venerdì 13 dicembre 2013

ACCELERATIONISM A symposium on tendencies in capitalism 14 December 2013, 10-20hr Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 29, Berlin (Final Pr

A symposium on tendencies in capitalism

14 December 2013, 10-20hr
Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 29, Berlin
S/U-Bahn Alexanderplatz [map]   *

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Contemporary capitalism is an object of high abstraction. The symposium is an invitation to discuss and disclose the anonymous and inner tendencies of capitalism, to study its monetary, algorithmic and energetic viscera. How can one grasp the living drives of financial markets and technological innovation? And more importantly: who really produces and controls those drives and how could any alternative political subject emerge without such a complex knowledge?
The recent debate on accelerationism and the philosophical scene of Speculative Realism just reminded of an old question posed by Deleuze and Guattari: Which is the real revolutionary path? To withdraw from the world market or, on the opposite, to go further and "accelerate the process", as Nietzsche already suggested long before the current Stillstand? For example today Germany finds itself in the eye of the storm: a mild social democracy at the center of Europe watching neoliberalism freely devastating the rest of the world.
There are multiple strategies of how to cross a stormy passage. In Ballard's first and prophetic novel The Drowned World (1962), an imbalance in solar radiation causes the polar ice caps to melt and global temperatures to rise, leaving cities submerged by tropical lagoons where flora and fauna restart their evolution. Human population migrates towards the polar circles. Rather than being disturbed, the protagonist is enraptured by the new nature that is replacing the old world and decides to move south towards the sun.
Though encaged within cognitive capitalism, we call for an epistemic acceleration. The symposium convenes to refresh the cartography of the keywords employed in the last centuries to describe economy and the political response to it: development, progress, growth, accumulation, peak, degrowth, revolution, speculation, entropy, singularity, sustainability and so on. Today it is time to anticipate and accelerate, for sure, time for anastrophism and not catastrophism.
Curated by Armen Avanessian ( and Matteo Pasquinelli ( Participation is free but please RSVP via the Facebook Event page.
10:00 - 10:30 Armen Avanessian and Matteo Pasquinelli, Introduction
10.30 - 11:30 Ray Brassier'Wandering Abstraction'
      Moderated by Armen Avanessian
+ Opening of exhibition "14.12.13" (
+ Book launch of #Akzeleration (
13:00 - 14:00 Josephine Berry Slater'Epistemic Panic and the Problem of Life'
14:00 - 15:00 Benjamin Noys'Days of Phuture Past: Accelerationism in the Present Moment'
15:00 - 16:00 Elisabeth von Samsonow'Electra's Oracle'
      Moderated by Matteo Pasquinelli
17:00 - 18:00 Nick Srnicek'Technology, Capital, Value'
18:00 - 19:00 Alex Williams'The Politics of Anticipation'
      Moderated by Ana Teixeira Pinto
19:00 - 20:00 Reza Negarestani'A View of Man from the Space of Reasons' (via Skype)
      Moderated by Armen Avanessian
Ray Brassier
Wandering Abstraction
'Accelerationism' provokes passionate condemnation and equally impassioned affirmation. Perhaps this is because what is at stake in this 'Marxist heresy' is our relation to the future: Is communism, understood as "the real movement which abolishes the present state of things" , the consummation of the project of modernity, or its repudiation? The version of accelerationism recently proposed by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams affirms the former by reasserting the Enlightenment - and classical Marxist - compact between emancipation and rationality. This new, 'rationalist' accelerationism is intended as a corrective to the vitalist proclivities of its post-structuralist predecessors, best epitomized by Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus, in which political agency was hitched to Aeolian processes of deterritorialization and emancipation was propelled by the metaphysics of 'desiring-production'. Srnicek and Williams' attempt to decouple accelerationism from vitalist metaphysics requires distinguishing between epistemic and political acceleration as indexes of conceptual and social abstraction respectively. It is the conjunction of the latter pairing that their proposal seeks to articulate. Thus the issue of abstraction, and of its epistemic, social, and political valences, turns out to be central to this reformulation. But the postulate of the symmetry between conceptual and social abstraction is not uncontroversial. How are we to understand the relation between them? From a (broadly) Marxist perspective, understanding the link between knowledge and politics requires a theory of social abstraction. Thus the Marxist account of 'real abstraction' would provide the key required for the strategic articulation of cognitive abstraction with social abstraction. But if, as Sonn-Rethel famously maintained, the latter asymmetrically determines the former then the re-assertion of their symmetry will be peremptorily dismissed as idealist delusion. By the same token, the varieties of representational modeling that, on Srnicek and Williams' account, are supposed to yield cognitive traction on the abstract dynamics of capital are disqualified in advance by the claim that representation is congenitally blind to its own social determination. But this demotion of representation presupposes the effectiveness of 'saturated' mediation as the result of capital's 'real subsumption' of labor, both manual and intellectual. And the thesis of 'real subsumption' (often more asserted than argued for) invites perplexity as to how exactly the abstract categories of the Marxian dialectic - capital, labor, value form, commodity, mode of production, etc - succeed or fail to map contemporary social reality when deployed in competing (and politically antagonistic) explanations. How does one recognize "the real movement abolishing the present state of things" in conditions of real subsumption? We will compare and contrast the accelerationist attempt to do so with that of Jacque Camatte, a Marxist theorist whose Wandering of Humanity is not only contemporaneous with the texts of classical accelerationism but shares their central premise - labor's wholesale integration into capital - while drawing a radically different conclusion: capitalism's "domestication" of humanity is to be countered not through the Nietzschean overcoming of the "all too human" but through the human community's (Gemeinwesen) wholesale exit from capitalist society.
Ray Brassier is author of Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction (2007). He is professor of philosophy at the American University in Beirut.
Josephine Berry Slater
Epistemic Panic and the Problem of Life
Taking as its starting point Walter Benjamin's observation that the acceleration of technological development and informational communication is rendering people 'mute', this paper considers the exclusion of embodied experience from late capitalist epistemology. In a biopolitical reading of life's increasing exclusion from thought, the paper focuses on the inability to inscribe experience into a knowledge regime - both governmental, commercial and philosophical - that adopts a mistrusting and accusatory relationship to life.
Josephine Berry Slater is editor of Mute magazine, and co-director of the Post-Media Lab, Leuphana University, Germany. She teaches part-time at Goldsmiths on the Culture Industry MA and an option course in Biopolitics and Aesthetics. She is also co-author, together with Anthony Iles, of No Room to Move: Radical Art and the Regenerate City.
Benjamin Noys
Days of Phuture Past: Accelerationism in the Present Moment
The claim of accelerationism is to a dynamism that can break the stasis of the present. In classical accelerationism - the work of Nick Land - this dynamism was located in the fettered forces of capitalist deterritorialization, which had been unlocked and realized in a virtual future. In the retooled forms of contemporary accelerationism dynamism is located in the epistemological possibilities of rational inhumanism, Promethean politics of maximal mastery, and sociotechnological hegemony. I dispute that this accelerationism can truly grasp the present moment. Poised between images of past encrypted dynamisms and future realized dynamisms the present moment is missing. This occlusion detaches claims of epistemic acceleration from any referent. Contemporary accelerationism cannot grasp the political and technical compositions of capital, including how the so-called "forces of production" are bound-up with "relations of production" and so "moulded" by capitalism (Panzieri). While true to a certain Marx, the resulting exaltation of a metaphysics of forces (political, economic, aesthetic, and epistemic) is nothing but an exultation without an existent object.
Benjamin Noys is Reader in English at the University of Chichester. He is the author of Georges Bataille: A Critical Introduction (2000), The Culture of Death (2005), The Persistence of the Negative: A Critique of Contemporary Theory (2010), and editor of Communization and Its Discontents (2011). His book Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism, is forthcoming with Zero Books in 2014.
Elisabeth von Samsonow
Electra's Oracle: An Analytical Account on Accelerationist Hyperstition
Electra is embedded within the plane of schizosomatic activities, and it is from there that she draws her oracles. She is a schizosomatic prophet speaking out her own MATRIXIAL body as well the oracle of the body who has split herself off. This makes the whole difference according to the crucial question: in whose name, for whose sake does a philosopher speak, will Electra deliver her oracles, which basically asks the questions: what is it, really, that she has access to? The schizosomatic differs dramatically from the schizophrenic, among other things related, namely in the fact that the schizo is a mark of all produced bodies, all bodies that came into existence, show - either they come from schizoid cells that divide themselves on and on in a certain manner or they stem from a body that has split itself up delivering a double. It is not only the human game of reproduction that is addressed, but the universal schizo-game of the Earth that provides the bodies that are dispersed and individualized and yet also contained in strains of multiplied phylums - Simondon has written some enlightening passages on this. Schizophrenia, the schizo of phrene, is something really different: in the realm of phrene or noesis, schizoactivity is fatal. Schizoactivity, in this sphere blocks, withdraws and black outs knowledge, such that from one part of the schizo arrangement the others remain unconceivable, anaestetic, hypolatent. The noosphere, to ensure knowledge, must be regarded as unified, homogenous, continuous. If undergoing schize it suffers and perishes, crushes in amnesia and dementia. From the point of view of the Accelerationist diagnosis, the schizosomatic position transgresses, and dissolves in high speed internoesis, the problem of how to diagnose or recognize properly. Electra's schizosomatic voice cracks the code or ban of capitalist's pervasive success based on schizophrenic operations, i.e. softly induced black outs and schizotechnically overwritten drives.
Elisabeth von Samsonow is artist and professor for Philosophical and Historical Anthropology at the Art Academy in Vienna. She is associated professor at the Bauhaus university Weimar and Technical University Maribor. As an artist she is actually exploring what Bernie Krause calls "geophony". She wrote Egon Schiele Sanctus Franciscus Hystericus (2012), Egon Schiele: Ich bin die Vielen (2010) and Anti Elektra. Totemismus und Schizogamie (2007).
Nick Srnicek
Technology, Capital, Value
Recent discussions over post-capitalism have increasingly been framed in terms of technology, logistics, and infrastructure, with critics reproaching what they see as a naive techno-utopianism, and supporters arguing for technology's potential to change the material possibilities of society. This talk will take on the critics' arguments, pointing out where they make valid qualifications of technology's potential. But it will ultimately conclude that the critics demonstrate a lack of imagination, and that any shift beyond capitalism will require repurposing the built environment of capitalism. The latter half of the talk will then make a number of concrete proposals for how this could be done: in terms of technologies of transition and technologies of collective self-determination. The former are the means through which society can extract itself from the wage relation without fostering an immediate increase in necessary labour. Such technologies should be the immediate focus of the global left today. The latter technologies, on the other hand, are the machinery through which complex societies make themselves representable and therefore capable of self-determination. These require careful calibration and construction, but are the only means by which a post-capitalist democracy can emerge without falling into small-scale communities or empty parliamentary politics.
Nick Srnicek is a Teaching Fellow in Geopolitics and Globalisation at UCL, and PhD graduate in International Relations from LSE. He was co-editor of The Speculative Turn (, 2011), and he is currently writing Folk Politics (Zero, 2014) with Alex Williams.
Alex Williams
The Politics of Anticipation
There is an ongoing contemporary tendency in both activist left political practice and political theory towards valorising the immediate, the spontaneous, and the voluntaristic. While such emphases are explicable given the historical travails of the party form in the twentieth century, these tendencies have given rise to forms of political thinking and action which are seemingly incapable of installing the changes they wish to effect. This paper will therefore outline, as a countervailing tendency, an argument for the politics of anticipation. It will proceed in three sections. First will be a clarification of what we take to be viable and non-viable in theories of politics mortgaged to the metaphor of motion. This will critique both libidinal-economic interpretations of the idea, and those putatively (though dubiously) associated with a more Marxian cast. What remains will be two interlinked facets: the political importance of the category of the future, and the political necessity of epistemology. The second section will focus on the relevance of the future for thinking and strategising the political, in a defence of different modes of anticipation: plans, programmes, experiments, and models. Accompanying this will be an analysis of futurity as embedded in complex hegemony: the ability to modulate the direction of travel of a set of socio-political-economic-technical set of assemblages. The third section examines the role of political epistemology. It is only through an account of the articulation of knowledge and action that the politics of anticipation can be prosecuted. Against a backdrop of left political theory emphasising the ontological, this part will argue for a robust mode of political epistemology, grounded in the idea that the more we understand about the world the better we can intervene in it.
Alex Williams is a PhD student at the University of East London, presently at work on a thesis entitled 'Hegemony and Complexity'. He is also the author, with Nick Srnicek, of the forthcoming Folk Politics.
Reza Negarestani
A View of Man from the Space of Reasons
Is humanism - understood as an elaborated commitment to humanity - about human? Once humanism is accessed via the front door of the Enlightenment, a minimal definition of human can be secured. Human is defined by its capacity to enter the space of reasons as a special domain of practices. The argument of this presentation is that the definition of humanity according to the space of reasons is a minimalist definition whose consequences are not immediately given, but it is a definition that bootstraps itself to staggering ramifications, indeed posing itself as what Rene Thom termed a 'general catastrophe'. If there were ever a real crisis, it would be our inability to cope with collateral outcomes of committing to the real content of humanity as undergirded by the neurobiolgical import of human and the ability to enter the space of reasons. The trajectory of reason is that of a global catastrophe whose pointwise instances and stepwise courses do not harbor an observable effect or noticeable discontinuity. Reason, therefore, is simultaneously a medium of local stability that reinforces procedurality and a general catastrophe, a medium of discontinuity and anti-conservation that administers the discontinuous identity of reason to the anticipated image of man. Elaborating humanity according to the self-actualizing space of reasons establishes a discontinuity between man's anticipation of himself (what he expects himself to become) and the image of man modified according to its functionally autonomous content. It is exactly this discontinuity that characterizes the view of human from the space of reasons as a general catastrophe set in motion by activating the content of humanity whose functional kernel is not just autonomous but also compulsive and transformative. The sufficient discernment of humanity which is at the core of the project of humanism is in reality the activation of the autonomous space of reasons. But since this space - qua the content of humanity - is functionally autonomous even though its genesis is historical, its activation implies the deactivation of historical anticipations of what man can be or become according to a fundamentally descriptive level. Building on Ray Brassier's identification of reflective critique as 'inherently conservative' and recently Deneb Kozikoski's examination of the deep isomorphy between the critique of modernity and the logic of capitalism, it will be argued that the view of human from the space of reasons forestalls the conservation of a definition or portrait of man as the basis of and a justification for a preservationist mode of conduct. Since both conservative humanism and conflationary anti-humanism fall back on this conserved definition or canonical portrait, in making the conservation of the content of humanity impossible the view from the space of reasons calls for a new interventionist ethics. This is ethics as a continuous labor or a project accustomed to the general catastrophe of reason, a design of conduct that does not resort to conservation in order to embark on construction.
Reza Negarestani is a philosopher. He has contributed extensively to journals and anthologies and lectured at numerous international universities and institutes. His current philosophical project is focused on rationalist universalism beginning with the evolution of the modern system of knowledge and advancing toward contemporary philosophies of rationalism.

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