David Roden: Accelerationism and Posthumanism II

David Roden just posted a new essay Accelerationism and Posthumanism II. In it he addresses the Leftwing Accelerationist’s like Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams among others. A couple points he raised:

First, “that technology has no essence and no itinerary” (i.e., no autonomous structure or stable nature, nor a teleological or final goal toward which it is moving.) As he explicates it:

In its modern form at least, it is counter-final. It is not in control, but it is not in anyone’s control either, and the developments that appear to make a techno-insurgency conceivable are liable to ramp up its counter-finality. This, note, is a structural feature deriving from the increasing mobility of technique in modernity, not from market conditions. There is no reason to think that these issues would not be confronted by a more just world in which resources were better directed to identifiable social goods (See Roden 2014, Ch7).

Second, he argues against being too optimistic about rerouting technologies into any future leftwing or other social agendas, that whatever biotech, nanotech, and other advanced technologies offer they may ultimately branch off from human command and control, evolving into posthuman worlds disconnected from our own “all-too-human” initiatives, telos, and designs:

…the development of technologically altered descendants of current humans might precipitate what I term a “disconnection” – the point at which some part of the human socio-technical system spins off to develop separately (Roden 2012; 2014, Ch5). I’ve argued that disconnection is multiply realizable – or so far as we can tell. … a kind of disconnection could result if human descendants were to become sufficiently alien from us that “we” would no longer have a pre-reflective basis for empathy with them. We would no longer experience them as having our relation to the world or our intentions. Such a “phenomenological speciation” might fragment the notional universality of the human, leading to a multiverse of fissiparous and alienated clades, as envisaged in Bruce Sterling’s novel Schismatrix.

If anything he agrees in the end with the darker and more dangerous view of a sinister outcome, whose “itinerary reaches its apogee in the work of  Nick Land who lent the project  a cyberpunk veneer borrowed from the writings of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling”.

Read more: https://enemyindustry.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/accelerationism-and-posthumanism-ii/

6 thoughts on “David Roden: Accelerationism and Posthumanism II

  1. Thanx for all the re-blogs here. I should emphasise that this is actually a three year old piece, but as I’m currently thinking of updating my chapter in PHL on the New Substantivist theory of technology, I thought it was worth reposting to trawl for feedback. A number of people have discussed the chapter on technology but I’ve yet to hear any critical comments directed at the account or its implications for Accelerationism and other forms of techno-poliics. All this makes me feel a bit giddy, as if I’m flapping my wings in a vacuum. Surely there must be something hideously ill-conceived here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea, about time I reread your book again… thanks, for the update. And, you’re right, haven’t heard or seen much in respect of review or critical thought on what you’re suggesting in way of Accelerationism. On the one side we seem to have those like Virilio, Berardi, and their followers who present a Speed critique that stops the flow of time in some ‘presentist’ world of pure speed without a future, an eternal now of technological infospheric travail invented by neoliberals convergence technologies to stave off change, etc.; and, then on the other side the divide between Land’s active nihilism (virulent) of technological end-games with the rise of an immanent distributive intelligence, against a more passive paradigm of the Left Accelerationists who seek to subsume the technological beast of progress and guide it toward a salvationist Techno-Ecotopia. I think we know where this leads… I’m more dystopic, closer to a Baudrillard-Ballardian vision of Bataillean-Landian excess and accursed share blade-runner traversals where as you’ve suggested over and over there will be a great disconnect between current human(ity) and whatever replaces us… and, whatever we might conceive is probably nothing like what it will end up being… our progeny will take on their own modes of being with only the fond traces of the human left in their computational/traversal registries… the indexical traces of a former parent who like the great festivals of old was sacrificed in the pot-latch cosmism of technological exit.


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