the diagrams of acceleration

I’ll start by drawing what I take to be Nick Land’s view on the complete circuit of acceleration. then I’ll take a look at the leeches – decelerators – that he proposes. then I’ll sketch my own view of the necessity of runaway “suppressors” to keep the positive feedback running. in the meanwhile I’ll try and speculate what exactly l/acc and r/acc can mean in this view.

* * *

Land posits a positive feedback cycle at the heart of modernity. this cycle, he insists, is a techno-commercial or techonomic one. the second part of this loop is already pretty well expressed in Marx’s M-C-M’ model. From Fine & Saad-Filho’s Marx’s Capital:

cycle of capital

I’ll simplify this to:

cycle of capital 2

similarly, Land proposes technology and science evolve in a similar cycle, a techno-scientific effort. as he puts it:

“Acquiring knowledge and using tools is a single dynamic circuit, producing techno-science as an integral system, without real divisibility into theoretical and practical aspects. Science develops in loops, through experimental technique and the production of ever more sophisticated instrumentation, whilst embedded within a broader industrial process. Its advance is the improvement of a machine.”

thus:

cycle of science

finally, the techno-commercial loop that characterizes modernity would be this:

cycle of modernity

below the levels here portrayed, it’s conceivable every node is, in itself, a positive feedback loop. finance capital, product design, gadget invention and theory building being the immediate sub-levels.

the more it happens, the more it happens.

* * *

I won’t lie, I’m no great connoisseur of left-accelerationist thought. so I won’t talk a lot about it. my point of contention comes mostly from this line in the MAP:

“capitalism cannot be identified as the agent of true acceleration”

which implies something else is the true accelerator. what could that something else be?

I’ve heard hinted now and then that it could be the “industrial cycle” of technological development. since I’m guessing l/acc types want to pose capital as, at most, a once sympathetic medium for acceleration (now utterly decelerative), I’m supposing that such “agent of true acceleration” is the science cycle pictured above. is that correct? I’ll suspend criticism until this is more thoroughly established.

* * *

as for “right acceleratism”, insofar as it can’t be identified with Land’s stance of “unconditional acceleration“, remains very poorly formalized or even addressed. some kind of transhumanist monarchism maybe? if that’s it, their interest is much more on the acceleration of the science cycle, as well, but with a subordination to very different norms than those that presumably would govern l/acc-type cycles. insofar as it isn’t an explicitly anti-capitalist monarchism we’re talking about, the commercial side of the cycle is still present, but with how much force?

lots of mysteries remain. but I won’t invent adversaries where none appears to be.

* * *

ok, enough for accelerators, why aren’t we seeing a techno-commercial singularity, if such dynamics is indeed at the heart of out times? Land proposes a decelerator. what would it amount to?

a few ways to break the cycles and compensate for them:

  1. taxation: this deviates resources from capital and buries them into the consumption of the tax-receivers (namely the Cathedral bureaucracy). trash and shit.
  2. regulation: there are various ways this could work, insofar as regulation is very inventive. but the main pattern has to do with deviating capital from the most rentable (i.e., (self-re)productive) investments, into those that are most likely to become un-recyclable thrash, at least in the long run.
  3. politicization: this deviates brain-power from technological producing theories into, well, bullshit research departments, especially through politicization of academic funding of hard sciences.
  4. protectionism: since this protects technical developments from properly feeding back into the commercial cycle, it breaks the link between technical advantage and capital accumulation, leading lots of resources into stupid gadgetry.

all these being forms of fucking up the incentive structures that allow the accelerative cycle to be. in diagram form:

the cathedral

if the Cathedral is actually efficient, the more it happens, the less it happens.

* * *

my theory of constitutionalism is based mostly on the premise that, given real conditions, capital needs not only to accelerate – as is intrinsic to it – but also to suppress its decelerators. constitutional orders are a good way to tame politics (and thus the Cathedral), and there’s a historical case to be made on how capitalism correlates to good constitutions.

here, I’ll limit myself to the abstract form of these “runaway suppressors”. they are complimentary to the runaway producer of techno-commercialism: the less it happens, the less it happens. in such a way that they intrinsically contain a program for their own dissolution: as soon as their object of suppression vanishes – thus liberating the productive process that engineered them – they themselves vanish. it’s friction that produces them.

suppression, in such analysis, means compensating the compensators. a few forms for that to happen:

  1. counter-taxation: mechanisms through which taxation is dodged or reversed (anything from tax dodging, money laundering, corporate welfare, etc).
  2. illegibility: ways through which agents become invisible to the state apparatus, and thus can operate beyond, behind or beneath its regulations.
  3. cypherpoliticsbecoming grey to the colorful politics, effectively avoiding social outcomes based on political discourse. cryptographic media use, in a way that allows science to become neutral because anonymous. also, other uses of unidentity. (seriously, the link explains way better)
  4. exit: if some idiot thinks tariffs are a good idea, you move. neo-nomadism should be a thing already.

as resources flow back into the cycle, acceleration happens at ever higher rates. the formalization of said mechanisms into a diagram of suppression applied to the decelerator is a feat for another post, though.

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10 thoughts on “the diagrams of acceleration

  1. Fantastic stuff, Uri, thank you for putting this together.

    Just a quick comment regarding l/acc: S+W are very vague about the ‘accelerating’ aspect of their schema, other than alluding to technological development as something capable of being steered by a hegemonic program, presumably a professional-managerial state (to be completely honest, to subject l/acc to a class critique by way of the professional-managerial schema would be very interesting, but something for someone more inclined to Marxism). I’m not sure if they ever come out and say it, but the obvious touchstone here is the analysis of capitalism by Veblen, which presupposes a distinct between “industry” and “business”. Business is the ‘blind anarchy of the market’, driven by the ghostly specter of price. Industry, by contrast, is the leveraging of applied knowledge to develop production, handle logistics, steer development, so on and so forth. For Veblen, broadening industry would render business obsolete – the famous “Soviet of engineers” emerging on this point.

    Of course this is hot nonsense. Contemporary Veblenites like to point to things like the state capitalism in the US during WW2, or the amount of public sector-financed tech that ends up in the iPhone, of elements of this theory in play. This strikes me as fundamentally misguided, given that market forces during WW2 were not eliminated (beyond obvious hyper-distortion by wartime imperatives), but served as a critical infrastructure for the planning regime (shades of this in the USSR, where valuing commodities took the path of tying them to prices in Western market economies). The same is to said for the iPhone.

    The irony here is that, if read through the super retro-futurist lenses of Veblen, everything l/acc proposes is actually contingent on decelerators.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yeah, that allusion to Veblen is what made me connect l/acc to the techno-science cycle there. if it’s indeed a positive feedback (as Land theorised), it’s one that is accelerative. under this view, l/acc would have to show that, without the commercial cycle, the inflow of economic resources to the techno-science cycle is sustainable. and also would have to show their own set of suppressors counteract those of the commercial cycle.

      it’s quite a battle.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely a positive feedback process – just don’t see how l/acc would ever be able to disengage it from the commercial cycle, as the two are so fundamentally unified. Finance capital rises from the commercial cycle to serve as a probe-head in the Deleuzeguattarian sense to eek out equitable flows moving in the machinic phylum – a process your chart above illustrates perfectly.

        When it comes to questions like – or the calculation problem, which gets roughly one sentence in the whole of S+W’s inventing the future – the l/accians run for the hills.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think a possible way to think about l/acc is that they are not talking about a different source of acceleration, but they are talking about a different capitalism, one that is identified with the decelerators you mentioned.
    I’ve been reading on Fernand Braudel and he seems to do a pretty good job on analyzing the history of capitalism to conclude it is not equivalent to the market economy, but rather it’s mostly a facilitator to monopolies, regulations, protections, and everything we already know.
    There is a pretty interesting text from Roderick Long that divides left and right liberatarians on the basis of this gestalt shift in relation to capitalism. Perhaps this is the way to divide left and right accels too?
    https://aaeblog.com/2010/05/15/fall-right-swing-left/)
    (Unfortunately AAE seems to be down, but this translation to portuguese is up: http://rodericklong.com.br/cair-a-direita-balancar-a-esquerda/ )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so, finally I’ve got around to reading Long’s piece.

      my view is that left accelerationism *could* be an accelerationist reading of Braudel (or Carson, for that matter), but that mostly what goes under the tag of l/acc nowadays doesn’t. it’s essentially a neo-leninist view, updated to deal with cybernetics.

      I guess an accelerationist mutualism is probably what gets closer to what you’re trying to point here.

      Like

  3. Perhaps the energetic excess of this cybernetic loop gives a clue to the potential development of the accelerationist position. In particular, the (r/l)/acc distinction is a genealogical aberration and tends toward dissipation. That is, any /acc naturally evokes a normative position with u/acc as a desired median between a Landian dromological horror and the traditional left as gaussian distribution extremas. Outsider vectorial momentum is suppressed (or minimized) in order to gain entry into an existing orbit of topological space deterritorialization.

    The selection of the l vector in l/acc is a natural (normative) choice for S+W as a viral insertion mechanism. The question is how to contaminate the capitalist pool with a UBI catalyst, with the proviso that the injectors retain differance (open to variable reassignment, algorithmic reconfiguration, policy pseudo code)? UBI is itself pseudocode, the name of a platformized strata as interface between the cathedral and the great loop. The hope is that the UBI black box provides sufficient modulation and modular decelerator options, exercised from the cathedral through the UBI interface and in turn the interface can dynamically determine where in the loop to insert a constructed decelerator, to insure the UBI quota is achieved. This leaves the machinic phylum/capital symbiosis to accelerate at its own leisure, since the UBI is part of the payout process. The Cathedral looks good to its congregation and the free marketeers are free to exit to their outposts.

    S+W would call this Metis, but perhaps even saying this much is too much.

    So when can we expect the reinsertion of r/ vector into /acc, thereby dissipating the l/r distinction?

    A Landian AI explosion would necessitate the fragmentation of loop states and transitions as options generated from the R&D/Sales loop, such that the recursive micro-clustering of smaller scale business options entails a natural evolution in which even L/ configurations eventually demand access to machinic forms that produce the capacity to restratify or rescale. UBI supported Internet sales based Nano-breweries will scale to demand products that can only be produced by 1000+litre tanks, craft design boutiques will demand access to large scale industrial plastic injection moulding machines, and all will require the vast optimization resources riding on top of a distributed blockchain x.0 . There’s of course an undetermined ontogenetic condition at play here, and it will be interesting to see if miniaturization can speed up to forgo this necessity for the clusters to scale.

    This is the validation of the dromological as an eventually necessary mechanism liberated of its technic mythology. An acceleration that insures an irreversibility condition to dissolving hacks on the distributed networks is possible, if they ever have the chance to really get there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “some kind of transhumanist monarchism maybe?”
    Not exactly. I’ll have to get back to this but for now I’ll just say a little something for the purposes of demarcation.

    In his anti-praxis post Berger notes:
    “The promotion of a collective cognitive project would, ironically, be forced to suppress cognitive activity on the molecular scale.

    In the end this scenario does not seem very likely. Multitudes of positive feedback processes have long since become deeply entrenched, and the system as a whole is undeniably veering far from order.”

    To my mind that trade-off is not only likely but has *already* occurred! (human self-domestication being an immediate enough example, but the loss of complexity of individual cells in multicellular organisms, which is partially recovered by *cancers* is perhaps also relevant and maybe a stronger case) (it’s also more of a gift-wrapped secret, i.e., a paradox, more specifically Simpson’s Paradox I believe or a close relative, than an irony)

    Moreover, turbulence and forest fires are hardly new (mass extinctions being good for evolvability at least) and I doubt organisms tend to avoid uncontrolled mutation for no reason whatsoever.

    (btw I like the diagrammatic approach but I think this particular incarnation is a little too -2, you should develop it further IMO!)

    Liked by 1 person

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