Postscript on Libertarian Subject Users

While posthuman diagrammatic fields certainly a-centre the individual as the primary vector for socio-economic intercursive flows, it does not necessarily destroy the individual or eliminate the importance of individual articulation. While logistical logics presuppose an omnipolitan “hyperconcentration”[1] of circumferential users and institutions that do not cohere on a centre, but instead exist along a continuum of complex adaptation and entropic decay, logisticality[2] suggests a combinatory form of individual that can cohere dividual parts into differential structures depending on context and position, producing coping mechanisms for this entropic decay. While intercursive flows cut through with increasing speed, to such an extent that their perception is blurred at best and almost hostile at worst, there are potentials to resituate the individual subject users in areas of context.

The omnipolitan city that Virilio expounds upon presents an extreme version of a polity where the interests of its actual stakeholders do not match up with the institutional configurations that allow for mediation and codification. In democratic societies such as those we have in liberal states, “simple democratic structures should be expected to lead to good outcomes only under relatively limited conditions, the most important of which is when the topic addressed by the democracy has a natural polity (a set of people affected by knowledgeable about a set of decisions) that coincides with the electoral polity of the democratic state”[3]. In other words, those affected by decisions are not necessarily those making or influencing the decisions. It’s the classic knowledge problem of large entities attempting to cohere vast informational complexes so they can produce consistent plans for the future.

However the more you attempt to integrate and control these informational complexes, the more they begin to chip away at that institutions/organisations constitution. Eventually, these intercursive flows go out of control, through methods of economic competition, political decentralisation and organisational flexibility. Those actors able to take the hit of this process of collapse/reformation are those that are able to deal with complexity through being lean and adaptive to circumstances. Generally these are smaller actors with less overhead and settled costs, or large actors with large degrees of institutionalised decentralisation and learning processes, thus being able to spread these costs/issues over larger areas, implement successful policies through other constituent parts of their organisation, and reinstate their goals and purposes in different contexts.

In the omnipolitan situation, these intercursive flows structure political and social organisation to the extent that most forms of institution and community are transitory and based on contemporary trends and ideologies. Markets of varying kinds (such as markets in everything as I wrote about before[4]) exist, producing variable stakeholders with different degrees of ownership and influence in them (as well as whatever regulatory forms structure these markets). However due to the nature of this transitory governance, there is no coherent centre through which stakeholders can lodge claims and monitor their transactional relations. While there may exist methods of private governance, these are almost always nested in combinations of voluntary and coercive structures, moving along a spectrum from the former to the latter depending on the severity of the issues at hand. While the concept of the omnipolitan city may seem far-fetched and futuristic, the multi-scalar nature of modern governance suggests this a-centred political form may become more prevalent as the number of affected stakeholders increases alongside the increasing issues we find in the world today, such as climate change, political populism, informational decay[5] and of course posthuman institutions with their own codes and laws[6]. Thus voice as an ability to lodge one’s claims to a central organ becomes increasingly less relevant and/or possible, necessitating instead mechanisms for exit, particularly for individual subjects caught in the vicissitudes of institutional collapse.

As I’ve already articulated, the kind of subject user best positioned to take on these complexities would be that with a nomadic form[7]. With regards to business, I’ve said that those that are leanest and most flexible are best able to take on the task of intercursive flows and complex adaptation to them[8]. And one such method or ideological substrate that can already be seen to be similar to this is that of the libertarian individual/polity. A libertarian or post-libertarian[9] framework of understanding posits the natural inclination for institutions to lose sight of their natural stakeholders and goals (particularly states and monopolistic firms), thus making bad decisions.

Libertarianism, such as in the way I’ve posited it, allows for a framework of understanding that recognises the inherent instability of political organisation as it is based on a spectrum of coerciveness that can quite easily devolve into tyranny or warlordism. “Through libertarian thinking, ideas such as subjective valuation theory, the economic calculation problem and the knowledge problem all present the world as a complex and heterogeneous place. It is a world that is impossible to fully plan and map out, being delineated by different flows of culture, information and capital which cannot possibly be captured. No arbiter, whether it be a state, an international organisation or an economic monopoly, can possibly root out all the problems that it faces. It inevitably decays and crumbles, and thus calls out for more power and authority so as to maintain its societal position”[10]. A language of exit begins to be constructed from these libertarian principles that recognises the transitory nature of value, the contingencies of markets and institutions, and the need for mutually-beneficial relations of exchange and commerce to help solve problems and unsettle coercive forms of wealth and/or power.

The market presents one venture through which the libertarian subject user can construct an individual within dividual lines. Libertarian thought recognises the market as one of the best institutions for organising and understanding informational complexity, as it uses tacit, decentralised knowledge as a means to organising the pricing of goods based on subjective valuations of scarce resources. A planner may be able to produce resources, but their pricing will remain arbitrary when they don’t understand demand fluctuations. “The free market become(s) more and more evidently necessary as an industrial system develops; radical deviations cause breakdowns and economic crises”[11]. This is the difference between logistics and logisticality. The former prescribes a plan for the movement and sale of goods based on future projections and statistical certainty, while the latter recognises the inherently unstable landscape of economic decision-making based on subjective values and differential institutional/legal frameworks, where scarcity, arbitrage and competition are the norm.

Libertarian thought also goes beyond this market dynamic, recognising in voluntary action more generally a framework for greater cooperation based on mutual interdependence and shared linguistic codes that allow actors to understand multiple perspectives when it comes to their pricing strategies and consumer base. The language of exit I spoke of speaks toward a post-libertarian understanding that goes beyond markets, and attempts to instantiate this mutual interdependence within wider realms of governance, creating new polities on the voluntary-coercive spectrum that allow for greater competition and experimentation with the organisation of people, against a prevailing massification of subjectivity into homogeneity and robotisation. “The Old Order was able to persist in its slave system for centuries precisely because it awoke no expectations and no hopes in the minds of the submerged masses; their lot was to live and eke out their brutish subsistence in slavery while obeying unquestioningly the commands of their divinely appointed rulers”[12]. It is a language that situates the individual, as it is reliant on individual knowledges of valuation, socio-cultural subjectivity and a recognition of polyvalent interest, in contrast to the production of knowledge through an order or set plan. “Fundamentally, libertarianism needs to disconnect with neo-corporatist managerial policies that pathetically aim at semi-privatised public services and some undefined idea of a smaller state, and instead move toward a radical theory of decentralisation and pluralism, that aims at redefining the economic variables around scale, property and markets, and pushes against both an overt Schmittian politics on the one hand, and a post-politics of homogeneous consensus on the other, instead developing a politics of adhoc, flexible governance based around civil society that creates a number of different socio-economic pathways that constitute an alter-modernity”[13].

Here is a framework for resituating the individual within dividual lines that focus upon new subject users who aren’t interested in the organisation of people, instead organising their own linguistic codes and institutions. A libertarian subject-user is one of mutually interdependent systems of exchange and informational control, based around experimentation in market and governance contexts. “Political decentralization, secession, subsidiarity, and nullification are all mechanisms that move us closer to our political goal of self-determination. That value. Insisting on universal political arrangements is a huge tactical mistake for libertarians. It is precisely because we don’t know what’s best for 7.5 billion people in the world that we are libertarians”[14]. This fits in with the meta-systemic perspective mentioned in my previous essay, allowing an individual subject to emplace themselves within different institutional contexts depending on ideological currents and the adaptivity needed to cope with intercursive flows, using dividual elements to improve cognition and senses of being/becoming. A post-libertarian nomadism if you will, that doesn’t create strict boundaries in producing political, social and cultural subjects, and allows itself to move beyond a simplistic rugged individualism toward a larger framework for adding libertarian axioms into real-world complexities, situating the individual not centrally but anarchistically in wider intercursive flows.

[1] Paul Virilio, Open Sky

[2] Gerald Raunig, Dividuum













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