of co-occurrence, register each other. It is their registerings of each other that is integrated into the global feeling registering the overall movement of the weather event they co-compose. The friction between particles registers heat, evaporation registers heat concentration, heat concentrations register rays of light, wind currents dissipate heat. Affect figures on this level independent of the human. This is nonhuman experience. This nonhuman experience re-figures in our experience, through the added difference of our affect’s singularity. That singularity integrally envelops the multiplicity of the nonhuman affects. It is both monadic (as is each enveloped subaffect), and constitutively open: it can only bring the field to this singular expression because it is formatively immersed in it, arising from a participation in it.
Affect resonates. Measure indexes. These two modes are processually interlinked, across their difference.
Lemma. This difference in mode of operation marks a difference between two orders, one directly qualitative, the other built upon quantification. Between the orders there is both separation and connection. Separation, because they are linked by a process of conversion. Connection, because one indexes the other. The two orders stand in disjunctive articulation with each other, neither identical nor opposite: different in nature but processually linked. Both register, in their own ways. In addition, quantification registers the qualitative, in its own general way. (For more on the complexities of the relation between quantity and quality, see T79.)
Quantification involves generalization.
Scholium. The qualitative order concerns singular sets of circumstances, whereas orders built upon quantification concern general ideas. General ideas are those that subsume more than one singularity under a single umbrella and apply themselves equally to each, in such a way as to sweep them up together into different systems circuits. This was seen in the way the same temperature reading applied equally to the two qualitatively different states of the weather. General ideas are by no means all quantitative, but systematic quantification always generalizes.
Lemma. The conversion of the qualitative into the quantitative is the translation of the singular into the general. The financial markets represent a highly significant exception to this rule (T46 Schol. b).
The registering of the qualitative by the quantitative is by nature reductive.
Scholium a. The full complexity of the conditions of the event from which the quantity is extracted is funneled down to a single, simple figure. There is an essential excess of difference, complexity, process, flow, and co-motion on the side of the qualitative that is never entirely absorbed into quantitative ordering. There is much that escapes conversion. There is a left-over of changeable qualities, of liveliness, that does not count, and remains unaccounted for. This can be analyzed under the concept of bare activity. When the terms “qualitative field of life” or “field of emergence” are used, they are referring to the immanence of the co-motion of bare activity to the actions (discrete operations) fed by its systematic capture, and connoting that differential. New kinds of complexity can be built on quantification and systematization, but these are of another order, leading away from the immediacy of the event, and the bare activity formatively stirring it, into other domains.
Scholium b. Derivatives are exceptional in this respect. It is highly significant that in the case of derivatives, measurement is not effectively carried out as a separate operation that informs strategy from an outside perspective. The famous Black-Scholes equation used for pricing derivatives is widely recognized as flawed, both for its methodological circularity (Bryan and Rafferty 2013, 137) and for its outmoded reliance on probability as a way of notionally rationalizing the ineradicable contingency of volatility movements (Ayache 2010; 2016), and it is for this reason that in practice it is necessarily supplemented, if not supplanted, by feats of intuition (T34 Schol. e). What is significant is that the very structure of derivatives as financial instruments is in itself a “computation” of differentials (Bryan and Rafferty 2007; 2013). The derivative instrument is designed to straddle an, in principle, limitless range of differentials in such a way as to produce commensuration-effects. They do this by “binding” the present to the future in a pricing relationship, and by “blending” different asset forms in the same instrument, making them readily convertible (Bryan and Rafferty 2007, 140). This “intensifies” capital by intensifying the price relations between times and among different forms of capital. It also builds the computational aspect (the commensurating effect) into the very structure of the financial instrument, so that it becomes operative in the act of speculation. This blurs the distinction between capital as surplus-value and money as general equivalent or operator of quantification (this is what is meant by “meta-capital”; T34 Lem. c). This is on top of the intensification that comes with derivatives’ blurring of the distinction between assets and debts (Bryan and Rafferty 2007, 141–42; T34 Schol. d). With derivatives, “capital itself creates and evaluates its own performance” (Bryan and Rafferty 2013, 135), intensely self-computing, in the act. “The only computational theory of the [financial] market is the market itself” (Ayache 2016, 240). Quantification collapses into the performance of the speculative act. It becomes self-applying, in the speculative event. This means that affective resonance—the registering of the volatile intensity of the economic “weather conditions”—converges with the machinery of quantification (as if the thermometer blew wind). In other words, derivatives are a special case where quantification itself tends toward becoming-immanent to the capitalist field, in an asymptotic movement that can never complete itself. With derivatives, the capitalist system tends toward the limit where the gap between system and process tendentially closes. This occurs as a consequence of the maximization of surplus-value of flow. Capitalist capture and mutant flow converge. Quantification rejoins the singular, becoming fully evental rather than reductively indicative. This is not an overcoming of capitalist capture, but a singular intensification of it.
Lemma a. The computational status of the derivative in and as the event of speculation indicates that the opposition drawn above between quantification as generalization/reduction and the qualitative as singular/evental was too gross. It opens the possibility that practicable modes of quantification might be invented that cleave more closely to the qualitative field. These would index intensive magnitudes (T77), the complexity of the field’s constitutive differentials as such, and the entering into continuity of the multiplicity of co-occurring contributory factors toward the production of a relational effect. Processually, to achieve this feat, the quantitative indicator would in fact have to cleave so closely to the relational field that its indexing of the process would itself become a relational co-factor in the process, contributory to qualitative emergence. Philosophically, this becoming-immanent of the quantitative to the qualitative field might be thought of as a postcapitalist incarnation of the “numbering number” Deleuze and Guattari attribute to nomadic society (1987, 118, 389–94, 484–85). There are doubtless many aids for this becoming-processual of the quantitative to be found in qualitative mathematics and qualitative data modeling. Its possibility points to a privileged direction needing to be explored in alter-economic thinking and design (T94, Strat. l).
Scholium c. Derivatives tend toward becoming-immanent, but can never complete that movement. This is attested to by the fact that the more intensely they operate, the more they separate off into a hermetic zone of “high finance” all their own, to such an extent that their very existence, let alone their nature, is barely suspected by the vast majority of people and is even little understood by the governmental institutions tasked with regulating the economy. It is as if they move in two directions at once: toward a field-convergence and just as vigorously toward separation as a particular sector of the economy, in a kind of synchronic oscillation. This tension is also found in the numbering number of nomadic societies, in a manner specific to those formations, in the spinning off from the field of relation of a "special body" of concentrated power (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 392). In the case of derivatives, this is due to their being in the service of capitalist accumulation, which requires a periodic harvesting of profit by standard measure to confirm its success and “realize” itself. These operations are assured by the corps of financiers stearing the financial sector. Deals close, prices are made, quantities of capital are fed back into other sectors, including the productive economy, in a step back from the limit. The irrational exuberance of pure speculative flow segues back into the prudential functions of hedging, arbitrage, and securitization (bracketing their predication on excess and the associated tendency of financial instruments to run away with themselves). Paradoxically, derivatives end up separating their convergence by fulfilling functions in the wider economy, as a particular sector of it. The convergence they effect between qualitative differential and quantification is re-separated from the qualitative field of life in its full expanse. In their own inimitable way, the operation of derivatives remains a separation-connection. The drive to accumulation they serve is like oil to the water in the sea of surplus-value of life (as it always is). Although neither general nor reductive in themselves, they interlink with economic functions that are both of these things, for which they provide a kind of adjacent hyperdrive, accelerating accumulation and flirting with crisis.
Lemma b. An alter-economy modeling itself more on derivatives than currency can potentially emulate this convergence, contriving to close the gap as much as possible between intensity and measure, between the bare-active movements of the qualitative field of life and its quantification, their forces joined for singularity—but in a way that is not in the service of capitalist accumulation, eludes capitalist capture, and resists separating off the convergences fostered into a hermetic domain of their own.
Returning to the many more-classical (and neo-classical) realms of life and sectors of economy activity where the disjunctive articulation of the qualitative and quantitative is still in force in more orthodox forms of separation-connection, with the attendant operations of generalization and reduction—in these contexts the emergent complexity of quantitative orders are not only indicative, but applicative: they apply themselves to the qualitative field of life, as from without, in an attempt to make that field conform to a general modeling. They capture through application to the field.
Scholium a. To make the field conform means to channel its movements toward the reproduction of certain target forms and patterns. This reproductive folding back upon the field of emergence by orders emergent from it is a regulatory operation.
Lemma. The parameters of regulatory reproduction delineate norms.
Scholium b. The question of norms is enormously complicated. There is not one mode of power, but many. All are forms of capture, and the meaning of “norm”—or whether a given mode of capture is normative at all—has to be interrogated in each case. The specific cast of the capture has to be analyzed, as does the relation of that mode to others.
There is an ecology of powers that needs to be attended to, with due attention to the interplay of value and norm.
This question of the ecology of powers cannot be separated from the critique of capitalism and the imagineering of postcapitalist futures.
Scholium a. This is because, once again, capitalism itself is a mode of power. It is a worldwide apparatus of capture, in all of its forms. Arguably, it is the only universal power formation (universal in the sense that it potentially extends to every geographical corner of the earth and into every cranny of life). As a power formation, capitalism bears an enormously complicated relationship to regulation and norms (T47, T51–52, T54–56, T63, T67, T71). Its status as a more-than-human driver of human becoming is in every respect bound up with the question of what evolving mode of power capital constitutes, and how it relates to other modes of power with which it shares the field of life, plying the same field of immanence—for there is only one. Capitalism integrates other power formations into its own operation, subsuming them without erasing their difference in mode of operation (always leaving a qualitative remainder). Capitalism is ecumenical: it has no qualms about pushing itself to the limit in its speculative-finance dimension while continuing to host a range of other modes in its motley, global mosaic. Sorting it all out involves paying special attention to the way in which capitalism captures in different instances, what manner of separation-connections it contrives, and how their operation involves and/or exceeds regulation and norms.
Scholium b. None of this changes the fact that derivatives are the dominant mode of capital in the neoliberal epoch, both in terms of their dynamism and in terms of the magnitude of value they ferry. They have taken on the piloting role, forming the cutting edge of capital’s running after surplus-value. This makes the logic of derivatives, as arcane as it may be, a necessary element in any consideration of capitalism as a power formation. Grappling with the complexity of derivatives is a privileged angle of attack for pushing further with the account of how quantity, intensity, and affect interrelate, the different ways in which qualitative differentials are integrated without being erased, and how and what manner of surplus-value (self-driving emergence-effect) is produced through that supplementation. This last point is crucial: it opens the question of how the logic of the derivative might be prior to and/or extend beyond the economic domain it currently dominates (without homogenizing).
The range of the logic of the derivative can be conceptually extended by defining as a derivative any emergent effect registering a complex qualitative differential.
Lemma a. Affective resonation was defined earlier as the purely qualitative registering of the intensity of the field of emergence from a situation of immersion in it: the integral way in which the contributory differentials constituting that field come together and play out to singular effect. Affective resonation is an event-derivative.
Lemma b. It is toward the status of an event-derivative that financial derivatives asymptotically tend without ever fully arriving.
Scholium a. The term “event-derivative” is a synonym for surplus-value of life. An event-derivative is an affective registering of a field of emergence. It expresses the field’s complexity, immanent to that field. It integrally envelops the field’s intensity in its own difference, resonating with what it envelops. In doing so, it gives the field an immanent emphasis, like a peak rising from rugged foothills rolling to the tides of the distant sea, or a wave cresting above the roiling of the sea. An event-derivative stands salient, without separation. For example, the affect, composed of seasonableness, comfort, the sense of the passage of time, the bodily spring reawakening, the hint of the hunkering down for winter, that registers the singularity of a weather event is a lived quality expressing that occurrence of the state of the weather in the currency (or better, fluency) of experience. This surplus-value of life does not have the same form or content as the factors composing the conditions of emergence from which it derives (friction between particles, etc.). It envelops its conditions of emergence, and remains wrapped up with them, directly sharing in their event. But at the same time, it adds an affective dimension that asserts its difference in nature from them. The affective registering has its own quality, like the peak of a wave in contrast to the horizontal expanse of the ocean. The qualitative difference of the surplus-value of life is the differential feeling tone of the state of the weather: in and of it, but not it. An event-derivative, as surplus-value of life, is an emergent qualitative difference that both envelops and is enveloped by its conditions of emergence. It is an immersive effect. It is a participatory peak, a coiling wave. It remains in the qualitative register, in its own emphatic way.
Lemma c. Rather than a separation-connection, an event-derivative is an accentuation-differentiation.
Scholium b. On its own plane of financial capital, a derivative is an accentuation-differentiation of the market: enveloped in and enveloping its intensity (at the same time as the financial market itself is in tendential separation from the rest of the economy). The difference between derivatives and the example of the weather is that derivatives don’t just register the market’s intensity, they intensively make the market (Ayache 2010). Their speculative acts are the events that constitute it: not just enveloped and enveloping but effectively both, in one. This effective reciprocity of intensive making and the registering of intensity collapsed in the same speculative act offers an interesting model for alter-economic projects: evental auto-computation in affective resonance.