Robin Mackay + Armen Avanessian
Robin Mackay + Armen Avanessian
The science which compels the inanimate limbs of the machinery, by their construction, to act purposefully, as an automaton, does not exist in the worker’s consciousness, but rather acts upon him through the machine as an alien power.
Just as the merging of the divided sexual, racial, and economic classes is a precondition for sexual, racial, or economic revolution respectively, so the merging of the aesthetic with the technological culture is the precondition of a cultural revolution.
Catastrophe is the past coming apart. Anastrophe is the future coming together. Seen from within history, divergence is reaching critical proportions. From the matrix, crisis is a convergence misinterpreted by mankind.
Sadie Plant + Nick Land
The most important division in today’s Left is between those that hold to a folk politics of localism, direct action, and relentless horizontalism, and those that outline what must become called an accelerationist politics at ease with a modernity of abstraction, complexity, globality, and technology.
Alex Williams + Nick Srnicek
Accelerationism is a political heresy: the insistence that the only radical political response to capitalism is not to protest, disrupt, or critique, nor to await its demise at the hands of its own contradictions, but to accelerate its uprooting, alienating, decoding, abstractive tendencies. The term was introduced into political theory to designate a certain nihilistic alignment of philosophical thought with the excesses of capitalist culture (or anticulture), embodied in writings that sought an immanence with this process of alienation. The uneasy status of this impulse, between subversion and acquiescence, between realist analysis and poetic exacerbation, has made accelerationism a fiercely-contested theoretical stance.
At the basis of all accelerationist thought lies the assertion that the crimes, contradictions and absurdities of capitalism have to be countered with a politically and theoretically progressive attitude towards its constituent elements. Accelerationism seeks to side with the emancipatory dynamic that broke the chains of feudalism and ushered in the constantly ramifying range of practical possibilities characteristic of modernity. The focus of much accelerationist thinking is the examination of the supposedly intrinsic link between these transformative forces and the axiomatics of exchange value and capital accumulation that format contemporary planetary society.
This stance apparently courts two major risks: on the one hand, a cynical resignation to a politique du pire, a politics that must hope for the worst and can think the future only as apocalypse and tabula rasa; on the other, the replacement of the insistence that capitalism will die of its internal contradictions with a championing of the market whose supposed radicalism is indistinguishable from the passive acquiescence into which political power has devolved. Such convenient extremist caricatures, however, obstruct the consideration of a diverse set of ideas united in the claim that a truly progressive political thought—a thought that is not beholden to inherited authority, ideology or institutions—is possible only by way of a future-oriented and realist philosophy; and that only a politics constructed on this basis can open up new perspectives on the human project, and on social and political adventures yet to come. This assumption that we are at the beginning of a political project, rather than at the bleak terminus of history, seems crucial today in order to avoid endemic social depression and lowering of expectations in the face of global cultural homogenization, climate change and ongoing financial crisis. Confronting such developments, and the indifference of markets to their human consequences, even the keenest liberals are hard-pressed to argue that capitalism remains the vehicle and sine qua non of modernity and progress; and yet the political response to this situation often seems to face backwards rather than forwards.
Despair seems to be the dominant sentiment of the contemporary Left, whose crisis perversely mimics its foe, consoling itself either with the minor pleasures of shrill denunciation, mediatised protest and ludic disruptions, or with the scarcely credible notion that maintaining a grim ‘critical’ vigilance on the total subsumption of human life under capital, from the safehouse of theory, or from within contemporary art’s self-congratulatory fog of ‘indeterminacy’, constitutes resistance. Hegemonic neoliberalism claims there is no alternative, and established Left political thinking, careful to desist from Enlightenment ‘grand narratives’, wary of any truck with a technological infrastructure tainted by capital, and allergic to an entire civilizational heritage that it lumps together and discards as ‘instrumental thinking’, patently fails to offer the alternative it insists must be possible, except in the form of counterfactual histories and all-too-local interventions into a decentred, globally-integrated system that is at best indifferent to them. The general reasoning is that if modernity=progress=capitalism=acceleration, then the only possible resistance amounts to deceleration, whether through a fantasy of collective organic self-sufficiency or a solo retreat into miserablism and sagacious warnings against the treacherous counterfinalities of rational thought.
Needless to say, a well-to-do liberal Left, convinced that technology equates to instrumental mastery and that capitalist economics amounts to a heap of numbers, in most cases leaves concrete technological nous and economic arguments to its adversary—something it shares with its more radical but equally technologically illiterate academic counterparts, who confront capitalism with theoretical constructs so completely at odds with its concrete workings that the most they can offer is a faith in miraculous events to come, scarcely more effectual than organic folk politics. In some quarters, a Heideggerian Gelassenheit or ‘letting be’ is called for, suggesting that the best we can hope for is to desist entirely from destructive development and attempts to subdue or control nature—an option that, needless to say, is also the prerogative of an individualised privileged spectator who is the subjective product of global capital.
From critical social democrats to revolutionary Maoists, from Occupy mic checks to post-Frankfurt School mutterings, the ideological slogan goes: There must be an outside! And yet, given the real subsumption of life under capitalist relations, what is missing, precluded by reactionary obsessions with purity, humility, and sentimental attachment to the personally gratifying rituals of critique and protest and their brittle and fleeting forms of collectivity? Precisely any pragmatic criteria for the identification and selection of elements of this system that might be effective in a concrete transition to another life beyond the iniquities and impediments of capital.
It is in the context of such a predicament that accelerationism has recently emerged again as a leftist option. Since the 2013 publication of Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek’s ‘#Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics’ [map], the term has been adopted to name a convergent group of new theoretical enterprises that aim to conceptualise the future outside of traditional critiques and regressive, decelerative or restorative ‘solutions’. In the wake of the new philosophical realisms of recent years, they do so through a recusal of the rhetoric of human finitude in favour of a renewed Prometheanism and rationalism, an affirmation that the increasing immanence of the social and technical is irreversible and indeed desirable, and a commitment to developing new understandings of the complexity this brings to contemporary politics. This new movement has already given rise to lively international debate, but is also the object of many misunderstandings and rancorous antagonism on the part of those entrenched positions whose dogmatic slumbers it disturbs. Through a reconstruction of the historical trajectory of accelerationism, this book aims to set out its core problematics, to explore its historical and conceptual genealogy, and to exhibit the gamut of possibilities it presents, so as to assess the potentials of accelerationism as both philosophical configuration and political proposition.
But what does it mean to present the history of a philosophical tendency that exists only in the form of isolated eruptions which each time sink without trace under a sea of unanimous censure and/or dismissive scorn? Like the ‘broken, explosive, volcanic line’ of thinkers Gilles Deleuze sought to activate, the scattered episodes of accelerationism exhibit only incomplete continuities which have until now been rendered indiscernible by their heterogeneous influences and by long intervening silences. At the time of writing we find a contemporary accelerationism in the process of mapping out a common terrain of problems, but it describes diverse trajectories through this landscape. These paths adjust and reorient themselves daily in a dialogue structured by the very sociotechnologies they thematize, the strategic adoption of the tag #accelerate having provided a global address through which to track their progress and the new orientations they suggest.
If a printed book (and even more so one of this length) inevitably seems to constitute a deceleration in relation to such a burgeoning field, it should be noted that this reflective moment is entirely in keeping with much recent accelerationist thought. The explicit adoption of an initially rather pejoratively used term1 indicates a certain defiance towards anticipated attacks. But it also indicates that a revisionary process is underway—one of refining, selecting, modifying and consolidating earlier tendencies, rebooting accelerationism as an evolving theoretical program, but simultaneously reclaiming it as an untimely provocation, an irritant that returns implacably from the future to bedevil the official sanctioned discourse of institutional politics and political theory. This book therefore aims to participate in the writing of a philosophical counterhistory, the construction of a genealogy of accelerationism (not the only possible one—other texts could have been included, other stories will be told), at the same time producing accelerationism ‘itself’ as a fictional or hyperstitional anticipation of intelligence to come.
This revisionary montage proceeds in four phases, first setting out three sets of historical texts to be appropriated and reenergized by the undecided future of accelerationism following the appearance of the map, and subsequently bringing together a sequence of contemporary accelerationist texts galvanized by the Manifesto’s call.
The first section features late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century thinkers who, confronted with the rapid emergence of an integrated globalised industrial complex and the usurpation of inherited value-systems by exchange value, attempted to understand the precise nature of the relation between technical edifice and economic system, and speculated as to their potential future consequences for human society and culture.
Karl Marx is represented in perhaps his most openly accelerationist writing, the Grundrisse’s ‘Fragment on Machines’. Here Marx documents the momentous shift between the worker’s use of tools as prosthetic organs to amplify and augment human cognitive and physical abilities (labour power), and machine production properly speaking, dating the latter to the emergence of an integrated ‘automatic system of machines’ wherein knowledge and control of nature leveraged as industrial process supplant direct means of labour. Within this system, the worker increasingly becomes a prosthesis: rather than the worker animating the machine, the machine animates the worker, making him a part of its ‘mighty organism’, a ‘conscious organ’ subject to its virtuosity or ‘alien power’. Individuals are incorporated into a new, machinic culture, taking on habits and patterns of thought appropriate to its world, and are irreversibly resubjectivized as social beings.
In Erewhon’s ‘Book of the Machines’, Samuel Butler develops Marx’s extrapolations of the machine system into a full-scale machinic delirium, extending an intrinsic science-fictional aspect of his theoretical project which also entails a speculative anthropology: if technology is bound up with the capitalist decanting of primitive and feudal man into a new mode of social being, then a speculation on what machines will become is also a speculation on what the human is and might be. In line with the integration that at once fascinates Marx and yet which he must denounce as a fantasy of capital, Butler’s vision, a panmachinism that will later be inspirational for Deleuze and Guattari, refuses any special natural or originary privilege to human labour: Seen from the future, might the human prove nothing but a pollinator of a machine civilization to come?
Refusing such machinic fatalism, Nicolai Fedorov’s utopian vision reserves within a ‘cosmist’ vision of expansion a Promethean role for man, whose scientific prowess he sees as capable of introducing purposefulness into an otherwise indifferent and hostile nature. Fedorov exhorts mankind to have the audacity to collectively invest in the unlimited and unknown possibilities this mastery of nature affords him: to abandon the modesty of earthly concerns, to defy mortality and transcend the parochial planetary habitat. It is only by reaching beyond their given habitat, according to Fedorov, that humans can fulfill their collective destiny, rallying to a ‘common task’.
Thorstein Veblen, famously the author of The Theory of the Leisure Class, takes up the question of the insurrectionary nature of scientific and technical change as part of his evolutionary analysis of developments in modern capitalism (the emergence of monopolies and trusts). For Veblen it is not the proletariat but the technical class, the scientists and engineers, who ultimately promise to be the locus of revolutionary agency; he sees the tendencies of the machine system as being at odds with the ethos of business enterprise, which, ultimately, is just one more institutional archaism to be sloughed off in the course of its development. Significant also is Veblen’s refusal to conceive ‘culture’ narrowly in an ameliorative role, offering compensation for the ‘social problems’ triggered by the reshaping of individuals and social relations in accordance with the automatism and standardization of the machine system: instead he insists that this process be understood as a radical transformation of human culture, and one that will outlive its occasional cause—an assumption shared by Fedorov in his vision of a ‘multi-unity’ allied in the ‘common task’ and armed with the confidence in the capacity of science and engineering to reshape the human life-world.
All of the core themes of accelerationism appear in germ in the projects of these writers, along with the variety of forms—descriptive, prescriptive, utopian, fictional, theoretical, scientific, realist—in which they will later be developed. The speculative extrapolation of the machine process, the affirmation that this process is inextricably social, technical and epistemic; the questioning of its relation to capitalism, the indifferent form of exchange-value and its corrosion of all previous social formations and subjective habits; and its effect upon culture and the new possibilities it opens up for the human conceived not as an eternal given, fated to suffer the vicissitudes of nature, but as a historical being whose relation to nature (including its own), increasingly mediated through technical means, is mutable and in motion.
The second section belongs predominantly to a moment in modern French philosophy that sought to integrate a theoretical analysis of political economy with an understanding of the social construction of human desire. Galvanized by the still uncomprehended events of May ’68 and driven to a wholesale rejection of the stagnant cataracts of orthodox party politics, these thinkers of the ‘Marx-Freud synthesis’ suggest that emancipation from capitalism be sought not through the dialectic, but by way of the polymorphous perversion set free by the capitalist machine itself. In the works of Deleuze and Guattari, Lyotard, and Lipovetsky, the indifference of the value-form, the machine composition of labour, and their merciless reformatting of all previous social relations is seen as the engine for the creation of a new fluid social body. It is the immanence with universal schizophrenia toward which capital draws social relations that promises emancipation here, rather than the party politics that, no doubt, paled by comparison with the oneiric escapades of ’68. It is at this point that the credo of accelerationism is for the first time openly formulated—most explicitly by Gilles Lipovetsky: ‘“[R]evolutionary actions” are not those which aim to overthrow the system of Capital, which has never ceased to be revolutionary, but those which complete its rhythm in all its radicality, that is to say actions which accelerate the metamorphic process of bodies’.
In ‘Decline of Humanity?’, Jacques Camatte extends the reflections of Marx and Veblen on the ‘autonomization of capital’, arguing that, in testing to the limit certain ambivalent analyses in Marx’s thought, it reveals shortcomings in his thinking of capital. Marx claims that capital blocks its own ‘self-realization’ process, the way in which its ‘revolutionary’ unconditional development of production promises eventually to subvert capitalist relations of production. Capital is thus at once a revolutionary force (as evidenced by its destruction of all previous social formations) and a barrier, a limited form or mere transitional moment on the way to this force’s ultimate triumph in another mode of social relation.
According to Camatte, Marx here underestimates the extent to which, particularly through the runaway acceleration of the ‘secondary’ productive forces of the autonomic form of machine capital, the revolutionary role of the proletariat is taken over by capitalism itself. Manifestly it leads to no crisis of contradiction: rather than the productive forces of humans having been developed by capital to the point where they exceed its relations of production, productive forces (including human labour power) now exist only for capital and not for humans. Thus Camatte suggests we can read Marx not as a ‘prophet of the decline of capital’ but instead as a Cassandra auguring the decadence of the human. Capital can and has become truly independent of human will, and any opportunity for an intervention that would develop its newly-reformatted sociotechnological beings into communist subjects is definitively lost.
Along similar lines to contemporaries such as Althusser and Colletti, Camatte concludes: no contradiction, therefore no dialectic. ‘On this we agree: the human being is dead’: more exactly, the human being has been transformed by capital into a passive machine part, no longer possessed of any ‘irreducible element’ that would allow it to revolt against capital. For Camatte the only response to this consummate integration of humans is absolute revolt. The entire historical product of capitalism is to be condemned; indeed we must reject production itself as a basis for the analysis of social relations. Revolutionary thought for Camatte, therefore, urges a refusal of Marx’s valorization of productivism, and counsels absolute retreat—we can only ‘leave this world’ (Camatte’s work was thus a strong influence on anarcho-primitivist trends in political thought).
Anything but an accelerationist, then, Camatte nevertheless sets the scene for accelerationism by describing this extreme predicament: Faced with real subsumption, is there any alternative to pointless piecemeal reformism apart from total secession? Can the relation between revolutionary force, human agency, and capitalism be thought differently? Where does alienation end and domestication begin? Is growth in productive force necessarily convertible into a socialized wealth? Camatte’s trenchant pessimism outlines accelerationism in negative: He commits himself to a belief that subsumption into the ‘community of capital’ is a definitive endpoint in capital’s transformation of the human. Still in search of a revolutionary thought, however, and despite his own analysis, he also commits himself to a faith in some underlying human essence that may yet resist, and that may be realised in an ‘elsewhere’ of capital—a position underlying many radical political alternatives imagined today. In contrast, accelerationism, making a different analysis of the ambivalent forces at work in capital, will insist on the continuing dynamism and transformation of the human wrought by the unleashing of productive forces, arguing that it is possible to align with their revolutionary force but against domestication, and indeed that the only way ‘out’ is to plunge further in.
Gilles Deleuze + Félix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus developed precisely the ambivalences noted by Camatte, modelling capitalism as a movement at once revolutionary—decoding and deterritorializing—and constantly reterritorializing and indifferently reinstalling old codes as ‘neoarchaic’ simulations of culture to contain the fluxes it releases. It is within this dynamic that a genuine accelerationist strategy explicitly emerges, in order to reformulate the question that haunts every Left political discourse, namely whether there is a ‘revolutionary path’ at all. It is not by chance that probably the most famous ‘accelerationist’ passage in Deleuze and Guattari’s work, included in the extract from Anti-Oedipus here, plays out against the backdrop of the dichotomy between a folk-political approach (in this case Samir Amin’s Third-Worldist separatism) and the exact opposite direction, ‘to go still further, that is, in the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization? For perhaps the flows are not yet deterritorialized enough, not decoded enough, from the viewpoint of a theory and a practice of a highly schizophrenic character. Not to withdraw from the process, but to go further, to “accelerate the process”.’ Famously Deleuze and Guattari, at least in 1972, opt for the latter. Rather than contradictions precipitating collapse, on the contrary, ongoing crises remain an immanent source of capitalist productivity, and this also implies the production of ever new axioms capable of digesting any arising contradictions. For Deleuze and Guattari, there is no necessary conclusion to these processes, indeed the absence of any limit is their primary assumption; and yet they suggest that, as the capitalist socius draws into an ever-closer immanence with universal schizophrenia, (further deterritorializing) lines of flight are a real prospect.
In his writings from the early 70s, Jean-François Lyotard amplifies Deleuze and Guattari’s heresies, at the same time as he joins Anti-Oedipus’s struggle against reflective deceleration in theoretical writing and critique. In a series of extraordinary texts the claim of the immanence of the political and libidinal is enacted within writing itself. In Libidinal Economy Lyotard uncovers a set of repressed themes in Marx, with the latter’s oeuvre itself seen as a libidinal ‘dispositif’ split between an enjoyment of the extrapolation and imaginary acceleration of capitalism’s liquefying tendencies, and the ever-deferred will to prosecute it for its iniquities (embodied in the dramatis personae of ‘Little Girl Marx’ and ‘Old Bearded Prosecutor Marx’).
Lyotard strikingly reads Anti-Oedipus not primarily as a polemical anti-psychoanalytical tract, but as a stealth weapon that subverts and transforms Marxism through the tacit retirement of those parts of its critical apparatus that merely nourish ressentiment and the petty power structures of party politics. He denounces the Marxist sad passion of remonstrating and harping at the system to pay back what it owes to the proletariat while simultaneously decrying the dislocations brought about by capitalism—the liberation of generalised cynicism, the freedom from internalised guilt, the throwing off of inherited mores and obligations—as ‘illusory’ and ‘alienated’. From the viewpoint of a schizoanalytics informed by the decoding processes of ‘Kapital’, there are only perversions, libidinal bodies and their liquid investments, and no ‘natural’ position. Yet critique invests its energies in striving to produce the existence of an alienated proletariat as a wrong, a contradiction upon which it can exercise its moral authority. Instead, Lyotard, from the point of view of an immanence of technical, social and libidinal bodies, asks: How can living labour be dismembered, how can the body be fragmented by capitalism’s exchangeable value-form, if bodies are already fragments and if the will to unity is just one perversion among others? Thus he proposes an energetics that not only voluntarily risks anarchic irrationalism, but issues in a scandalous advocacy of the industrial proletariat’s enjoyment of their machinic dissection at the hands of capital. Lyotard dares us to ‘admit it…’: the deracinating affect of capitalism, also, is a source of jouissance, a mobilization of desire. Saluting Anti-Oedipus as ‘one of the most intense products of the new libidinal configuration that is beginning to gel inside capitalism, Lyotard summons a ‘new dispositif’ that is like a virus thriving in the stomach of capital: in the restless yet undirected youth movements of the late 60s and early 70s ‘another figure is rising’ which will not be stifled by any pedantic theoretical critique. As Deleuze and Guattari assert, ‘nothing ever died of contradictions’, and the only thing that will kill capitalism is its own ‘excess’ and the ‘unserviceability’ loosed by it, an excess of wandering desire over the regulating mechanisms of antiproduction.
Eschewing critique, then, here writing forms a pact with the demon energy liberated by Kapital that liquidates all inheritance and solidity, staking everything on the unknown future it is unlocking. Few can read Lyotard’s deliberately scandalous celebration of the prostitution of the proletariat without discomfort. Yet it succeeds in uncovering the deepest stakes of unstated Marxist dogma as to the human and labour power: If there never was any human, any primary economic productivity, but only libidinal bodies along with their investments, their fetishes, where does theory find the moral leverage to claim to ‘save’ the worker from the machines, the proletariat from capital—or to exhort them to save themselves?
In ‘Power of Repetition’ Gilles Lipovetsky gives a broad exposition of the ungrounded metaphysics of desire underpinning Libidinal Economy’s analyses (a metaphysics Lyotard simultaneously disclaims as just another fiction or libidinal device). In laying out very clearly a dichotomy between the powers of repetition and reinstatement of identity, and the errant metamorphic tendencies of capital, Lipovetsky makes a crucial distinction: Although capitalism may appear to depend upon powers of antiproduction which police it and ensure the minimal stability necessary for the extraction of profit, in fact these ‘guarddogs’ are obstacles to the core tendency of capital qua ‘precipitate experimentation’ in the ‘recombination of bodies’—and this latter tendency is the side that must be taken by emancipatory discourse and practice. Resisting the ‘Marxist reflex’ to critique ‘capitalist power’, Lipovetsky states that there is no such thing, but only and always a multiplicity of powers, which in fact restrain capital’s advance. He thus repeats Lyotard’s call for chaos and permanent revolution: there is no way to prevent new alien recombinations settling back into new forms of power; we must match and exceed capital’s inhuman speeds, ‘keep moving’ in ‘a permanent and accelerated metamorphic errancy’.
Lipovetsky also draws further attention to one of the important departures from Marx that Lyotard had expanded upon: For Deleuze and Guattari, more basic to an analysis of capitalism than human labour power is the way in which capitalism mobilizes time itself through the function of credit. (As Marx himself declares in Grundrisse, ‘economy of time, to this all economy ultimately reduces itself’). Lipovetsky confirms that the supposed ‘contradictions’ of capital are a question of configurations of time, and accordingly his accelerationism pits capital’s essentially destabilizing temporal looping of the present through the future against all stabilising reinstantiations of the past.
This futural orientation is also at work in Lyotard’s attempt at an indistinction between description and prescription, between the theoretical and the exhortatory, something that will be extended in later accelerationisms—as Nick Land will write, there is ‘no real option between a cybernetics of theory and a theory of cybernetics’: The subject of theory can no longer affect to stand outside the process it describes: it is integrated as an immanent machine part in an open ended experimentation that is inextricable from capital’s continuous scrambling of its own limits—which operates via the reprocessing of the actual through its virtual futures, dissolving all bulwarks that would preserve the past. In hooking itself up to this haywire time-machine, theory seeks to cast off its own inert obstacles. It would indeed be churlish to deny the enduring rhetorical power of these texts; and yet the hopes of their call to permanent revolution are poignant from a contemporary viewpoint: As we can glimpse in the starkness of Lipovetsky’s exposition, beneath the desperate joy with which they dance upon the ruins of politics and critique, there is a certain ‘Camattian’ note of despair (acceleration ‘for lack of anything better’, as Lipovetsky says); and an unwitting anticipation of the integral part that the spirit of permanent creative festivity would come to play in the neoconservative landscape of late twentiethcentury consumer capitalism
Those writers included in the ‘Anticipations’ section had emphasised in their analyses that the incursion of the value-form and of machine production are not a ‘merely economic’ question, but one of the transformation of human culture and indeed of what it means to be human. As can clearly be seen in the mercurial topicality of Lyotard’s ‘Energumen Capitalism’, under different cultural and sociotechnological conditions the same goes for the texts of this second phase of accelerationism. The position is set out in exemplary fashion by radical feminist activist and theoretician Shulamith Firestone. Beyond Fedorov’s arguably shortsighted dismissal of the aesthetic response to the world as a squandering of energy that could be directed into the technological achievement of real transcendence, Firestone insists that the separation of these two modes of ‘realizing the conceivable in the possible’ is an artefact of the same constraints as class barriers and sex dualism. She envisages an ‘anticultural’ revolution that would fuse them, arguing that ‘the body of scientific discovery (the new productive modes) must finally outgrow the empirical (capitalistic) mode of using them’. In Firestone’s call for this cultural revolution the question is no longer, as in Fedorov, that of replacing imaginary transcendence with a practical project of transcendence, but of erasing the separation between imaginary vision and practical action.
If we take Firestone’s definition of culture as ‘the attempt by man to realize the conceivable in the possible’ then we can see at once that (as Veblen had indicated) the application of culture as a salve for the corrosive effects of machine culture on the subject merely indicates a split within culture itself: the Promethean potentiality of the human, evidenced in ‘the accumulation of skills for controlling the environment, technology’ is hobbled by the obstruction of the dialogue between aesthetic and scientific modes of thinking. With industry, science and technology subsumed into commerce and exchange value, the question of other, aesthetic values becomes a matter of a compensatory ‘outside’ of the market, a retreat into private (and marketized) pleasures.
Closing this section of the volume, novelist J.G. Ballard echoes Firestone’s call for a merging of artistic and technological modes, advocating the role of science fiction not only as ‘the only possible realism in an increasingly artificialized society’, but as an ingredient in its acceleration. sf dissolves fear into excited anticipation, implicitly preparing readers for a ‘life radically different from their own’. Accepting that ‘the future is a better guide to the present than the past’, sf is not involved in the elaboration of the meaning of the present, but instead participates in the construction of the future through its speculative recombination: the only meaning it registers is the as yet uncomprehended ‘significance of the gleam on an automobile instrument panel’. Like Firestone, Ballard cheerfully jettisons the genius cult of the individual artist and high culture, instead imagining the future of sf along the lines of an unceremonious integration of fiction into global industry and communications that is already underway.
Punctuating the end of this phase of accelerationism, Ballard’s world of ‘the gleam of refrigerator cabinets, the conjunction of musculature and chromium artefact’ is echoed in the cut-up text ‘Desirevolution’ where Lyotard refuses to cede the dream-work of ’68 to institutional politics and Party shysters, countering its inevitable to institutional politics and Party shysters, countering its inevitable recuperation through an acceleration of the cut-up reality of the spectacle, an accelerated collage of ‘fragments of alienation’ launching one last salvo against political and aesthetic representation.
Speculating Freedom: Addiction, Control and Rescriptive Subjectivity in the Work of William S. Burroughs
Jose Rosales - ON THE END OF HISTORY & THE DEATH OF DESIRE (NOTES ON TIME AND NEGATIVITY IN BATAILLE’S ‘LETTRE Á X.’)
Jose Rosales - BERGSONIAN SCIENCE-FICTION: KODWO ESHUN, GILLES DELEUZE, & THINKING THE REALITY OF TIME
Obsolete Capitalism - THE STRONG OF THE FUTURE. NIETZSCHE’S ACCELERATIONIST FRAGMENT IN DELEUZE AND GUATTARI’S ANTI-OEDIPUS
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 1)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 2)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 3)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 4)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 5)
Steven Craig Hickman - David Roden and the Posthuman Dilemma: Anti-Essentialism and the Question of Humanity
Steven Craig Hickman - The Carnival of Globalisation: Hyperstition, Surveillance, and the Empire of Reason
Steven Craig Hickman - Shaviro On The Neoliberal Strategy: Transgression and Accelerationist Aesthetics
Steven Craig Hickman - Hyperstition: Technorevisionism – Influencing, Modifying and Updating Reality
Terence Blake - CONCEPTS OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Notes on Deleuze and Guattari’s “What is Philosophy?” (2)
Terence Blake - GUATTARI’S LINES OF FLIGHT (2): transversal vs transferential approaches to the reading contract
Himanshu Damle - Games and Virtual Environments: Playing in the Dark. Could These be Havens for Criminal Networks?
Himanshu Damle - Hegelian Marxism of Lukács: Philosophy as Systematization of Ideology and Politics as Manipulation of Ideology.
Nick Land - The unconscious is not an aspirational unity but an operative swarm, a population of 'preindividual and prepersonal singularities'