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Friday, 14 June 2013

Note on accelerationism (and the Accelerate manifesto)

I was thrilled to find Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek's Accelerate Manifesto which has been around for about a month. Less thrilled to read it. Not only the discussion is very sketchy (no concrete proposals) but also not to the point. I take that the Accelerationismusstreit is not really about favoring or not technology (or technological advancement) or defending horizontalism or local action. The issue is really about whether a desired post-capitalism is brought about by instituting a device that accelerates the speed of the flows within the socia. The issue is, I take, of whether we should struggle for further deterritorialization or we should rather resist the drive of capital to speed interactions up. It is a many faced issue: the ontological discussion has to do with whether to think in terms of flows or production and registration is to think in terms of a scheme of work and goods, as Benjamim Noys points out, and maybe to break with capitalism requires also a break with this scheme. Other discussions have to do with whether the internet flow of sharing (including the internet of things which is coming up) is a flow that overtakes capital (as Negrians once maintained - and I believe Neonegrism is a likely development to be seen in the near future). This has to do with the very issue of whether devices of alternative economics - oxydating money, gift-giving etc - can scale up (an idea that systems of holoptic credit are playing with, in ideas such as Jean-François Noubel's). I guess a point can be made in favor of accelerationism in all these debates and the Manifesto is silent about most of them. To be fair, they do mention D&G's point that capitalism de-territorializes while re-territorializing, which is a crucial point to discuss Nick Land's hopes and to understand the crux of the matter in an accelerationist criticism of capitalism (and not only of neoliberalism). I believe that capitalism reinforces elements of the economic family, privatizes and medicalizes deliria and other politically relevant subjective states (D&G's point in the Anti-Oedipus) and, most important, depends on the human induvidual - the agent of economic action. The accelerationist criticism of capitalism should look for something that de-territorializes what capitalism keeps well in place.

But the Manifesto also talks, strangely enough, about planning (The Plan married to The Network, it says). I guess planning is something that accelerationism makes us think about. To be sure, some planning is probably part of an accelerationist conspiracy against capital. But planning as such strikes me as too slow, too overtaken by capital itself and too human to be part of an accelerationist toolkit. Also, planning is based on information misdistribution, as Wark points out in Celerity, a good criticism of the Manifesto. The very idea of planning needs an accelerationist critique.
Also, Benjamim Noys contrasts accelerationism (and all its consequences) to planning. In any case, the unqualified appeal to planning in the Manifesto seems to make the whole proposal dangerously close to pre-accelerationist anti-capitalism. Further, it is not enough to prescribe a marriage (between planning and networking). It seems just like a centrist proposal, as Wark points out. Something about the dowry should also be mentioned...

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