The Electrification Of Hoja (III)

Among all the local jubilees we could have celebrated this year – Ängelholm 500 years! Sunshine Socialist Cinema 5 years! – we chose the centennial of the Electrification of Hoja. As there’s an abundance of jubilees, we decided to inform ourselves about surplus values, and have added some interesting volumes to our library. All the books in the library can be borrowed home by people living in the village of Hoja, by the way.

There’s a tagline we use to describe the cinema, “Re-distributing a surplus of light from day to night, via solar panel and projector”. Now we’ve found some literary references for it, thanks to our study group. Georges Bataille wrote in his volumes on economy, The Accursed Share, about abundance, surplus, and the discharge of energy, using the sun as an introductory example.

Bataille’s inquiry takes the superabundance of energy, beginning from the outpouring of solar energy or the surpluses produced by life’s basic chemical reactions, as the norm for organisms. In other words, an organism in Bataille’s general economy, unlike the rational actors of classical economy who are motivated by scarcity, normally has an “excess” of energy available to it. This extra energy can be used productively for the organism’s growth or it can be lavishly expended. Bataille insists that an organism’s growth or expansion always runs up against limits and becomes impossible.” – quoted from Wikipedia

Well, yes, more power from the sun hits the Earth in an hour than all of humanity could spend in a year. 430 quintillion Joules, if you want a figure (a quintillion has 18 zeroes).

…the accursed share is that excessive and non-recuperable part of any economy which must either be spent luxuriously and knowingly without gain in the arts, in non-procreative sexuality, in spectacles and sumptuous monuments, or it is obliviously destined to an outrageous and catastrophic outpouring, in the contemporary age most often in war, or in former ages as destructive and ruinous acts of giving or sacrifice, but always in a manner that threatens the prevailing system.” – quoted from Wikipedia

If we accept the limits to growth, and if we can manage a fair re-distribution of wealth and surplus value, what would we then spend our time upon, instead of working towards even more growth? According to Bataille, it’s either destructive war, or non-productive things, including art plus sex plus celebrations of jubilees.

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