To blunder to such an extent, not as individuals, not as a people, but as humanity!—That one taught me t o despise the very first instincts of life; that one mendaciously invented a ‘soul’ a ‘spirit’ to ruin the body; . . . that, conversely, one regards the typical signs of decline and contradiction of the instincts, the ‘selfless,’ the loss of a center of gravity, ‘depersonalization’ and ‘neighbor love’ (addiction to the neighbor) as the higher value—what am I saying?—the absolute value.
Throughout the greater part of human history punishment was not imposed because one held the wrongdoer responsible for his deed, thus not on the presumption that only the guilty one should be punished: rather as parents still punish their children, from anger at some harm or injury, vented on the one who caused it—but this anger is held in check and modified by the idea that every injury has its equivalent and can actually be paid back, even if only through the pain of the culprit. And whence did this primeval, deeply rooted and perhaps by now ineradicable idea draw its power—this idea of an equivalence between injury and pain? I have already divulged it: in the contractual relationship between creditor and debtor, which is as old as the idea of ‘legal subjects’ and in turn points back to the fundamental forms of buying, selling, barter, trade, and traffic.
(1) In order to understand the recent global financial crisis, we should not rely on factor analysis alone. Instead, we should look for the underlying self-destructive growth compulsions of information flows – in other words, for phenomena of collective addiction.
(2) ‘Hit the bottom’ refers to the constitutional moment when either a catastrophe begins, or societal forces for change are mobilised of such intensity that the ‘inner constitution’ of the economy transforms under their pressure.
(3) Plain money reform is one of several examples that illustrate a capillary constitutionalisation of the global economy, the effects of which could not be achieved through either national or transnational interventions of the world of states.
(4) The dichotomy constitutional/unconstitutional develops into a binary meta-code within the structural coupling between the economy and law, and is ordered above both the legal code and the economic code.
The definition of individual addiction – compulsive engagement in an activity despite lasting negative consequences – must be rethought for social systems in general, and for collective actors in particular. Which ‘addiction mechanisms’ are responsible for the fact that the autopoietic self-reproduction of a social system through the recursivity of system-specific operations reverts into a communicative compulsion to repetition and growth, bringing self-destructive consequences in its wake?
The experience of near-catastrophe, as opposed to the experience of its contingency as such, may be regarded as the ‘constitutional moment’. . . . The constitutional moment is the direct experience of crisis; the experience of a liberated social energy, yielding destructive, even self-destructive, consequences that can only be overpowered by their reflection and by the decision to self-limitation. The passage of social systems through the ‘dark side’ of their promise of progress is ultimately no departure from the healthy normal course of things, no error to be avoided. Quite the opposite: the experience of the dark side is almost a necessary condition of the transformation of the inner constitution. It is ultimately, then, the pathologies that herald the constitutional moment: the moment in the catastrophe in which a decision is made between total destruction of the energy and its self-limitation.
What does this mean for the constitutions of other social sub-spheres, in particular, for the economic constitution? In order to inhibit pathological compulsions to grow, stimuli for change, which follow the historical model of the self-limitation of politics, need to generate permanent counter-structures that will take effect in the payment cycle down to its finest capillaries. Just as in political constitutions power is used to limit power, so the system-specific medium must turn against itself. Fight fire by fire; fight power by power; fight law by law; fight money by money. Such a medial self-limitation would be the real criterion differentiating the transformation of the ‘inner constitution’ of the economy from external political regulation.
As for authorities to judge whether the systems are in a healthy state, the theory of societal constitutionalism has identified “collegial institutions” in the various social sectors, which cultivate the relevant logic of actions, and has required them to be constitutionally institutionalised. Collegial institutions are reflection-centres for social self-identification, in the sense both of the rationality and normativity of the relevant social sector, and, simultaneously, of rendering it compatible with society. The collegial institutions function as a type of think-tank for the relevant constitution, which is to be understood, for its part, as the benchmark for system/environment relations.
Plain money reform aims at the centre of the economic constitution because it configures – “constitutes” – the self-limitation mechanisms of the economy, the economic medium, money, and the transnational cash-flows themselves: it does not attempt indirectly to regulate the economy externally by means of political power, legal rules, moral imperative, discursive persuasion, or public opinion. . . . In what follows, it will be shown, whether and to what extent plain money reform involve constitutional functions, constitutional processes and constitutional structures, in a strict rather than metaphorical sense.
Following the recent financial crisis, limitations of the excesses of economic commerce are high on the agenda. We could even talk of a secular displacement of constitutive constitutional functions in the direction of limitative constitutional functions. This is a necessary consequence of the global autonomous positioning of the function systems: “We cannot pre-suppose that society will be able to exist with the environment that it creates.”
Politics becomes an autonomous power-sphere of society when it directs power processes via power processes, and produces a double closure of politics through the provision of electoral procedures, modes of organisation, competences, separation of powers and fundamental rights. And what about the economy? It becomes autonomous when, in the money cycle, payment operations are employed in order to control the money supply itself.
In the banking sector, the ability to pay and the inability to pay are generated simultaneously. The banking system relies on the paradox of self-reference, on the unity of the ability and inability to pay. “The banks have the core privilege of being able to sell their own debts for profit.” This paradox is disarmed where payment operations become reflexive; that is, where operations of money supply are used on operations of money supply. But this reflexivity of economic operations is unstable. It has been stabilised through an internal hierarchisation of the banking sector, supported by a ‘hard’ regulation by means of binding law. In this way, the law, with its procedural and organisational norms that regulate central banks in their relation to the commercial banks, contribute to the process of coping with the paradoxes of the economic cycle.
Consider the complex of power issues involved in the construction of transnational transparency regimes of financial markets. Entities like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank “have found themselves drawn into battles with a range of transnational, multinational, domestic, and international authorities over the production of financial information and the diffusion of financial information.”In this aspect, surveillance is felt as gouvernmentalité, a linking of governance with the techniques of its power.
These two types of programmes irritate one another to the point where they cause a specific co-evolutionary path of legal and economic structures within the economic constitution. . . . Fundamental principles of the economic system are reconstructed as legal constitutional principles (according to the particular historical situation: property, contract, competition, social market economy or ecological sustainability). Law “translates” the fundamental principles of the economy into legal principles, and concretises them as legal rules of constitutional law. . . . In the opposite direction, something comparable occurs: the meta-code allows the re-entry of law into the economic system (again historically variable: mandatory rules of contract law, social obligations of property, the limits of competition, rule of law principles in economic decisions or fundamental rights within corporations). Thereby, constitutional law binds economic operations.
First, by ‘the political’ is meant institutionalised politics: the political system of the world of states. In relation to this notion, the social sub-constitutions ‘go the distance’; they require extensive autonomy against the political constitution. . . . Second, the concept can also indicate the political in society outside institutionalised politics. . . . In this respect, the particular social constitutions are highly political, but beyond the state.
The phrase, ‘in the shadow of politics’ has an additional meaning. Societal constitutionalism always depends on law; Law, for its part, depends on the physical monopoly that politics has over power. Economic and social sanctions alone are not sufficient to stabilise the constitutional norms. Plain money reform, too, requires politically backed legal sanctions. . . . Such political support, however, does not transform the economic constitution into a state constitution. It is only the instruments of state power which law mediates, depoliticises, and places at the disposal of the economic constitution.
People, groups, all conscious organisms simultaneously seek the protection of oblivion, an acceptance of repose in some perfect and eternal state, equilibrium, on the one hand, and also struggle to overcome the desire for oblivion, that is struggle against faith. Such struggle leads to emancipation for those who can successfully struggle. That success is valid for those who struggle, but cannot be gifted to others. Each in turn must struggle – individual, group, organism – against the reality bequeathed to it. And thus the process of self-overcoming and recurrence are linked through death and transformation. “Existence seeks an organizing principle.” Yet organizing principles are personal to the organism that struggles or accepts. Only the struggle remains the same – over and over. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power at § 1066. Only the eternal can overcome eternally; in all other cases, overcoming recurs eternally. J (1886) at § 200. These open systems of multiple cycles constitute the matrix within which the hermeneutical projects of Gadamer and his followers, can occur, foundations can be established, maintained, problematized, destroyed, and replaced.