Antonio Negri: Reflections on Accelerazionista Policy of Williams and Srnicek

I noticed Edumund Berger on Deterritorial Investigations Unit had posted a snippet of Antonion Negri’s take on Williams and Srnicek #Acclerate Manifesto. I discovered a few snippets worth noting.

After a slight introduction Negri tells us that Williams and Srnicek return us to a Communist discourse for today. They offer a return of revolutionary thinking, a “new movement” in form – a discourse of power against power, biopolitics against Biopolitics. Theirs is a return to an emancipatory vision that takes as the basic subversive premise the notion of the “One divided into two”.

Negri sees in this a accelerationist move a return that would force a renovation of the operaista tradition with its notions of an “inside-against” refrain. In this tradition the concept of a hands-on investigation of class compostion came to the fore. It provided a detailed analysis of the real conditions of workers that is necessary to validate an analysis of contemporary capitalism, as well as its potential sites of struggle; only thus can the conceptsof immaterial and affective labour be useful politically. As Negri remarks: “The process of liberation may not be accelerating capitalist development, without however (this is important) confusing “acceleration speed”: because here the acceleration has all the characteristics of a device-engine, an experimental process of discovery and creation, within the space of possibilities determined by capitalism itself.” He also sees the need for the revitalization of the concept of “trend” within Marxian analysis and its insistence on “spatial analysis of the parameters of development” aligned with such notions as territorialisation and/or deterritorialization from Deleuze and Guattari.

Another key feature Negri sees as needful is the recent term Cognatariat: “the power of cognitive labour which capitalism causes but represses, it constitutes but reduces in the growing domain algorithmic automation, which enhances ontologically (growing production value) but devalued in terms of money and regulate (not only in the crisis but in the whole business of development, and in particular through its handling of “form-state) – well, this power, pace of all those who still bustle with most clichés that revolutionary possibilities must be tied to the revival of a twentieth century working class, clarifying that there is a class, but quite different, with a much higher power, and is the class of cognitive labour – is this class that is freed, it is this which must free themselves.” As he tells it on “this ability to liberate the productive forces of cognitive work is based the entire speech of #Accelerate”.  He continues, saying:

We must get rid of the illusion of a return to work, you should definitely grasp Fordist from material labour hegemony to the intangible work and then, considering the capitalist command on technologies, attacking “the more retrograde approach of capital to technology”. Productive forces are limited by the capitalist command. The key issue then becomes that of liberating the productive forces latent, as well as the revolutionary materialism has always done. It is on this “latency” that we now dwell.

He sees a developed critique  against any organizational concept of “horizontal”, “spontaneous” moves against any conception of democracy as a process ‘: this is, according to #Accelerate, a pure and simple fetish of determinations (of democracy) that have no consequence, and effective, destituent and/or constituent, compared with capitalist institutions. He goes on to remind us that the latter statement is perhaps excessive, given the existing movements who are forcefully (and without proper tools or alternatives) against the financial capital and its institutional productions.

But it is certain that you can’t get rid of a strong institutional step, stronger than the democratic can ever propose horizontalism, when referring to revolutionary transformation. Plan must, before or after the revolutionary leap, turn the abstraction of the tendency, in the constituent power of future institutions, post Communist, capitalist. A “planning” which – according to MPA – is not vertical command of the State workers ‘ society, but must now be convergence in productive capacities and business – this is an indication that must be taken and tasked to develop: planning of the struggles prior to production planning.

What next? Negri tells us first we need to unleash the power of cognitive work, tearing it to its latency. “We still don’t know what a modern techno-social body may become”! Two elements are here insisted on. One is what others call “appropriation of fixed capital” and subsequent anthropological transformation of business entity; the other item is a socio-political one and that is the consideration that this new potential of bodies is essentially collective, politics. In other words we can say that the surplus, the value added in production and development trend of power formed by appropriation of fixed capital derives essentially from the productive social cooperation. As he states it:

Probably this is the critical step of the Manifesto. With an attitude that reduces and sometimes non-essential makes humanistic determinations of philosophical criticism, #Accelerate insists on quality materials and techniques of the body ‘s re-appropriation fixed assets. Quantification of production, economic modeling, the big dataanalysis, more abstract cognitive models, etc. : well, this is all through education and appropriate reprocessing that make scientific topics-workers. Mathematical models and algorithms are at the service of capital is not a quality, not a problem of mathematics – is just one problem.

Negri sees a little bit of optimism in such notions. What he gathers from the #Accelerate is their qualification in that what the left needs to develop a socio-technological hegemony – “the material production platforms, finance, logistics and the consumption can and must be reprogrammed and reformatted to post-capitalist purposes”. One criticism he makes it that there is a marked overdetermination of the objective, material forces at play in such a move, while there is an underdetermination of the  social elements, the cooperative and political; yet, this should not preclude a return of the Communist administrative functions needed to be put into play for such a transition to work. As he tells it:

I mean this step, in this way: you have to ripen the whole productive labour opportunities to propose new intellectual hegemony. And it is here that the theme of the Organization itself proposes. Offers – we have already said – against the extremist horizontalism a new reconfiguration of the relationship between the network and planning; against any peaceful concept of democracy as a process, an attention shifted from the media (rated, representation, rule of law, etc.) for (collective empowerment and self-governance). Who here does not arise new centralist and empty illusions reinterpretations of “dictatorship of the proletariat” is obvious. But the #Accelerate captures the need to push forward the clarification, suggesting a sort of “ecology of organizations”, insisting that is on a multiple framework forces that come into resonance with each other and so can, beyond sectarianism, to produce collective decision engines. You may feed doubts about this proposal, you can recognize the larger difficulties of happy options which assumes this is one – but way to go, the more evident today, at the end of that cycle of struggles begun in 2011 which, together with a large force and the proposed new content really revolutionaries, has however shown unsurpassed limits – maintained that form of organization – in the clash with the power.

Negri gets down to the core proposals put forward by Williams and Srnicek telling that they offer three main objectives. First, that we need an intellectual infrastructure that offers a new ideal project and studies and new business models. Second, an initiative that incorporates the media mainstream: internet and social networks are useful, but one must have access to the traditional forms of communication (radio, television, newspapers, journals): “the project must focus considerable resources and all possible energies in order to get their hands on appropriate means of communication”. And, finally, “they should reignite the ability to build all possible institutional forms (permanent or transitional policies and global and local trade unions) of power and class: a unitary Constitution of class power will only be possible through the Assembly and hybridization of all experiences so far developed and other to invent”. He continues:

The future needs to be built: this enlightenment instance runs throughout the MPA. And also a Promethean, humanist policy, there is fully included – a humanism that however, to go beyond the limits imposed by capitalist society, opens to post-human, scientific utopia, inter alia taking for example spatial dreams of the 20th century, or, for examples, build walls more insurmountably against death and accidents of life. The rational imagination must be accompanied to the collective imagination of new worlds, organizing an “auto-enhancement” strong social and labour. The modern era we lived, we showed that there is nothing more than a In globalisation, that there is no longer an out-today however, with the theme of building the future, we need, and no doubt the possibility of bringing in Outside too, to give the Inside a mighty breath.

Criticisms Negri offers:

This new movement looks like a complement to the post-operaista which appear to offer less a Socialist humanism and more of a return to a positive humanism. He tells us the term “accelerationism” is unfortunate, because it is tinged with a superficial revitalization of modernist or “Futurist” thought forms that are not truly Futurist.  He says the document is certainly topical and opens debates toward a Communist return. Yet, he sees in this document a little bit too little technological determinism, as well as not enough of the political, in this project. As he remarks:

The relationship to history (or if you want history, current events, the praxis) is likely to be skewed by something that you would call teleology but but seems like this. The relation to the singularity and, therefore, the ability to consider the trend as virtuality (involving singularities) and determining material (which promotes the trend itself) as power of subjectivation, seems underrated: the trend cannot be defined other than as open relationship, as constitutive relationship, animated by high class. You can argue that this emphasis on openness may lead to perverse effects and that is, for example, a picture much chaotic interaction to define and then affliction; many exaggerated to the point of constituting a bad infinity.

He does affirm their opening toward a transformative anthropology of workers ‘ bodies, stating that this would help quench any  drifts toward pluralism. Instead of this runaway message of capital Negri tells us we should instead begin to determine the “thresholds” in the development – which consist of consolidations thresholds – Deleuze and Guattari would say – of agencements collectifs in repossession of fixed capital and transforming the workforce antropology and languages, and activities. As he states it:

These thresholds are those that govern the relationship between technical and political composition composition of the proletariat and fasten historically. Without these program consolidations – transient – is impossible. And it is precisely because we can’t accurately define such a relationship, that sometimes we are unarmed and politically impotent methodologically. On the other hand, is the determination of a historic threshold, and the awareness of a specific mode of technical-political relationship, which allows the formulation of organizational processes and the establishment of a suitable program.

He qualifies this saying we need to specify that municipality is in every technological connection, developing a specific study of anthropology. At this point Negri returns to the subject of reappropriation of fixed assets. Fixed capital in our time unlike Marx’s “is established essentially in surplus determined by the cooperation, i.e. on that something immeasurably that, as Marx said, does not consist in the sum of plus-work of two or more workers but in plus that comes from the fact that they work together (the plus in short, that is more than the sum)”. In this new cognitive economy one begins to the computerized society in an attempt to make the machinic prostheses production control. Information technologies are so subject to automation.” He goes on to say at length:

 The capitalist algorithms check this command on the production processing. We are at a higher level in real subsumption. Hence the great importance of logistics that – when is automated – begins to configure each territorial dimension of capitalist command, to establish internal boundaries and hierarchies in world space. As all the algorithmic machinations that focus and drive, for degrees of abstraction and areas of knowledge, with frequent and functional variants, that complex of knowledge, otherwise called General Intellect. Now, if the extractive capitalism widens “extensively” its ability to exploit every social infrastructure and apply “intensively” to any degree of abstraction of the production machine, that is, at every level of the Organization of the global financial mode of production, it will be at this point to reopen the debate on the appropriation of capital-fixed on this whole theoretical and practical space. The construction of the fights goes commensurate with this space. -Fixed capital can be potentially riappropriato by workers. It is this power that it must free.

One final theme brought up in #Accelerate is that of a common currency. As he tells it, and again I quote at length:

Certainly no exception to the authors of the MPA that money has now hired – as an abstract machine – the singular Supreme meter function of the values extracted from the society in real subsumption of this in the capital. Now, the same pattern that leads towards the extraction/exploitation of social work in its highest expression, we are there to recognize the money – money, money, money plan hierarchy. But this monetary abstraction, as a result of becoming dominant trend of financial capital, alluding to potential forms of resistance and subversion at the same high level. It is on this ground that the Communist program for future post-capitalist goes, not only proposing the reappropriation of wealth but proletarian making hegemonic capability – that is working at that which underlies the higher abstraction-abstraction of labour value because of its universal cash translation. This means today “common currency” – nothing utopian but rather an indication of programmatic as paradigmatic and foreshadow in fighting the attack on labour measures imposed by capital, joint hierarchies between work required and plus-work (imposed by the direct master) and the general social distribution of income, commanded by the capitalist state. It is on this perspective that you should still work.

In the end Negri reminds us that in our time should we not renew the watchword “refusal to work”? As he sums it up:

The fight against the algorithmic automaton should take positively the increase in productivity that it determines and then impose drastic reductions of the disciplined service life and/or controlled by/in the machines for every worker – and substantial wage increases, more and more consistent. On the one hand, the service will be automatically adjusted equal for everyone (in the post-capitalist era – but this means immediately formulate objectives in this sense of struggle). On the other hand, a large citizenship income should translate each figure working service in recognition of the equal participation of all the construction of collective wealth. So each can develop freely and to better his Joie de vivre (repeating here the appreciation for Fourier marxiano). This should be required immediately with the fight. But here you should open to another theme, that of the production of subjectivity, that the use of agonist passions and historical dialectic that it opens against the capitalist command.

You can read the original here:  Reflections on the poster for a Accelerazionista Policy by Toni Negri, February 7, 2014

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