UNLEARNING THE VALUE OF MONEY

A Manifesto and a Modest Proposal

 

July 2019

 

The Problem

 

It’s a rite of passage of capitalist culture. At a certain age, our parents begin to instruct us on the “value of money,” in tones by turns exhortatory and exasperated. It’s a lesson we have to internalize, we are told, in order to succeed at our task of becoming adults. If we do, we are promised, we will become mature, “productive members” of society, able to secure our own future (or buy our own happiness). It is not our friends who tell us this. It is not so much even other authority figures. It’s specifically our parents. Understanding the “value of money” is a familial imperative. It is a key strategy in support of the privatization of value within the confines of the nuclear family, with all the heternormative and patriarchal implications that institution has historically carried. For what is a ‘”mature” adult responsibly securing itself through its ability to make value-laden executive decisions if not the autonomous bourgeois individual, sovereign of itself and “king in its own castle”?

 

Why is it that, in an age when that construction of sociality is being resisted and surpassed from so many angles, by so many movements, there is so little organized resistance to the lesson, so intimately bound up with it, of the “value of money”?

 

Unlearning the lesson is a requisite for moving toward a postcapitalist economy, whose expanded practices of mutual aid and value-sharing necessarily overspill the narrow confines of kinship as currenty defined, and whose self-organizing ethos and collective practices of decision oppose a new figure of autonomy – the relational autonomy of emergent collectivity – to the sovereignty of the individual.

 

Issues and Antidotes

 

Even at the frayed edges of the institution of the family, such as in urban centres where  society is atomizing into a preponderance of single-person households, the notion of the “value of money” often prevails. It is capable of extracting itself from its genealogical origins to take on a life of its own. It expresses itself in a set of attitudes that relay each other and mutually reinforce, forming a complex. These are more than mere “attitudes.” It is fairer to call them existential postures. As a complex, they delineate a habitus. They conspire, or aspire, to determine a mode of existence. They form a tether to capitalist culture that can infect the most radical of milieus and wreak havoc on their postcapitalist tendings. Any tendentially postcapitalist project must not only maintain a vigilance toward them, but adopt active strategies to ward off their undermining effects.

 

1) The basic posture is a spin-off from one of the central functions of money, that of  medium of exchange. Money serves as a “general equivalent”: a yardstick to which qualitatively different things can be referred, to enable comparison. The prices of two objects or services refer them to the same scale of value. Equal price is taken to mean equal value. But this brackets the ineradicable qualitative difference between two things. A veneer of commensurability is applied to the incommensurable. For it is precisely the things’ singularity – what they specifically promise in qualitative terms of use-value or desire-fulfilment or aesthetic enrichment that other options don’t – that appeals to the purchaser. It is in fact on their qualitative difference that the lived value (potential surplus-value of life) they carry into the exchange actually hinges. But in the system of exchange, this is always inserted into a comparative frame, formalized (when it is) as cost-to-benefit analysis. Cost-to-benefit analysis revolves entirely around the comparison/commensuration effects of money as general equivalent: the whole point is to judge “benefit” as a function of cost using money as the yardstick of value. In effect, this monetizes “benefit.”  Monetized “benefit” – capitalist good – then becomes the overall figure of value, supplanting, in our calculations, lived value and surplus-value of life. This is the conclusion of the general drift whereby the perceived value of things migrates from their qualitative potential to its supposed monetary equivalent. It is now money that appears to bear value and to be the arbiter of all values. Soon, the welfare of money begins to stand in for not just for value, but for the greatest good. We are enjoined to be “responsible” not only with money, but to money. This displacement of duty from the qualitative dimensions of life to the “value of money” is the beating, unbleeding heart of the fiscal conservatism that has been the dominant political force for the last forty years at least. It is a key mechanism of capitalist capture.

 

Posture 1: mistaking value for value-for-money.

 

Antidote: Taking it to heart that money strictly has no value. In its role as medium of exchange, it it is a social technology. It greases the gears of the social machine. It is a working part of that machine. Money makes things happen, or prevents them from happening. Either way it is functioning as an operator of relation. Its exchange enables things, actions, and persons to circulate, recombine, and realize new configurations. Embedded in the exchange itself is an asymmetry: that between those who wield capital, or investment-money, and in so doing are in a position to siphon off profit, and those who only have access to money as a means of payment. As money circulates through its many byways, this asymmetry accumulates in the social body as an enduring structure of inequality, around which the exclusions and relations of domination and oppression inherent to capitalist culture accrue. The antidote is to take it to heart that money is an operator of relation and work to disable it in that role, in favor of other social technologies attuned to qualitative differences and the singularities of potential they hold, and dedicated to releasing surplus-value of life, for the difference it makes, rather than to its commensuration and capture. The “techniques of relation” that the SenseLab has worked so hard to invent, and which will transtion into the 3 Ecologies Institute, are examples of this. They should be cared for as lying at the heart of the value system of the 3E alter-economy. And they should be supplemented with further techniques aimed specifically at warding off the “value of money” and “money-for-value.”

 

Posture 2: applying this to ourselves.

 

This takes a caricatural expression when a person’s value is equated with his or her salary, as is so often the case in capitalist culture. But the same logic is at work when we equate what funding we may have received as part of a collective project with a judgment of our personal worth. This makes money once again the arbiter of value, harming the ability of the collective to affirm its own value-system. It de-relationalizes value, bringing it back to the individual in the last instance. This activates the all-too-human emotions that can flow from self-comparison, including competitiveness and resentment. The comparative element can lead to a sense of hierarchy that vitiates the self-organizing, direct-democratic aspirations of a project like 3E. The sense of hierarchy can easily become self-fulfilling. As the emotions play out, they may settle into the regrowth of an actual hierarchy. The competitiveness and resentment can deflect the collective process away from the question of its relational potential to the question of who “deserves” how much: in other words, it moralizes the field of relation, within a paradigm of accounting and holding to account. This sidelines the ethico-aesthetic problem of surplus-value of life as a speculative-pragmatic proposition. Moralism and judgment take over, bringing a return to normative yardsticks, to the detriment of the invention of new modes of life.

 

Antidote: Treat every allocation of resources, even when it is allocaton of funds to individuals, explicitly as a technique of relation. This means deflecting the question away from who “deserves” how much to how, pragmatically and speculatively, an allocation can further the creative work of the collective. For example, might it enable an individual to have one less job so that they can dedicate more of their own creative energies to the project? Might it enable someone to do less, on the speculative proposition that breakthroughs often happen in fallow times, as when we get up from the writing desk to take a meander? Can it calm the nerves of someone whose ability to contribute is undermined by a sense of precarity, even if they perhaps already have comparatively more? This involves decoupling resource allocation from need and using it as a processual catalyst. Ideally (in the very long run) in a postcapitalist economy individuals’ basic needs would be met through equal distributions, without reference to what is “deserved” by one individual as opposed to another (for example on the model of a guaranteed income or equivalent). In the meantime, and even afterwards supplementing that, forms of mutual aid must be practiced in response to individual needs (as has always been a goal at SenseLab). Techniques must also be explicitly developed for this, doubling whatever monetary economy flows through the project with an informal gift economy. The ethos of the gift economy must strike the fundamental chord, so that it determines the dominant quality of sociality running through the process, and not only doubles the flow of money but colors it with its dominant flavor. This dominant giftly quality of sociality must be in place from the very beginning, otherwise traditional postures toward money will implant themselves, making it difficult if not impossible to transition to another ethic. The techniques of relation have to be implemented prefiguratively, in advance of the conditions under which they can come to full fruition. This is a very difficult task, given that in the early phases needs will be pressing since individuals will not be independent of the surrounding capitalist economy or insulated from the precarities its produces, but will have one foot in it and one foot in its hopefully growing and intensifying alternative (or maybe more realistically for now, one toe in the alter-economy and one leg out). One thing that is certain is that it will not be possible to grow the alter-economic ethos if it is not clearly felt that collective decisionmaking embodies the same ethos. This makes it imperative for experimentation in decisionmaking techniques around resource allocation to be put in place now, as the 3E begins to receive a modest cash flow through the Patreon site. (See A Modest Proposal below.)

 

Posture 3: falling for the fallacy that time is money.

 

Time is not money. Time is life. The value that attaches to it is surplus-value of life. The saying that time is money expresses the subsumption of life under capital, the capture of surplus-value of life by the production of capitalist surplus-value. The equation time = money is widely condemned. Very rarely remarked, however, is the cballenge to the whole notion of the wage that this critique implies. A wage is nothing other than the return someone receives for trading their life-time and vital energies for a quantity of money, on the assumption that this is an equal exchange. The exhaustion, depression, and anxiety that are so often a part of the system of wage labor say that it is not. The need to earn a wage is an extorsion of life-time. It is the classic technique for the subordination of life to the demands of capital. Once again, this posture deflects attention away from qualitative and relational dynamics. For example, in a self-organizing, far-from-equilibrium context, where there are synergies forming that are moving a process toward a qualitative tipping point into a new realm of self-invention, a very small action can catalyze an incommensurately large effect. A result can arise that is incommensurate with its cause. This is because what is acted upon is the relational field directly, its texture or composition, at a sensitive or critical point where it is poised for a phase-shift and just a tweak will make a qualitative difference. This is closely related to what Erin writes about in relation to minor gestures: acts that modulate a relational field and catalyze a shift in it, rather applying direct causal force to produce a commensurate effect. As Erin emphasizes the minor gesture is not the executive act of a human agent, although it can be triggered by a human movement. Whether it channels through a human body or a nonhuman operator, it is because the relational conditions propitious to it were in place for a phase-shift to catalyze. The human contribution is most of all in helping to create those conditions, and being patient with them, rather than acting as an agent towards them. This form of creative (non)doing may be imperceptible. It may require long durations of attentiveness and attunement to the relational field. But it also might occur suddenly, as if out of nowhere. In any case, there is no direct correlation to the input of labor-time. Putting one’s nose to the grindstone and putting the hours in might well miss the whole dynamic, and even prove inimical to it. As Erin often remarks, someone who has just arrived and has “not put in their time” might effect a catalytic shift. The SenseLab has evolved techniques for long-duration attunement and condition-creation (for example, the recent practices around “spaZe”) and for sudden and unexpected catalysis (such as the “free radical” of Generating the Impossible).

 

The critique of the time = money equation entails a critique of the concept of the wage, and this in turn entails a renuncation of the paradigm of labor. “Work” must make way for creative-relational play: arts of phase-shifting gesture tweaking qualitative transformation. How do you value to the creative-relational work that goes into emergent collectivity and the invention of new modes of existence? Certainly not by paying a wage or valuing work above (non)doing, on moralistic principle. For one thing, it makes little sense to pay a nonhuman processual operator a wage. Neither does it make sense to try to commensurate an incommensurable effect to the time it takes. The temporality is most likely to be too long (patient conditioning) or too short (catalysis in no time flat) to make sense in the time-scale of labor. If we are serious about our relational techniques, as they involve our immersion in and collaboration with more-than-human fields of activity, and as they orient toward creative emergence, we have to let go of the notion of labor-time as the measure of value, and all of the various expressions of the equation time = money. An added benefit of this is that if time and money are successfully decoupled it disables disciplinary policing of people’s participation: formal or informal mechanisms that not only put noses to grindstones but surveil and enforce the measure of labor-time as if it were a veritable measure of the value of a collaboration. Alternative milieus, as we have all no doubt experienced, are not immune to this kind of policing, and the way it connects yet again to moralistic attitudes toward “personal responsibility” best left to the capitalist right.

 

Anitdote: In a prefigurative project like the 3E that is trying to prototype postcapitalist futures, never pay someone for their input of time. Never begrudge people their time. See funds allocated to individuals as an enabler of the creative energy and enthusiasm they might bring to the process, rather than as remuneration. This makes the “exchange” (which is really not one) an operative relay from one gift (in money) to another gift (in creative participation). If resentments starts to build about people seeming not to be doing “their share” (which can happen regardless of whether they receive money or not), let it pass. Entice them back in, or just let them go. Set lures, don’t police or punish. Once again, there are techniques for this. It is crucial that it not hinge on personal generosity or tolerance, even though those may also be required, but that it is collectively operationalized as part and parcel of the process.

 

Posture 4: treating debt as equal and opposite to credit.

 

This is the conventional account-book way of thinking about debt. It places debt and credit on the same level, as two columns in the same ledger. The debtor runs a deficit, equal to his or her obligation to repay the credit extended. After a period, the arrangement is extinguished, and all is equal. Except it isn’t. The debt is repaid with interest. The arrangement is in fact an expression of the fundamental inequality, already mentioned, that structures the capitalist economy: between those who have access to investment-money and can accordingly make money make money (i.e., make money without contributing an input in labor or in participation), and those who only have access to money as means of payment. When debt is contracted by someone who only has access to money as means of payment, the interest is basically a deduction from their ability to use money for the necessities of life. The interest they pay amounts to a fee on their life-time: a charge for their lives depending on credit during the duration of the loan. All of the moralism that attaches to the notion of the “value of money” comes back with a vengeance around the debt relation, concerning both people’s need to become indebted and their ability to pay back (or lack thereof). Our financialized economy, of course, runs more and more on debt, and in fact it is less those who have capital in hand than those who have the means to game debt, building debt upon debt, that prosper most spectacularly. But this realm of debt-fueled finance is so far removed from the everyday experience of consumer debt, which is only what the vast majority of people has access to, that it barely registers, so that the traditional moralism around debt continues unabated even though it is a reflection of an earlier stage of Protestant-ethic capitalism now long past. The conventional postures toward debt are in fact so strong that they loom even when lending is interest-free, as between friends. They are so strong that they may slip in even when there is no debt as such. In an alternative project, those who contribute most may develop a sense that they have given more, and are in some way owed, in thanks, recognition, or other non-monetary values. This transfers the debt morality associated with money to non-monetary relations, giving it an afterlife. The same moralism can even haunt a gift economy, to the extent that a gift is felt to call for a counter-gift. A formal ledger of accounts is not kept, but a more or less vague or informal one is. Even if the “account” is never meant to be closed, but is part of an ongoing web of reciprocities that is one with a field of sociality (as in traditional gift-economy societies), there is always still a specter of something like default (dishonor). The long and short of it is, any time a relation is understood in the framework of exchange, the question of the equality of the exchange is raised, and owing threatens to rear its moralistic head. The essentials of the paradigm of debt is even built into theories of the “social contract” at the basis of the modern polity, and carries over wherever the social or the political is understood as transactional. It all has, as Nietzsche said, a bitter taste of moralism.

 

Antidote: Practice the gift with no return. Banish owing – and replace it with affirmation.  Because, as Moten and Harney teach us, we are all in debt, and the debt is by nature unrepayable. We are in debt to others for our very existence (even capitalists are born – although no one is born capitalist), for the web of interdependencies that bring us the necessities of survival, for the intensities of experience we live for, the most sought-after of which are always relational, and for the speculative potential that energizes our becoming. For what is an other, as Deleuze asks, but a “possible world”: a mode of existence harboring vistas of potential beyond our present horizon; a veritable cartography of other ways of being. To be and to become is nothing other than a lived affirmation of our worldly debt. Take it on, without a taste of moralism. Reaffirm that affirmation. See the “debt” to others for what it is: not a minus, but a plenitude of relation. Attend to the more-than of relation rather than any supposed equality of exchange. Mount concerted practices of money non-moralism, beyond the accounting paradigm: debt without credit, gift with no return. Live relationally, not transactionally.

 

Posture 5: Finances need management (i.e., finance is too important not to be in the hands of a specially authorized subset of an organization)

 

This brings us closer to the practical task that is specifically before us as the 3E begins to handle money collectively, outside the university and its internal hierarchy around finance that pins moral (and legal) responsibilty for money-handling on a particular person, such as the principal investigator of a grant. This question will follow us out of the university, because in order to handle money a bank account of some sort is necessary, and to have a bank account as a collective you need to have a legal status as an organization. These necessities will not disappear until a full-fledged alter-economic system is up and running (the 3E Process Seed Bank), and will probably remain even afterwards, a byproduct of the need to interface the alter-economy with the dominant economy. We have accordingly incorporated the 3 Ecologies Institute as a nonprofit corporation in Quebec. A subscription-based crowd-funding project has been opened on Patreon to secure transitional resources (https://www.patreon.com/3Einstitute) . The Patreon funds collected go from Patreon into a 3E Paypal account, linked to a 3E bank account at a traditional bank (RBC).

 

All of this raises a creative problem: how do we manage the money in keeping with the postcapitalist ethos we are endeavoring to invent, even while we are operating in strategic duplicity with traditional organizational and financial forms, and before we have the custom-built tools that will compose the 3E Process Seed Bank platform? If we delegate financial responsibility and power over decisions about resource allocation, we will be right back in the entire paradigm this working paper has been critiquing. The “value of money” will rear its head again. Money moralism will inevitably return. The ledger-book will threaten to take over. Perhaps worst of all, a sense of hierarchy that could undermine the egalitarian ethos we desire and do damage to the creative avance of the project could set in. Inversely, the people who are tasked with the book-keeping could become resentful at having to do the grunt work (keeping the books, chasing up after receipts, doing the nonprofit’s tax returns, etc.). The separation of financial management in a particular subset of the group follows a model of labor specialization that separates “merely” logistical or administrative tasks from the “real” creative work. This logic can easily spread to other areas (for example, building maintenance and administration, if we decide in the future to obtain a 3E building). And the labor paradigm and wage system can easily piggyback on this, with the well-intentioned idea that those who are doing the grunt work, when the real creative work is elsewhere, are sacrificing something and should be remunerated monetarily to compensate them for it. This is a kind of reverse moralism around work, where “mere” labor is actually less valued, and therefore deemed appropriate for capitalist-style remuneration. We have always refused this separation between logistics and creativity, between the “real” creative work and “mere” labor, and it is critical to hold to that refusal. All 3E participation should be felt to be creative, and yield surplus-value of life. Logistics and administration have to be practiced otherwise to make this as much a reality as possible. This is not secondary to the project, but of its very essence. In view of that, the problem we now face is a creative problem. The juncture we are at with the nonprofit, Patreon, and banking is actually an opportunity to begin experimenting with alternative processes in these areas. The cryptoeconomic projects we are collaborating with (ECSA and Holochain) both try to build on the possibility that blockchain created of having a system where finance and sociality (or, in more conservative terms in the crypto lingo, “governance”) are entirely integrated and decision-making power is distributed and non-hierarchical.

 

The question we are facing is : How do we operate at this juncture in ways that prefigure the altereconomy to come, using the tools we presently have? How do we prefiguratively institute the ethos described in this working paper now?

 

In alternative projects, there are two established ways of dealing with the issue of hierarchy in order to democratize decision-making. One is voting on all important decisions, especially allocation of resource priorities. The other is consensus (seeking unanimous consent for all decisions). The SenseLab has never practiced voting, and has in fact shied away from ever having traditional decision-making meetings, on the premise that decison should arise immanently to the creative process, as an emergent crossing-of-a-threshold by the collectivity. Voting not only separates out decision as an executive function separate from process (the definition of neurotypicality as Erin analyses it), it does this in a way that simulates, while actually undermining, the collectivity of the process. Voting in fact privatizes decisions. It is something we do absolutely-alone-together. The privatization psychologizes: we are asked to make a personal judgement, as we sit all alone stewing in our emotional juices behind a curtain, rather than being in the relational field, in the movement of dynamic relation with others. This shifts the framing of the act to one where all-too-human tendencies, easily including resentment, jealousies, and moralism, are stirring, and foregrounded, without the countervailing schizzing and inflecting that the transindividuality of the collective process is designed to bring. We have always instinctively felt that voting, and deliberative, executive decision-making in general, would be fatal to our process. Consensus can also be destructive, as anyone who has participated in a consensus-based organization has likely seen. In pure consensus, everyone’s voice has to be heard, and only one voice of dissent is enough to block any proposal. This leads to endless deliberative meetings, often ending in paralysis. When one person feels called up to block an initiative, it is against the combined pressures of everyone else’s wishes and the fatigue of the endless discussions. This means that if someone sticks to their objections, it is on very deeply held moral grounds. Consensus thus lends itself to moralism as posture of last appeal. But it is very rare that a single person can hold out against the pressures, so they more often than not just give in, making a mockery of the consensus and leaving a palpable residue of resentment. This often occurs after behind-the-scenes lobbying and pressure tactics that leave the collective momentum in tatters. Hybrid forms have also been invented, such as consensus-seeking high majority rule, where a “good faith” attempt at consensus is made, but if it is not reached after a reasonable time, a vote is taken, and a motion passes if it garners a large majority (say 80%).

 

What all of these strategies have in common is that they equate decison with choice and construe choice as fundamentally individual choice. This is the base-state definition of liberal democracy. Even anarchist-oriented organizations which painstakingly refuse representational structures (delegating decision to a subgroup through voting for elected representatives) can be reinfected through these mechanisms, in spite of themselves, with an after-spirit of the liberal democracy they try so hard to find an alternative to.

 

In our work on the “self-organizing propositions” (SOPs) for the 3E, we envisioned a process of immanent decision-making that does not individualize or operate on the principle of choice. Instead, decision would emerge from the process, as a crossing-of-a threshold, a phase-shift or tipping point. In other words, it would be a decision of  the process, that the process makes of its own necessity, inseparably from its making itself (not as a special function of a separate organ). This is a collective processual consensus (the process “agreeing” to realize its own potential) rather an individual-based consensus. The SOPs are conceived as process-coaxing or -channeling techniques that lure the process’s self-making toward decision points, which at SenseLab we often think of in terms of processual “cuts,” or “schizzes.” For some of us, this is a prototyping of direct democracy, as opposed to deliberative or representational, democracy, as it might be implemented with the aid of a post-blockchain digital platform. Others consider the term “democracy” too compromised and see what we’re aiming for as different animal entirely.

 

We have already worked on and workshopped decision-making SOPs (see Working Papers 4 and 5). The proposal here is that we find analogues of the online SOPs-to-be that can be implemented on the traditional platforms we currently have. In other words, that we take the postcapitalist principles we want to prototype, and the anti-“value of money” ethos that they require, and see to what extent we can embody them now, at this juncture. This will provide valuable experience that will inform the design and practice of the 3E Process Seed Bank. It will serve as practice for the prefigurative prototyping of postcapitalist futures.

 

Prefatory Comments to the Modest Proposal

 

What follows below is a modest proposal meant to get us started on this. It is one envisioning of what how emergent decision-making around money matters might begin to work in our context. It is open to revision (and revisioning).

 

It will be presented in procedural form. Procedure, as the SenseLab has often conceived of it, is not rule-following. It is process-orienting. In this particular context, because of the interface we have to finesse with highly rule-based institutions, like banking, taxation and the provincial corporate law governing nonprofits, there are outside pressures in response to which procedure might have to get uncomfortably close to rule-making. This is something we need to be aware of and discuss, and perhaps find creative ways of attenuating its effects (if it is not possible to avoid it entirely).

 

The issue of time = money will not come up again for 3E for the foreseeable future in any direct manner, since resources simply will not be sufficient for individual allocations,  such as the grants we made through the Immediations project, even if they were considered desireable. All money received through Patreon will go directly to fund collective activities. The issues that come with individual disbursements may still arise peripherally, for example if there are fellowships or grant funding based in the university but attached to the project as university “para-site,” or if decisions are made to fund travel or subsidize accommodation when such expenses are needed to enable a project to take place. If, in the future, there comes a time when the alter-economy is up and running, embedded in an ecology of other alter-economy projects in such a way as to enable intensifying economic activity around the Process Seed Bank, the 3E may be in symbiotic relation with economic spaces practicing individual distributions (for example, cooperatives in alliance with 3E). In that case, the issues around individual distributions may arise again, even though within 3E itself there will be no individual share-holding or stake-holding. In view of these considerations, it remains important to keep the time = money issue on the radar.

 

A Modest Proposal

 

1) Set up a Slack channel for money matters.

 

Comment: Given all that was said above, the channel can’t be about money matters in any isolated sense. It has to be for shepherding propositions that require a certain input of funds for their fruition. The emphasis has to be on the propositional aspect (the setting in place of a “lure for feeling” that will move the collective process forward in a creatively-relational way). Give the channel a name that reflects this.

 

2) Set aside a certain percentage of each month’s Patreon intake (along with any other independent monies that may come to the project) for a preaccelerator pool. The preaccelerator pool can be dipped into automatically and without discussion by anyone. It is a like a free radical funding fraction.

 

Explanation: Say we take in $1000 from Patreon for the month. A certain percentage of that (perhaps 15%? – to be decided) is declared to be available as the preaccelerator pool. This can be used, for example, to buy supplies for SpaZe, or other ongoing expenses. Or, it can be used to help lay the groundwork for the development of a proposition that needs preparatory work before moving further, and the preparatory work requires some input of money. It could perhaps be used for food expenses a gathering

 

Specific procedure: using the pool: 1) Whoever feels the need to dip into the preaccelerator simply informs the group on the money-matters Slack channel that they require funds and what it is for. 2) They make the purchase. 3) They upload the receipt onto the Slack channel (preferably using a free phone scanning app like Scannable that produces small files, rather than a huge image file from a phone camera). 4) A repayment transfer is made from the 3E Paypal account or by eInterac from the 3E RBC bank account.

            Note: If they cannot front the money, they indicate this when they inform the group of the intended purchase, and the money is transferred in advance, on the condition that the receipt is uploaded afterwards. (If receipts aren’t faithfully provided, the system will start to fall apart, because the people who handle the account will not be able to do their accounting work and will have to chase after things after the fact. For this reason, advances should probably be avoided when possible.)

 

Comment: Legally, for RBC and Paypal, there have to be specific, named individuals who have signing and online access to the accounts, and these people have to be the individuals names as directors of the nonprofit. They are legally responsible for the money. Of course, this can be worked around by sharing passwords for the accounts, but this raises security issues if the passwords escape. We will need to work these issues out. The guiding principle should be that however we decide to do it, the role of whoever has direct access to the accounts and does the transfers is purely one of implementation. In other words, it is purely logistical role without any decision-making power specifically attached to it.

 

Specific procedure: setting the amount of the pool. Patreon funds are transferred automatically to our Paypal account the first week of each month (the Paypal account is linked to the RBC account to permit transfers as necessary, or as a general practice to avoid accumulating Paypal charges for alot of separate transactions; eInterac transfers are free). As soon as the transfer is made, an affinity group dedicated to this task confirms the amount of the transfer, informs the group of it on the Slack channel, and calculates the amount of the preaccelerator pool for the coming month. The pool does not accumulate. If the last month’s pool is not fully spent, it goes into the general stream. The pool starts over again each month, as a function of the last month’s income. The membership of the affinity group should rotate (as should be the case with all affinity groups), to spread knowledge and competence around the group.

 

Specific procedure: setting the percentage of income dedicated to the pool. This will be done following the general procedures for emergent propositions (see next section).

 

Unspecific procedure: in case of abuses. Online communities often create ornate rules to avoid abuses and to deal with/punish the abuser if one occurs, in anticipation of any abuse occurring. This builds policing, normative disciplining, and moral stricture into the very DNA of the community. We should avoid this. If abuses occur, they need to be dealt with with emergent technique particular to that juncture, and in a spirit of tending to the relational texture of the collective that safeguards its ethos and ability of its members to move together creatively. The technique will have to be reinvented in each instance.

 

3) Set in place a non-executive (self-organizing) procedure for moving emergent propositions over the threshold to a funding allocation for them.

 

Specific procedure: luring and inflecting. This is how propositions for activities always arise at SenseLab: by appetite and affirmation. A lure is felt, or thrown out, and if it gets a bite, a creative ferment follows. The proposition is taken up (affirmed) and played out. In other words, the first response is not “yes or no,” but rather “yes and …”, the “and” being a “what if…” or “how else?” The proposition will evolve and be inflected and move toward taking final shape speculatively rather than deliberatively, with an enthusiasm proportionate to the power of its lure (although there is no “final” shape, because the process will always continue anarchivally across another threshold). This is an affirmative collective process, not a judgment on the subgroup or individual who threw the lure. Personalizing, as always, needs to be warded away.

 

Specific procedure: creative cut-call. At a point when the proposition is felt to have taken shape enough to become actualized in a project, activity, or event, a cut-call can be made. This is a cut in the process of luring-inflection that moves the proposition into being funded. This assumes that logistical issues have already been taken into consideration and budgetary needs have been clarified so that a specific funding amount can be suggested. Anyone can make a cut-call. If the luring-inflecting was happening elsewhere, especially if it has involved only a subset of people, the proposition moves to the Slack channel as it is maturing toward a funding amount and continues there, so that everyone understands and sees what’s happening and has a chance to inflect further before the cut-call is made. The cut-call cuts off this phase of the luring-inflecting, and moves the proposition over the threshold to funding. Wherever the budget discussions were at the time the call is accepted as a decision. After a waiting period (24 hours?), the amount is allocated to the proposition, which then moves to the next phase of actualization.

 

Specific procedure: invoking the Goddess of Anarchy (GOA). The waiting period is for in case there are second thoughts: unresolved worries or disagreement about the budget, a realization that using the funds for the proposition in question at that time would conflict with other group priorities, or reservations about the funds being used for the proposition at all. Anyone can, under these circumstances, invoke the Goddess of Anarchy by writing on the Slack channel “I invoke the Goddess of Anarchy” (for example). There is no discussion. The Goddess of Anarchy is invoked, and forthwith descends. This is a substitute for moving to a vote or an executive decision-making meeting (process hates decision-making meetings). It throws the decision up to an element of chance, like a roll of the processual dice (process likes doses of indeterminacy). A certain number of people have been predesignated as Goddesses of Anarchy-in-waiting: would-be GOA avatars. The number of people in this group and who they are will have to be thought about, as well as often or whether the list rotates, and how people are tapped for it. When the Goddess of Anarchy is invoked, one avatar-in-waiting is selected from the list purely by chance (we will have to think of a mechanism for this). That person listens to the reasons for the invocation, reviews the process leading up to that point, and perhaps makes modulatory gestures to try to catalyze an emergent resolution, before handing down a decision. This decision is received by the group as an act of fate (the convergence between chance and fate is too little understood – the fall of the dice is irreversible).

 

Comment: The GOA procedure enacts a paradox: that an anarchistic process (in the sense of a self-organizing process revolving around emergent decision) may require strategic doses of dictate to avoid falling back into the liberal democratic mode, with its personalizations, moralizations, and bureaucratizations. The decision of the Goddess of Anarchy passes through one person, but it should in no case be a personal decision. The chosen Goddess of Anarchy avatar must act as a processual operator incarnate. The individual must act as an intercessor in the process. She (they) must not see the decision in terms of a mediation, for example aimed at balancing conflicting individual agendas; or in terms of analyzing the situation better than the group had done; or doing a cost-to-benefit analysis; or judging the data more precisely and rationally. Rather, they should see the role as diagnostic: feeling out what the process wants: what it wants in order to realize its potential most creatively-relationally. Taking the pulse of the process. The metaphor of the Goddess is a way of emphasizing that the role exceeds that of an individual acting qua individual. Of course, many things can go wrong. The GOA avatar might not be able to finesse it. Feelings may be hurt. “Wrong” decisions might be made. Resentment might simmer. What distinguishes this procedure (and all of the procedures we construct) from rules and rule-based governance is this gesture of keeping the process constitutively open to its own margins of indeterminacy: affirming the element of chance, in full cognizance of its identity with fate. This exposes the process to failure. The alternative is a security-based approach. To secure against the fear of failure requires setting in stone rules that steel the creative process with a normative and disciplinary supporting framework. Within SenseLab, there has always been an honoring of the creative necessity to risk together. Which means risking failure. A security-state mentality is not an answer. A non-securitizing approach takes a different path. It commits itself to a continuing attunement to the therapeutic dimension: relational ways the process can catch itself and set itself back on track when it tumbles. The therapeutic, needless to say, cannot be personalizing, or even interpersonal. It must ward away repersonalization. It must be schizoanalytic: directly relational, and hinging on the minor gesture rather than the grand gestures of assigning blame, holding responsible, asserting a “right,” claiming victimhood, claiming correctness, or policing a moral code. We have done a great deal of thinking and experimenting with schizoanalytic techniques. Instead of letting the security-state mentality set in around money issues, with all the follow-ons this can have, we need to take money matters as a pretext to continue this work, to continue the ongoing invention of what schizoanalysis can be. So that money is really not what matters, but rather the revaluation of values that might be fostered in spite of it.