Against Accelerationism: The Need For Speed


Here is the beginning of a response to the recent accelerationism business


1. The accelerationists state that the problems of this world are due to a lack of human mastery – mastery of humanity over itself and its physical environment. A list of these problems includes patriarchy, racism, work, and environmental exploitation. The list probably includes war, colonialism, and illness.

2. If we are to believe Frederic Jameson, in that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, then the only catastrophe left is political and not scientific or technological.

3. Left politics is named by the accelerationists as an obstacle to their agenda. They declare their allegiance with the political left while simultaneously denouncing all identifiable aspects of it. Accelerationism instead calls for a new hegemony to be built in their image.

4. Mastery, for the accelerationists, will come from scientific models delivered by increasingly powerful technology. Without such advances, accelerationists claim that the world will devolve into primitivism, perpetual crisis, and planetary ecological collapse.

5. It is unclear what accelerationists would dislike about capitalism if it did not impede the development of the science and technology they desire. In classic Proudhonian fashion, they criticize capitalism only as it acts as a fetter on production. (The accelerations proclaim that they need funding; but with money, they offer to do the rest.)


1. Accelerationism is impossible to think outside of the problematic set up by Marx in The Poverty of Philosophy.

History advances by its bad side, Marx states, arguing against Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s selective notion of capitalism. For Proudhon, capitalism has both a good and a bad side whereby the good side can be kept while the bad side can be left behind. Such Proudhonism represents the false dialectic.

2. Proudhonism has been repeated again and again. Liberal socialists, who often rehearse Sweezy and Baran’s critique of monopoly capitalism, praise cooperative production as well as capitalist markets and criticize capital only when it is tied up in private property. Network enthusiasts, such as Manuel DeLanda, tout the benefits of collective fragmentation and merely call for moderation when mixing hierarchies and meshworks. Celebrants of the commons, seen especially in the becoming-rent theory of capital that emphasizes a feudal-like structure of production, value the free labor of postmodern society and ask that the wealth is generates remain shared.

3. Accelerationism is also guilty of Proudhonism – it affirms the liberal pole of power in an attempt to overcome the repressive pole without antagonism.


1. Accelerationists clarify that speed has previously been confused with acceleration. Acceleration is then nothing but a new name for Proudhonian selectivity. The destabilizing flows of capitalism should not be sped up, they argue, but certain ones selected for an accelerated agenda.

2. By framing the problems as a problem of mastery, accelerationism actualizes Empire’s model for producing force that operates on an exterior, meets resistances during incorporation, loses its cause at the completion of every task, and requires renewal for each use.

3. The hallmark of the so-called neoliberal turn of Empire reduces production to the work of expropriation – a new rentier class emerges as developers draft artists as homesteaders in the new urban frontier while the paradigm of securitization and risk sets best practices for business, government, and family.

4. Other names for acceleration and speed are tools and weapons. Tools and weapons can be distinguished through force and movement.

5. Tools are introceptive, as they centripetally draw forces inward toward the center like a net. The movement of a tool is relative to the substance it seeks to dominate and is always limited.

6. Empire functions by transforming every object into a tool. With tools, Empire is able to construct introceptive compositions of desire that expand subjects’ capacity for sending and receiving direction. Empire thus establishes gravitational centers, and from those points of power, Empire not only directs flows but also puts them to work. Unlike free action, which powers the conceptual motor of weapons, work uses tools to capture and direct force.

7. Weapons are projective, as they send forces outward and away like a missile. The movement of a weapon is unlimited because it is unpegged and free to pursue speed for its own sake.

8. Freeing tools from the chains of productivity creates weapons. Free activity is powered by perpetual mobility and thus does not overcome resistances, as it joins with already present forces to orient and provoke additional speed, exceeding their life as tools. Weapons are thus the effect of unworkable flows.

9. Tools are unable to resolve four flows: matter-energy, population, food, and the urban.

10. Weapons are the consequence of assemblages that frame unresolvable problems as reservoirs of free activity. Behind the doomsday scenarios of energy crisis, sobering analyses of social stratification, forecasts of spreading food riots, and lament over the explosion of global slums lies a motor perpetually inventing new weapons against Empire.

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