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Monday, 22 October 2012

Accelerationismusstreit 1

Thinking about Srnicek's sort of defence of accelerationism against the charge of collaboration with neoliberalism. In a sense, he makes a good counterpoint to Ben Noys suspicions about the politics of an accelerationism ontology. Srnicek claims that neoliberalism is in fact a regime of concentration of powers that protects trusts and corporations against the free flow of liquidity. The discourse of free flow coincides with accelerationism only superficially because the effect of the neoliberal gesture was crucially to open way for more concentration of powers as if to create and protect some feudal territories within the space of capitalism. Srnicek praises relative accelerationism as a political weapon to add liquidity in solidified structures - and therefore as a tool for the political left. He is less committal concerning absolute accelerationism, a position like Nick Land's according to which the flows will dismantle everything including humanity itself. He thinks that while the former form of accelerationism is political and human, the latter is speculative and inhuman. He then goes on to defend a strategic use of relative accelerationism against the financial and corporate feuds.

I take accelerationism as not committed to capital flows and even less to a capitalist machine. This is the only way we can say the Anti-Oedipus is an accelerationist book - which I believe it is (and a provocative one at that). I tend to think that accelerationism - I don't see much point in Srnicek's distinction between the absolute and the relative variety - presses for further acceleration no matter what gets on its way and ultimately capitalism (and capital flows) will find themselves in its way. Srnicek then sheds light to an interesting phenomenon: neoliberalism is an advanced version of capitalism and, as such, it has to create concentrations of power. Noys, for one, holds that capitalism can survive the end of nuclear family and, he hints, even of individuals. I'm not convinced of either, and I fail completely to see how it can carry on without individuals. Capitalism is concentrative. It works by bringing flows somewhere. Accelerationism could be ultimately showing that centrifugal flows are faster and then capitalism will be on its way. Accelerationism (as a typical branch of Marxism) has learned with capitalism, but it is not committed to it. Anything faster will deterritorialize the concentration of power that capitalism harbours (that depends on individuals, as money don't flow from my left hand to my right hand). Yes, neoliberalism is about trusts and corporations but that seems to me another chapter of the history of capitalism - an accelerated history, but a concentrative one.


  1. If the history of capitalism is one that managed to combine acceleration with concentration, how exactly more acceleration would make concentration collapse? Couldn't it be that flows would just get somewhere faster and faster? But the main problem there, I think, is not if or where flows are concentrated and accumulated, but where do they come from. What are their primary sources? Answering this question might help thinking about the possibility that the mere acceleration may not disarrange the apparatuses set up to serve as canals to the flows. And aren't Markets just the set of all such apparatuses? Accelerationism would then mean the increasing of the System's performativity, its profitability anyway.

  2. Well, I take this to be the lesson Marx and Engels draw from capitalism: it takes over because it promotes accelerated flows. In the accelerationist development - and I´m thinking of D&G in Anti-Oedipus - these flows built a territorial machine (where the flows were pulled towards a class). They were set up to be centripetal. Accelerationism´s motto, I take, is not be capitalist, but rather: learn with capitalism. So its hypothesis is that acceleration is the way to go. Acceleration dismantled systems of powers (the feudal ones) and therefore harbours revolutionary capacity. Of course, there is an issue concerning which flow can be centrifugal enough to dismantle capitalism. This is the big question that gives rise to the discussions concerning hyperflows. But the accelerationist take, I reckon, is that acceleration is not necessarily concentrative.
    As for where the flows come from, I don´t see this is a central question. It matters that it flows. Pecunia non onet. In other words, the territory is the decodifying flow itself. This is something interesting about acceleration: it is not a movement in space, it is a movement in speed.