About anarchism, marxism, surrealism
and some other "isms" captured in the wrinkles of Time






1. Anarchism, marxism and surrealism, as seen from nowadays, seem to be nailed into their past.


2. Marxism is on this point at least somewhat different from the two others, to the extent that its "great period" is clearly later than the moment when its founder was still alive. If Marx indeed played a role in the emergence of a workers movement, it remained the role of a relatively humble server.

While he was alive, Marx was very little known, and his work almost completely. This was still the case when his friend Engels died. Engels succeeded nevertheless to give Marx the role of founder and initiator of the socialist movement.

The "great period" came much later, after the bolchevik revolution, when the Third Internationale was founded. Marxism then appeared as the official doctrine of an apparently triumphant Communism. And yet, Marx's works remained largely inaccessible, and for the most part of them, unknown.

A fourth period was the splitting of the world in two blocks, among which one adopted Marxism as its ideology. It's only from this period on that Marx's work became accessible -- which seemed to be fatal to its ideological role.

And yet, just as anarchism and surrealism, marxism seems to be uneasily isolated from the historical periods with which they are associated. They seem to exaggeratedly remain so, and much more than doctrines, philosophies and movements, etc, usually are. 


3. It is for a part normal that anarchism remains associated with the industrial revolution to which it largely contributed by increasing the cost of work and by the education of workers. It is then hard to isolate its thought from a historical movement that was decimated between the 2 world wars, and to a wide extent digested by left wing trade unions and political parties after world war 2.

In this case, it would be normal that anarchism would have been claimed by these trade unions and parties, at least as the thought of the precursors, as a historical origin. It should even be to a large extent claimed as an aspect of the dominating ideology, at least in the name of the freedom and equality values. And though this is not the case. As if, in the opposite, anarchism still had all its subversive strength while still being enclosed in the past. And much older thoughts and thinkers are preferred.


 4. In a sense, one anarchist thought never existed, and much less a doctrine or a theory, only a multiform movement. The self-liberating movement of the workers world is in the deep, the only identifier of anarchism.

Thoughts, ideas, theories are rather spilt in 3 big families: communism, individualism and syndicalism. From another point of view, the theoreticians of anarchism never were the leaders or organizers of the movements. And never did the organizations built upon theories, but rather on pragmatic objectives, 8 hours of work per day, mutual assistance and insurances, etc.

As a consequence the anarchist movement has been evolving under the influence of constraints rooted in a double contradiction. The first contradiction is "doctrinal" between communism and individualism, the second contradiction is "strategical", between syndicalism and anarcho-syndicalism. (The first trend tends to reduce the political organization to the industrial organization, under the control of workers organized by industrial fields, and the second trend by Local Unions, to reduce production of goods and services to the local organization of life.)


 5. By putting things back to their own place again, one may consider Marx as one of the theoreticians of the anarchist movement, with a special singularity however: the period of time when he lived places him among the forerunner, and the period when his work became known was located after the revolutionary movement was crushed. 


6. While anarchism, communism, socialism, pretend to be a revolution within the civilization, surrealism pretends to be a civilization revolution. That makes its anchor in the revolutionary period of the 1920's and its ambiguity. Also the historical surrealist movement is paradoxical: its pretension is huge and its actual activity is hard to distinguish from the one of a fashionable art school. 

This distance is particularly visible during the first period, the period of La Révolution Surréaliste : new  reform of understanding, real functioning of the thought... Surrealism pretends to be a Renaissance, not of the Antiquity within the Modern Western Civilization, but rather of (all civilizations within) the entire mankind. It is hence a criticism of modernity, which the historical period urgently required. And though, the actual movement does not suggest an image of its ambitions. 


7. The surrealist movement probably had no other alternative than to settle in the mean term between an artistic avant-garde and a revolution of the mind: that is, to become a movement of artists engaged in the proletarian revolution. This is what is shown in a second step with the title of the new review: Le Surréalisme au service de la Révolution.

This mean term does not completely remove the previous ambiguities and adds to them the ambiguities of the proletarian revolution: crushing of the actual workers movement in the countries where the revolution fails, but at the same time even in the countries in which in principle it is successful, triumph of the official marxism which is actually the occultation of Marx thought as well as of all anarchist thought.

Under the cover of marxism, it is actually all the bourgeois rationalism originating in the Age of Enlightenment that is settled back standing, that is to say all the pre-contemporaneous thought..


 8. Being a movement of artists, the surrealist movement was nevertheless not an art movement, at least, not an art movement that could fit inside the art world, not to say the art market, at the beginning of the 20th century. This because it was changing the function of art. And it was not alone.

Independently from the political positions taken, surrealism, as the core part of artistic avant-gardes of the beginning of the 20th century was the sign of some uneasiness in the western art, or rather of the western civilization as regarded art. 


9. Art would only have been the bare decoration of an utilitarian world, or possible a "complement of soul". The criticism of such a situation could only be concluded by the claim of a bigger place given to art, may it be under its decorative form or as a "complement of soul". In such a perspective, it would have been more adequate to think about the disappearing of art as an activity separated from usefulness, or maybe as a questioning of the usefulness of everything.

I am not so sure that surrealism went far beyond the symptoms. It rejected aesthetics in favor of an exploration of the real functionning of thought. It is an excellent work hypothesis but it is a bit short for such an enterprise which was essentially inscribed within art and poetry.


10. In the bourgeois society (Burger, citizen), art becomes mercantile. Modern art is a market, just like art once haunted temples or palaces. 

It is not obvious that the main part of the art production is concentrated in (art) objects, so than the market on which these objects are presented may become the only territory of art. That would mean isolating art from all other activities, which actually constitutes the strange and yet familiar situation of the Western art. 

If one comes back to the Renaissance art, this capture of art into the object, and of the object in the market, no longer appears as an evidence, but as a process. It is this process itself that the early 20th century avant-gardes questioned, particularly with the bolchevik revolution and later with Bauhaus during the Weimar Republic.


11. It is in such a context that the Surrealist Movement emerged from the parisian Dada group.

The surrealist movement was both less and more radical than the contemporary avant-gardes. It was less radical because it did not benefit from the revolutionary upheavals that occurred in Russia, Germany and Italy. It was more radical, because it settled beyond all aesthetic concerns at the level of the real functioning of thought. It was less radical because it let itself get enclosed without any resistance nor critic in the art market; it was more radical, because it imediately settled beyond the sole social status of art.

The surrealist movement is hence at the same time, and in a very ambiguous manner an art movement that has a place in the international art market and a movement for a revolution of the mind at least as radical as the galilean revolution. It is hence, in an ambiguous manner, the symptom of the failure of the european revolution of 1917 and of its final choice of the nation rather than of the class. 


12. Based on the above, it would be pertinent to detach from the past the isms that I just spoke of, as well as some others. How to reach that? By helping them to detach themselves by their own means.

In Karl Marx works, two master words may be found: programme and system. These two words, which work together, have been taking a growing importance since some decades in computer science. In the same period of time, they finally had disappeared among the people who wanted to Marx's heirs. And before they disappeared they had turned into meaningless words: government program and political system.

Quite obviously, Marx did not use these words in such narrow meanings. He did not use them either in the just as narrow meaning with which they were initially used in computer science: digital program and operating system. And yet, could there be some sort of relationship between the meaning of these words in computer science and the meaning Marx gave to the same words? Not only I can see one, I also suspect that there is a sort of bloodline


13. Karl Marx never was a laplacian determinist, who believes that knowledge of causes would imply the knowledge of the consequence with certainty. This is why he never indulged himself into predictions, hardly some assumptions or hopes, most generally in the short term, and almost always disappointed before his death and without any serious impact on his theories. 

If some were misled, it is because he did not believe either that reality would obey human decisions, in such a way that it would hence be enough to "seize the power". So, if we are not submitted to fatality under its modern name of determinism, and not free either in the sense that we would possibly choose our destiny together, how should the concepts of program and system be understood? Well, like in computer science, quite simply.

It is just as mindless, when facing a computer, to expect it to tell us what to do, than to expect it to obey our will if we do not know how to control it. And yet, we often get both opposite feelings: the impression of being imposed some behaviors or the impression that it even goes further than our will. And yet, as one may get quite easily convinced, a program, a system, a language are just as incapable to impose anything to us as they are to understand us. At a maximum, in the first case, the programmer would have written a poorly customizable application, and in the second case, a really intuitive one. The programmer may just as well be the user too. 


14. These quite common sense coined remarks may be extended from the computer area to the area of any human dispositif. In all cases, we are in a double relationship: into a relationship with Nature and into a relationship with the Other. In other terms, into a relationship with something which is not human, the properties of Matter, mechanical, thermic, electrical, chemical... and a social relationship, both types of relationships being mediatized by symbolic systems, models, measurements (and by the way, it is on this mean term that Marx is the weakest and remains a man of the 19th century.)

One may draw from there that the relationships with the Other (social relationships, superstructures) are based on relationships with Nature (control on material properties, technique). Shortly said, the principle of the class struggle is based on this evidence that states that the working class, the class of labor and hence of the relationship between Man and Nature, is the class that may bring knowledge and progress. This class is first the bourgeoisie against the classes of priests and warriors during the feudal and christian empire, and then the proletariat with the industrialization process. 


15. I said that the workers movement was evolving under the influence of a double contradiction: doctrinal between communism and individualism, and tactical between syndicalism and anarcho-syndicalism. Would the first contradiction be built upon the second one, according to the above? It is not so simple. 

Let's first understand the communist and individualist principles from the point of view of relationships between Man and Nature, and no longer from the point of view of human relationships. It is obvious that the best reason that men have to associate is that they are more powerful when acting together. What a hundred of men may do in a couple of minutes, one single man will not do it in one hundred times more minutes. Proudhon used to take the example of putting down the Vendôme Column. What is obvious as regards the bare addition of mechanical forces, is even more obvious regarding more complex systems, and even much more regarding knowledge

Is such a communism in contradiction with individualism? The autonomy of individuals was not a necessary condition as long as the point was to draw on ropes. But as the system becomes more complex, the responsibility and autonomy of everyone become critical. When the question is the sharing of knowledge, putting things in common and individual acquisition are so little contradictory that one is the sine qua non condition of the other.


 16. Communism is much more interested into sharing (socialising) production means than products. These production means are, always were, and become more and more knowledge.

Karl Marx died before having finished his master work the Capital. This book fades out rather than it ends on the decreasing tendency of the rate of profit. To summarize it in a quite extreme way, the more the capital gets frozen in fixed installations, the more the actual work of the living workers takes a minor place in it. Marx's work finishing on such an unclear perspective, it has been seen as a conclusion: a deadly crisis was threatening the system. But on one hand Marx never said that, and above all such a conclusion would be contradictory with what comes before it. 

Such a conclusion would imply that one system (capitalist) would be replaced by another one (communist). But communism never was presented by Marx as a sort of system, but as a real movement managing a single and unique system. This movement, its action, programs (literally) this single and unique system, which by essence is common to workers and exploiters, in the direction of the "socialisation" of production means.

As Marx died before, no one may say how he would have finished the Capital, not even whether he would have succeeded in finishing it. But it may be possible to get an idea of it based on the pervious work, the Grundrisse. Even if this book remained a draft, Marx describes in it quite another process that goes together with the decreasing of the rate of profit of the industrial capital. He shows that the technical knowledge take a bigger and bigger importance as a work force compared to the bare mechanical force of man.


 17. To summarize it, the capital that first accumulated by means of land property (feudal world), was then invested in the commercial property (bourgeois republics), and then further on in the industry of Nation-States, now tends towards a technological capital based on patent property and the associated ownership management. Of course this is a retroactive kind of reading, and things do not appears with such a clarity in the Grundrisse -- but this work was made in the 1860's.

The control of knowledge, particularly of technical knowledge, by the ones that produce it and exercise it, is the core of the communist and syndicalist thought of the end of the 19th century and of the beginning of the 20th century. It is also the cement of the working class unity, from the illiterate low level worker to the scientist.


18. It is also the key for understanding why class relationships are less sociological than structural. It essentially depends on the roles played in the real production relationships, rather than on the fact of belonging to social sectors that are determined by their juridic relationships, their rate of living or even their ideology. 

There were industry managers too, within the workers movement, which had often come from the working floor and who were relying on the technological modernization and on the workers qualification, and putting their means in the movement. Also a good number of the exploited ones still largely remained domesticated by charity trusts ruled by the owners and the church, and more than one that was weeping on their fate would consider as a danger and an incongruity the idea that they would want to read and write. 


19. There is a considerable difference between a communist individualism and a bourgeois one (citizen, Burger). The status of citizen is so to say to be a co-owner of the public thing (republic; res publica). In this type of relationship, collective interest (res publica) is in opposition with the interest of the individual (private property). La liberté de chacun s'arrête où commence celle des autres. [The freedom of each ceases where the freedom of others starts.]

It is the function of politics and of law to deal with this contradiction. They are based on free negotiation and the acceptance of common rules (a social contract), that are justified by the free renouncement of each to the part of freedom he shares. 

Communist individualism does not know such contradictions neither than it admits such a renouncement. If we want to perform a task that requires some co-operation, either we freely associate according to our desire, or we have to give up and forget it. Nothing else than the both collective and individual will to succeed forces us to adhere. La liberté de chacun s'étend avec celle des autres. [the freedom of each is increased by the freedom of others.]

Of course there is still some sort of constraint, but it no longer comes from the others. Such constraints are of two types: the constraints of Nature and the constraints of human cognitive systems.


20. The first laws that a man ever meets are the laws of Nature. For instance, as we learn now to stand, we have to deal with the laws of gravity. Such laws have a singular difference with human laws. We do not need to learn them to be submitted to them, on the opposite, we learn them to have them submitting to us. We use these laws to change constraints into a "fulcrum".


21. Another set of laws is made of the laws of our cognitive tools: the rules of natural languages, and of mathematic, etc.

When going through grammar or mathematic manuals, one will note some sort of family air with law manuals. Construction and syntaxe are quite close. The main difference is that the first type of manuals does not specify sanction in case of infringement.

Nothing forces us to adopt one set of rules rather than another set. I am currently writing in French, but no one would forbid me to use English instead if I am able of it. No law either forces me to choose the laws of the riemann geometry, rather than those of the euclidian.

Once the choice is done, then one should stick to it, but there again, no sanction has been planned if I make a mistake. Or rather, the only sanction is some loss of consistency or of efficiency. And even that is not certain. The infringement may sometimes reveal to be consistent and fertile. A grammar mistake will most often make the sentence confusing and the thought more risky. In some cases, purposely or not, it may modify the meaning in an interesting way. In such cases, non-respect of the rules is more a means to turn the rule so that it may work differently than a real infringement: "Je est un autre" [I is another one], and not "je suis un autre" [I am another one], as a grammar checking program suggested. 


22. So, it may be a more or less well perceived foundation of anarchism, to see in these games of natural and cognitive laws the possible ready made basis for a Social Contract which requires no renouncement to individual freedom, neither does it put it into contradiction with the freedom of others. 

This may only be a foundation, that may probably not solve all the conflicts that living in groups draws with it, but not less than a Social Contract. Replacing this last principle by the principle of a "natural contract" -- to use Michel Serres's wording -- might well be the master idea of a modernity that seems stuck into a breakdown.


 23. It would be an error to see too rigid an opposition between these two principles. Both are based on modern science, that appeared in the 17th century, with a generalization of the experimental method and of mathematic modelisation.

The men who initially enounced this idea of a contract between men as a basis to civilize their common life, were all great thinkers of modern science: Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz... It has to be noticed that, although their political treatises on tolerance or citizenship made them famous more than the rest of their works, they were nevertheless but a small and so to say a minor part of their work.


24. To summarize it, modern science was making of mathematics its very foundation. Sooner or later, it had hence to fall upon this question: are mathematics a science, and if they are, is it a modern science (like the others), that is, based on experience and mathematic modelisation? This is a troubling question. It began to make sense in the 19th century and it has a corollary: Are the mathematical laws, the laws of logic (reason) and the laws of thought the same? 

During all the previous period, the obvious answer would have been "yes", and the question would not have made much sense. It started to make some sense with Boole, Pierce and the pragmatists. It became very concrete and urging with Gödel and Wittgenstein.


 25. Karl Marx's philosophy has an inherent weakness: a blind spot between infrastructures and superstructures, between man-nature relationships and human relationships; it ignores everything of cognitive systems, the sign as such. Or rather marxism only knows one single symbolic system which occultate all the others: the system of mercantile value that must be unmasked as an economist ideology, but which, until this moment, occultates all the others. Pragmatism precisely stands right on this blind spot that marxism cannot understand. 


26. It has sometimes been said that Charles S. Pierce's pragmatism was a sort of return back to Aristote's philosophy, and most particularly a return back to the scholastic aristotelism, back to pre-cartesianism. It is a fact that Pierce carefully studied middle ages philosophy, but to make an anti-cartesianist of him is quite another question. Let's say that the tabula rasa initiated by Galileo and Descartes had somewhat thrown away the baby with the water of the bath.. What the scientific revolution has simply forgotten, was the instance of the sign, in other terms, the very process of thinking. 

So experience has been considered, thought, calculated. But from such a point how can thought, reflection, computation be conceptualized as experiences? By saying that "thinking is manipulating signs" (Pierce). Such an approach implies that the relationship between the Sign and the Real is somewhat elucidated. Just as the relationship between the sign and the "true", and hence the meaning of "true".

It must be noted that these questions, which may at first seem giddy have been progressing for about two centuries and led to quite concrete applications, from Boole to Von Neumann, from the first Babbage equation machine to modern computers.


27. First a latent contradiction became obvious: the contradiction between logic and psychology. A science of the functioning of thought, may be understood in two ways: either to understand how we "naturally" think, that is, to state so to say the natural laws of thought, or on the opposite to state what are the laws according to which one must think

Here again we fall upon the two meanings of the word "law" that we already met.


28. For the moderns, there is no deep difference between thinking, reasoning and computing. In each case, it is, so to say a way of using reason; reason is, in some way, the law of thinking. And things are in such a way that Nature abides the laws of Reason.

What can be the possible cause that forces Nature to obey the laws of Reason, to abide laws that are precisely the laws by means of which we think? Descartes seriously wondered about this point, and he answered just as seriously to it: because the Creator gave these laws to his creature. (In other terms, to the extent that we participate of the divine nature, being hence capable of reason, then we are capable of understanding the laws of Nature).

It would be difficult to find another answer. What ever else than a creator God fulfilling the role of a mediation between nature and reason would look very much like a God anyway. And though observation shows that not much may be understood about anything before some systems of signs have been learnt, at a minimum the laws of grammar and the laws of computation, which are in no way of divine essence.


29. God plays a considerable role in 17th century sciences. Two reasons may be a hindrance for us to realize about this point. The former is the complete disappearing of God in the scientific explanation during the first part of the 19th century, which leads us to reinterpret the prior evolution without him. The second is that this "philosophers' God" had become a totally distinct entity from the kind of God that haunts churches, so that the disappearing of the latter hid from of us the much earlier disappearing of the former

What does actually mean the word God when used by Spinoza, Berkeley, Newton? It is certainly not an "explanation". If there is any explanation, it is to be found in Nature by means of the use of Reason. God grants us the use of Reason and makes Reason transcend the laws of Nature.

God created the world, and Man participates in the divine essence. Man is in a father to son relationship with God. To the extent to which Man is submitted to God, he is not only freed from Nature, but he dominates it. 

May it be understood literally or as a metaphor, science, until the end of the 18th century assumes that nature obeys to reason and further to Man if he obeys to reason himself.

Such a conception led to violent confrontations during the French Revolution about the cult of the Supreme Being, between the ones who recognized Reason in it and the supporters of Nature. This conflict that I would call folkloric was in fact hiding a deep scientific revolution: a divorce between the concept of Reason and the concept of Nature, at the end of which God finally disappears. 


30. What does such a disappearing of God actually means. I mean, not within the society or in the daily experience -- the importance of which has been exaggerated -- but in sciences? It first mean the disappearing of any finality, of any teleology, and possibly even of any meaning at all, may it be as a signification or as a direction, except the one of the most strict causality and determinism.

Until this moment, determinism looked somewhat clocklike. Clocks work because they were properly designed and constructed.

Laplace's (atheist) determinism looks like the kind of system that one single gear tooth would imagine in order to understand the clock its belongs to. This raises some kind of epistemological issue. How can the gear tooth know about the clockwork, or even know about itself? What would then possibly be the use of it anyway? Would knowledges also be a product of determinism? In which way could these knowledge still be said to be "true"?

Here, the gear does not any longer have any relationships with the clockmaker. The gear has no longer lineblood with the clockmaker. The lonely alternative for a scientific position is then to adopt the clockmaker's one, or rather a programmer's one, and no more a gear's one, trying to understand the clockwork.

This would require extending science to the science of signs, to the science of systems of signs. This would imply transitionning from the use of reason towards programming of cognitive tools. 


31. When discussing about God's disappearing -- which may be dated around years 1840 -- I am not thinking about the belief of this particular one or other one. I am not thinking of the personal belief of any particular scientist. And neither about the specific importance that religious institutions would then have or preserve. I am quite specifically speaking of the place that God actually has in sciences.

Well, it has none. May it be that scientists are believers or not, and that each one may see or do not see in the scientific law a confirmation of his faith or not. There is no place for God in sciences, up to the point that one now considers with some surprise the role that it previously had in them, when searching for it.

It disappears up to the point that it does not even have to give place to what could possibly be yet another more abstract and more modern version of a "world order"or pre-existing harmony or whatever of this kind.

Even the new theory that Darwin created -- although he was a believer -- loses what Lamarck's theory had still preserved of teleology. Even when Einstein thinks that "God does not play dice". He may only make such a statement on basis of mathematical laws. 


 32. Modern science does not explain the world anymore. It does not need to. It is no longer a "communion" with an intelligence that would control the world. Intelligence is human or is simply not. 

Science describes and does not explain anymore. It describes. What? As a matter of fact, its new function is to create, that is, of course to describe, not how the world works alone, but the conditions and the means of the experiments; and those of the construction and usage of the cognitive tools and mathematical models.

So that, as the Sovereign disappeared to give place to the sovereignty of the people, the Creator annihilated itself in the human creativity.

The fact that intelligence is human, implies that it is both collective and individual. It is collective because no individual could possibly access to it by his own means; it is individual, because it cannot be located in any other place than within the individuals that own it (an english speaking person and a french speaking person do not constitute a bilingual couple)


33. Adding the "ism" suffix to a word is an easy way to speak of a mixture of written works, of events, of their individual or collective authors, of actions and of what is left of them. 

Words have a meaning. It is in general denoted by their morphology. They also have connotations that are given to them by the context in which they are used. One may sometimes wonder whether it is still a good thing to go on with using them, or whether it would not be better to create some others. 

For instance, based on greek roots rather than latin ones "acracy" could replace "anarchy", and would work better with the "democracy", "theocracy" family. Of course. But then "hierarchy" and "architecture" would not work anymore. 

"Interarchy" would work well as it suggests multiple and crossed levels of order that would no longer be determined by a single center or top. All components would then be their own center in a spirit similar to Leibniz's Monadologie or to Al Kindy's Rays Theory.

One may use the wording "marxian", rather that "marxist", in order to more explicitly refer to the written work of the author, but I fear that such an artifice already has been used in an opposite meaning. 


34. More embarrassing would however be the choice of another world for Surrealism, so difficult it may be to get convinced that it was properly chosen. Surrealism is primarily a criticism of reason, of the discursive reason, of the dianoïa. Of course the word "surrationnalism", which was rejected by the surrealists themselves, would be worse. 

Would surrealism be something beyond realism in the arts and particularly in literature? Would surrealism be a step beyond realism that would not care anymore to represent reality, but rather to go beyond the separation between representation and reality? 

Some bloodline would then possibly be found with some contemporaneous streams of ideas in other areas: pragmatism with Pierce, James et Poincaré, empirio-criticism with Mach and, later, with the general semantics and non-aristotelism of Korsybski and the logical empirism of Wittgenstein.


35. Nevertheless, such proximities were not stressed by one side or the other, with some exceptions, William James, widely quoted in Le Message automatique, or Georges Sorel when referring to pragmatism. These proximities yet seem obvious to me. The fact that they have not been actualized is the sign of the 20th century failure.

I see a new sort of consistency outlining today, a missed one, yet, but a potentially powerful one. It is on basis of this consistency that one should come back to the words, their history and the history that they encompass.


36. The concept of Reason was based upon a unidirectional determinism. It was assuming that multiplied causes was limiting the multiplication of effects, reducing their sequence to a linear chain. And it is exactly the model of devices built by men, as they are meant to produce a specific work and avoid accidents, just as clockworks, precisely. Such devices are quite rare within Nature, and Nature taken as a whole, with greater reason, is not such a device.

The laplacian determinism thought that the ability to predict was only limited by the ability to know enough about the causes. A daemon that would know them, the famous Laplace Daemon, could then predict the future. 

If crossing causes may by multiply the effects, then even such a daemon could not predict anything. It is not the insurmountable impossibility to know all the causes, and not even the too high complexity of processing the related data that limits the knowledge of the consequences, it is rather that facts themselves are no longer determined, nor are they un-determined.


37. The world is literally unpredictible. What does this mean? And above all what does it change? 

That significantly changes the meaning of experimental verification. Experience, let's say, used to verify that the world was actually obeying the laws of reason. But, as of such a thing one was already convinced, it was only verified that the reasoning was correct, true, that it was in accordance with facts.

What is the new meaning then reached by experience in pragmatism, empiriocriticism or logical empirism, in other terms in a new radical empirism? The experience has now become the experience of a consistency that generates power and fertility. 


38. What results of this is a complete revolution of the thought that may not be better understood than by a reference to the old saying stamped with the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment: Ce qui se conçoit bien s'énonce clairement. [What is properly conceived is clearly stated.] How could it be possible to clearly conceive, without any statement, without using as little as may possibly be a system of signs, a language or anything that may work as a language?

Ce qui s'énonce bien se conçoit clairement. [What is properly stated is clearly conceived.] Yes, but not before. Here is the new principle. And there is no basis on which reason could be established, but the consistency of a system of signs.


39. The contractual and constitutional bourgeois thought (citizen, Burger) here loses its foundations. How to consider that every citizen, naturally enlightened by the Reason, would only reach truth and justice by means of the collective debate? Nuts! Even the defenders of such an idea do not believe in it anymore, and only see in democracy a kind of ritual, the role of which is essentially to legitimate the decisions of experts. Otherwise, they shout and complain - not without some reasons maybe - that it is "populisme".

For such a reason, the democratic principle is not invalidated, but regenerated by means of an inversion of the meaning, as Dewey imagined it. Democracy then becomes... not a principle, not a simple legitimation, but the political form of empirism, a process (programming) of experimental and open modification of human relationships.


40. The concept of programming and the concept of automatism are complementary and enlighten each other. Programming cannot any longer be the surpriseless production of a series of effects based on a set of commands. From another point of view, automatism (in the surrealist meaning) cannot either be the expression of some sort of hidden thought, or even of some kind pre-existing unconscious thought.

This is the point where Breton in L'Amour Fou, and Wittgenstein stumbled on Freudism; the first one implicitly, the second one explicitly. Would the unconscious thought be some sort of ready made thing only waiting for being liberated, like the brush of the archeologist unearths some vestige from the soil? Or would it on the opposite spring out as from the brush of an artist?

In order to answer "yes" to the second hypothesis, it must first be understood that it is a kind of process in which clairvoyance and blind automatism are mixed. There is nothing more supernatural here than in an arithmetical operation in which, if the result was known, there would be no need to write it down.

A mathematical inference may hardly be qualified to be an expression of the unconscious, although in a sense, it is one.





Jean-Pierre Depétris

December 2004