Decelerationism leans gingerly towards a future that is basically more of the same, a modernity that's going to generate itself no matter what we blog.
01. INTRODUCTION: On the Conjuncture
1. At the beginning of the second decade of the Twenty-First Century, global civilization goes on much the same as before. Nation states and powerful corporations go on doing nation statey and powerful corporationy type things and sometimes there are wars.
2. Powerful people in powerful countries sometimes engender bad policies.
3. Political wherewithal is about the same as it ever has been. For the majority of humanity things are maybe marginally better in terms of the wars, revolutions, genocides, forced famines, colonial murder, etc. than in the previous few centuries.
5. Leftwing parties in rich countries still haven’t regained the trust of older voters traumatized by the inflation of the 1970s.
6. Humans will probably continue to muddle through.
02. INTEREGNUM: On Accelerationisms
1. The essential metabolism of capitalism demands economic growth, with heavily subsidized research universities producing technological developments. In its neoliberal form, capitalism’s ideological self-presentation is one of liberating the forces of creative destruction, setting free ever-accelerating technological and social innovations. But luckily, most people who benefited from the post-World War II social contract (epitomized by the New Deal in the United States) are not willing to abandon that contract. As a result, right wing attacks on key aspects of this contract have been remarkably unsuccessful.
2. Something about Nick Land.
3. Some stuff about Deleuze and Guattari.
4. Neo-liberalism. Computers. Etc.
5. It is Stalin who remains the paradigmatic accelerationist thinker. Contrary to the all-too familiar critique, and even the behaviour of some contemporary Marxians, we must remember that Stalin himself used the most advanced theoretical tools and empirical data available in an attempt to fully understand and transform his world. He was not a thinker who resisted modernity, but rather one who sought to analyse and intervene within it, understanding that for all its exploitation and corruption, capitalism remained the most advanced economic system to date. Its gains were not to be reversed, but accelerated beyond the constraints the capitalist value form.
6. Indeed, as even Lenin wrote in the 1918 text “Left Wing” Childishness:
Socialism is inconceivable without large-scale capitalist engineering based on the latest discoveries of modern science. It is inconceivable without planned state organisation which keeps tens of millions of people to the strictest observance of a unified standard in production and distribution. We Marxists have always spoken of this, and it is not worth while wasting two seconds talking to people who do not understand even this (anarchists and a good half of the Left Socialist– Revolutionaries).
Consider also Lenin's "The Heritage We Renounce" (1897):
The enlightener believes in the present course of social development, because he fails to observe its inherent contradictions. The Narodnik fears the present course of social development, because he is already aware of these contradictions. The “disciple” [of dialectical materialism] believes in the present course of social development, because he sees the only earnest hope of a better future in the full development of these contradictions. The first and last trends therefore strive to support, accelerate, facilitate development along the present path, to remove all obstacles which hamper this development and retard it.
7. As Stalin was aware, capitalism cannot be identified as the agent of true acceleration. Similarly, the assessment of left politics as antithetical to technosocial acceleration is also, at least in part, a severe misrepresentation. Indeed, Stalinist communist parties across the Earth worked hard to prevent any improvements in non-communist countries. Successful such preventions were termed accelerating [sometimes translated as “heightening”] the contradictions of capitalism.
03: MANIFEST: On the Future
1. We believe that the internet debates between neo-Stalinists and their decelerationist opponents will make very little difference to the way humanity muddles through.
2. All of us want to work less. Some do. Some don’t.
3. Some stuff about technology.
4. We do not want to return to Fordism, because it kind of sucked. Hopefully the assembly line will be more and more automated and the basic New Deal compact will stay in place.
5. Decelerationists enjoy things like books, nice walks, and a hot cup of tea.
6. Given the enslavement of technoscience to capitalist objectives (especially since the late 1970s) we have a pretty good idea of what a modern technosocial body can do. Thankfully, most of the far out science fiction stuff hasn’t happened, and there’s no reason to think it will.
7. We aren’t that chuffed about accelerating the process of technological evolution. But it’s honestly not something we get that worked up about.
8. Someone’s got to take the garbage out and then haul it to the landfill.
9. Some verbiage about network analysis, agent-based modelling, big data analytics, and non-equilibrium economic models, cognitive mediators.
10. We should be wary of claims to transform society involving economic and social experimentation. The Chilean Project Cybersyn is emblematic of this experimental attitude — fusing advanced cybernetic technologies, with sophisticated economic modelling, and a democratic platform instantiated in the technological infrastructure itself. Similar experiments were conducted in 1950s – 1960s Soviet economics as well, employing cybernetics and linear programming in an attempt to overcome the new problems faced by the first communist economy. The failure of both of these cannot be traced merely to the political and technological constraints these early cyberneticians operated under.
11. Hegemony! Platforms!
12. We do not believe that direct action is sufficient to achieve much of anything. The habitual tactics of marching, holding signs, and establishing temporary autonomous zones risk becoming comforting substitutes for effective success. “At least we have done something” is the rallying cry of those who privilege self-esteem rather than effective action. The only criterion of a good tactic is whether it enables significant success or not. We must be done with fetishising particular modes of action. We must insert some Deleuzian rhetoric at points like this in our manifesto. Rhizome! The virtual! Phase space!
13. Sometimes P is a good thing. But sometimes it’s a bad thing.
14. Democracy is, all else being equal, a good idea.
16. We don’t need any revolutions in thought. Smart, informed, people of good will have a pretty good idea of the marginal reforms that could improve most societies.
17. There’s good stuff and bad stuff in the media, which has never been a panacea anyhow.
18. Things were pretty good with the unions until the 1970s, for the most part. Rich countries have probably gone too far in the other direction. It’s hard to find the right balance.
19. History is almost completely in the dark about why certain times and places produce better and worse standards of living. What do you expect? It’s not like historians can do controlled experiments. This being said, we can probably treat one another more decently.
20. Drinking tea, reading novels, and going for walks don’t require that much funding. A slightly shorter work week and a better deal for the unemployed seems doable.
21. We’re not Italian Futurists! They were right wing. We’re left wing.
22. Some more stuff about technology.
23. There is no choice facing us between a globalised post-capitalism and a slow fragmentation towards primitivism, perpetual crisis, and planetary ecological collapse. First, the dichotomy is false. Second, anyone with enough power to force such a choice either way wouldn't actually have the power to force the choice either way.
24. The future does not need to be constructed. It will come about without anyone’s help.