If Proudhon’s philosophy of progress can be summed up in just a few words, it would be this: things grow and things decay, and things grow again elsewhere. State decay, community decay, cultural decay, economic decay so on and forth – this is the necessary movement for state growth, community growth, cultural growth, economic growth, etc. etc. It will, however, never run backwards: what has inevitability decayed will never return in its original form.
The baton of productivity has been officially passed to Edmund Berger. He’s on fire this week.
One of the common critiques of U/ACC is that it doesn’t deal sufficiently with the question of collapse, that its assumptions align with the most Promethean of moderns in that it envisions, on the ‘other side’ of technoeconomic take-off, unending wealth, prosperity, and orgiastic delirium. Nothing could be further from the truth (except perhaps the last one, though the delirium in mind is hardly that of bourgeois decadence). Sites of techno-economic intensity will doubtlessly be characterized by self-reinforcing growth, which – until it hits the transcendental wall of hard singularity – will bleed through society in the form of higher standards of living, health, and happiness. But things decay, and growth elsewhere. The interior cost of this techno-economic feedback will be the consolidation of the human agent into the gears of the urban machine, but the exterior costs will be something completely different: ruin.
I have lots of thoughts on this but I’ll save them for the follow-up proper to “State Decay“. I don’t feel like I can write it fast enough at the moment. It’s getting longer and longer but I’m very excited about it. We’ll be moving from Kant and Bataille to Deleuze, Blanchot and Emily Brontë.
(I’m hoping the more I tease it in these in-between posts, the more I’ll force myself to actually finish it before I run out of steam with it. Unfortunately, that’s still likely to a few weeks off. The immediate future promises something a bit different, perhaps. I’m heading for the exit tomorrow morning, leaving the UK for the first time in what feels like (and might very well be) two years, to spend the next five days in Budapest. I didn’t pick the destination — it’s somewhere my partner has wanted to go for a long time. However, having since learnt that it is “the capital of caves“, you can rest assured this holiday will provide some blog fuel.)
@meta_nomad picked up a similar thread, via Michel Serres, on the timeline: