CineLab • Reading Group

99 Theses on the Revaluation of Value: A Postcapitalist Manifesto

Erik Bordeleau, Andrea Pavoni & Cosmo-Financial Study Group – Weird Economies

Reading group session on 99 Theses on the Revaluation of Value: A Postcapitalist Manifesto (Brian Massumi, University of Minnesota Press, 2018) hosted by Erik Bordeleau, Andrea Pavoni and the Cosmo-Financial Study Group at Weird Economies. The session will take place on May 18, from 4 to 7 PM (Lisbon time), at NOVA FCSH, Room B201 (Tower B) and online, via Zoom (to join the session, use this link).

The question of value and valuation is at the core of the post-capitalist civilizational shift. It is a delicate one because (surplus) value measurements happen to be highly performative, that is: they tend to modify the very values they are meant to account for. Or to paraphrase Donna Haraway’s provocative and staying-with-the-trouble insight: it matters what worlds world worlds; and it matters what values value values.

Many thinkers, artists and activists have taken up the challenge of re-thinking the question of value from the perspective of the financial, or more specifically, from the perspective of that which exceeds and overflows. In the same vein, blockchains and a wide array of P2P digital tools allow for new modes of collective valuation and self-organization at scale. Could this techno-social field of collective experiment lead to new worlding and leveraging practices, that is, cooperative and implicated ways of world-making by which different species, technologies and forms of knowledge generate their own loci of intensive commingling?

In close dialogue with such alter-economic design experiments, Brian Massumi argues in his 99 Thesis on the re-evaluation of Value (Minnesota University press, 2018, full text available here; a selection of thesis is also available here) that as a self-abstracting and intensifying force, financial derivatives offer a privileged access to a post-capitalist future. It would be short-sighted to simply advocate for a return to the “real” economy, write Massumi. Rather, “it is in the speculative sphere of the financial markets that the processual engine of the capitalist economy shows its true processual quality.” For Massumi, the invention of post-capitalist alternatives thus depends on how we conceive of the processual logic of what he calls surplus-value of life.

This reading group session will be the occasion to explore these questions from a speculative but also embedded and pragmatic perspective, drawing on different ongoing alter-economic experiments like the 3 Ecologies Institute or The Sphere, two initiatives exploring and developing new processual ecologies of funding for research and the arts. It will also be interesting to discuss these questions in relation to the city of Lisbon, an emergent hub in the new field of so-called ReFi, i.e. Web3-based Regenerative Finance.

This encounter is organized in preparation for the What Makes Urban Life Worth Living conference, held on May 25th-26th in ISTCE (University Institute of Lisbon) and ICS (University of Lisbon). More info here.