A list of Specifications for the Commodity and Money as Divinities Takesi Sakai
Cher Bruno Latour.
Ravi de vous rencontrer.
First, let's talk about my relationship to your writings. I don't understand foreign languages, so I rely on translated books for foreign books. Your " Reassembling the social: An introduction to Actor-Network-Theory”, Oxford, OUP. , was published in translation in 2019 (Published in Japan, from Hosei University Press, 2019), but I didn't read it until mid-January 2020. I was so interested in reading it that I bought your other translations of " Nous n'avons jamais été modernes : Essai d'anthropologie symétrique, Paris, La Découverte." (Published in Japan from Shin-Hyoron co. 2008) and "Sur le culte moderne des dieux faitiches, suivi de Iconoclash, Paris, La Découverte." (Published in Japan from Ibunsha co. 2017), as well as " Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society, " Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass., USA. (Published in Japan from Sangyou Tosho co. 1999), and after that “Leviathan and the air-pump : Hobbes, Boyle, and the experimental life”, Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press (Published in Japan from Nagoya University Press, 2016) had also been translated, so while I was unpacking them, the new corona pandemic began.
In April of this year, I was surprised to read your newly published " Down to Earth Politics in the New Climatic Regime"（Published in Japan from Shin-Hyoron co. 2019).The reason is that your previous books were introductory texts to ANT and science studies, criticizing ideas peculiar to the so-called modern era, but this new book, “Down to Earth”, was a proposal for a new politics and a call to the inhabitants of Telestrial. As I was reading this new work of yours, I simultaneously presented a document called "Recommendations for 'Down to Earth'" to the Shrinking Society Study Group in Kyoto, Japan, to which I belong - there are residents of Telestrial - and in the meantime, I noticed the website you were working on, and I asked my friend to translate to Japanese the questionnaire and the time review that was posted there, and invited same members of the Study Group to respond to the questionnaire.
Secondly, concerning to the collapse of the socialist system in the early 1990s.
I am sympathetic to the "new politics" you have proposed, and with regard to the promotion of the "new politics”, I am willing to cooperate with you in a practical way. But when I read your book " Nous n'avons jamais été modernes ", it seems to me that there are holes in your theory, and I keep feeling the need to repair that. The hole has to do with the cause of the failure of socialism in the Soviet Union, which relied on Marxism. To you, this problem may be seen as part of the flawed realm of modern thought, but from my perspective, it seems to me that by unpacking this problem, the new politics you propose will have a much richer content.
For more on the collapse of the socialist system, see my letter to Frederick Roldon. The causes of the collapse of Soviet socialism as I have elucidated them can be summarized as follows. First, I unearthed the "Forgotten Marx" in the first edition of “Capital”, the first edition of the text Value Form and the Exchange Process. It started by deciphering the theory from a new perspective. According to this new perspective, the key to understanding Marx's theory of money generation is that in the generating process of money from commodities, commodities act as actors to dominate the owners of commodities, eliciting their unconscious and instinctive joint actions, and as a result, money is generated. Nevertheless, in the immediate aftermath of the 1917 revolution, the Soviet Communist Party attempted to abolish commodities and money with the "force of will" (deliberate force) possessed by the political system. This attempt involved the perfidy of abolishing social action in the realm of the unconscious by the force of will of political power. I won't discuss the course of the next 70 years here, but I believe that this perversion was the root cause of the collapse of Soviet socialism. For a reconstruction of Marx's theory of money generation, see "Letter to Frederick Roldon" link below.
Your "new politics" is clearly raised in "Down to Earth Politics in the New Climatic Regime ". I've been reflecting on the process from the discovery of the third attractor to the formulation of the "new politics" since you envisioned the Parliament of Things in 1991, and realized that there had been a shift in the view of politics in ' Sur le culte moderne des dieux faitiches, suivi de Iconoclash '. You distinguish between "living without a master" and "living without mastery" at this tipping point and you have a new vision of a politics of "living without mastery”. Living without this mastery means, of course, living "without I/king” as monarch.
I thought this was a great idea. I've been thinking about "post-revolutionary politics" for a long time, based on my own political empirical knowledge. In the Russian and Chinese revolutions, the Communist Party took power, but developing a new politics couldn't be done. Nor has it been able to do so in China today. I believe that the "cultural revolution" posed by Lenin in his later years had its germ in the "cultural revolution", but this was never raised in the Soviet Union after that.
In this current state of affairs, the new politics based on the in-depth study of the telestrial you've posed is literally outlining the contours of the next politics that will replace the current politics. I would like to be a part of creating the specifications for this new politics.
Given what you say about the addition of the specifics of divinities, that "without the divinities one would die" and that "each of divinities would appear as one anti-divinities ", I think the "commodity" and "money" are the clearest indication of such a situation.
Without commodities and money, we would die, and again, not as a mystical thing in and of itself. The material is a natural object. It has social power and becomes transcendent only in relationship, yet people's reason and language is not conducive to the recognition of relationships. We have formulated this point as "cultural knowledge"; see "Proposed Cultural Knowledge" link below.
Let's take out only the fundamental elements of the specification of the "commodity" and "money", the objects of worship.
A product has a private owner, which cannot be distributed to society as it is. Money and markets are born there. For now, let's focus on the specifications that generate money from products. The product itself is a private property, but at the same time it is a social bearer of value. Value relationships are the relationships that various products play as the bearers of this value. A product can take a social form only when a general value form in this value form occurs. However, if the product owner has only his own interests in mind, the general value form collapses, becoming the IV form adopted only in the value form theory of the first edition of "Capital ", and the social form of the product disappears. Actually, this is the point.
The owners of commodities do not appear as subjects in Marx's Theory of Value Form, which he teaches in the first chapter of his “Capital”. The subjects there were commodities. However, in the real market, the social form of commodities is the price of commodities. Money already exists there. Marx clarified the process of money generation by analyzing the process of money across two areas: the value form of commodities and the process of commodity exchange. In the former realm, the commodities are the subject, while in the latter, the personalities are the subject. First of all, this was the "theory of value form" as elucidated by Marx, which makes the process of money generation as a concept speak of the various commodities as the subject.
It is in the realm of the exchange process that the commodity owners come into play, which is the next area of the value-form theory that is prepared for them. There, the commodity owners are confronted with the final consequence of the value form, Form IV, in which the money form cannot be formed. This Form IV is created when commodity owners have the natural will to buy other people's goods with their own goods. If everyone does so, however, no one else will be able to buy it.
Commodity owners are perplexed, but by following the commodity as the subject and not their own will, a communal act is created, and money is generated. The generation of the money thus formed is not conceptualized in the consciousness of the commodity owners. The commodity owners have only the consciousness that they simply put a price on their goods. This act of pricing, however, is in fact an unconscious, instinctive participation in a joint action. Even today, commodity owners generate money whenever they price their goods. The Marx's theory of money generation is compatible with the methodology of ANT, but until now, Marxists have been never noticed. The reason for this is that Marx does not treat the commodity itself as a mere thing, an object of desire. They are regarded as actors, or subjects, and are interwoven with the various products of many product owners. This is because the various value forms are analyzed as a network of actors.
Let me outline the specifications that will turn up from this.
The relationship between the various commodities itself is supersensible and its perception is beyond people's reason.
This super-sensitivity focuses on the poles of relationality that can be grasped sensibly, demanding that it is not just an object, but rather finds itself in a new social role. Marx named this specification the "form prescription".
For example, by attaching a price to a commodity, money can convey information to humans about how much the commodity is worth. Here it is as if the commodity is thinking and using money as a material to judge the amount of value. In other words, the various commodities relate to each other to become a kind of conceptual entity that thinks and judges of. In doing so, the two poles of relationality abstract in relation to each other and precipitate judgment. The generation of concepts about various commodities differs from analytical abstraction through thought, which is a synthesis of the two poles of relationality interacting with each other. This is where the so-called situational abstraction takes place.
Thus, the question here is to understand abstraction through the synthesis of related things, as opposed to analytical abstraction through thought.
Let's enrich the new politics.
What kind of politics would take this into account, that in actor networks, concepts are formed in a different way than in thought? “To live without mastery”, to live " without I/king," these things become comprehensible in reality when we know the limits of the analytical abstract action of thought and understand that the world of situation abstraction is open to us.
For example, when people are shaped as two poles in a political relationship, rather than taking the general attitude of others as George Herbert Mead said, it is necessary to write specifications of politics so that other options can be selected. I will continue my research, inspired by your proposal of new politics.