anarcho-acc redux

so, it seems someone has been in my turf. anarcho-acc primer has something that most people new to accelerationism lack: it gets most things right. without having to rerun the basics, i can engage directly in productive criticism.

the first thing that needs pointing out is that an/acc is coming primarily from a left-wing market anarchist milieu and theoretical framework. you know, c4ss and all that jazz. someone approaching it mostly with an accelerationism background is likely to be either disinterested or highly confused by a significant part of the text.

with that out of the way, the only other general criticism about the text is its lack of structure. it makes accessing the main points way more time-consuming than it could be.

now, to the specifics:

1. capital as AI

now, i have written a whole fivepart series exploring what Capital, this monster from the ineffable tracts where be dragons, might be. an/acc devotes speciously little time to conceptualizing capital. the little he says is mostly concerned with the strictly economic aspects of intangible capital. later on, he gets back on track, by conceptualizing capitalism as an AI:

The agents do the actual calculations, while the market distributes the information between them, and — at present, but not inevitably or irreplaceably — capitalism provides the agents with their incentives and goals by which to participate in the system at all. As a reminder that capitalism, the market, and the agents are distinct and (theoretically) separable components, I will be referring to this system — as a whole — as “market-capitalism”.

This system of market-capitalism is a vast and distributed intelligence, following certain rules and incentives in pursuit of certain goals; it’s even semi-predictable. We acknowledge this all the time, speaking of how ‘the market’ made such and such a decision — of how there is a great and strange intelligence at work in the economy, and of how information might be divined by watching its movements.

the above both gets a lot of things right and lets a lot of things go wayside. as i tried to sketch in my xenoeconomics series, capital is the real thing under consideration here. the legal system of private property, coupled with the market dynamics thereby enabled, and the human and non-human agents involved, are all parts of capital’s process of self-actualization. capital is artificial intelligence because it is an intelligence in the making of itself, not because it acts as some specific sort of computer program that tries to mimic human decisions.

an/acc gets closer to understanding this when he says:

These patterns are not particular to market-capitalism, and will persist in whatever succeeds market-capitalism. They preceded market-capitalism, as well — they are pattens of memetic evolution, which all groups and people are subject to.

well, yeah, intelligence has been building itself for a while, in many different forms and places. what makes capital different, and even possibly singular, is it being terrestrial and yet non-DNA based, which amounts to it being potentially detachable from both the earth’s surface and the DNA-based lifeforms that inhabit it. that is the "artificial" bit in there.

2. patches are sovereign

and then we reach the fundamental mistake of the whole text:

The important thing about a Patch, the thing that makes a Patch a Patch, is that it offers Exit to some sort of Outside.

i’m not going to bother quoting Moldbug, since the literature on Patchwork is way more extensive, although you should definitely read him. but even if we’re going to work with non-state patches, sovereignty is the defining characteristic. an/acc is right to tie this with exit, since as i put it elsewhere:

I want to advance here that sovereignty is indistinguishable from the ability to trade itself away. Without a matrix of commerce — a system — in which bits and pieces flow, all notions of self-rule, autonomy or ‘control’ are rendered moot. That which can’t break itself apart dies off.

but the reverse side of that coin is that sovereign stock does indeed have the power to trade itself away, which implies at least sufficient control as to be bought. the scale at which such control can be exercised is up for discussion. an/acc, like myself, would prefer a world in which sovcorps can be reduced to a minimum, maybe even below the individual threshold. that isn’t universal, which makes such calculation impossible without empirical experimentation – which includes military confrontation in extremis.

therefore, talking about Patches without some effective dissuasion for potential aggressors is maximally utopian. your local gay bar may be a community, a refuge, but is hardly a sovereign unity of geopolitical fragmentation, and thus cannot really be traded away.

now, granted, Patches don’t necessarily have to be states, sovereignty is not identical to a monopoly of violence over a territory. i have previously written about several variants of possible neocameral arrangements which aren’t territorial, and I’m sure many more can be imagined. my central point here is that, in a fragmented world, there will be states, and non-state sovereign Patches will have to be able to defend themselves against states sometimes.

i am insisting heavily on the importance of sovereignty because it is what allows for the remarkable consequences of Patchwork. without it, the power to pursue radically different lifestyles and political philosophies is absent. without it, there’s no "market of societies", as an/acc puts it. you are back again at the behest of USG and its minions. and sure, USG might have been lenient with some people, at least some of the time, but I’m not holding my breath that this lasts too long.

3. desire

now, this last part is the one I’m probably less than well-equipped to deliver. for full treatment, it would be more interesting to read Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus and surrounding commentary directly. But since an/acc stated that the Primer was mostly about desire, this redux would be incomplete without at least touching on it.

On Twitter, we briefly discussed the issue (starting here), and the way an/acc treats desire seems to come from a pure common-sense meaning of the word. desire, in this sense of the term, are those things we crave, which we don’t fully grasp where they come from, but which we concern as "ours".

already at this point, desire points to something beyond us, obscurely hidden in our unconscious. we choose not to investigate it at our peril since this desire popping up from the unconscious mind drives all of our actions.

accelerationism, deriving so consistently from D+G’s work, obviously takes its treatment of desire from them. in there, as well as i can grasp, desire is this cosmic force compelling complexity to build up and blossom. ultimately, it is equivalent to "fundamental processes of dissipative thermodynamics", driving the creation of negentropy and self-organization.

with that in mind, and all of the above as well, an/acc’s question of whether Capital can or has already captured "our" desire is fundamentally misguided. Capital is, as much as we are, a product of desire, and it’s up for desire to decide whether we are captured, left alone or exterminated. that is what antipraxis is about: "Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law".

3 thoughts on “anarcho-acc redux

  1. “capital is the real thing under consideration here. the legal system of private property [etc.] are all parts of capital’s process of self-actualization. capital is artificial intelligence because it is an intelligence in the making of itself…”

    This strikes me as rather too teleological.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s