Non-fungible Subjects

NFT’s are expressions of the terror that is life at the end of bourgeois society, of the fear that comes when the subject is fully liquidated. The subject was always fungible, to an extent, defined as it was by its imbrication with exchange and identity. Yet capitalism liquidates the subject even as it relies on it, for in its individuality there is something resistant to the standardizing impulse of capital, something that must be gotten rid of. We live at the end of this process; with the arrival of the internet, personal identity became fully subsumed. We all pre-sort ourselves—our thoughts are inevitably structured by the world. At the same time, something like a sham subjectivity arises for capital. Unable to rely on the rational-actor subject, there becomes a turn to produce a corporate subjectivity (think of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizen’s United, or the insistence on algorithmic trading, etc).

NFT’s attempt to restore non-fungibility to a fungible item—the digital image, something perfectly replaceable and exchangeable. This is bullshit, course. The very nature of digital images is that, NFT or no, they are replicable. But this failure is irrelevant. In claiming that they can restore the particular, they offer the false promise that we may undo capitalism’s worst excesses and bring the subject back to life. This is why, for all the revolutionary talk around them, NFT’s fit into a restorative project, something none of us should abide. the very thing that created the subject killed it. There is no going back. To do so just guarantees we will end up here again.

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