I know we've got the Nick Land thread, but there's more to it than Nick Land.

What would "speeding things up" actually look like? Is it just semantics to suggest deregulation would be "not slowing things down" rather than actively speeding them up? Does it make sense for accelerationism to have a left and a right? Is accelerationism even relevant at this point or is it a dead end?

 

RWY

Well-known member
Is accelerationism even relevant at this point or is it a dead end?
Very much a dead end. Not sure exactly how much of the crit-theory espousals of this idea map onto how acceleration actually manifests with regards to technological/capital innovation and development but I remember trying to explain the idea to a computer scientist friend of mine (who, coincidentally, shares a similar worldview to that of Tea, although my friend is more libertarian leaning). The friend couldn’t get his head around any of the articles I sent him (including the Guardian long read you’ve posted) and told me it all sounded like Sokalian mumbo jumbo - make of that what you will.
 
Very much a dead end. Not sure exactly how much of the crit-theory espousals of this idea map onto how acceleration actually manifests with regards to technological/capital innovation and development but I remember trying to explain the idea to a computer scientist friend of mine (who, coincidentally, shares a similar worldview to that of Tea, although my friend is more libertarian leaning). The friend couldn’t get his head around any of the articles I sent him (including the Guardian long read you’ve posted) and told me it all sounded like Sokalian mumbo jumbo - make of that what you will.
I think it makes sense in itself, but I don't really see how it's practical. Can you actually speed things up or does "it" simply go as fast it wants to? If you can speed it up, how do you know speeding it up will have the outcome you think or hope it will? And if all this is inevitable anyway, why speed it up? It's gonna happen regardless.

The anti-humanism thing trips me up a bit. If you don't care about humans, why would you care about capitalism? It's not as though Land's an environmentalist either.
 
@john eden read it and said it was shit too,
The Masumi is just entertainingly bonkers I think. Rose is genius. Bastani’s book is one of the worst things I read this year. Will try and dredge up what I wrote about it elsewhere. It was about 2 quid in the verso e-book sale though.
Aaron Bastani - Fully Luxury Automated Communism: A Manifesto

This was always going to be a bit of a hate-read for me but to his credit the author is slightly less annoying in book form than in his media incarnation. Most of the book describes technological developments which are probably going to shake things up in the course of the rest of my time on this shitpit of a planet. I found a lot of this section pretty tedious and it reminded me of the breathless puff pieces you would get in 1990s tech mags like Wired, Boing Boing and Mondo 2000. I don't really give a shit what Bastanti thinks about genetic engineering.

Where those magazines fell down was that their utopianism relied entirely on technology to make our lives better. Which it has in some ways but the fact remains that I now exchange most of my time in a windowless basement frantically answering emails, tinkering with Word documents and trying to understand spreadsheets for the money I need to pay for my mortgage and the Morrisons bill. Oh and for the latest iPhone.

So you'd hope Aaron would get to grips with this what Communism being in the title and all. As many other reviewers have noted he doesn't do this. The optimism of the book is not tempered with any suggestion that these technological innovations might cause us some problems. For example the prospects for a workless dystopia enforced by robots and genetic engineering. Or even that the technology itself, as developed under the capitalist mode of production might have some horrific knock on effects in the same way that the industrial revolution lead directly to the climate crisis.

He also, weirdly, thinks that, during the twentieth century "Whether you were an employee or an industrialist, it was in your rational interest to protect the system" and "until now, communism was impossible". Which kind of shits on the workers' movement, but whatever. Now that it is possible, how do we get there? Again, as others have pointed out, it's through the ballot box, daddio. Because most people are too knackered by life to get into politics in a sustained way. Which is on the one hand a neat criticism of hyper activists like Extinction Rebellion, but on the other hand flies in the face of the fact that it is "kicking off everywhere" as Bastani's fellow techno-optimist Paul Mason has it. Clearly a lot of people in Hong Kong, Chile, Lebanon etc do have time for this sort of thing. As do the campaigners out to save Latin Village in Seven Sisters just up the road from where I am typing this. (It's also strange that there is no futuristic techno-utopian vision of how political campaigning may change in here but perhaps that is another book).

So in summary - there is a huge change in how we live and work on the horizon. And there is an optimistic vision of how this will make our lives better. But it relies on political specialists in parliament, and technological specialists who are currently developing everything at breakneck speed under the capitalist mode of production. Here comes the new boss.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
I don't even know what it means to call theories dead ends. They all exist in a parallel universe anyway.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
I've got a theory. What's that going to do? You should judge it by how fun it is. That's the only valid criteria for judging anything like this.
 
I don't even know what it means to call theories dead ends. They all exist in a parallel universe anyway.
You can read "dead end" as "rubbish/not worth engaging with".
I've got a theory. What's that going to do? You should judge it by how fun it is. That's the only valid criteria for judging anything like this.
Do you think accelerationism is a fun theory?
 

linebaugh

Well-known member
Ive heard the birth of accelerationism is this karl marx quote-

"But, in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade."

So the left/right distinction makes sense if understood as post-capitalism vs. better capitalism
 

john eden

male pale and stale
I think it makes sense in itself, but I don't really see how it's practical. Can you actually speed things up or does "it" simply go as fast it wants to? If you can speed it up, how do you know speeding it up will have the outcome you think or hope it will? And if all this is inevitable anyway, why speed it up? It's gonna happen regardless.

The anti-humanism thing trips me up a bit. If you don't care about humans, why would you care about capitalism? It's not as though Land's an environmentalist either.
I don’t think anti-humanism (as philosophy types use it) means not caring about humans though? It’s more about suggesting that what being human is, is socially contingent rather than there being a human essence that never changes.

Having said that, there is often a nihilistic undercurrent to accelerationism.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
What would it mean to 'believe' that 'capitalism' should be 'accelerated'? Absolutely nothing. Like 'believing' 'captitalism' should hatch a chicken.
I do think it is a fun theory, at heart, yes.
Stop holding back, stop resisting, faster, faster, let's go!
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Anti-humanism is not anti-human that's correct. It's not opposed to humans it just doesn't centre them and give them a privileged position
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
It's not worth engaging with its theorists, other than that meltdown essay, but as a way of looking at history and the world it's definitely fun, to take any series of events and say what does this look like through an accelerationist lens
 
I don’t think anti-humanism (as philosophy types use it) means not caring about humans though? It’s more about suggesting that what being human is, is socially contingent rather than there being a human essence that never changes.

Having said that, there is often a nihilistic undercurrent to accelerationism.
Anti-humanism is not anti-human that's correct. It's not opposed to humans it just doesn't centre them and give them a privileged position
What I meant was Nick Land doesn't strike me as being concerned about human or animal suffering and those seem to be the primary reasons people oppose, want to escape from or want to move "beyond" capitalism.
 
Ive heard the birth of accelerationism is this karl marx quote-

"But, in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade."

So the left/right distinction makes sense if understood as post-capitalism vs. better capitalism
Yeah, there's that Marx quote and this from Nietzsche,

"the leveling process of European man is the great process which should not be checked: one should even accelerate it,"
 

john eden

male pale and stale
What I meant was Nick Land doesn't strike me as being concerned about human or animal suffering and those seem to be the primary reasons people oppose, want to escape from or want to move "beyond" capitalism.
Ah right. Yes I am with you there.
 

WashYourHands

Well-known member
Hasn’t an information singularity been passed? We generate more data than we can process, so we throw the data in a computer cue Dr Strangelove voice and then we make zee interpretive frameworks that can’t cope either

This would’ve been more coherent about 3pm
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
Here's how I think about "accelerationism".

At any given historical moment you have forces of production - that's what we're able to do and make, what powers we have to transform ourselves and the world around us through labour and technology - and you have relations of production - that's how the use of those powers is actually organised, how work is allocated and goods are distributed.

At our particular historical moment, the available forces of production are staggeringly powerful - in terms of raw productive capability, we could feed the world, solve climate change, reverse the destruction of the biosphere, provide universal healthcare, build gleaming cities with elegant public parks and monuments, and so on. Doing all of that doesn't even require a massively speculative bet on futuristic powers of automation, like self-driving cars or robot baristas. It does however require levels of co-ordination that our current relations of production - capitalist societies and economies, organised into nations with international trade and multinational corporations - simply don't support.

However, these social systems are increasingly unable to contain or control the productive capabilities unleashed by technology. For example, the way we use intellectual property - patents and copyrights - to incentivise certain kinds of production is running up against the fact that it's now incredibly easy to make infinitely many copies of any digital artifact, and distribute it all over the world in seconds. Very few technological "trade secrets" remain secret for very long. It's easy to mass-produce cheap knock-offs of something that took a huge R&D budget to develop. Where intellectual property law is used to grant monopolies on the production and sale of vital medicines, vaccines etc it increasingly looks like a tool of the powerful to extract rent from needy people, rather than part of a well-functioning system of incentives. If you want to read a scientific paper now, you go on scihub and download it: it increasingly looks stupid and regressive for things to be any other way.

What I want to see "accelerated" is this kind of breakout of the forces of production from the capitalist social relations which constrain them. This does entail the breakdown of systems which have functioned for hundreds of years, and potentially a great deal of social turbulence as old bastions of authority crumble. Both good and bad future forms of society will become possible as a result, the bad being some sort of technocratic neo-feudalism, the good being the opening up of politics beyond current scarcity-oriented, zero-sum rationales. Which way things go is ultimately a political question, and technological progress by itself will not decide it.
 
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