### TOTALITARIAN
ECONOMICS is perhaps the most challenging study we have presented to date. - Which is why we are posting it in instalments. The aim of the study is to draw the enlightening parallels between economic theory and the political concepts that it never addresses where it does not actively seek to conceal - and their ultimate link to a vision of social totality and co-ordination, of orchestration and regimentation, that justifies our use of the epithet "totalitarian" to orthodox bourgeois economic analysis.

The notion of
axiomatic mathematical *truth* as
“despotic” was not lost on the earliest theoreticians of the doctrine of the *Absolutist* State – the “statolatrists” –
in Renaissance Europe. Yet again, it was Hannah Arendt who came closest to
intuiting the complex problematic of logico-mathematical *id-entities* or
“laws” and the theorization of *ab-solute* power in *On Revolution*:

There is perhaps
nothing surprising in that the Age of Enlightenment should have become aware of
the compelling nature of axiomatic or self-evident truth, whose paradigmatic example,
since Plato, has been the kind of statements with which we are confronted in
mathematics. Le Mercier de la Riviere was perfectly right when he wrote: *'Euclide
est un veritable despote et les verites geometriques qu'il nous a transmises
sont des lois veritablement despotiques. Leur despotisme legal et le despotisme
personnel de ce Legislateur n'en font qu'un, celui de la force irresistible
de l'evidence';*26 and
Grotius, more than a hundred years earlier, had already insisted that

*'even God cannot cause that two times two should not make four'*. (Whatever the theological and philosophic implications of Grotius's formula might be, its political intention was clearly to bind and

Foundation II:Novus
Ordo Saeclorum 193

limit the sovereign will
of an absolute prince who claimed to incarnate divine omnipotence on earth, by
declaring that even God's power was not without limitations. This must have appeared of great theoretical and
practical relevance to the political thinkers of the seventeenth century for
the simple reason that divine power, being by definition the power of One,
could appear on earth only as superhuman strength, that is, strength multiplied
and made irresistible by the means of violence. In
our context, it is important to note that *only mathematical laws**were thought to be sufficiently* ** irresistible** to
check the power of despots.) The fallacy of this position was not only to
equate this compelling evidence with right reason –the dictamen rationis or a
veritable dictate of reason - but to believe that these mathematical 'laws'
were of the same nature as the laws of a community, or that the former could
somehow inspire the latter. Jefferson must have been dimly aware of this, for
otherwise he would not have indulged in the somewhat incongruous phrase, 'We
hold these truths to be self-evident', but would have said: These truths are
self-evident, namely, they possess a power to compel which is as irresistible
as despotic power, they are not held by us but we are held by them; they stand
in no need of agreement. He
knew very well that the statement 'All men are created equal' could not
possibly possess the same power to compel as the statement that two times two
make four, for the former is indeed a statement of reason
and even a reasoned statement which stands in need of agreement, unless one
assumes that human reason is divinely informed to recognize certain truths as
self-evident; the latter, on the contrary, is rooted in the physical structure
of the human brain, and therefore is 'irresistible'. (pp.192-3)

In the
passages Arendt quotes above, both Mercier and Grotius seek to equiparate the
irresistible rational power of mathematical reasoning with the political power
of kings, and indeed God himself. But mathematical power is democratic, it is
egalitarian, and no political power can change its *truth*. There are “truths”,
therefore, that are beyond the reach of political power; and this realization
ought to show those who hold political power that there are limits to its
exercise. The obvious objection is that, as Arendt indicates, political power
is conventional, the fruit of agreement between subjects and monarch, whereas
mathematical power is hypothetical because it does not compel specific humans
to do or refrain from doing something. Yet, Mercier at least, in seeking to
identify the source of mathematical power, actually mentions Euclid – a human
being! -, indicating thereby that there is something conventional about
mathematical power, too: there is, after all, a history of mathematics:
mathematics itself is a “science” in constant evolution! Indeed, when we look
closer into the “truth” of mathematics we discover that there is no “truth” at
all in it: the *definiens* is already in the *definiendum*; it is not
just the conclusion that is analytically contained in and deduced from the
premises, but the premises are already implicit in the conclusion as well! In
other words, mathematics is strict tautology: it tells us nothing; it is
meaningless. – Which is not to say that it does not have a “use”, a “purpose”.
Indeed, mathematics is the ultimate tool in that its use or purpose is coherent
with the real objects to which it is applied. In this consists the purity of
mathematics: - that it only takes on meaning when it is applied to a hypothesis
about what is possible, to possible actions and outcomes.

** **

*Far from being the ultimate
protection against political arbitrariness,* as both Mercier and Grotius understood them, it
is the very fact that the axiomatic rules of mathematics and logic can never
acquire the status of *ab-solute*
ultimate truth and value that *reveals*
their ineluctable *con-ventionality *and
therefore the im-possibility of *truth*, the utter *value-lessness*
of life and the world! It is for this precise and quite understandable reason
that Mercier and Grotius both feel tempted, induced to equiparate
logico-mathematical *necessity* with political *coercion* – because
“logico-mathematical necessity” is the ultimate instance of the ability of
human beings to transmute a symbolic *convention* – indeed, a sterile
tautology – into a *tool* that can be applied to a *hypothetical*
reality so as to turn it forcefully, experimentally, into a politically reality,
a *fait accompli*, a coercive outcome or result – indeed, even into a
“scientific law”. This is the “secret” of the *Rationalisierung*!

** **

Arendt completely fails to see that *both*
logico-mathematical *and*
juridical-ethical “laws” are *con-ventional*
– as Hobbes, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein have taught us), and that therefore *they too
require “agreement” (!)** *just
like juridical-ethical and nomothetic
(regular) behavioural laws, which can also be given ab-solute
logico-mathematical axiomatic form, as in game theory, and can then become a
“fate” (in Wittgensteinian language games), which is the opposite of what
“truth” is supposed to be!

Arendt
assumes here that the “truth” of political coercion and power differs from the
“truth” of mathematical calculation because the one is “conventional” and the
other is “hypothetical”. The problem is that neither political coercion nor
mathematical tools are “true” – they are both conventional in the devastating
sense that even the latter can be applied *hypothetically* to any human
reality at all. Convention here does not refer to “subjectively free agreement”:
in fact, logico-mathematical tautologies are *irresistible* and *inconfutable*
because they are *purely* conventional. Conventional here means “not
corresponding to any objective reality because empty of content” – purely categorical
thought, empty vessels and tools. The *only* *reality* open to
logico-mathematical tools is that of a *hypothesis* that *arms* these
categorical tools with contents or variables intended to lead *by way of *hypothesis
*to specific outcomes or results*. Even the most “irresistible laws”
(Arendt), the “laws” of logico-mathematics, are just as *conventional* as
“the *laws* of a community” – indeed they
are even more conventional precisely because they do not require agreement!
They only acquire a *meaning* – and therefore agreement - when they are
given a *hypothetical* *purpose* to achieve an intended outcome or
result. Otherwise, if not *applied*, if *pure*, mathematical tools have
no meaning at all because they are tauto-logical, hence *purely*,
ab-solutely (unconditionally) conventional.

**Indeed, it is the ultimate “con-ventionality” of even logico-mathematical
“laws” that demonstrates how all laws,
including moral and juridical ones, are ultimately “con-ventional” and
therefore political.** If mathematical laws pointed to a Truth, to a Universal
Value or

*Summum Bonum*or Good, then they would not be mere conventional tools or instruments whose only “use” is to be applied to real entities. But because they do not, because they are mere

*arbitrary*and

*conventional*tautological empty vessels, their value

*coincides*with their use, with their purpose, with their

*hypothetical*application to a given goal or objective – which is where and how

*political convention*and

*scientific hypothesis*meet!

*According* to what we have
styled “Nietzsche’s invariance”, if *truth* existed we could not *think*
of it , we could not con-*ceive *of it,
we could not *grasp or detect it*:* *– it would be removed to the status of
Leibniz’s *intuitus originarius*, what
Arendt calls above *“[a] human reason… divinely informed to recognize certain
truths as self-evident”* - which is why Nietzsche could satirize that the
“higher” a “truth” becomes, the less “truthful” it grows because it becomes
more “intuitive” and therefore less “provable” and more “de-monstrable” (in Wittgenstein’s
sense of “showing”)! In other words, the ontological status of “truth” is
“invariant”, *makes no dif-ference, has no
real material and practical impact on human affairs *except for its impact
as a “belief”, as a “faith”, as a “will to truth”! (This argument as applied to
Leibnitz is in Heidegger’s *Metaphysical
Foundations of Logic*.)

### To recapitulate, it is a common fallacy to mistake
mathematical equivalence with “truth”. Indeed, it is common for some
philosophers to claim, in the interests of democracy and political equality,
that even God himself is subject to their “truth”. But where this equivalence
represents mathematical symbols and operations, it is quite simply and
incontrovertibly a tautology. In and of themselves, mathematical equations do
not tell truth: they do not refer to any objective value or reality: they tell
us absolutely nothing. – Which is why mathematical equations are *purely
conventional*, and the *hypothetical applications* to which they are
put are *problematic* in the extreme. This is because the moment we use
these mathematical tools and equations *to calculate* elements of
experience that we reduce to *objectified* and *quantified* entities
or variables, then and only then do these tools assume a *purpose* because
we attribute to them an intended meaning that they clearly lack so long as they
are mere equivalences: they become *hypothetical*, coercive, because they
embody the *will* of the hypothesizer who selects the purpose of conducting
and testing the experimental hypothesis.

### In
other words, to the extent that calculations pretend to have meaning because
they are *applied* to real entities, they are *false*. And to the
extent that they lack meaning because they are *pure*, not applied to real
entities, they are just tautological and therefore *conventional*: they
tell us nothing about any objective reality or “truth”. They tell us nothing
outside the *hypothetical* *purpose* for which we seek to manipulate
the real categories and entities to which we apply the mathematical operations.
It follows that mathematical calculations or “tools” can never be *neutral*
– because to the extent that they are not applied to real categories, they are
meaningless or tautological, and to the extent that they are so applied, they must
be used for a purpose, whereby their “neutrality” is invalidated!

Mathematical
id-entities and logical axioms are *borderline
concepts *(Schmitt, *Politische
Theologie*); they de-monstrate (in the Wittgensteinian sense of “showing”, “pointing
to” but *never explaining meaningfully or
proving!*) both the ultimate *attempt*
and the ultimate *inability *of the
human mind to con-ceive of “truth and value” as objective entities: they
represent therefore not only the ultimate de-monstration of the “un-reality” of
“truth and values”, their *conventionality* ; but also and most terrifying
of all the possibility of turning human *conventions* and *arbitrariness*
into *science* and *logic* through their hypothetical application as
calculating tools.

## No comments:

## Post a comment