Collegium Wikia

"Yes, I was thinking that last night. Era of capitalism is not because private owners didn't gather money before, but because the idea of money largely replaced religion."[1]

If capitalism is seen as private acquisition in general then almost all epochs of human history might seem to qualify as capitalist to a greater or lesser extent. A more limited definition - excluding certain forms of acquisition such as plunder or piracy based upon coercion or stressing certain kinds of calculative rationality on the other hand - produces a more selective emphasis on particular kinds of economic activity and the chronology of their historical emergence. Capitalism may, of course, be defined in any manner one pleases. Underlying these two particular options, however, are issues of a more metatheoretical or philosophical kind. What is effectively at stake here is the question of whether capitalism is to be regarded as a basic feature of human nature and thus effectively age-old, or alternatively whether it is to be seen as a product of social change within previously non-capitalist societies.

--- Holton[2]

"The concept of ‘capitalism’ emerged in the mid nineteenth century as one of a number of key concepts designed to characterise the changing nature of Western European society. In company with such concepts as ‘industrial society’ as used by Saint Simon and Spencer, ‘contract’ as deployed by Maine, and ‘gesellschaft’ as elaborated by Tönnies, the term ‘capitalism’ possessed two important features. First, all such notions entailed a sense of qualitative change in the character of entire social systems (or wholes) not simply in some particular sphere of social activity. Second, they focused on the overwhelming importance of changes in economic life in the shaping of nineteenth-century society. In both these respects, the character of nineteenth-century Europe was seen as marking a significant shift away from the ‘feudal’, ‘militaristic’ status-bound and communitarian concerns felt to be characteristic of the European ‘past’. For many this shift was also associated with two fundamental episodes of revolutionary change, namely, the French Revolution, where the forces of [revolution] struggled against the ‘feudal’ ancien regime, and the Industrial Revolution, by which a self-sufficient agrarian economy was replaced by a dynamic industrial system. .... It is useful to consider the particular provenance of the concept of capitalism in relation to two associated concepts, namely, 'capital' and 'capitalist'. These latter terms emerged, in their modern meanings, between the late seventeenth and early nine�teenth centuries (See, 1924; Williams, 1976, p. 42). 'Capital' meaning a stock of productive wealth developed amongst 'political arithmeticians' well before 1750, though the concept subsequently became a central feature of political economy. Much of the dynamic character of nineteenth-century Europe became attributed to the expansive character of 'capital'. For the German economist Rodbertus, 'capital is movement itself. It possesses the power to transform itself into all forms, to transcend all national boundaries' (cited Hilger, 1972, p. 447). Meanwhile the concept of 'capitalist', as a social actor deploying 'capital', and hence functionally differentiated from the landed interest, emerged among a range of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century social observers such as Arthur Young and Samuel Coleridge (Williams, 1976, p. 42). "[3]

Only proto-capitalism has ever been critiqued.

— Nick Land "Machinic Desire" (1993), in Fanged Noumena, p. 340

‘Capitalism’ is an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.[4]

The manually labouring class is as old as mankind, essentially, and older than that obviously—as man and his ancestors have always needed to labour. Capitalism altered an original manually labouring class (so far as living creatures do labour), modifying it so that it became mostly a wage-salaried class as opposed to a tithe paying serf class. the Capitalist Mode of Production did alter the protean labouring class.

Capitalism is a way to mitigate things as they are and things as we desire them to be, supply and demand. Capitalism, as they say, slides continuously from is to ought. We may be drones within this process, mechanically enacting it as nodes through which Capital actualizes itself, but Capitalism simultaneously reflects back human desires, while also transforming them. The ‘process’ is not autonomous, its end, of a post-human perspective is inherent to the modern human project of rational enlightenment, and anti-praxis, as so conceived, is not a resignation to the future, but the activity of dreaming it into existence.

[@parallaxoptics, Feb 8, 2018]

I’m skeptical about the description of Capitalism as an institution (or set of institutions), since any sociological category is inadequate to its mechanism in profundity. Capital, like fire, is something humans do, but that does not make it reducible to the ways humans do it. In its ultimate cybernetic diagram, Capitalism is a cosmic occurrence, and only very derivatively an anthropological fact. (This is not, of course, to deny that capitalism is destined to have been by far the most important anthropological fact). As a cause, human thedes can be interesting. As a cognitive horizon, they are simply weakness. It isn’t always — or even very often — about us.

Nick Land



  1. Collegatus to @Lil Dicklet, using the app Discord.
  2. The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism [Holton, Robert J.] (New studies in sociology) The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism is a lucid and challenging critique of the evolutionary assumptions which for the past century
  3. The Concepts of Capitalism and Feudalism |
  4. Google Dictionary, Jan 27, 2021.