Imperial Cities: Neocameralism, Androcracy, and Militant Feminism

A capitalist trading empire is a developed form of exogamic patriarchy, and inherits its tensions.

– Nick Land

We have yet to fully appreciate the underlying mechanisms that have already incorporated our planet within a systematic network of economic relations divorced from the human equation. Politics is shadowboxing in the dark, while the economic world litters the debris of our best thinkers across its transnational matrix like stars lost in a forgotten cosmos. Nick Land is neither prophet nor charlatan, but a creature turned outside in who wandered into the bitter zones of the enlightenment and found it wanting. The labor of that old charlatan, Immanuel Kant, was to find in Land a figure of impossible dreams constructed on a tissue of lies and deceit. Land found in Kant the figure of the philosopher as devil, a light-bringer who cut us off from reality and ensnared us in a world of speculative fictions:

Kant described his ‘Copernican revolution’ in philosophy as a shift from the question ‘what must the mind be like in order to know?’ to the question ‘what must objects be like in order to be known?’ The answers to this latter question would provide a body of synthetic a priori knowledge, telling us about experience without being derived from experience. It would justify the emergence of knowledge that was both new and timelessly certain, grounding the enlightenment culture of a civilization confronting an ambiguous dependence upon novelty.1

Kant brought us to nihilism, to the dark truth that words – the binary play of light and dark, night and day, noise and silence, etc. no longer capture anything outside us, instead these same fictions have become heuristic models or forms that can be applied not to reality but to the given, to that aspect of appearance that is for-us and is channeled by that mental faculty termed the understanding. In doing this Kant cut both himself and all that followed him off from knowing or understanding anything beyond appearance. Whatever reality is was from Kant on barred from knowledge. Knowledge is of appearances rather than of reality, and appearances are only apprehended through the mind’s faculty of understanding as if that too explained anything. In Kant we see the kernel of all those later threads of hatred and madness that would mark modernity with its dire creed of war and efficiency, death camps and apartheid:

Sociological fundamentalism, state worship, totalitarian paranoia and fascism, they all exhibit the same basic impulse; hatred of art, (real) freedom, desire, everything that cannot be controlled, regulated, and administered. Fascism hates aliens, migrant workers, the homeless, rootless people of every kind and inclination, everything evocative of excitement and uncertainty, women, artists, lunatics, drifting sexual drives, liquids, impurity, and abandonment.(Kindle Locations 2318-2321)

Which brings us to the first point of this essay, that whatever falls outside the purview of appearance and understanding is excluded from the economy of knowledge. As Land remarks,

What falls outside this recognized form is everything that resists commodification, the primordial independence that antedates the constitution of the destituted proletarian. As I have suggested, this inchoate mass of more or less explicit resistance to capital is isolated outside the metropolis by a combination of automatic economic processes (the concentration of poverty) and restrictive kinship practices. (Kindle Locations 950-953).

One could pick one’s example from several Imperial Cities across the planet: Shanghai, Singapore, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, Dubai, Bangalore, Arg e-Jadid, etc. Shining city-states of the new global economy, ‘dreamworlds’ of consumption, property, and power where the nouveau riche and neoplutocracy of wealth lives in realms divorced from the political reach of nations. While these ‘evil paradises’ of the neoliberal world order arise from the depths of surrounding cesspools of slums and migrant/temporary slave workers. In this authoritarian and radical reactionary utopia of the neoliberal order we discover “a program of the methodical destruction of collectives,” from trade unions and mill towns to families and small nations. (Kindle Locations 144-145).2 The new apartheid is developed within the neoliberal world order by extreme colonial patterns of residential segregation and zoned consumption. As Davis remarks: “On a planet where more than 2 billion people subsist on two dollars or less a day, these dreamworlds enflame desires—for infinite consumption, total social exclusion and physical security, and architectural monumentality—that are clearly incompatible with the ecological and moral survival of humanity” (Kindle Locations 224-226).

As Land suggests “[s]ystematic racism is a sign that class positions within the general (trans-national) economy are being distributed on a racial basis, which implies an effective, if not a juridical, apartheid” (Kindle Locations 958-959). Further noting:

It is only with the implicit recognition of the need for a systematic evacuation of rebellion from the metropolis by means of a geographically distorted labour market that racism arises in its contemporary form, which is ultimately that of a restricted franchise (on a national basis) over the political management of the global means of production. It is no longer a question of ‘taxation without representation’ (except by means of interest payments), but rather of a metropolitan capital seeking to abstract itself from all political reference, becoming ‘offshore’, although not to the extent that it loses its geopolitical condition of existence (the US war-machine). The increasingly rigorous differentiation of marriage from trade, or politics from economics, finds its ultimate conceptual definition in the thought of a moral agency which is utterly impervious to learning, communication, or exchange. (Kindle Locations 963-970).

These new Imperial City States are becoming free-zones divorced from political and juridical reach, exposed as realms for the new Corporate Elite as playgrounds for utopic desire in which control is the securitization of paradise where even the new feudal lords can be tamed by their own need for pleasure in a hedonistic paradise. That Kant was the first great theoretician of colonialism and empire as they’d come to be known is for Land central. “Kant’s practical subject already prefigures a deaf führer, barking impossible orders that seem to come from another world” (Kindle Locations 982-983). He goes on to state that if “the first Critique corresponds to appropriative economy or commodification, and the second critique corresponds to imperial jurisdiction, the third critique corresponds to the exercise of war at those margins of the global system that continue to resist both the market and the administration” (Kindle Locations 984-987). Ultimately the third critique for Land offered the future imperial elite the “global victory of capitalized reason as pure and exuberant ambition” (Kindle Location 999).

Neocameralism

…the only conceivable end of Kantianism is the end of modernity, and to reach this we must foster new Amazons in our midst.

– Nick Land

No one knows at what point Nick Land turned away from original investment in leftist thought and instead imploded and reversed course and became a fierce androcratic technofuturist of the neoreaction. Only Land could answer that question. Yet, if one is a careful reader of his primal essays one gathers a deep critique of the enlightenment project and of Kantianism in particular that has guided both our economic, political, and socio-cultural heritage fro two centuries. Of late Land has been fond of Mencius Moldbug’s revitalization of Fredrick the Great’s cameralist project. Developed in the 18th century, cameralism was a German economic and social school of thought that held a primary function of state, in addition to maintaining law and order, was to promote collective prosperity through economic measures. To achieve the goal of collective prosperity, participation of the complete population in the service of the public good was necessary (“Germany,” 2007, p. 156). Under Frederick William I of Prussia (1713-40), cameralism was reflected in the implementation of aggressive policies to stimulate manufacturing and agricultural growth and reduce unnecessary state expenditures. The state had a supreme ruling body whose upper-level bureaucrats came from nobility closely aligned with the King. This centralized body directed all the state’s activities in industry, finance, internal affairs, and the military. Cameralism also reflected a societal work ethic of intense labor, frugal living and dutiful subservience to the state.

Mencius Moldbug’s updated version of this goes by the name ‘neocameralism’:

Let’s start with my ideal world – the world of thousands, preferably even tens of thousands, of neocameralist city-states and ministates, or neostates. The organizations which own and operate these neostates are for-profit sovereign corporations, or sovcorps. For the moment, let’s assume a one-to-one mapping between sovcorp and neostate. (from Neocameralism and the escalator of massarchy)

As suggested above many of the City States of the new Imperial Neoliberal Empire are already in place with many more being brought into the assemblage year by year. As Moldbug declares the new dramatis personae of this neocameral order would be based on the corporate model of the Sovcorp: agents, subscribers, and residents; as well as those excluded or disenfranchised minions outside the gate, suborgs and illorgs (i.e., NGO’s and illegal organizations, etc.). Those who form the elite plutocracy within the city-states are the residents: Residents fit into two classes: patron and dependent. Dependents are not legally responsible, and are under the authority of their patrons. There is no dependent without patron, although subcorps or suborgs may act as patrons. The neocameralist state is not a charitable organization, but it has no reason not to tolerate a genuinely apolitical charity. Run like Wall-Street the new City-States will have sponsors or extra-legal entities: the corporation is incorporated under the oversight of a sovereign protector, or sponsor. So in this sense each City-State is an extra-territorial entity or larger corporation that enfolds and protects its share of subcorps. I’ll not go into the complete details of this neocameral system which one can read in the above link to one’s heart’s content.

That this system of exclusion is based on a new form of fascism, one that is of racism and sexism under an androcratic regime is without doubt. As Land remarks:

Racism, as a regulated, automatic, and indefinitely suspended process of genocide (as opposed to the hysterical and unsustainable genocide of the Nazis) is the real condition of persistence for a global economic system that is dependent upon an aggregate price of labour approximating to the cost of its bare subsistence, and therefore upon an expanding pool of labour power which must be constantly ‘stimulated’ into this market by an annihilating poverty. (Kindle Locations 1001-1004).

For Land only a militant feminism can hope to offer any form of alternative to this global androcratic empire of exogamic racism and sexism of the patronymic elite. The dark powers of the androcracy have combatted this militant feminism by divesting “all the women who fall under it of any recourse to an ethno-geographical identity; only the twin powers of father and husband suppress the nomadism of the anonymous female fluxes that patriarchy oppressively manipulates, violates, and psychiatrizes. By allowing women some access to wealth and social prestige the liberalization of patriarchy has sought to defuse the explosive force of this anonymity, just as capital has tended to reduce the voluptuous excess of exogamic conjugation to the stability of nationally segmented trading circuits. (Kindle Locations 1012-1016).”

“The women of the earth are segmented only by their fathers and husbands. Their praxial fusion is indistinguishable from the struggle against the micro-powers that suppress them most immediately. That is why the proto-fascism of nationality laws and immigration controls tends to have a sexist character as well as a racist one. It is because women are the historical realization of the potentially euphoric synthetic or communicative function which patriarchy both exploits and inhibits that they are invested with a revolutionary destiny, and it is only through their struggle that politics will be able to escape from all fatherlands. (Kindle Locations 1024-1026).

He reminds us that it perhaps only Monique Wittig has adequately grasped the inescapably military task faced by any serious revolutionary feminism,10 and it is difficult not to be dispirited by the enormous reluctance women have shown historically to prosecute their struggle with sufficient ruthlessness and aggression (See especially M. Wittig, Les Guerillères (Paris: Minuit, 1969); tr. D. Le Vay (Chicago, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2007). This future revolution with its leadership base in militant feminism he comments on, saying:

The state apparatus of an advanced industrial society can certainly not be defeated without a willingness to escalate the cycle of violence without limit. It is a terrible fact that atrocity is not the perversion, but the very motor of such struggles: the language of inexorable political will. A revolutionary war against a modern metropolitan state can only be fought in hell. It is this harsh truth that has deflected Western politics into an increasingly servile reformism, whilst transforming nationalist struggles into the sole arena of vigorous contention against particular configurations of capital. (Kindle Locations 1034-1038). [my italics]

Ultimately this will be an empowered and dynamic guerilla war, but it must go beyond such notions as replacing the existing leaders and institutions. It must destroy the power base of androcratic power itself and no longer allow men in power:

For as long as the dynamic of guerilla war just leads to new men at the top – with all that this entails in terms of the communication between individuated sovereignties – history will continue to look bleak. For it is only when the pervasive historical bond between masculinity and war is broken by effective feminist violence that it will become possible to envisage the uprooting of the patriarchal endogamies that orchestrate the contemporary world order. (Kindle Locations 1041-1044).

The important thing in the above it the breaking of the bond of war from androcracy through the power of militant feminism and the restablishment of matrilinear society— that is, one in which descent and inheritance is traced through the mother. Engels was one of the first to link the emergence of hierarchies and social stratification based on private property with male domination over women. Engels further linked the shift from matriliny to patriliny with the development of copper and bronze metallurgy.

Most Neolithic societies were matrilineal, and in Old Europe most were sedentary horticulturalists prone to live in large well-planned townships. The absence of fortifications and weapons attests the peaceful coexistence of this egalitarian civilization that was probably matrilinear and matrilocal. It was Augustine who described how the women of Athens lost the right to vote at the same time that there was a shift from matriliny to patriliny indicates that the imposition of androcracy marked the end of true democracy. One can find the egalitarian social systems over and over before the rise of men, war, and domination. Will we wake up from this long nightmare of domination and control at the hands of a few powerful elite, or shall we squander our hopes of a better future and allow ourselves to be enslaved by their promises of security and plenty? It we continue down the path we’re going the neocameral future in one form or another seems inevitable, but will we listen to the voices of women across our planet who are bound within socio-cultural systems in which they are no better than cattle to the men of their dark patriarchal systems of politics and religion?

Philosophy, in its longing to rationalize, formalize, define, delimit, to terminate enigma and uncertainty, to co-operate wholeheartedly with the police, is nihilistic in the ultimate sense that it strives for the immobile perfection of death. But creativity cannot be brought to an end that is compatible with power, for unless life is extinguished, control must inevitably break down. We possess art lest we perish of the truth.(Kindle Locations 2322-2326)

1. Land, Nick Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest: A Polemical Introduction to the Configuration of Philosophy and Modernity (2013-07-01). Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987 – 2007 Urbanomic/Sequence Press. Kindle Edition.
2. (2011-07-16). Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism. New Press, The. Kindle Edition.

17 thoughts on “Imperial Cities: Neocameralism, Androcracy, and Militant Feminism

    • Oh, on one of the rare occassions that I watch cable news I caught this! Surprised to this on 60 minutes, and it was pretty funny to see what so many have been talking about for so long presented as if it was latebreaking.

      Its an incredible story though: the commentators actually referenced the removal of the human element from the market system and their replacement by black boxes and infinite arrays of fiber optic cables imbedded within the earth’s geography (the secret materialism behind the most immaterial aspect of ‘semiocapitalism’). With the highspeed wires, the nonhuman electronic traders are able to utilize their speed – nanoseconds – to outpace the human trader, buying and raising stock prices faster than an individual can comprehend. Even before the info-tech boom finance was the economic driver, and while computers have been deployed on the trading floors since the dawn of the 1970s (aided by formulas derived from those of Norbert Wiener, passed into the realm of speculative finance by a former AI researcher at MIT who, by the 80s, was a heavyweight at Goldman Sachs), it is only now that perpetually upward flows of currency have reached a literal ‘escape velocity.’ The irony in the story is that now there are moves by some trading firms to develop “magic shoeboxes,” where their fiber optic cables are coiled, thus effectively slowing down the speed in which the data passes to the point where they have the tactical edge against the high frequency traders. Decceleration against acceleration.

      If anyone has any good information on the technology, software, industries, and innovators related to the high-frequency traders’ black boxes, I would be super grateful.

      Like

  1. Land may see the fire, but he doesn’t seem to have a particulary lucky hand in picking the Prometheus. Both militant feminism and Moldbug are very damp matches. Maybe he should look into communist darknets now (yes, I am serious 🙂

    Like

    • PS. I like resistance and neoregicide, so I am really looking forward to neocameralist state. Retroamplifying latent feudalism within capitalism, replacing structures of loyalty and obligation with CDOs, kings with CEOs and military superiority of knights with militarized robots has some serious failure modes … and there are blind spots large enough to drive a Russia-sized revolution through.

      I mean, neocameral project is actually looking to dissolve the very glue of illusions which hold our current glass houses together. Great 🙂

      Like

    • lol I think Land has moved beyond such things… his model is no longer the drift of the Left, but is definitely the Shanghai Express to neomodernity… somewhere along the path between extreme nihilism and Kant he left for other pastures. Yet, the funny thing is that his main enemy is still the Enlightenment Project as he perceives it in the progressive stance of what he and other neoreactionaries term the Cathedral… his short history of the Dark Englightenment is his own new path down the rabbit hole.

      Like

      • It seems to me that he essentialy wants something like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_India_Company 2.0 (and a comfortable place in its hierarchy by virtue of his birth and breeding). But I don´t think humans 2.0 will necessarily find it a good enough project, and last I heard, Shanghai needs humans 2.0 because it´s becoming unlivable (pollution).

        The trouble being, humanity 2.0 shows all the signs of failed corporate eschatology. I find solar powered communist meshnets [1] in the ruins of the old world a better (if unreliable) long-term prediction. Or even a short term prediction, the actually existing internet is worm-ridden, rickety structure which needs replacing anyway.

        Disclaimer: I don´t believe in Produktivkräfte determinism, but neither do I believe in neoliberal one. Current world system reminds me of the Brezhnev years.

        In any case, comrade Land is doing good work behind the enemy lines and should be decorated if he ever comes back 🙂 🙂

        [1] In a way, inverse of the stock market, computations/agents cooperates by proof or resource/work instead of competing. No central planning, local Monte-Carlo optimizations.

        Like

      • As to Land’s Enlightenment (that is to say, the Enemy), what does it even mean ? Evolution comes from Darwin, eugenics/dysgenics from Galton, both are firmly rooted in historical Enlightenment. There is neoreaction without Enlightenment.

        I suspect it doesn’t really matter. Neoreaction is not an inquiry, it’s a horror show. H.P. Lovecrafts corpse revived, uploaded into ten thousand eristic Markov chains.

        In the end, how is this think tank funded ? That may well be the only question worth asking.

        Like

      • As a philosopher, Land is probably doing the same thing as he always did, he just found (or was forced to) different social circle and sources of funding. Turned outside in, the glove still fits.

        Neoreaction can be seen as progressive/left worldview turned outside in, in many ways. Looking for revolutionary qualities, even salvation in the oppressed (the game of the western Left) is turned into seeking justifications for their oppression and seeing them as dysgenic zombies. Yes, funny how enlightenment remains an invariant during the outside-in transform, but maybe that´s just a way to fitting to Moldbugs hand.

        Like

  2. (I meant to say, there is no Neoreaction and HBD without Enlightenment ideas of Malthusian competition, evolution and eugenics. I suspect one could even fit Kant into neoreactionary hole 🙂

    Like

    • By meshnet I mean (mostly) wireless internet, completely decentralized on hardware and software level (ie, no servers, no ISPs), with decentralized and encrypted data. By its nature, it is very resilient to natural disasters, infrastructure collapse and other outages. It is obviously very hard to censor or control as there is no central point to take down or take over.

      Both hardware and software exists today, see eg. maidsafe.net for software side, servalproject.org for how can one repurpose mobile phones and WIFI routers or pinocc.io how to build it from scratch. I expect the whole stack will be ready in a nice packages for general public in few years max. There are too many promising projects on the drawing board to mention here, openlibernet for example.

      I find the rise of meshnets pretty much inevitable. Infrastructure is collapsing in the wake of energy and resources crunch and we haven´t seen anything yet. NSA and others have backdoored pretty much the whole current internet stack, so it´s not even safe for business as usual anymore. And current Twitter crackdown in Turkey is harbinger of things to come, both good and bad.

      Why communist ? Let´s take example of MaidSafe protocol, it´s pretty much from each according to his ability, to each according to his need, because that´s the optimal way to run decentralised network in an efficient and sustainable manner. It is communism in all but a name. It remains to be seen how this state of technology will influence structure of society, but I am somewhat hopeful.

      There is really too much to discuss here, for example how to replace command and control economy (Wall Street or corporate or Gosplan), decentralize and democratize the supply chain and factories, planning and optimization (yes you need it), markets … but I prefer working code and real action to blog activism. So, I´ll just say this: we´ll build the new world in the ruins of the old, and this is not a metaphor 😉

      http://libcom.org/library/earthquakes-crack-heads-utopias

      Of course, technology may be important, even necessary factor, but hardly a sufficient one. Same for resistance, blood and tears :/

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s