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Survival Robot, 2020
Wood, glass, steel, enamel, PLA and six ASIC cryptocurrency miners
Dimensions variable

- text by Michael Maizels,

“All that is solid melts into air...”      

            --Karl Marx 1848

 

The object rises, towering over the viewer at the size of a small building.  Instead, maybe it spreads out, dozens or even hundreds of them. The units form a stationary hive, buzzing with the whir of GPU clusters churning through cascades of many digit calculations.  The heat, and the vaguely technological smell, envelop the viewer in a subtle haze. Robot BO. A server farm’s answer to the coal dust of a Dickensian boiler room. 

 

Survival Robot is many things—a waking Golem, a paranoid Ark, a sculptural folly conjured out of a fever dream. It is a meditation on public belonging and private agency, transparency and autonomy, collectivity and innovation.  It is an (as yet symbolic) defense mechanism against the many techno-dystopian nightmares that seem to lurk behind every data breach and privacy update.  

 

It draws its features from statuary defenders both new and ancient.  Its stitching derives from recently unearthed Han dynasty funerary armor. Its dense tangle of dreadlocks shields its face from the prying eyes of scanning cameras.  Its lumbering size harks back to the Golem of Prague and forward to the imagined futures of Robocop and Tony Stark. Its endless cascade of self-replicas positions it as a 3D printed reply to the Terra Cotta Warriors. And like Qin Shi’s grave soldiers, it yearns to secure a kind of life after death. Embedded in armatures—built into metal bones—are the machines necessary for it to protect its master in a radically unknowable future. While other artists and scientists have envisioned automata that could repair themselves, we have something different before us. 

 

Survival Robot makes its own money.

 

 

***

 

But before delving into the recent cryptodevelopments that enable the Robot, we need set the historical stage onto which our mechanical min(t)er now walks.  Indeed, the work hinges on the ways in which its core concepts—autonomy and collectivity, privacy and transparency—have been figured differently along the East/West cultural axis.  It is thus imperative to attend to the ways that “the individual” and (his) relationship with the collective have been differently produced by vectors of both soft and hard power.

 

On the one hand, running through virtually all of the disparate theorizations of European modernity, one finds that the rise of “the individual” in Enlightenment discourse serves as a kind of bellwether.  One side, the feudal past.  On the other, the dawning of the modern present. On the European continent, the individual is suddenly thrust into the center of far-flung intellectual systems. He, and it is always a he, becomes the ultimate object of metaphysical speculation (Descartes). He overthrows the tyranny of doctrine to assert the right of exegetical self-determination (Luther). He eventually becomes an axiomatic political entity (Locke), an ethical paradigm (Kant), an expressive subject (Schopenhauer) and a sociocultural product (Levi-Strauss).[1]

 

The rise of individual in Enlightenment discourse of course necessitated a rethinking of the political entity into which all of these ostensibly free agents were bound up.  The notion of “the nation” —a collective belonging of free persons rather than subjects duty bound to a king—becomes a hallmark of Enlightenment political theory.  Pace the well-known ideas of Habermas and Foucault, nationhood created the possibility of a highly orchestrated “public sphere.”  And in turn, this arena came to both embody and produce the pivotal changes in the colonial-era West, including the industrial revolution and the Great Game.[2]

 

On the European continent, the “public sphere” was more typically imagined as a gesellschaft, a united front defending that which is held in common.[3] But in the Anglophone world, public economy played a different role in the nation’s collective imaginary. The role of the public as a vehicle to maximize individual freedom becomes a through the line connecting the ideas of Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson to more recent figures such as John Dewey and Milton Freidman.[4] Indeed, this kernel of freedom as fundamentally a private enterprise is intimately threaded into the complex, interdependent rise of national democracies and international finance capitalism.  As David Harvey has recently observed, this latent identification has been given a new, explicit articulation in the late 20th century doctrines of Freidman’s neoliberalism.  Under this formulation, freedom is understood only to mean, and to in fact be synonymous with, private wealth.[5]

 

***

 

The Middle Kingdom, of course, took a different road.  Jurgen Habermas himself insisted that his notion of the public sphere was a culturally specific development.  The concept, he wrote, was one “originating in the European High Middle Ages,” and therefore one that could not be generalized to “formally similar constellations" outside of the Occident.[6]   Nevertheless, these constellations occur and recur in China.  Perhaps the mostly closely analogous concept is gong, which in contemporary usage tracks closely with “public”-- Gōnggòng bāshì is the public bus, with the term redoubled for emphasis.  But unlike its Anglo analog, the term has been in written usage for millennia. The 7th century BCE Book of Rites contains the famous aphorism “tianxia wei gong,” that which is under heaven belongs to all.[7]

 

While we will see this particular phrase mobilized in the 20th century for specific political ends, historians have noted that the meanings of gong have been subject to ongoing contestation. As an extraordinarily broad generalization, the term’s most ancient meaning aligns with something like the English understanding of the “commons”—resources owned by no one and therefore belonging to the community as a whole.  In moments of waxing imperial power, the meaning of gong shifted to encompass the managerial apparatus and remit of the governing authority. During Habermas’ cherished Middle Ages, the Song dynasty ruled over a united population larger than that of every contemporary European kingdom combined.[8] It was a moment in which, as Sinologist Thomas Rowe put it, the  “business, property, and personnel of the imperial-bureaucratic state” congealed under the sign of “gong.”[9]

 

This ever-closer alignment between the state apparatus and its managed population brought a sharpened sense of what gong was, and what it emphatically was not. In the late 11th century, the Imperial reformer Wang An Shi instituted a set of policies aimed at clarifying the role of the central government as the protector of the disenfranchised.  In order to prevent the nation’s peasants from “being ground into the dust by the rich,” Wang argued, “the state should take the entire management of commerce, industry, and agriculture into its own hands.”[10]  Sounds good on paper.  But when a government rules over more than a million square miles and communication proceeds at horse-speed, serving as the embodiment and protector of the “public” presents challenges. Wang’s New Policies were designed to resolve this issue of sheer size by granting increased autonomy to local governments, which were reorganized into small independent fiefdoms.  These “baos” were then given the autonomy to manage issues such as taxation, civil infrastructure, courts and even military self-defense. At a pivotal moment in China’s political imaginary, autonomy, the savior of the common people, is constructed as a collective rather than an individual exercise.[11]

 

Although this particularly gambit in governmental self-determination was disrupted by the great Mongol invasions of the 13th century, the subsequent Ming Dynasty brought further elaborations on the notion of autonomy-en-masse. In re-establishing Han-Chinese imperial sovereignty, dynasty founder Zhu Yuanzhang recognized the value of the bao as a unit of delegated authority. Nevertheless, he must have been acutely aware of its shortcomings.  The fragmented baojia system had prevented China’s provincial armies from uniting with sufficient coordination to halt the invading barbarians.  Thus, Zhu’s legendary army was founded on different principles.  Building on military adaptations undertaken during Mongol rule, Zhu created a military force that was, in a much different way, autonomous. The imperial army morphed into hereditary class apart within society—settling its disputes internally, refilling its own ranks and even growing its own food. [12] 

 

The soldiery, in a way, paid for themselves.

 

 

***

 

It would be a mistake to read these dynastic formulations as bearing out a direct impact on contemporary China. While the through lines will be made clearer in the below section, the chasm of history remains. One cannot unfurl a Confucian precept about harmony as the underlying cause of current Chinese cultural attitudes any more than one could dredge up a dictum from Montesquieu to explain contemporary separation of powers doctrine. Rather, the above discussion traces irreducible differences between axiomatic political concepts—what constitutes an authentic choice, or one forced by false consciousness? What defines freedom, or belonging? 

 

What is the public? We are making progress.  But in order to understand the promise of cryptocurrency, and the “public ledger” on which it depends, we need our other term.

 

Back to the 14th century, when the question of who would the foot the bill for seemingly unending military campaigns pressed upon potentates Eastern and Western. We just saw Zhu Yuanzhang’s reorganize the imperial army into a standalone social unit. But in the first part of the same century, France’s “iron king” Philip had already hit upon an easier solution: expropriating the wealth of those he found politically inconvenient.  He arrested Lombard merchants and then exiled the Jews, but the most infamous target of his pilferage has to be the Knights Templar, a medieval religious fraternity that, inadvertently, had created the world’s first international banking organization.[13]

 

The Knights were founded as a Crusading order, but after their humiliating defeats at the hands of Saladin, the organization was forced to rebrand.  Instead of reconquering the Holy Lands for Christ, the Templars had to content themselves with making the journey to the Lands safer for Christians.  Religious pilgrims made easy prey for highway bandits; they were often laden with riches and poorly equipped to defend themselves.  The Templars, who maintained estates in both the Mediterranean and the European mainland, hit on a brilliant stroke of deterrence. Rather than bringing their gold and silver with them, the pilgrims could simply deposit their money locally, and then redeem it upon safe arrival in Jerusalem.   The trusted third party to the rescue.

 

While strategic accusations of witchcraft and sodomy proved sufficient justification for an autocrat to crush what was effectively a proto-central bank, the financial institutions that rose in the wake of the Templars were not so easily cast aside. Money that could change owners without changing (deposit) locations was too good an idea to ignore. Of course, any new innovation introduces complications.  How could anyone confirm that deposit slips, which began to circulate as a kind of unofficial currency, were unadulterated?

 

Another solution, another presage of the present. The issue, at its core, was to prevent counterfeiters from “inventing” money.  Simple enough—make sure that every movement of lucre has two entries—one for its destination (credit) and one for its origin (debit).  This  “double entry ledger,” which had been discovered many times in history, finally gained widespread adoption during the Italian Renaissance.[14] Indubitably, the ideas of Renaissance art and finance interpenetrate one another—both proposed a new rule governed system of exchange that, in its systematicity, would be made infinitely transposable.[15]  Visual (or economic) inputs generate necessary outputs, these outputs occur at the level of the individual, and all outputting individuals are fundamentally the same.

 

The next set of ripples brings us across the divide between Habermas’ Sphere and Imperial Gong.  The innovations of Italian banking families became the basis for the sovereign banks chartered, one after another, by the crowned heads of Europe.  But these institutions added one new concept particularly relevant for our story: the joint stock company.[16] These speculative investment vehicles—entities with clear parallels to today’s venture capital plays—helped to remake the world to European advantage. The most famous of these, Britain’s East India Company, helped to violently rebalance Britain’s trade by, among other things, forcing opium imports into the Qing empire.[17] The national humiliation and resulting addiction epidemic tore at the country’s social fabric. As early as 1850, Karl Marx confidently declared that the Empire was “already threatened with a mighty revolution…which will certainly have the most important results for civilization.”[18] The predicted revolution was not long in coming.

 

Beleaguered by both accelerating encroachment from European colonial powers and an unending series of internal revolts, the last of China’s imperial dynasties, the Qing, finally collapsed in 1911.  With the demise of two millennia of continuous imperial rule, Chinese society was thrust into a paroxysm of modernization—a process historian TJ Clark has described as a turning “from the worship of ancestors and past authorities to the pursuit of a projected future.”[19]  It was over the terms of this future that Chinese activists and revolutionaries struggled in the first half of the 20th century. Writers such as Sun Yat Sen revived an ancient communitarian ethos—encapsulated by their motto “tianxia wei gong”—combining these deeply Chinese ideas with the doctrines of contemporary European revolution.[20]

 

Conflicting camps lay claim to the standard raised by revolutionary groups such as Sun’s Revive China Society. And while the antagonists forged a temporary alliance to resist the invading Japanese, the end of World War II saw hostility between Chiang Kai Shek’s Nationalists and Mao Zedong’s Communists intensify into a fight to the ideological death. After a protracted struggle, the Communists eventually gained the upper hand and the vanquished Nationalists were forced to retreat to Taiwan.[21] On October 1, 1949, Mao stood under the Imperial Gate of Heavenly Peace in Tiananmen Square and declared that the Communist Party, “representing the will of the whole nation” would create a new kind of governmental entity.

 

First among equals, Mao and his cadre would administer the nation as a “Gònghéguó.”[22]

 

 

***

 

On two differing of post World War II trajectories, two opposing images congealed within their respective political imaginaries.

 

In the West, the construct of the visionary artist—a limit-case of the more generalizable Enlightenment “individual”—was reaching an apotheosis in the mythos surrounding the New York School painters. Critics worked to reify them as heroes, each undertaking a solitary struggle with the burdens of history and the emptiness of the canvas.[23] Back across the Pacific, the single personality of Mao was attempting to force an entire national culture to move in the opposite direction.  As TJ Clark would put it, two totalizing systems each bent on making their world non-contingent again.[24]

 

The destructiveness, and recent-ness, of Mao’s “continuous revolution” often defies Western understanding.  At a moment in which Pop artists such as Andy Warhol were experimenting with reproducible images of recognizable figures (among them Chairman Mao), defacing a portrait of the Party’s Chairman could be a capital offence.[25]  This taboo only unraveled during the neoliberal 1990s. In the West, critics were agreeing that the animal carcasses and coital detritus of the YBAs proved that art had lost its ability to shock. In China, artists such as Li Shan and Yu Youhan were being hailed for their bravery in simply depicting Mao’s likeness.[26]

 

Indeed, it is striking to use the visual arts as a lens through which to see Chinese and Western cultural ideologies accelerating into the present.  The boomerang return of Western-style contemporary art from China—itself made possible by a series of path-breaking exhibitions during the 1980s—has created an uneasy alliance between a hegemonic polity and a burgeoning cultural sector.[27]  On the one hand, as art historian Bo Zheng has argued, the European traditions of modern and contemporary art have given Chinese artists a set of tools with which to instantiate, however symbolically or temporarily, a Habermas-ean public. Under this construct, collective identity can be composed of voluntary association and conflicting values—manifested in the open-ended and sometimes disputatious reception of artworks—rather than figured as a static, officially enforced “harmony.”[28] On the other hand, skyrocketing auction prices and a deluge of international attention for Chinese artists has proven a useful asset to the Party. After all, one must evolve to keep up with the times, and contemporary art provides a convenient shorthand in which to demonstrate China’s growth in both cultural and economic capital. A blizzard of major new cultural assets like museums, fairs and art-based luxury property developments are both symptom and cause of the changes within China’s sociocultural landscape. And these changes are moving in ever shortening cycles. 

 

Even in Marx’s lifetime, the relentless direction of all of this was already visible.  In his writings, he repeatedly pointed to the ways in which capital was, to borrow a term from one of his later Apostles, de-territorializing. Like a mist, it had the potential to permeate ancient, inveterate structures and dissolve them to nothing: class hierarchy, distance between places, gender roles, all of these had been loosed from their traditional moorings and set adrift on the sea of modernity. “All that is solid,” he wrote in 1848, “melts into air.”[29]  This glacial melt, he prophesied, was going to tear the social order down to its studs. 

 

But what subsequent theorists failed to grapple with was that these changes would not be a steady, implacable march into the future, but an increasingly headlong dash into radically unknown territory.  The affordances of machines and the techniques of capital began reverberating with an ever-increasing feed-forward cycle, with creation and destruction cascading into a generalized version of Moore’s law. Instead of doubling transistor density every two years, we seem to double everything. Powered by the twin rockets of information technology and speculative financing, the fundamental property of capital might be that it always accelerates.[30]

 

The Continuous Revolution indeed.[31]

 

No one, of course, can know what shape all of this will take in the collapsing time to come.  Increasingly, a sense has been growing that this acceleration cannot continue indefinitely; some critical mass will be reached and the implicit telos governing all of this will make itself manifest.  The so-called Singularity, as it has been dubbed by future speculators of a certain millenarian outlook, hinges on the premise that networked capital will eventually gain a kind of self-awareness; if the human brain is composed of a staggering but finite number of neural interconnections, it only makes sense that the IoT might eventually wake up to its own tenebrous reflection. Recent advances in deep learning, facial recognition, autonomous transport, network mapping and a host of other disciplines seem poised to tighten the screws.  And while so-called accelerationist thinkers yearn for this forthcoming anti-messiah of technocapitalism, its potential to lay waste to the collective efforts of mankind haunts nightmares the world over.[32]  

 

The control will be total. We will become the victims of our own success. 

 

Unless we develop the means to defend ourselves.

 

 

***

 

The machine—the state, the market, the Party, whatever other names it goes by—is seen to be forever accelerating. Given that, how can one construct mechanisms so that the machine remains responsible to the public, whether this understood as a temporary gathering of independent actors or a collective bound together by shared purpose? 

 

The core conceptual issue lays with the “trusted third party.”  Centuries before, the Templars discovered a way for distant parties to transact business—pilgrims could harvest crops in northern France but spend their earnings at market in Palestine. As the world’s financial infrastructure grew, it grew more institutionally centralized.  Dye merchants in Calcutta, slavers in west African, porcelain exporters in Guangzhou, and poppy growers in Bengal were only able to conduct business because of an intermediary based in London.  Though they made the system possible, the trusted third parties of central banks had pernicious side effects.  They could engineer wars to profit from, and distort monetary policy to their own advantage.  Their executives created credit bubbles, destroyed social institutions, paid themselves exorbitantly and capriciously, and had the temerity to collect despicable art. 

 

In a way, the trusted third party became a glitch in a system that it itself built.  It is now seen an epitome of friction, a lumbering monument to transaction costs.  Indeed, since transactions now occur with global synchrony, all that would be needed to obviate the third party would be a public double entry bookkeeping system, one that would be broadly accessible to use but difficult to manipulate.  And this, we recently learned, was a technical rather than conceptual problem.

 

In  2008, a person or persons known by the name Satoshia Nakomodo showed precisely how this could be done.  Buyers and sellers would simply create “blocks,” entries on a shared digital record. Goods are placed on order, and money is placed into an escrow account. The records of these transactions is then permanently etched into the system by use of “chains,” or links of blocks that for the present purposes, allow only downstream modification. No retrospective substitute products, no ex post facto price changes. A cryptographic, one-way membrane that enables transactions to move only forward in time. The resulting system, Nakomodo wrote, would allow “any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.”[33] A public that would make itself autonomous.

 

But in true accelerationist fashion, there are even bigger stakes here. Blockchain’s true believers promise that the technology will revolutionize not only the world’s transactional infrastructure, but also the medium of its transactions.  Namely, blockchain creates the possibility of purely digital money. This is not perhaps as strange as it first sounds.  One click purchasing and almost frictionless card swiping is obviating paper money, which is itself a pure fiat currency, an arbitrary thing issued in arbitrary amounts by a third party bank.  More than a century ago, such paper slips tracked back to a physical reserve of an arbitrary commodity, gold, which many, many millennia ago tracked back in arbitrary fashion to certain essential commodities.  Money has itself become a copy of a copy of a copy, a melted vapor. 

 

But always in limited supply.

 

And it is in this limitation that blockchains do not so much create the possibility of digital currencies, but rather depend on them in order to function.[34]  Though blockchain technology promises to cut out the financial middleman, its buyers and sellers still need to be able to find each other in order to transact. Within a given network, users can send and receive funds using two sets of key: a public key analogous to a physical address, and a private key similar to a password. The time, amount and public addresses involved in every transaction are permanently recorded into the publicly-viewable blockchain. The funds actually move between parties via the private key and into an individual wallet.

 

All of this requires enormous computing power—recording transactions and confirming key matches moves via a series of cryptography puzzles that are solved by increasingly massive brute computational force.  As of this writing, more than 300 million – billion puzzle answers are proposed every second by computers on the Bitcoin network.[35]Bitcoin’s original architects solved the problem of sourcing this Herculean computational burden in a clever way.  When users lend spare processing power to the network (so that its business of cryptographically secured transactions can take place), they are rewarded with a small amount of new currency issued directly to them. In this way, as they provide the infrastructure, users are said to be “mining” a digital equivalent of gold. As the network is used, the market grows not only in the value of its total transactions but also in the amount of money available to make transactions with. In theory, this mechanism creates a self-regulating monetary supply that grows in proportion to the expanding economy. 

 

Scenarios in which this platform enjoys widespread adoption are almost fantastical in their consequences. By ensuring public scrutiny, blockchain-based “smart contracts” could serve to thwart all kinds of middleman-based corruption. Nearly frictionless, “digital cash” transactions have the potential to disrupt the world’s banking infrastructure in favor of those on the margins, while also providing a safe haven for bad actors the world over. One of the most devastating effects of Bitcoin comes from one of its most seemingly benign features.  Its original code was designed to run on spare processing power—to pay users for computer power that was essentially going to waste.  But the terrifying, upside-down effect of a system that pays for garbage is that it creates a financial incentive to generate garbage. Capitalizing on that incentive has created a ballooning industry of dedicated bitcoin mining rigs **XYZ DETAILS ABOUT THE ONES IN THE BOT**.  Worldwide, there are now tens of millions of such machines in operation, a worldwide armada of cars purpose built to run on idle.  By some estimates, these cryptocurrency mining rigs now consume 1% of global electricity.[36]

 

Strikingly, independent aspects of China’s economy are now coalescing around dominance of the entire cryptocurrency lifecycle. Longstanding prowess in hardware manufacture has positioned Shenzen to lead the world’s production of purpose built miners (DAVE CAN YOU HELP HERE)?  And because of its surpluses of power, land and labor, the Party was able to set up mining operations of Imperial proportions: one mega-mine in Inner Mongolia supports nearly 30,000 units simultaneously mining various cryptocurrencies, while consuming $40,000 worth of electricity per day.[37] Lastly, because of the centralized nature of its government, the PRC can move ahead with consumer-level adaptation at gargantuan scale.  In 2017, the People’s Bank of China` announced its own digital currency, which is currently winding its way through an internal government approval process for widespread rollout.[38]

 

In less than a decade, we have moved from a theoretical white paper about digital money to its planned adoption by the largest planned economy in the history of the world.

 

As Marx saw, the status quo never lasts.

 

 

***

 

For most of human history, there was a straightforward way to deal with the need for self-defense in the face of threatening change. One could raise an army, or conjure a monster. Even if only a symbolic one. In preparing for the afterlife, emperors and Pharaohs the world over were buried with military tomb attendants.  Other cultures, possessed of a less hegemonic disposition, imagined supernatural creatures summoned to defend against violent incursion.  The Gargoyles warned evil spirits away from medieval monks, while the Golem of Prague defended the beleaguered Jews of his namesake town.  Tony Stark’s Ironman exoskeleton helped him keep America safe from Communism.

 

This seemingly basic societal instinct depends, however, on a sharp division between the inside and the outside.  Us and Them. The present life and the afterlife. But somewhere right around when Nixon arranged a meeting with Mao, the world seems to have slipped some critical threshold past which such differences loose their meaning. Paraphrasing theorists including Frederic Jameson, Jean Baudrilliard and Mike Davis, the “always on” nature of multinational capitalism has erased differences not just between places, but times.  We live, as Jameson has it, in a “perpetual present.” A temporal version of Marx’s vapor. As change accelerates, the future grows more unpredictable while present becomes ever more unlike the past.  A now losing its yesterday and careening headlong into an all-black tomorrow.

 

Under these circumstances, we must wake up to our ancient techniques. 

 

We must build 生存机器人.  

 

 

 

 

[1] See for example: Jonathan I. Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 (Oxford University Press, 2002), xl; Galen Strawson, Locke on Personal Identity: Consciousness and Concernment (Princeton University Press, 2014), 104; Olga Poznjakova,  “Kant's Concept of Enlightenment: Individual and Universal Dimensions “ in Thinking about the Enlightenment: Modernity and its Ramifications ed. Martin L. Davies (New York: Routledge, 2016), 39; Arthur  Schopenhauer: 'The World as Will and Representation':, Volume 1 ed. Christopher Janaway (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 318; Claude Levi-strauss, Structural Anthropology trans. Claire Jacobson and Brooke Grundfest Schoef, (New York: Basic Books, 2008), 56.  

[2] See primarily The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere trans. Thomas Burger (New York: John Wiley, 2015), 266 and Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books/Random House, 1995), 218.

[3] See for example Habermas, 104. 

[4] Samuel Fleischacker, “Adam Smith's Reception among the American Founders, 1776-1790” The William and Mary Quarterly 59. 4 (Oct., 2002), pp. 897-924; John Dewey, Individualism Old and New (New York: Capricorn Books, 1930); Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (University of Chicago Press, 1962).

[5] David Harvey, “Freedom’s Just Another Word” in A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 5-38. 

[6] Habermas, xvii.  This section is indebted to William T. Rowe, “The Public Sphere in Modern China” Modern China  16. 3 (Jul., 1990), pp. 309-329. 

[7] Rowe, 316.

[8] Alexander V. Avakov ed., Two Thousand Years of Economic Statistics, Years 1–2012: Population, GDP at PPP, and GDP Per (New York: Algora Publishing, 2015), 9. 

[9] Rowe, 317.

[10] Quoted in Walter Wallbank, Alastair M. Taylor eds. Civilization: Past and Present (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, & Company,  1960), 285.. 

[11] For more see, Zhengyuan Fu, Autocratic Tradition and Chinese Politics (Cambridge University Press, 1993), 90.

[12] Ronald C. Po., The Blue Frontier: Maritime Vision and Power in the Qing Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2018), 103-4.

[13] Jack Weatherford, The History of Money (Crown Publishing Group/Penguin Random House, 2009), 64-71.

[14] Weatherford, 80-95.

[15] For more, see David Summers, Real Spaces, (London, Phaidon Press, 2003), 489-575.

[16] For an excellent introduction to this territory, see John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, The Company: A Short History Of A Revolutionary Idea (New York: Random House/A Modern Library, 2005), 55-78, 159-192.

[17]  Haijian Mao, The Qing Empire and the Opium War (Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 271-304.

[18] David Riazanov, “Karl Marx on China” Labour Monthly (February 1926). Reprinted online at Marxist Internet Archive. 

[19] TJ Clarke, Farewell to an Idea (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 7.

[20] Suisheng Zhao, China and Democracy: The Prospect for a Democratic China (New York: Psychology Press, 2000), 77-82.

[21] Kevin Peraino, A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949  (New York: Crown/Archetype, 2017), 265.

[22]For more see Patricia Thorton,” Retrofitting the Steel Frame: From Mobilizing the Masses to Surveying the Public” in Mao's Invisible Hand: The Political Foundations of Adaptive Governance in China eds. Sebastian Heilmann and Elizabeth J. Perry, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2011), pp. 237-268.

[23] For an excellent, short introduction to themes of individualism in the work of New York School painters against the backdrop of the Cold War, see Fred Orton, “Action, Revolution and Painting” Oxford Art Journal 14. 2 (1991), pp. 3-17

[24] Clark, 9.

[25] Frank Dikötter, The Cultural Revolution: A People's History, 1962—1976 (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2017), 299.

[26] Karen Smith, Nine Lives: The Birth of Avant-garde Art in New China (Beijing/New York: Timezone8/DAP, 2008), 259.

[27] For more on the key exhibitions that shaped the emergence of contemporary Chinese art, see Gao Minglu, Total Modernity and the Avant-Garde in Twentieth-Century Chinese Art (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011), 261-280.

[28] Bo Zheng, The Pursuit of Publicness: A Study of Four Chinese Contemporary Art (PhD Dissertation, University of Rochester, 2012), 22.

[29] For a comprehensive analysis of this theme in post-Marxian politics and culture see Marshall Berman, All that is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity (New York: Verso, 1983)

[30] For an excellent primer on this topic, see #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019). 

[31] This phrase, which is often used as a euphemism for the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, has its roots in Mao’s own political thought.  Building on Marx and Engels’ “permanent revolution”—an epistemic shift to a socialist world order—Mao insisted that old political and cultural habits had to be continually, actively suppressed. For more see Stuart R. Schram, “Mao Tse-tung and the Theory of the Permanent Revolution, 1958-69” The China Quarterly 46 (Apr. - Jun., 1971), pp. 221-244.

[32] Sten Shaviro, “Introduction” No Speed Limit: Three Essays on Accelerationism (Online Publication: University of Minnesota Press, 2019). 

[33] https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

[34] https://www.mercatus.org/system/files/Brito_BitcoinPrimer.pdf

[35] https://www.thebalance.com/how-much-power-does-the-bitcoin-network-use-391280

[36] Cite

[37] https://digiconomist.net/deep-dive-real-world-bitcoin-mine

[38] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-13/china-s-plan-to-sideline-bitcoin