Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism
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We are told our lives are too fast, subject to the accelerating demand that we innovate more, work more, enjoy more, produce more, and consume more. That’s one familiar story. Another, stranger, story is told here: of those who think we haven’t gone fast enough. Instead of rejecting the increasing tempo of capitalist production they argue that we should embrace and accelerate it. Rejecting this conclusion, /Malign Velocities/ tracks this 'accelerationism' as the symptom of the misery and pain of labour under capitalism. Retracing a series of historical moments of accelerationism - the Italian Futurism; communist accelerationism after the Russian Revolution; the 'cyberpunk phuturism' of the ’90s and ’00s; the unconscious fantasies of our integration with machines; the apocalyptic accelerationism of the post-2008 moment of crisis; and the terminal moment of negative accelerationism - suggests the pleasures and pains of speed signal the need to disengage, negate, and develop a new politics that truly challenges the supposed pleasures of speed.
this case acceleration emerged from zero, from radical destruction. This view is disputed by Lars T. Lih, who argues that Trotsky’s calls for ‘labor duty’ and ‘shock work’ were not driven by fantasies of production, but rather a response to emergency conditions – what Trotsky described as ‘the regime of a blockaded fortress with a disorganized economy and exhausted resources’.7 That said, some Bolsheviks did see war communism, or would look back on it, as a site on which to radically rearrange
work in a libidinal acceleration. Those familiar with the most boring forms of work – factory work, office work – will also be familiar with the endless exchanges and discourses about sex. Pornography is passed around, the sexual possibilities of colleagues discussed, and the mind is occupied with the libidinal. The libidinal fantasies of machinic integration, ‘pathological’ as they are, suggest the utopian merging of libidinal acceleration with an acceleration of labor that is repetitive and
production’ against ‘fictional finance’, but rather try to produce the Real as the Real of production and circulation (combining Deleuze and Guattari with Lyotard). That is why I have argued that cyberpunk phuturism is a postmodern ‘passion for the real’, passing through the forms of simulation and semblants to accelerate out and beyond the antinomy of circuit and flesh. Of course, the difficulty is that it involved a certain attachment to an accelerative dynamic of ‘productive forces’ that
transgression, and hence reconnected to value production but at the level of ‘pure’ speculation and excess. The so-called ‘sound investment’ can turn into excrement, but also excrement or waste can suddenly become a speculative resource. The impasse of Bataille’s critique is not only that it has been outpaced by a ‘cloacal’ capitalism, a capitalism that thrives on excess and waste. The more damaging problem is that it conceives this excess or waste as the site of a new production, which hardly
18. Balakrishnan, ‘Speculations’, p.16. Chapter 6 1. Félix Guattari, La revolution moléculaire (Fontenay-sous-Bois: Editions Recherches, 1977), p.17. 2. Alain Badiou, The Century, p.45. 3. Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess, ed. and intro. Allan Stoekl (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), p.92; further page references in text. 4. Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (London: Routledge, 1994), pp.81–87. 5. Jean-Joseph Goux, ‘General Economics