Bernard Stiegler on a New Critique of Capital and Capitalism

I must admit Bernard Stiegler’s combination of Simondon and Nietzsche are growing on me. His book The Decadence of Industrial Democracies (Polity, 2011) which is the first book in a trilogy dealing with our current malaise: the nihilist society as such, based as it is on Nietzsche’s two-hundred year prophecy of the reign of ressentiment and weakness.

Ressentiment is the nihilistic face of a combat that must be led within becoming, with it, but in order to transform it into a future. What makes it so difficult for us to understand this and to do something about it, we who are Nietzsche’s heirs, and who find ourselves in the very heart of this nihilism that was promised for two centuries through his warning, is the fact that the worst lies within the best, and conversely – and, consequently, that becoming is as such a struggle, a combat – and, consequently, that becoming what must actually be combated (ressentiment), that is, what must one do, after one recognizes the scourge of ressentiment?” (55)

And, like D&G before him, – and, shall I dare say it, Nick Land – Stiegler will tell us that capitalism “must go to the end of its process, and we remain utterly ignorant about the way this will turn out.” (57)

Yet, we can “describe this process and what, in it, threatens to brutally interrupt it. This process is the expression of becoming insofar as it is always duplicitous, that is, tragic – and what I here call combat is less the class struggle than it is the struggle between tendencies.” (57)

Here he speaks of the passive (weak) and active (strong) nihilistic forces (Nietzsche) that are working themselves out through two forms of combat, that of ressentiment and that of a counter-to-ressentiment: “these tendencies play out to their extremes.” (58)

To understand these tendencies within capitalist becoming we need, he says, a new critique, “one that presupposes a thought of technics, but one that would also be a critique of metaphysics on the grounds that it is a blockage rendering unthinkable the originary technicity of the individuation (Simondon) process” (i.e., both singular and collective). (58)