Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The oddity of accelerationism

Steven Shaviro has a really interesting piece on his blog on accelerationism.

I'm alternately puzzled and appalled by the whole accelerationist thing.  I'd like to think that it's the death throes of something old rather than the birth pangs of something new but I'm not sure.  Despite its sexy, fashionable, fast talking conceptual garb there's something oddly outdated about.  It seems to presuppose a very pre-Gaian kind of Nature (this is ironic since the people pushing these ideas often justify themselves in relation to the anthropocene, etc.) that is quite untenable in our contemporary ecological situation.

It comes down to this: can we accelerate capitalism to the point that it breaks down, mutates and becomes something else before Gaia boils us to death?  I can't imagine how.  We may have already passed the point of no return in that regard.

The only way out of this for the accelerationists would seem to be to assume that either late-late capitalism or that-which-follows-capitalism would be sufficiently technologically advanced that it could engineer the climate and master Gaia.

In other words, the accelerationists must have precisely the same long term goals as the most idealistic, technophilic neoliberals.  I can only imagine that there are some twenty-something CEOs in Silicon Valley reading this stuff and thinking to themselves 'yes! that's exactly it!'  It's a young man's discourse with some seriously old school presuppositions.

It's quite possible that I'm being ignorant and unfairly simplifying in all of this but that's my impression.