Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism

Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism

Benjamin Noys

Language: English

Pages: 130

ISBN: 1782793003

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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and nostalgic language of austerity being deployed as its remedy (‘Keep Calm and Carry On’). Also, the process of creative destruction that is ensuing, to supposedly ‘free up’ capitalism from its own contradictions, can become recoded as a new piercing of existing barriers, including that of subjectivity itself. The accelerationist desire can revel in the apocalyptic destruction caused by the crisis, or used to resolve the crisis, and take this as the sign of a new take-off. If, as Marx said,

accepting and radicalising the crisis of the Fordist social compact to license a thinking of the imminent and immanent apocalypse of capitalist relations. If capitalism started to rupture the structure of the factory and guaranteed employment then one should not regret this and go backwards to some lost world of social democracy, but push the tendency further into exodus, sabotage, and destruction of the ‘fetters’ of the remnants of Fordism. This is a form of the accelerationism of struggles.

describes sex scenes that deliberately mimic the anal eroticism of Bataille’s 1928 novel Story of the Eye (and which makes it to wikipedia’s cultural references for the film). We could also add the more esoteric reference that ‘Emily Brönte’ appears as a character in the film and one of the ‘case studies’ in Bataille’s Literature and Evil (1957) is dedicated to her work. At a more general level we could say that Godard develops Bataille’s ‘heterological’ vision, which Bataille articulated in the

likely to lead to anti-immigrant and anti-welfare sentiments. Those struggling to survive as precarious workers are as likely to turn on others as they are to start new forms of support and struggle that recognize the impossibility of work. This is, I think, one of the crucial conundrums of the present moment. Accelerationism tries to resolve it in machinic integration and extinction, which bypasses the problem of consciousness, awareness, and struggle in a logic of immersion. We are torn by the

question: how can we create change out of the ‘bad new’ without replicating it? Of course, the accelerationist answer is by replicating more because replication will lead to the ‘implosion’ of capital. Replication, however, reinforces the dominance of capitalism, leaving us within capital as the unsurpassable horizon of our time. The Road of Excess It might be easy to dismiss theoretical accelerationism as a malady of those who take theory too far, spinning-off into abstract speculation. In

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