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)


7 thoughts on “Bernard Stiegler on a New Critique of Capital and Capitalism

  1. Nietzsche’s prophecy is what’s keeping me hanging on for this nihilistic ride!

    “The most important of more recent events- that “God is dead”; that the belief in the Christian God has become unworthy of belief- already begins to cast its first shadows over Europe. To the few at least whose eye, whose suspecting glance, is strong enough and subtle enough for this drama, some sun seems to have set, some old, profound confidence seems to have changed into doubt: our old world must seem to them daily more darksome, distrustful, strange and “old”. In the main, however, one may say that the event itself is far too great, too remote, too much beyond most people’s power of apprehension, for one to suppose that so much as the report of it could have reached them; not to speak of many who already knew what had taken place, and what must all collapse now that this belief had been undermined, because so much was built upon it, so much rested on it, and had become one with it: for example, our entire European morality. ” — Nietzsche

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  2. Is the substance of this ‘new critique’just more critique? Isnt that what the ‘new critique’critiques? Another enlightened reasoning? Somehow i feel there needs be a getting so what is left out, what remains in relief of the facade of capital.

    Is that possible?


  3. … It appears (again) that i am agreeing with the result, that there needs be a sort of alternate discourse, but also then not agreeing that the method of critique is anything larger than what weve had, albeit in different terms.

    It seems to me that not only does a critique need be new, but that in order for it ti be new we must first find the position from which it arises; else the assumption will always be to treat it the same way.
    It appears to me that we can no longer settle for this nihilism, and begin to see that it is the conclusion of nihilism that shows that the route towards it,from it and upon it Is Incorrect, and likewise the ‘nil subject’ of modern trascendental and immanent agency. These are Incorrect results. The is Why then we can see the world in the way we are.

    The ‘tech’ stems froma ‘dark’substance, of sorts. The issue is not ‘how’but ‘what’. The ‘dark enlightenment’ seems to me to
    posit not only some new critique base, but indeed the attainability of the very base from which Enlightened agency arises but which ends in ‘nothingness’.



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