From my point of view the basic problem with this use of the concept lies in the fact that it does not seem to take into account the fact that articulation is a strategic moment in the notion of capital itself. While this is true at the very level of the logical notion of capital – we only need to remember the classical problem of the mediation of single fractions of capital in the unity of what Marx termed Kapital im allgemeinen (“capital in general”) – the question of articulation becomes even more crucial in the contemporary global age. To articulate radically heterogeneous geographic, political, legal, social, and cultural scales in the global dimension of current accumulation circuits is one of the most important tasks that confronts contemporary capitalism. And also from the point of view of capital, articulation “consists in the construction of nodal points” that crisscross the heterogeneity of the global dimension. But the meaning of these capitalist nodal points (just to give a few examples: global stock exchange markets, rating and investors service companies such as Moody’s, transnational legal ﬁrms, international and state agencies engaged in promoting neo-liberal globalization, and so on) is far from being “partially ﬁxed.” It is rather absolutely ﬁxed and it radically limits what Laclau and Mouﬀe call the “openness of the social.” Nonetheless, articulation, as Stuart Hall (1986) puts it, works as a language. To put it more precisely: it functions in the same way as a language functions when it is confronted with a plurality of other languages that have to be reduced to its code. Articulation means therefore translation, and one of the key points I will
make in this chapter is that translation is one of the fundamental modes of operation of global capital. Capital as translation is building up its own global dimension: the language of value (exchange value in its pure logical form) is the semantic structure, and above all the grammar, of this dimension, reproducing itself through an intensiﬁed version of what Naoki Sakai would call “homolingual address” (Sakai 1997: 3). It can be added that this address is at the same time an interpellation, to put it with Louis Althusser: the multiplicity of languages (that is, of forms of life, of social relations, of “cultures”) that capital encounters in the deployment and codiﬁcation of its heterogeneous “chains of value” (Spivak 1999: 99-111) are “addressed” according to the imperative of making themselves conform to the language of value. A high degree of hybridism, as well as a multiplicity of diﬀerences, can be
tolerated and even promoted by capital, as Hardt and Negri (2000: 137-46) have suggested: but its semantic structure remains “homolingual” insofar as the language of value dominates it. Nonetheless, again looking at this structure from the point of view suggested by the concept of translation, it remains deeply antagonistic. Translation itself can be a useful analytical tool in order to develop an analysis of the antagonisms that shape global capitalism. These antagonisms must be located at the very level of what we can call, along with the interpretation of Marx proposed by Jason Read, production of subjectivity (Read 2003: 153). Capital as translation addresses (interpellates) its subjects, at a very abstract level, prescribing a form of subjectivity that can be translated into the language of value.