Friday, 12 July 2013

First response to the mechanism termed 'degenerative ratchet'

There is inefficiency of course, but there is also fate. I think my recent efforts on the three distinct moments in fate have contributed to a small breakthrough in describing both the specific historical opportunity for marxist communism, and its subsequent closure. However, my findings are lacking in a definitive theoretical encapsulation, and as a result remain diffuse and difficult to ‘advance’ as a unit in consideration of associated matters. But happily that has now changed because, as is sometimes the way in moments of impasse, I have happened across the necessary placeholder term within an entirely other discourse. Nick Land introduces the ‘abstract topic’ of degenerative ratchet in his note on The Idea of Neoreaction. It seems that the plum which I had hoped to pick was ripening on another tree. 

The ‘neo-’ of neoreaction is more than just a chronological marker, however. It introduces a distinctive idea, or abstract topic: that of a degenerative ratchet.
the idea of neoreaction
There is a delayed fin de si├Ęcle attribute to this proposed mechanism. It has a highly developed aesthetic (and perhaps moral) character, which prods the finality that is inherent to structure towards a presentation imbued with motifs of the chronic and terminal. Evidently, the degenerative ratchet runs counter to that of reverse engineering and perhaps denies it altogether. 

The degenerative ratchet, a cosmic tautology, is defined very simply but its theoretical applications are, also by definition, unknowable - each self-closure whilst thematically universal is qualitatively unique to itself. The mechanism becomes discernible where progress is first identified as a passage through a discrete sequence of stages in which: i. the earlier stages become sequentially inaccessible; ii. the inaccessibility of the former stages functions as the decisive and perhaps only condition of what follows. 

Nick Land has extracted the term from the milieu of neoreaction which as communists we would approach as a set of self-suffusing defences of reconstituted class domination, and second order, or meta, barbarism - i.e. the discourse of the appalling-appalled. Even so, the mechanism itself shines like a bauble and cannot be ideologically resisted. 
The impulse to back out of something is already reactionary, but it is the combination of a critique of progress with a recognition that simple reversal is impossible that initiates neoreaction. In this respect, neoreaction is a specific discovery of the arrow of time, within the field of political philosophy. It learns, and then teaches, that the way to get out cannot be the way we got in.
Reverse engineering is impractical in complex social structures –  except as a single annihilating archaeological sweep, destroying as it knows. It cannot safely recreate earlier conditions as everything it returns to is all husk. The degenerative ratchet indicates a separation from energy supplies that were still accessible in earlier stages and leaves the past cut and dried.

The theory which presents the degenerative ratchet proposes that as a supported unit exits its scene, it intuits that that of which it was a component has also just now departed, and probably not in the same direction. Marking the unit’s taking leave, the entire world instantaneously swirls down the drain, crumbles to dust, combusts, freezes, is detached by hurricane, drowned by flood, consumed by locusts, freezes, saturates, explodes, melts, evaporates. The unit is propelled forward by an accidentally implemented scorched earth policy, for which it is consumed by a wave of nostalgia and regret moving in the opposite direction (hence neoreaction).  

Passing through a great house from room to room, the self-disembedding unit closes doors behind it which it cannot then open again - or rather, whilst it retains the memory capacity to force a return, it would find the site it revists to be already inhospitable to the point of complete location collapse.  
The three doors are as the three moments of fate: Clotho, the first door, which does not open, and indicates ‘the innate disposition’, limit, that which cannot be altered; Lachesis is the second door, which closes behind you, ‘the accidental that is included in the regularity of destiny’; and Atropos, death, the ineluctable, she opened strange doors that we’d never close again. The tricolon structuring of both fate and choice, and of each modelled onto the other, is arranged to overcome the random outcome that is possible in an either/or... the third choice, the third path, is that which had to be taken, it is the choice which leads to death. 
The degenerative ratchet works progressively within structured relations and at a separate magnitude to energy loss (which is a metabolic constant) - the implications of this are not overly obvious as each can be understood as the outcome of the other. 

A distinction between the event of milieu-collapse and the plateau of structural incapacity can be illustrated by contrasting POW strategies for escaping the prison fortress of Colditz against their efforts, by deliberately introducing fungus and dry rot into its structure, to dissolve the building around them.  Eighty years later, the dry rot is still working whilst the mechanism of the milieu, taken as a set of relations, is long since closed off

Both the degenerative ratchet and structured incapacity/non-conservation of energy are found to be at work within both event and process but exclusively - where one is found, the other is merely in relation.  At one magnitude it seems the supported component unit departs the structure, at another it seems the structure is withdrawing from its supported units. Where an exodus is recorded an expulsion is also found.

I will look further at the neoreactionary category of ‘progressivism’ as a degenerative ratchet some other time.