so many people who went to the University of Warwick who decided that various things (words! capitalism! jungle!) were ‘viruses’, when clearly the University of Warwick was the ‘virus’ and a pretty malignant one
Thomas was on hand to fill him in:
EVIL forces of malignancy OWNED by the acerbic wit of the nation’s premier soviet nostalgia tourguide and milquetoast psychogeographer. You see they talked positively about ‘viruses’,, but it was they who were the virus… how will the CCRU ever recover from this? 
“Kid you really think haunted computers are exciting?” he croaked in the guildlight, “check out this moodboard composed of the finest examples of post-war brutalist social housing…” 
Here he is with a truly blistering thread on the performative contradictions internal to leftist politics, particularly in this little corner of the internet. Here TM condenses what this blog has spent 1000s of words vaguely exploring into 9 incredibly precise tweets. Grumpy grad student “marxists” take note.
No surprise the exploding brain “Deleuze and Lyotard created neoliberalism” take comes from legacy tankies who think neoliberal statecraft was purely about deregulation, ignoring massive expansion of state spending on the military and police under Reagan/Thatcher and monetaryism 
The irony remains that the 90s control societ was the culmination of the post-war experiments in aping the fascist command economy (state as a macroeconomic relay station) amongst the Western bloc. That’s the kind of society the kiddies bandying around the term “neoliberal” want. 
If you identity as a communist or Marxist and support soft-socialist Keynesian dynamic stochastic equilibria, your political subjectivity is a performative contraction. 
The function of the academy is to produce generations of elites who support the current economic regime, be it under the guise of radicalism or conservatism. Critical theorists hate texts like Libidinal Economy and Capitalism and Schizophrenia because they illustrate this. 
These thinkers claim Marx as an idol but then treat him like a classical economist. The whole purpose of the critique of political economy was the abolition of economic abstracta (equilibria, price idealism etc.) and regrounding of the discipline on concreta. 
Marx: *cites mostly economists, engages with empirical data, constantly updates theories in accordance with the emergence of new financial instruments*
Critical theorists: Money—evil, like Satan, and also fake and lame. I h8 maths. Here are quotes from my favourite philosophers 
Characteristic that thinkers who are essentially one form of philosophical civil servant or another find this kind of thinking appalling—they’re simply protecting their self-interest. But it is the height of dishonesty for them to suggest their modus operandi is morally virtuous 
The sad truth is there are entire ideologies designed around criticism of the current MOP, which also prohibit and police any empirical or transcendental grasp of that process. One flails about, complaining about oppression, while enjoying a bourgeois life of scholasticism. 
I’ve got a few posts brewing on some topics featured here but I doubt they’ll be manage to skewer anything as resolutely as this.
Last but definitely not least, TM weighs in on the recent UBI debates, following on from the strangely memetic Andrew Yang and his desire to run for POTUS in 2020. (Sidenote: Nyx has also published a great post on this recently.)
Adam Smith on UBI: “… like him who perverts the revenues of some pious foundation to profane purposes, he pays the wages of idleness with those funds which the frugality of his forefathers had, as it were, consecrated to the maintenance of industry.”
“the democratic petty bourgeois want better wages and security for the workers, and hope to achieve this by an extension of state employment and by welfare measures; in short, they hope to bribe the workers with a more or less disguised form of alms” —Marx on #YangGang 
It takes mindblowing degrees of stupidity to encourage any model of governance where general livelihood depends on the mere charity of the state. As the populous becomes increasingly deskilled, dependent and uselss, their destiny will be left to the whims of technocrats. 
It’s reminiscent of the disgraceful dishonesty of the left acceleration crowd who are “Marxist” yet disregard his sustained, foundational criticism of Proudhonian socialism, in whose equalitarian model of distribution he rightly spots a tyrannical control principle. 
“The proletariat would lose all its hard-won independent position and be reduced once more to a mere appendage of official bourgeois democracy.” 
I heard on the grapevine there was some very cursed accelerationist chat on the latest episode of Parallax Views — specifically some chat about U/Acc — and, against all better judgement, I decided to check it out.
It was disappointing but not all that surprising to hear the usual misconceptions and not a lot else. I’d really love to hear what people’s sources are for a lot of this stuff. I don’t mind that people don’t like U/Acc writing or ideas or whatever — to each their own — but it is irritating when people trot out the same straw men again and again, as if these are things which aren’t addressed in the earliest U/Acc (and more broadly accelerationist) writings already.
It seems like someone who hasn’t read anything makes a comment and then that comment is parroted by other people who haven’t read anything either. It feels like a bizarre psyop implemented by people who just don’t know any better. The blind leading the blind. It’s boring. It’d be great to have a better class of opponent.
This happens a lot, obviously, but I take particular umbrage with this instance because JG Michael and Michael James have been around for some time. Heck, they’ve been hanging around these parts longer than I have, probably. They’re well-known interlocutors. So what’s the excuse? Have they inadvertently betrayed their own laziness? Their own superficial readings? As fellow chroniclers of a lot of online debates, I’m really struggling to understand how this episode is peppered with so many basic errors. It’s embarrassing.
That said, I have no intention of writing some waste-of-time point-by-point deconstruction of anything here — I’ll be keeping this short — but it does feel like these things haven’t been reiterated in a while. And since the weird takes from nowhere continue to proliferate ad nauseum, it can’t hurt if we all take a minute to revise the basics, right?
So, without further ado…
In the written intro to the episode, podcast host JG Michael points to our little corner of the internet and describes us as “the meme-loving denizens of U/Acc ‘Cave Twitter’ who advocate for accelerating capitalism to it’s endpoint regardless of it’s outcome.” You hear this all the time but I don’t know when anyone has ever said this?
I mean, okay, it’s The Guardian‘s view of accelerationism… But everyone knows that article is utterly reductive and flawed… right? Are we really using that as our theoretical touchstone here?
It’s the summary that has been thrown at accelerationism — no matter the substrate — for over a decade but who knows how it has managed to stick in the minds of so many supposedly educated people.
Mark Fisher said it most clearly in his essay “Postcapitalist Desire” back in 2014. This is — and always has been — Accelerationism 101:
Capitalism is a necessarily failed escape from feudalism, which, instead of destroying encastement, reconstitutes social stratification in the class structure. It is only given this model that Deleuze and Guattari’s call to “accelerate the process” makes sense. It does not mean accelerating any or everything in capitalism willy-nilly, in the hope that capitalism will thereby collapse. Rather, it means accelerating the processes of destratification that capitalism cannot but obstruct.
In this sense, U/Acc isn’t a new mutation. It’s the original idea brought back to the fore after the woeful distractions of its left and right divergences — which led to its explicit dumbing down and dilution rather than being understood simply as “capitalist” and “anti-capitalist” variants. If U/Acc attempts to separate itself from these discussions, that’s only to shift focus to the further work done to exacerbate and rigorise the ‘Philosophy of Time’ elements that were buried in the writings of the Ccru and glossed over far too quickly by the subsequent L/R discussions.
The further critique explored on PV, particularly by Michael James, is that U/Acc supposedly rejects agency and instead believes in capitalism as a theological entity to be worshipped, as if its all a big Cthulhu Club LARP. This, again, is common and the result of people seeing the dramatised and poeticised experiments with Accelerationist ideas and taking them to be all too literal, failing to understand the distinct merits of (but nonetheless close relationship between) poetics and philosophy. (This has been discussed in orbit of the work of JG Ballard and Simon Sellars on this blog here.)
This is to say: yes, various accelerationist texts have used the style and language of occulted knowledges and theological beliefs, precisely to lampoon and refer to those (effectively hyperstitional) properties of human civilisation and thought when faced with something that we don’t (and, perhaps, can’t) fully understand.
Further to this is an investigation of the limits of a philosophical humanism when talking about climate change politics, the very things that James says he’s all about.
The problem has been muddied by its own continual posing in humanist terms, which have provoked a refusal to understand the enormity of the issues at stake. From this perspective of humanism, thought is assimilated entirely to the objective of negotiating the problems that are held to confront humanity. Philosophically, it is concerned with epistemological understanding founded implicitly or not on the centrality of a coherent human subject; critically, it reduces the world to the relations of power practiced by humans towards humans; politically, it immerses itself in defining and putting into motion a better human society. Thought is rendered finally as a series of technical questions that constitute the tactical mapping of a topography whose ultimate form is placed beyond dispute.
This insistent backwater parochialism has eclipsed the intellectually interesting content of accelerationism. In colloquial usage on the left, for instance, ‘accelerationism’ has come to denote merely the idea that the situation of humanity must get worse before it gets better. At the heart of this definition lies the insistent, obsessional humanist question, ‘What is to be done?’, the fundamental question of praxis. The answer is rendered: ‘We must make things worse, so that they get better.’ This uninteresting idea has provoked an avalanche of furious critique of a commensurate intellectual scale. It is the doctrine, we are told, of ‘a dim child, trapped in a train about to crash, pretending he’s the driver’. Quite right, yet the critics protest too much: this is a feeling that has been characteristic of modern radicalism for centuries.
Frankly, I think it says it all how far below this point James’ ideas are when you consider how he has gone on a podcast and introduced his own blog as being built out of an “exhaustion with the theoretical limits of philosophy” and then all he does is demonstrate the limits of his comprehension, as if to say “If I can’t think it, no one can”, betraying the identitarian foundations of a politics he likes to pretend are far more radical.
In truth, it is an individualism that dresses itself up as a humanism. Through and through, his thoughts are always a factor of 10 below the scale he thinks he’s addressing. It’s the ingrown logic of a coveted individualist who LARPs being all about collective action. (In the next few minutes of the podcast, without a lick of irony, U/Acc is accused of being an “anhedonic mindset” but please show me anything more depressing than James’ logic.)
Likewise, the points made about U/Acc wanting to decimate the “human subject” — where is this coming from? The human subject, as we currently understand it, is riven through with the conservative logics of capitalism. It’s the argument of capitalist realism. The human subject is limited by present state infrastructures. It’s the argument of and a further challenge to Foucault’s biopolitics, more than anything.
But James instead goes on about how “there are still people who make decisions”.
Yes, there are. Well done. But anyone who’s powerful enough to make decisions about the future of our planet is a capitalist. They are most likely a capitalist subject par excellence. And so the beast eats its tale. Which comes first? Or, better yet: what ends first? Capitalism or the capitalist? James’ argument is, well, when the world ends and we all die out, they’ll both be gone…
The man’s a genius. Please, tell us again how wanting to radicalise and find exits from present infrastructures and subjectivities whilst we still can is depressive and all about giving up.
(Sidenote:@mutual_ayyde makes the point that it’s not just about capitalists: “modern complexity means that any intentional change period is difficult”. I agree: This is “more to challenge the point made in the podcast but any intentional change being difficult is why u/acc splits with both L and R wishful thinking.”)
My favourite line of this segment must go to James, again. It’s a doozy.
People don’t see a way out, right? It’s almost a giving up. It’s almost like a depression that’s set in. It’s like, “Okay, if we can’t be human, or if we can’t find a way out of this system, let’s just be complicit with becoming something new.”
Michael James’ Twitter has been a frequent source of tradical logic in recent months and here it is encapsulated beautifully. The depressive complicity of becoming something new.
Actually, you know what, I take that back. That’s perfect. That’s exactly what U/Acc is. In fact, it’s an Accelerationism laid out in precisely the same terms as Fisher, previously quoted — “accelerating the processes of destratification that capitalism cannot but obstruct.” It’s a complicity with capitalism’s self-destructive tendencies, the exacerbating of our desires for the new — which capitalism encourages materialistically — short-circuited towards a new system beyond itself. Because that’s the trick, right? Capitalism already contains its own demise. Playing chicken with its own redundancy is how it keeps its edge. U/Acc recognises this and says, “What can we do for ourselves that encourages it a little bit further over the edge?” We can’t give it the final push but we can sure throw our weight behind its own momentum. This is what it means to “accelerate the process”.
Ultimately, that’s how accelerationism has always seen us transitioning out. (“Transitioning” being something of a double entendre here, of course, with the beautiful shitposting of U/Acc’s transgender community persistently striking the cloistered limits of the real anhedonic logic of a cisgendered realism in stark relief — oh, the fragility of the (truly) complicit trad.)
Furthermore, as Fisher once said, capitalism can’t be voted out. It takes a libidinal usurping — a change of mind; a fundamental change of the subject hardwired into maintaining the status quo — to change the system. Politics alone won’t change anything…
Same with climate change, right, Michael?
In Capitalist Realism, remember, Fisher demands a new collective subject, which does not exist but has long been promised. Michael James seems to argue for this himself elsewhere, but repeatedly betrays a squeamishness as to its real implications. It’s all hot air and bitterness and tweeting about not caring about twitter. The holier-than-thou piety of a deluded egoist, hiding under the very nihilism he denounces in others.
Oh, and please forgive U/Acc for heading for the exits and having fun with the most radical subjects that popular culture has to offer. They are the seeds for a new realism, after all.
That Parallax Views segment is just a load of waffle between two people who evidently don’t have a clue what they’re on about.
Update: I see Max Castle has taken on many of the same issues with the podcast on Twitter:
One of the more difficult things about staking a position and defending it against criticism is the way interlocutors feint stupidity as a defense for a particular bad point. 
For example, look at a recent episode of @ViewsParallax with Michael James (@brightabyss). The host, J.G. Michael, asked James about accelerationism and we got the sort of criticism one has come to expect. 
The host’s criticism was especially galaxy brain level stuff: “Accelerationists love the Blade Runner aesthetic but if there aren’t humans, you can’t have Blade Runner.” I’m going to treat this ‘critique’ with more seriousness than it deserves. 
Accelerationism is NOT an aesthetic theory nor does it have a favored aesthetic. It is a theory of Capital. Cyberpunk/BR is a way to imagine a DIY response to obstacles in the flow of capital. It is not the official aesthetic ACC. 
That all being said, “All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.” 
How can this point be so consistently missed? Obvious BA will come back with some sort of point about idol worshipping Marx, but shit the guy got Capital. Maybe the Marxists should pay attention. 
BA’s critique is only slightly better. Here they are:
(1) Accelerationism makes him have the bad feels.
(2) Corporation and CEOs make decisions.
(3) He doesn’t see accelerationists living the accelerationist life. 
So, in order:
(1) Who cares if you get the feels? Why must we assume that a theory of Capital must also include a political plan? This is not assumed of any other theory and points to a clear misunderstanding of the purposes of thought. 
(2) Yes, humans make decisions but the point is that these decisions are driven by a logic existing at a higher level. This logic is not the product of simple CEO desires but is the mechanism that drives their desires. 
(3) What part of beyond individual control is BA struggling with? 
On the point about “accelerationists not living the accelerationist life”, I’ll point — once again — to my old post on this: “U/ACC … argues that what is open to ‘us’ is perhaps only the possibility of, as Deleuze writes in Logic of Sense, a ‘becoming the quasi-cause of what is produced within us’.”
Reader: he never did post it. You can, however, now read my U/Acc Primer which is filled with lots more evidence proving MJ is clueless. Is that a further tantrum? Or is it an attempt to actually inform people instead of parroting under-researched misgivings? You decide.
‘Mere mobs!’ repeated his new friend with a snort of scorn. ‘So you talk about mobs and the working classes as if they were the question. You’ve got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists: they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists, as you can see from the barons’ wars.’
Anarchism is a philosophy that repudiates servitude in all its forms. It says little that it might attract those who have never served at all. But that is not to say the rich are naturally outside our social infrastructures. No, they produce them! Because the rich wouldn’t be rich without someone to rule over.
The rich aren’t anarchists, then or now. Look at the response to one man’s mention of taxes at the Davos summit. An anarchism that only cares about injustices for the rich, at the expense of all others, is not anarchism. It’s yet another example of neorandianism.
The rich are fascists who want to have their cake and eat it.
Update: Nyx with some Nietzschean wisdom:
I’d counter aristocracy is about class, but decadence is about spirit.
As Nietzsche says, there is indeed a decadence of societies. But it vacillates. It neither adopts a linear course nor a continuous rhythm: it procrastinates. Or instead, there is a procrastination of decadence that is a part of decadence. On the one hand, decadence acts (obviously in its kinship with nihilism) as a destruction of values, notably of the value of truth; and, on the other hand (which is a movement contemporaneous with the first), it works toward the establishment of “new” values. Thus, we have a panicked and pathetic nihilism, for which nothing has value anymore, and an active nihilism that responds: nothing has value anymore? too bad, let’s continue in this direction. The latter is on the side of destruction. The former is the return of faith, the recurrence of an obstinate belief in the unity, totality, and finality of a Meaning. Therefore, the value of truth, which is certainly displaced, nonetheless persists through the discourse of science and its reception.
Wow, most so-called leftists genuinely do not understand Marx or capitalism, and do not understand that Marx himself differentiated markets from capitalism (the realm of exchange, to him, was merely irrelevant, not uniquely toxic or determinative). 
The left wing aversion to markets, including myself in the past, is kind of weird to me, because markets probably emerge [pretty] much every time where people congregate in one place, share metrics & institutions, and have possessions or perform services. 
Markets & exchange are conflated with private property, the social division of labor, wage-labor/labor-power, and the class system, and they are not equivalent to, not necessarily entail/entailed by any of those. 
What’s more, where information, and goods are given, preferences bounded in scope, & production [with] fixed capital not an issue, it’s probably the case that markets & command produce the same outcomes. 
The issue comes with public goods, externalities, and production, specifically reverse capital deepening, reswitching, and the [effects] of money as an autonomous causal factor. That’s where markets & command diverge. 
Also where there are markets for information/market exchange generates information, and markets alter institutions endogenously, but this holds for command too. Where command does this it has the same negative outcomes as markets. 
Absent the state, and coercive mechanisms of employment & settlement, and with the reestablishment of the commons, temporary, local markets for inadvertent surplus are actually quite good (and more to the point will emerge on their own) 
As Ellen Meiskins Wood was wont to point out, markets & arbitrage do not comprise capitalism and have existed since time immemorial. Capitalism is a structure of production, class, property etc  Graeber, Polanyi, Ingham, Osterhammel, Carson, Scott, Zelizer & arguably Frederici can be mobilized for much the same argument. 
This doesn’t mean I’m pro market either, I’m just no longer a market abolitionist, as I see that as impossible absent intense, inefficient & costly coercion.  I’m a class, property, division of labor, wage labor, work, prison, forced settlement, and stratification abolitionist. But once those are removed, if markets emerge they will be temporary, local, socially benign & economically efficient. 
I am being ever more increasingly persuaded that actually existing anarcho-communism is patchwork and nothing else — a patchwork understood to be broadly abolitionist whilst retains an understanding of communication as exchange.
Although I don’t think that’s the corner @yungneocon is fighting in…
UPDATE: A comment from Ed from elsewhere. He said this post reminded him of the “Anti-Capital” k-punk post where Mark says:
Just as in the SF flix, it is only by the formation of strong collectivities that the alien can be defeated, or at least subdued. Autonomous collectivies are anti-capitalist not by virtue of organizing against capital, as if capital were an errant ruler who could be persuaded to mend its ways, but through their production of sustainanble energy systems (in the broadest sense) that are simply indifferent to capitals incessant injunction to replicate more of itself. Markets and other sorts of trading circuits are of course integral to this process, just as socialist-style Statist macro-organization is, at best, irrelevant, at worst, positively obstructive to it.
Anti-capitalism is not a political movement, it is a set of practices, many of them still only potentials.
An interesting point raised by @Moctezuma_III was that surely an awareness of the existence of a thought like Accelerationism is better than nothing. (I’m personally unconvinced that an ignorant awareness is any better than pure ignorance.)
Maybe as an American, my standards are just low. Compare this MPs writing to the Zuckerberg testimony in the House of Representatives a few weeks ago.
However, this does perhaps shine a light on some of the progressive pockets of mainstream British politics. Cruddas is also a part of a Future Of Work commission — I’m unsure if this is the same thinktank that I’ve heard Srnicek and/or Williams take part in to lobby for a post-work society. There are active pockets of UK government who are engaged with speculative politics but you’ll struggle to see any material benefits of this.
The article itself has very little to offer the already initiated and most of its traction on the ?/Acc Twitters was focused on ridiculing it. Nevertheless, it does demonstrate Accelerationism’s pervasive populist image problem.
Like an ?/Acc sommelier, @Moctezuma_III picks out the different notes of the populist hybrid definition well:
Yeah, it's like definitions of L/Acc, NRx and Transhumanism all thrown into a blender.
From what I can tell, Cruddas seems to take the populist definition — further popularised by the Guardian in a “long read” from last year — and run with it, albeit writing against the typical l/acc understanding and towards a sort of centrist rebuttal (which is really embarrassing).
The Guardian article was notably written by Andy Beckett whose book on the 1970s I am currently reading and, as great as that book is, perhaps it’s best he sticks to the past than butcher the future.
Accelerationists argue that technology, particularly computer technology, and capitalism, particularly the most aggressive, global variety, should be massively sped up and intensified — either because this is the best way forward for humanity, or because there is no alternative. Accelerationists favour automation. They favour the further merging of the digital and the human. They often favour the deregulation of business, and drastically scaled-back government. They believe that people should stop deluding themselves that economic and technological progress can be controlled. They often believe that social and political upheaval has a value in itself.
Accelerationism, therefore, goes against conservatism, traditional socialism, social democracy, environmentalism, protectionism, populism, nationalism, localism and all the other ideologies that have sought to moderate or reverse the already hugely disruptive, seemingly runaway pace of change in the modern world.
This definition is not wrong but it cuts out many of the points of contention between different Accelerationist positions — perhaps purposefully, perhaps lazily. As @Moctezuma_III points out, this definition is a bizarre melting pot of largely conflicting Accelerationist positions. I have never met anyone who is actively engaged with Accelerationism who would agree with all of the above.
You can argue that the in-fighting is not conducive to a pithy article but the contentions within the various Accelerationist factions are surely its lifeblood and to conflate positions that exist across the political spectrum is actually a surprising tendency in this day and age of firmly patrolled political boundaries.
To Cruddas’s credit, his article is at least more interesting than Beckett’s for its initial self-critical bent (even if this doesn’t last long). He writes:
The character of the left has shifted. It has become obsessed with the belief that politics is an authentic search for the self, rather than a sacrificial contribution to the commons, with its trade-offs and compromises.
This is something I’d agree with, at least for its hinting at a sort of collective subjectivity of the Left but, as the centrist echoes of “trade-offs and compromises” suggests, Cruddas takes this thought down an even duller blind alley than that which he assigns to Accelerationism.
Cruddas’s main criticisms, it soon turns out, lie with Inventing The Future — the text which did for Accelerationism what the Hyperstition movie did for that avenue of thought. (That is, neutered it.) If that book is too radical for you, we’re evidently not going to have much to talk about.
Here’s the real kicker:
Within European left philosophy, the failures of 1968 produced a dramatic reorientation. The superstars of modern cultural studies — Deleuze, Guattari, Lyotard — suggested an accelerationist approach to modern capitalism, rather than a search to overcome it, echoed in today’s fashionable texts.
According to another young academic, Lewis Coyne, postmodernism finishes the job Descartes started. As Descartes stripped the dignity from non-human nature Deleuze reduces humans to mere substance. Being — humanity — is construed as “a plane of immanence” — a continuous movement of matter and time: “there are only relations of movement and rest, speed and slowness between unformed elements, or at least between elements that are relatively unformed, molecules, and particles of all kinds. There are only subjectless individuations that constitute collective assemblages.”
It’s really hard to know where to start with this smeared load of entrails. It’s a proper bloody butchering of so much. There’s no hope of course correction from there on out.