Accelerationism

The Centre for Cultural Studies presents: ACCELERATIONISM

Room RHB 256

Goldsmiths, University of London

13:30-17:00, 14th September 2010

But which is the revolutionary path? Is there one? – To withdraw from the world market, as Samir Amin advises Third World Countries to do, in a curious revival of the fascist “economic solution”? Or might it be to go in the opposite direction? To go further still, 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 practice of a highly schizophrenic character. Not to withdraw from the process, but to go further, to “accelerate the process,” as Nietzsche put it: in this matter, the truth is that we haven’t seen anything yet.

–       Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus

The English unemployed did not have to become workers to survive, they – hang on tight and spit on me – enjoyed the hysterical, masochistic, whatever exhaustion it was of hanging on in the mines, in the foundries, in the factories, in hell, they enjoyed it, enjoyed the mad destruction of their organic body which was indeed imposed upon them, they enjoyed the decomposition of their personal identity, the identity that the peasant tradition had constructed for them, enjoyed the dissolutions of their families and villages, and enjoyed the new monstrous anonymity of the suburbs and the pubs in morning and evening.

–       Jean-Francois Lyotard Libidinal Economy

Machinic revolution must therefore go in the opposite direction to socialistic regulation; pressing towards ever more uninhibited marketization of the pro­cesses that are tearing down the social field, “still further” with “the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization” and “one can never go far enough in the direction of deterritori­alization: you haven’t seen anything yet”.

–       Nick Land, “Machinic Desire”

In the early 1970s, post-68 French thinkers such as Deleuze and Guattari and Lyotard made the heretical suggestion that capital should not be resisted but accelerated. Deplored, repudiated then forgotten, this remarkable moment was returned to only in the UK during the 1990s, in  the theory-fiction of Nick Land, Iain Hamilton Grant, Sadie Plant and the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit. Drawing upon Fernand Braudel, Manuel DeLanda, and cyber-theory, 90s accelerationism drew a distinction between markets (as bottom-up self-organising networks) and capital (an oligarchic and predatory system of control).  Was  accelerationism merely  a new cybernetic mask for neoliberalism? Or does the call to “accelerate the process” mark out a  political position that has never been properly developed, and which still has a potential to reinvigorate the left?

This one-day symposium will think through the implications of accelerationism in the light of the forthcoming publication of Nick Land’s Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 and Benjamin Noys’s The Persistence of the Negative.

Speakers:

Ray Brassier – co-editor with Robin Mackay of Nick Land’s Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 (2010)

Mark Fisher – author of k-punk blog and a founder member of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit

Robin Mackay – philosopher, director of Urbanomic, editor of Collapse

Benjamin Noys – author of The Persistence of the Negative (2010), blogs at No Useless Leniency

Nick Srnicek – author of Speculative Heresy blog, PhD candidate at LSE, and is working with Alex Williams on a book critiquing folk politics

Alex Williams – working on a book on accelerationism, blogs at Splintering Bone Ashes

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4 thoughts on “Accelerationism

  1. Pingback: Accelerationism | Progressive Geographies

  2. Pingback: Accelerationism | zeitkunst

  3. Dear Speculative Heresy,

    This is Ross Wolfe. About two years ago, I corresponded with Taylor Adkins about Francois Laruelle. At the time, I was interested in coming to a better understanding of Laruelle’s program of non-philosophy. To some extent, I still am. As far as I can tell, it was my knowledge of classic German philosophy that was seen as valuable to the project, insofar as Laruelle engaged with Kant, Fichte, and Hegel.

    While I remain interested in German philosophy, my more recent studies have led me to Marxism and its further articulation in Lukacs and Adornian critical theory. While I’m not as familiar with Deleuze (I’ve intended to read his thoughts on capitalism for some time now), at least from your description it seems to me that the subject of capital remains under-theorized in his model. Perhaps I’m just setting out from a different starting point, but understanding capital as nothing more than “an oligarchic and predatory system of control” fails to grasp its most essential dimension: the value-form.

    Also, the distinction of markets from capital to me seems false unless markets are conceived as an outgrowth of capitalism, or something that perhaps preexisted capital but has since been subsumed by it. Otherwise, I do not see what the “payoff” of analytically separating “markets” from “capital” might be. It could be that I’m just not acquainted with the true nature of their argument, of course.

    Still, I’m intrigued by Deleuze’s argument that capital should not be “resisted.” As someone who finds resistance discourse at best tiresome and at worst tacitly complicit with that which it claims to resist, I’m inclined to agree. I’m not sure about “accelerating” the process of capital. That already seems to be capital’s tendency, following the “treadmill pattern” of relative surplus-value.

    Best,
    Ross

  4. Pingback: Conferences and Events « Deontologistics

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