By way of reply to the author of the essay “So, Accelerationism, what’s all that about?”
The post mentioned in the title of this blog post has a rather different take on Nick Land’s Accelerationism (because, in any case, Land is the boogeyman we should all fear) and its Leftist expression. In this view, no Left accelerationist advocates accelerating capitalism because it will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. Any such idea is a straw man.
“Not even Nick Land? No. Not even Nick Land. He likes capitalism. He wants to accelerate it, but not because it will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. What about Deleuze and Guattari? No. According to them ‘nothing has ever died of contradictions’, and so whatever deterritorialising force they aim to accelerate, and whatever end they aim to accelerate it towards, neither is a contradiction or its inevitable collapse. What about Srnicek and Williams? No. Much of what they do can be seen as breaking with D&G (and a fortiori with Land), and returning to a much more Marxist position, but they explicitly refuse to see the transition between capitalism and post-capitalism as a dialectical sublation brought about by the intensification of contradictions.”
“Well, what about Marx then?!”, the author asks. Not surprising, at this point the author wants to change the subject:
“Just how much Marx is invested in a substantive notion of contradiction as the metaphysical driving force of history is a question up for debate, and I’m not about to stumble into that particular hermeneutic hornets’ nest.”
Really? You’re shitting me, right?
What about this:
“Capital itself is the moving contradiction, [in] that it presses to reduce labour time to a minimum, while it posits labour time, on the other side, as sole measure and source of wealth. Hence it diminishes labour time in the necessary form so as to increase it in the superfluous form; hence posits the superfluous in growing measure as a condition – question of life or death – for the necessary.”
The writer refuses to engage in a discussion of whether this constitutes a fatal contradiction lying at the heart of capitalism and this is in keeping with the rather blunt dismissal of the passage by most Marxists. Michael Heinrich, for instance, believed Marx was operating from some sort of ultra-leftism, from which he later withdrew once he committed Capital to paper. Marx, we are told, later discovered capitalism is effectively capable of infinite adjustment to its own internal contradictions.
Simon Clarke tells us that the notion of absolute overproduction, when no additional investment can add to profit, was nothing more than Marx extrapolating capitalism to a hypothetical extreme. According to Clarke, Marx seems to have believed this when writing the Grundrisse, but later recanted in Capital.
The writer adds his own voice to this revision of history:
“Nevertheless, it’s clear that even if we take the strongest historical determinist (e.g., dialectical-materialist) reading of Marx we can find, he would still reject the inference from the claim that the increasing self-evidence of capitalist parasitism will bring about the expropriation of expropriation all on its own to the claim that we should therefore attempt to ‘speed the system towards its inevitable doom’.”
Am I alone in noting an egregious shift in the goalposts in this quote? Once again Marx’s statements on the contradiction inherent in capital is dismissed so that we can instead discuss another altogether unimportant question. The question at issue is whether capitalism collapses of its own contradiction — this the writer states she/he will not discuss. Instead she/he wants to discuss another, only tangentially related, question: Will “the increasing self-evidence of capitalist parasitism will bring about the expropriation of expropriation all on its own”.
Now, who exactly is discussing this latter question? Did Nick Land pronounce his opinion on this? Deleuze and Guattari? Srnicek and Williams? This new question tossed up by the writer is not the one we were discussing — does capitalism collapse of its own fatal contradiction — rather, it is a deliberate distraction from it.
But the writer, for some reason, wants to answer his own question: will the “self-evidence” of capitalist parasitism produce a political revolution by the working class.
In this latter form, the material results of capitalistic accumulation is mediated by the class struggle. Essentially, we become aware of capitalism’s self-evident parasitism and expropriate the expropriators — or some other sort of inane bullshit.
“Indeed, the emerging left-accelerationist strand is motivated by a recognition that capitalism will not auto-destruct once the mask slips”.
Which is to say, even if capitalism appears as increasingly parasitic, the working class will not seize state power and assert its interests. We need look no further than the present crisis to realize this may just be true. Despite a crisis of unprecedented scale, the streets of Europe and America are mostly quiet.
Of course, from the very beginning, Marx and Engels asserted the working class has no interest to assert against the ruling class; the proletariat is a product of bourgeois society and there is nothing this detritus of class society has to assert in any case. It could not assert any common interest at all except in the form of a universal association of the social producers, because it has no capacity to act as a class in any fashion.
This class can only act as individuals.
So the very idea that this class could be motivated by the “self-evidence of capitalist parasitism” never had any legs as a realistic option; a political revolution was always the long-shot it appears to have been in retrospect. Bluntly stated, the working class had its opportunity to get rid of capitalism and it voted for the fascists instead.
However, the crisis itself was a material, not simply political, crisis and resulted in the breakdown of production on the basis of exchange — just as Marx insisted it had to.
Apparently, however, our Marxist accelerationists, like their equally worthless comrades, the ‘orthodox’ non-accelerationists, reject Marx’s conclusion that capital is moving contraditcion that must result in a breakdown of production on the basis of exchange value. As Land observes, they simply wish to appear edgy and provocative, before they settle back into the political senility that constitutes Marxism today.
In the end, the only actual existing Accelerationism is Land’s Accelerationism and Land has set the only relevant bar on the discussion: if Marxists wish to join this discussion, they need to fix that transformation thingy. Either Marxists will show they are nothing more than warmed over neoclassical simpletons, or they will show why the law of value is relevant.
You motherfuckers can try to tip-toe around this shit all you want, but even Land knows you are fucking frauds. You cannot accelerate a merely political crisis, because there is no political crisis to accelerate and little possibility one will emerge. The last political crisis resulted in Auschwitz and 100 million dead.
If there are no fatal contradictions inherent in capital, there is no Accelerationism — just a bunch of you nerdy techno-fetishists masturbating in public.