Background[ edit ] A number of philosophers have expressed apparently accelerationist attitudes, including Karl Marx in his speech "On the Question of Free Trade": 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.
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The denial of the future. An imminent apocalypse. There is nothing politico-theological here. Anyone attracted by that should not read this manifesto. But while this is important, here it is completely subordinated to industrial policies, and approachable only on the basis of a criticism of those. In other words, capitalism had to react to and block the political potentiality of post-Fordist labor.
This is followed by a harsh criticism of both right-wing governmental forces, and of a good part of what remains of a Left—the latter often deceived at best by the new and impossible hypothesis of a Keynesian resistance, unable to imagine a radical alternative.
Under these conditions, the future appears to have been cancelled by the imposition of a complete paralysis of the political imaginary. We cannot come out of this condition spontaneously. Only a systematic class-based approach to the construction of a new economy, along with a new political organization of workers, will make possible the reconstruction of hegemony and will put proletarian hands on a possible future.
There is still space for subversive knowledge! The opening of this manifesto is adequate to the communist task of today. It represents a decided and decisive leap forward—necessary if we want to enter the terrain of revolutionary reflection.
This is not about a reversal of the state-form in general; rather, it refers to potentiality against power—biopolitics against biopower. It is under this premise that the possibility of an emancipatory future is radically opposed to the present of capitalist dominion.
Its hypothesis is that the liberation of the potentiality of labor against the blockage determined by capitalism must happen within the evolution of capitalism itself. It is about pursuing economic growth and technological evolution both of which are accompanied by growing social inequalities in order to provoke a complete reversal of class relations.
Within and against: the traditional refrain of Operaism returns. The fundamental issue here is the power of cognitive labor that is determined yet repressed by capitalism; constituted by capitalism yet reduced within the growing algorithmic automation of dominion; ontologically valorized it increases the production of value , yet devalorized from the monetary and disciplinary point of view not only within the current crisis but also throughout the entire story of the development and management of the state-form.
With all due respect to those who still comically believe that revolutionary possibilities must be linked to the revival of the working class of the twentieth century, such a potentiality clarifies that we are still dealing with a class, but a different one, and one endowed with a higher power. It is the class of cognitive labor. This is the class to liberate, this is the class that has to free itself. In this way, the recovery of the Marxian and Leninist concept of tendency is complete.
We have to remove any illusion of a return to Fordist labor; we have to finally grasp the shift from the hegemony of material labor to the hegemony of immaterial labor. The key issue is then to liberate the latent productive forces, as revolutionary materialism has always done. This last assertion is perhaps excessive, considering the current movements that oppose albeit with neither alternatives nor proper tools financial capital and its institutional materializations.
When it comes to revolutionary transformation, we certainly cannot avoid a strong institutional transition, one stronger than any transition democratic horizontalism could ever propose. Planning is necessary—either before or after the revolutionary leap—in order to transform our abstract knowledge of tendency into the constituent power of postcapitalist and communist institutions to come.
The following must be taken as a task to elaborate further: planning the struggle comes before planning production. We will discuss this later. In other words, the surplus added in production is derived primarily from socially productive cooperation.
This is probably the most crucial passage of the Manifesto. Productive quantification, economic modeling, big data analysis, and the most abstract cognitive models are all appropriated by worker-subjects through education and science. The use of mathematical models and algorithms by capital does not make them a feature of capital.
It is not a problem of mathematics—it is a problem of power. No doubt, there is some optimism in this Manifesto. Such an optimistic perception of the technosocial body is not very useful for the critique of the complex human-machine relationship, but nonetheless this Machiavellian optimism helps us to dive into the discussion about organization, which is the most urgent one today.
Once the discussion is brought back to the issue of power, it leads directly to the issue of organization. An Ecology of New Institutions At this point, the problem of organization is properly posed. As already said, a new configuration of the relation between network and planning is proposed against extremist horizontalism.
Against any peaceful conception of democracy as process, a new attention shifts from the means voting, democratic representation, constitutional state, and so forth to the ends collective emancipation and self-government. Nevertheless, this is a direction to explore. This is even clearer today, at the end of the cycle of struggles that started in , which have all shown insuperable limits regarding their forms of organization throughout their clashes with power, despite their strength and new genuine revolutionary contents.
The MAP proposes three urgent goals that are appropriate and realistic for the time being: First of all, building a new kind of intellectual infrastructure to support a new ideal project and the study of new economic models. Second, organizing a strong initiative on the terrain of mainstream mass media: the internet and social networks have undoubtedly democratized communication and they have been very useful for global struggles, yet communication still remains subjugated to its most traditional forms.
The task becomes one of focusing substantial resources and all the energy possible in order to get our hands on adequate means of communication. The third goal is activating all possible institutional forms of class power transitional and permanent, political and unionist, global and local.
A unitary constitution of class power will be possible only through the assemblage and hybridization of all experiences developed so far, and those yet to be invented. Such a humanism, however, going beyond the limits imposed by capitalist society, is open to post-human and scientific utopias, reviving the dreams of twentieth-century space exploration or conceiving new impregnable barriers against death and all the accidents of life.
Rational imagination must be accompanied by the collective fantasy of new worlds, organizing a strong self-valorization of labor and society. The most modern epoch that we have experienced has shown us that there is nothing but an Inside of globalization, that there is no longer an Outside.
Today, however, reformulating again the issue of reconstructing the future, we have the necessity—and also the possibility—of bringing the Outside in, to breathe a powerful life into the Inside. What can be said about this document?
Some of us perceive it as an Anglo-Saxon complement to the perspective of post-Operaism—less inclined to revive socialist humanism, and better able to develop a new positive humanism. It posits, with extreme strength, the issue of the tendency of capitalistic development, of the need for both its reappropriation and for its rupture.
On this basis, it advances the construction of a communist program. These are strong legs on which to move forward. Stelarc, The Third Hand, On the Thresholds of Technopolitics Some criticism may be useful at this point to reopen the discussion and push the argument forward towards points of agreement.
Firstly, there is too much determinism in this project, both political and technological. The relation to historicity or, if you prefer, to history, to contemporaneity, to praxis is likely to be distorted by something that we are not inclined to call teleology, but that looks like teleology. The relation to singularities and therefore the capacity to understand tendency as virtual involving singularities , and material determination that pushes tendency forward as a power of subjectivization, appears to me to be underestimated.
Tendency can be defined only as an open relation, as a constitutive relation that is animated by class subjects. It may be objected that this insistence on openness may lead to perverse effects, for example, to a framework so heterogeneous that it becomes chaotic and therefore irresolvable—a multiplicity that is enlarged and made so gigantic that it constitutes a bad infinity. This is a difficult and crucial point.
However, if we want to continue on this ground—which I believe to be useful and decisive—we have to break the relentless progression of productive tension on which the Manifesto relies. We have to identify the thresholds of development and the consolidations of such thresholds—what Deleuze and Guattari would call agencements collectifs. These consolidations are the reappropriation of fixed capital and the transformation of labor power; they consist of anthropologies, languages, and activities.
These historically constituted thresholds arise in the relationship between the technical and the political composition of the proletariat. Without such consolidations, a political program—as transitory as it may be—is impossible. It is precisely because we cannot clarify such a relationship between technical composition and political composition, that at times we find ourselves methodologically helpless and politically powerless.
Conversely, it is the determination of a historic threshold and the awareness of a specific modality of technopolitical relations, which allows for the formulation of both an organizational process and an appropriate program of action. Mind you: posing this problem implicitly raises the problem of how to better define the process in which the relationship between singularity and the common grows and consolidates acknowledging the progressive nature of the productive tendency.
We need to specify what the common is in any technological assemblage, while developing a specific study of the anthropology of production. The Hegemony of Cooperation To return again to the issue of the reappropriation of fixed capital: as I have pointed out, in the MAP, the cooperative dimension of production and particularly the production of subjectivities is underestimated in relation to technological criteria.
Technical parameters of productivity aside, the material aspects of production in fact also describe the anthropological transformation of labor power. I insist on this point. The cooperative element does become central and conducive to a possible hegemony within the set of languages, algorithms, functions, and technological know-how that constitutes the contemporary proletariat. Such a statement comes from noticing that the structure itself of capitalist exploitation has now changed.
Capital continues to exploit, but paradoxically in limited forms—when compared to its power of surplus-labor extraction from society as a whole. However, when we become aware of this new determination, we realize that fixed capital i. Such a cooperation is something incommensurable: as Marx said, it is not the sum of the surplus labor of two or more workers but the surplus produced by the fact that they work together in short, the surplus that is beyond the sum itself.
I will briefly mention one. The latter is of great importance in the process that leads to the complete real subsumption of society within capital—informatization is indeed interpreting and leading this tendency. Informatization is indeed more important than automation, which by itself, in that specific historical moment, managed to characterize a new social form only in a partial and precarious way. As the Manifesto clarifies and experience confirms, today we are well beyond that point.
Productive society appears not only globally informatized, but such a computerized social world is in itself reorganized and automatized according to new criteria in the management of the labor market and new hierarchical parameters in the management of society. When production is socially generalized through cognitive work and social knowledge, informatization remains the most valuable form of fixed capital, while automation becomes the cement of capitalist organization, bending both informatics and the information society back into itself.
Information technology is thus subordinated to automation. The command of capitalist algorithms is marked by this transformation of production. We are thus at a higher level of real subsumption. Hence the great role played by logistics, which, after being automated, began to configure any and all territorial dimensions of capitalist command and to establish internal and external hierarchies of global space, as does the algorithmic machinery that centralizes and commands, by degrees of abstraction and branches of knowledge, with variables of frequency and function—that complex system of knowledge that since Marx we have been accustomed to calling General Intellect.
Now, if extractive capitalism expands its power of exploitation extensively to any social infrastructure and intensively to any degree of abstraction of the productive machine at any level of global finance, for instance , it will be necessary to reopen the debate on the reappropriation of fixed capital within such a practical and theoretical space.
The construction of new struggles is to be measured according to such a space. Fixed capital can potentially be reappropriated by the proletariat.
This is the potentiality that must be liberated. Such a monetary abstraction, as a tendency of the becoming-hegemonic of financial capital itself, also points to potential forms of resistance and subversion at the same highest level. On this, a great deal of work is still to be done. To conclude though there are so many things left to discuss!
Accelerationism: how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in
Pinterest Illustration by Bratislav Milenkovic Celebrating speed and technology has its risks. A century ago, the writers and artists of the Italian futurist movement fell in love with the machines of the industrial era and their apparent ability to invigorate society. Many futurists followed this fascination into war-mongering and fascism. One of the central figures of accelerationism is the British philosopher Nick Land, who taught at Warwick University in the s, and then abruptly left academia. Other accelerationists now distance themselves from Land.
Reflections on the “Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics”
The denial of the future. An imminent apocalypse. There is nothing politico-theological here. Anyone attracted by that should not read this manifesto.
#ACCELERATE MANIFESTO for an Accelerationist Politics