Time is a Waste of Money

Marco Poloni


The core idea behind all capitalist critics is that capital domination starts with a violent expropriation of time. The explosion of post-modernity is the resolution of capital’s greatest contradiction. That is to say, if the rise of modernity (and of the industrial age) was made possible by the fortunate clash of two opposite forces (technology and labour),1 post-modernity solves this central conflict through the biopolitical device of human capital. Drawing from Boltanski & Chiapello, the spirit of capitalism is nothing but this history of successful contradiction removal. Human capital is its reconfiguration from a «wage relationship» to a «social relationship» (Comitè Invisible, 2007, pp. 36–37). Whereas the industrial configuration still conceded the possibility of idle time, in neo-liberalist societies all time is converted into value—thus, exchanged. As Negri & Hardt put it: «time is no longer determined by any transcendent measure, any a priori: time pertains directly to existence» (Hardt & Negri, 2016, p. 401). We don’t own time anymore. We are time. When all humans are capitalists, time is the ultimate, infinite, tradable resource. It can either be exchanged or lived—one excludes the other. This is why I say that all life under capitalist code relates to cannibalism: we always consume someone else’s time—and we are consumed by others. On its Forms of capital, Bourdieu affirms that «the social world is accumulated history» (Bourdieu, 1986, p. 15). This is the sociological background where the following manifesto is rooted. When production is automated, the reproduction of ideology is achieved in the social domain. In order to be exchanged, though, all time must be made equal. The consumption of situations requires that everything that lived off social connections must be reconstructed upon capital’s own basis (Comitè Invisible, 2007)2: «commodified time […] is an infinite accumulation of equivalent intervals» (Debord, 2014, sec. 147). Following Baudrillard, leisure—which represents Byung Chul Han’s ontological basis for idiotism (Han, 2017)—reaches its hyperreal form: «the reality of time has been replaced by the publicity of time» (Debord, 2014, sec. 154). The slow cancellation of the future is its disappearance as a horizon of possibility. As Fisher—via Baudrillard—would suggest: under the techno-social domination of capital, nothing that happens «could have happened differently» (Mackay & Fisher, 1996). This is the death of the event. Not Fukuyama’s aufhebung, the end of history as its rational completion, but rather the suspension of the linearity of historical time. For the human capitalist, time is a specter—thus, Fisher’s idea of hauntology. The present disappears both in the past—what is not anymore, but still persists as converted capital—and in the future—what is not yet, but is already acting retroactively. As I claim in my manifesto (#5), the present is the time of capital. Since we are human capital, and time is the ultimate resource, we alienate our «future in the process» (Baudrillard, 2020, pt. D). Capital is always young, always present. We are old by default. In a sense, and this is the fundamental idea behind Baudrillard’s work3, capital is another form of theism. It is a mythology we create in order to escape death. We will die, but our time—under any form of capital—will not.


  1. Something which Marx prophetically foresaw on his Grundrisse (in particular, chapter Contradiction between the foundation of bourgeois production (value as measure) and its development. Machines, etc).
  2. Negri & Hardt use a quote from Tacitus to begin their Empire: «they make slaughter and they call it peace» (Hardt & Negri, 2016, p. 3).
  3. And, in this case, Walter Benjamin’s.