Excess non/Knowledge and the Production of Evil in the General Economy of the Organization

Founded in Bataille’s theory of the general economy as descriptive of a general theory of organizations, this paper relates Bataille’s conceptions of knowledge and non-knowledge to his conception of evil in order to reconstruct the importance of excess to the production of subjectivities, both good and evil, in organizations. In reading contemporary organizational thought through the body of Bataille’s works, I find that Bataille provides us with several innovative ways of understanding the organization as an aspect of society. In On Nietzsche, Bataille locates evil as symbolized through the negation of Christ, a component of good, and a necessary component to human life in the forms of egotism and freedom. These constructions of evil compliment the ecological model of production found in the Accursed Share in that evil functions as part of the Western model of subjectivity, and thus is fixed by both the human and non-human elements into its representations of knowledge and non-knowledge. The idea that the production of excess in organizations, not just excess commodity, but also excess subjectivity is the idea that unites the general economy to the production of evil because evil arises both from the overproduction of symbols and the inadequate faculties of interpretation to confront the interpretations. of those symbols. This exasperation of the organization’s capacity to interpret the world in which they exist produces non-knowledge, and opens up the space for the production of evil. Thus the logic of my argument reduces to:

Organizations produce subjectivities, commodities, knowledges, and non-knowledges as parts of symbolic systems.

In a general commodity, production of subjectivities is the production of knowledges and non-knowledges in excess.

The overproduction of symbols in the system combined with a differential production of subjectivities creates a critical space for non-knowledge, or the unknowable to exist.

As parts non-knowledge become othered and alienated they enter the realm of the individual’s ego or freedom.

When individuals act upon those non-knowledges in organizations, they become the outsider, or the evil from within the organization.

Thus the overproduction or excess production of symbolic systems creates evil.

In conclusion, this Bataille-based thesis is comparable to Baudrillard’s argument about the origin of evil in society, as found in the Transparency of Evil. Thus, we can see the need to build more deeply into the realm of semiology in order to understand the functioning of evil in organizations.