On the Incommensurability between the State of Capital and the Common Community

There is no transactional commensurability between the State of Capital and the Common Community.

They are governed by mutually annihilating logics, since the function of the former is to valorize a false universal at the expense of all particulars whereas the function of the latter is to establish the existence of all particulars as real instantiations of the true universal.

The lack of transactional commensurability or exchangeability between the two systems also foregoes the possibility of any discrete momentary “transition period” between the two. This is because a transitional period functioning a mediator between the two systems requires there to be a transitional point between the former system and the middle period, and between the middle period and the latter system. But this practically amounts to one of two things: either the transition never even could possibly begin (infinite regress; Xeno’s paradox), or if it pretends to begin it can only do so by force and not by justified reason (authoritarian politics). To pretend to be able to go from the former system to the latter system by way of a mediating transition is to come in the guise of the latter system while really being the former system in a different form. This different form can only pretend to be the latter system nominally, but not actually. 


So how do we make sense of transitioning from the former system, the State of Capital, to the latter system, the Common Community, successfully, without accidentally re-instantiating the former?

We do so by relinquishing the need to think that there’s any place to “go” or “reach” somewhere. By dropping the expectation of “the” revolution of the future. By understanding that there is utterly nowhere to go, no “here” nor “there”.

The Common Community is the transcendental condition of possibility for the erection of the State of Capital. The State of Capital requires the Common Community, but the Common Community does not need it. The SoC is completely dependent upon the CC, but the CC is relatively independent from the SoC. If the SoC can be said to exist, so necessarily does the CC. So revolution not a matter of “moving” to the next moment, phase, or stage, but rather a matter of facilitating in the overwhelming, the engulfing, the smothering of the State of Capital by the Common Community.

The Common Community is not something we wait for, it is something we have always been, and always are. It is the basis of our being alive. But we have been taught to be unable to recognize it and we are made limited in our ability to fully express its powers. So our militancy should not strive to establish a completely new world from the ashes of the old, but rather to re-discover in a higher re-articulation, the true world that was always there waiting to be fully expressed. The seed of this true essence was planted since the genesis of the very first community, yet whose growth was stunted by the fall from this community. Through the grace of universal truth and justice, we may be able to nurture this growth into full fledged maturity. Then we would have returned to the garden from whence we came, realizing also that we never truly left it in the first place.

5 thoughts on “On the Incommensurability between the State of Capital and the Common Community

  1. Beautiful and true. It’s not a revolution or a transition. We, the Commoners, are already here. We’ve always been here. It’s like there were always Mammals during the Age of the Dinosaurs, but they were small and not visible in the gigantic dinosaur ecosystem. When the Dinosaurs went extinct, the Mammals took over. It’s the Age of the Mammals once again.

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  2. I like this piece very much. It deserves very close reading.
    Coming from an engagement with Laruelle’s non-philosophy I can see obvious comparisons but at a different register, or, to use a musical analogy, at a different key. This new key harmonises with Laruelle’s idea of unilaterality — the real conditions but is not conditioned by capitalist relations.
    “The Common Community is the transcendental condition of possibility for the erection of the State of Capital. The State of Capital requires the Common Community, but the Common Community does not need it. The SoC is completely dependent upon the CC, but the CC is relatively independent from the SoC. If the SoC can be said to exist, so necessarily does the CC.”
    Laruelle, on the other hand, reserves the term “transcendental condition” for the human-in-person, which in turn is the condition of the possibility of the thought/world of capital, itself one world among many possible worlds.
    By utilising your new register I am able to insert the idea of common community into the space of the human-in-person as a sort of generic of collectivisation which is always and already present before any political act establishes it as a component of a world.
    “The Common Community is not something we wait for, it is something we have always been, and always are. It is the basis of our being alive…So our militancy should not strive to establish a completely new world from the ashes of the old, but rather to re-discover in a higher re-articulation, the true world that was always there waiting to be fully expressed. The seed of this true essence was planted since the genesis of the very first community, yet whose growth was stunted by the fall from this community. “
    This again harmonises with Laruelle’s idea of messianity and the concept of the stranger-subject and her actions in the world.
    I find your work to be an original and beautiful rendition of what is a very old song indeed, made new for present day humans.
    Laruelle too has this ability to put something old into new form. Terence Blake over at Agent Swarm describes such a form in his series of posts on Laruelle’s latest book TETRALOGOS.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful response! I have come across Laurelle’s work before, but have not looked into him beyond a cursory look, though in some minimal sense I do admit that he has already infected the way I think. Your response makes me want to take a deeper dive into his work. What would you recommend as a good introductory text?

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  3. Well, I have a love/hate relationship with Laruelle’s work owing to his jargonising and obscurantism. “Laruelliens” will contend that it’s a matter of creating a new vocabulary to house original ideas and, as with Badiou and Deleuze, there’s a lot of truth in that. But for me, most of the time it’s all too much. I approach Laruelle in the only way I can, by way of good commentaries on his work and a slow trawl through his texts for the nuggets of thought hidden under the over inflated and obscure terminology. These nuggets are literally my intellectual bread and butter. I live on them in the same way I once lived on certain concepts gleaned from classical Buddhist texts. Indeed many of Laruelle’s ideas are related to the core Buddhist concepts but as if seen in a concave or convex mirror — they they no longer fit into a strictly Buddhist discursive space. In fact I think they are best understood in relation to such a space.

    My two “mentors” in this exploration of Laruelle’s thought are Glenn Wallace and Terence Blake. This is a one sided mentorship, since I use their work without having either a virtual or actual relation to them, other than the odd comment posted on their sites. (Terence Blake more so then Glenn Wallis, these days at least). The scare quotes indicate that mentorship is as much a process of rebellion against the master discourse as one of acquiescence. That’s as it should be, in my view, both in Buddhism and in contemporary thought. Glenn Wallis introduced me to Laruelle’s thought in the form of the SNB project and his books. Terence Blake is the best critical interpretor of Laruelle in my view. Both sites form a sort of critical introduction to Laruelle.

    So after that long winded preamble I would recommend any of the commentaries/ creative reinterpretations, all of which are sutured to a particular discursive field – Glenn Wallis to Buddhism, Anthony Paul Smith to theology, Katerina Kolozova to Marxism, Alexander Galloway to the digital. In fact you can probably find as many uses of Laruelle’s thought as there are discursive fields. A good intro to Laruelle is: Laruelle and non philosophy, edited by John Mullarkey and Anthony Paul Smith, but probably the best is Laruelle’s own introduction to his thought: “Principles of Non Philosophy”.

    Laruelle’s work is divided into a chronology devised by himself in which later works sometimes abandon, critique or reinterpret key concepts. I find it best to follow key concepts across his oeuvre but that might be a matter of my own stupidity. I find it all very difficult. But worthwhile nonetheless.

    Many of the above books are available for free download, if, like me, you find it impossible to buy expensive books.

    Be charitable and put my long-windedness down to love of thought!

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