Nick Land on the Left

Nick Land: I think the terminology of left and right, for anyone like you who is fascinated by the question of ideology, it’s completely indispensable. I totally see why people get dissatisfied with that language and say “We have to move beyond this” or “This terminology ceases to be useful” but I have a sense of its kind of extreme resilience. I don’t see us ever stopping talking about the left and the right. It’s always going to come back in, I call it the prime political dimension, there is a basic dimension with left and right polarities that everyone returns to, after their wanderings and complications. And all kinds of ideological currents themselves have a strategic interest in either muddying the water or trying to get people to rethink what they mean.

“But in the end, people come back to this basic dimension of ideological possibility and I think it is the one that captures the accelerationist tendency most clearly. On the right end of that is the extreme laissez faire, Manchester liberal, anarcho-capitalism kind of commitment to the maximum deregulation of the technological and economic process. And on the opposite extreme is a set of constituencies that seek in various ways to — polemically, I would say words like “impede” and “obstruct” and “constrain” and whatever, but I realize that’s just my rightism on display. And there are other ways of saying that, to regulate it or control it or to humanize it, I wouldn’t try and do a sufficiently sophisticated ideological Turing test on myself to try and get that right you know?

“But I don’t think there’s any real … It’s not really questionable, which of those impulses is in play and I think that it’s on that dimension that so-called left-accelerationism is left, I mean, it’s left because it is basically in a position of deep skepticism about the capitalist process. It’s accelerationist only insofar as it thinks there is some other — I would say magical — source of acceleration that is going to be located somewhere outside that basic motor of modernity. They gesture towards the fact that things will somehow still be accelerating when you just chuck the actual motor of acceleration in the scrap. And I think that is the left.”

More of this fascinating interview here.

5 thoughts on “Nick Land on the Left”

  1. He’s correct to equate modernity/modernization with capital, and also correct to describe the advent of modernity as a “singularity.” However, his concept of the “autonomization of capital” is a nonstarter, as autonomous machines governed exclusively by AI in a context freed from the productive employment of abstract labor (humans working) would, by definition, not be productive of value, and would therefore not be capital. Also, the state form (the indispensable “central node” par excellence) is utterly essential in the historical formation of capital, and has only increased in significance/intensity/expansiveness throughout its development. He seems either unable to grasp this fact, or to be disingenuously eliding it.

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  2. 1) Jehu, what is fascinating to you about the interview?

    2) True to my name, I have not the slightest idea what Land is talking about. Through abolition of the articial scarcity imposed by exhange-value based production, I am for ‘communism [which] is free time and nothing else!’. I want the link between work and consumption to be cut. What is Land for exactly? If he is essentially different from an anarcho-capitalist, how so?

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    1. I don’t know if he would agree with my characterization here, but as I read Land (through the lens of Marx’s labor theory of value), for Land accelerationism is a description of the trajectory of capital toward its self-negation.

      “The basic accelerationist thesis is that modernity is dominated by positive feedback processes rather than negative feedback processes … [A] basic accelerating trend of the modern process, most extremely in its technological and economic dimensions.”

      From this perspective, the Left, which pathologizes capital’s own self-destructive trajectory, is an attempt to retard that self-destructive trajectory of the mode of production:

      “[The] actual, practical, social force of conservatism — all of what would be called “reaction” — is the political left. The political left is the thing that is set essentially against the imperative to accelerate the [self-destructive] process.”

      While the radical Left imagines itself quite progressive, it is actually a force trying to constrain the self-destructive impulse of capital. For this reason, it is reactionary all along the line and without any exception, a lame attempt to hold back history.

      How we would accelerate (rather than retard) the historical trajectory of capital is not answered by Land here, but he has correctly identified the problem in my opinion.

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