Pure incidence? Less than one week, four small pieces, fitting so well …

* Monday I gave a presentation in Cork, questioning the obsession by calculability and the mathematisation of social science, and putting this into a wider context:

A fundamental problem has to be seen in the very limitation of our thinking as it had been outlined under the major headings: quantification/mathematisation, equivalence principle and claim of exchangeability, individualisation and finally evidence.

* Thursday, just before leaving Budapest,  I received a mail by Marica Frangakis – we are planning now to elaborate a little piece on “A left growth policy agenda for Europe”. Any perspective for today’s economies, and this means in the cases of our presentation for Greece from where Marica is and for Ireland, where I lived for some time now, cannot be about returning to the path which actually brought us into this deep crisis.

* Then, yesterday I had been in the Burgtheater – Robinson Crusoe (will soon have to do some more writing on this and some related reflections on this blog).
It had been an exciting reading of Defoe’s masterpiece Robinson Crusoe in the Burgtheater, highly critical about the permanent striving for growth, the obsession by movement and search of the unknown.

* And today, earlier I had been reading Goethe’s Faust.
It is highly critical about the calculation of and with time. An understanding of time as if it would be linear and “calculable”, a utility like any other utility – and as any other utility today a commodity. Re-reading Goethe shows the highly critical undertone of a growth which is only caught by the idea of movement, a permanent circle that does not allow any reasoning, that forbids exit, for which any standstill is like suicide.

Stuerzen wir uns in das Rauschen der Zeit,
Ins Rollen der Begebenheit!
Da mag dann Schmerz und Genuss,
Gelingen und Verdruss
Miteinander Wechseln, wie es kann;
Nur rastlos bestaetigt sich der Mann.
(Goethe: Faust)

And on another occasion in the piece, Goethe describes how this is capturing the entire life, getting hold of all pores – and all people, not stopping even when it comes to the life of children and the aged.

And all this may well remind us of the famous words we find in The Capital, Karl Max quoting T.J. Dunning

Capital is said by a Quarterly Reviewer to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid, which is very true; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum. With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent. will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent. certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., positive audacity; 100 per cent., will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring a profit, it will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the slave-trade have amply proved all that is here stated.” (T. J. Dunning, l. c.,[Trades’ Uion and Strikes,] pp. 35-36).
(Marx, Karl, 1867: Capital, Vol. I;  in Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works. Volume 35; London: Lawrence&Wishart, 1996: 748)

Or we may see a very subtle army in front of us – living in a society that is

so fully instructed in the art of [commodity] warfare, so perfectly knowing and following their colours, so ready to hear and obey their captains, so nimble to run, so strong at their charging, so prudent in their adventures, and every day so well disciplined, that they seemed rather to be a concert of organ-pipes, or mutual concord of the wheels of a clock, …

of course, the [commodity] added by me to the quote from Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel.


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