Accelerating Capital: Completed Nihilism and The Indebted Man

In his book Data Trash (1993), Arthur Kroker writes that in the field of digital acceleration, more information means less meaning, because meaning slows info circulation. In the sphere of the digital economy, the faster information circulates, the faster value is accumulated. But meaning slows down this process, as meaning needs time to be produced and to be elaborated and understood. So the acceleration of the info-flow implies the elimination of meaning.

—Franco Berardi, And: Phenomenology of the End

The pursuit of profit is the engine of Capital, accumulation is its outcome. Profit is from the Latin profectus, meaning  “advance, increase, success, progress,” out of which the need to benefit or provide income derived. This sense that progress and success drive the need for profit, that the goal of capitalism is this abstract movement toward increasing and advancing one’s success in the world has always been at the heart of the competitive spirit. To compete or strive against others for the foremost place, this sense of the competitive spirit that has been with us at least since the first Greek Olympics. The term itself “compete” is etymologically to enter or be put in rivalry with an other,” from Middle French compéter “be in rivalry with” (14c.), or directly from Late Latin competere “strive in common,” in classical Latin “to come together, agree, to be qualified,” later, “strive together,” from com “with, together” (com-) + petere “to strive, seek, fall upon, rush at, attack”.  A sense of violent taking and war against all comers for the top prize, the best or foremost place in the Sun.

As Berardi reminds us in the old industrial economy described by Marx, the goal of production was already the valorization of capital, through the extraction of surplus- -value from labour. But, in order to produce value, the capitalist was still obliged to exchange useful things, so he was obliged to produce cars and books and bread.

When the referent is cancelled, when profit is made possible by the mere circulation of money, the production of cars, books and bread become superfluous. The accumulation of abstract value is made possible through the subjection of human beings to debt, and through predation on existing resources. The destruction of the real world starts from this emancipation of valorization from the production of useful things, and from the self-replication of value in the financial field. The emancipation of value from the referent leads to the destruction of the existing world. This is exactly what is happening under the cover of the so-called financial crisis, which is not a crisis at all, but the transition to the self-referential financial capitalism. (A: 125-126)

Continue reading