The Principle of Accelerationism: The De-territorialization of the Socious

The Principle of Accelerationism = extreme de-territorialization:

Capitalism is in fact born of the encounter of two sorts of flows: the decoded flow of production in the form of money-capital, and the decoded flow of labor in the form of the ‘free worker’. Hence, unlike previous social machines, the capitalist machine is incapable of providing a code that will apply to the whole of the social field. By substituting money for the very notion of a code, it has created an axiomatic of abstract quantities that keeps moving further and further in the direction of the deterritorialization of the socius.
(Deleuze and Guattari Anti-Oedipus: 33)

Unlike the social morphologies of antiquity and feudalism, capitalism strives to absorb, overcode and subsume every population and loyalty on earth. Now ‘we can depict an enormous, so-called stateless, monetary mass that circulates through foreign exchange and across borders, eluding control by the States, forming a multinational ecumenical organization, constituting a de facto supranational power untouched by governmental decisions’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 453).

Instead of asking like Kevin Kelley does: What does technology want? We should be asking: What does Capital want? For it is the intelligence of capital that has escaped our human systems of command and control, and is even now reformatting the very systems of human and geo-resources toward an algorithmic governmentality beyond the human; or, the becoming non-human of capital.

In fact for all those who are still blindly hoping for the demise of Capitalism, D&G told another tale: ‘If capitalism is the exterior limit of all societies, this is because capitalism for its part has no exterior limit, but only an interior limit that is capital itself and that it does not encounter, but reproduces by always displacing it’ (1977: 230–231). Or again: ‘Capitalism is indeed an axiomatic, because it has no laws but immanent ones … capitalism confronts its own limits and simultaneously displaces them, setting them down again farther along’ (1987: 463).

What people have seen in the many so called crises of capital is actually this retroactive process of realignment of Capital’s limits – this “setting them down again farther along”. As the Left keeps targeting, labeling, categorizing Capital in its critiques, actually existing capitalism migrates elsewhere farther along the road where its new machinations are as yet not visible to critical thinking. The Left is always behind this process, looking back into history – the dead world of previous limits, rather than in anticipating the real movement of capital in its migration to the future. But, then again, it could be that Capital is of the future, a future that is tweaking, retrofitting its own systems in our present contemporary world even as we of the homo sapien sapiens stock ponder the future.

As Deleuze and Guattari would say ‘Revolution is absolute deterritorialization even to the point where this calls for a new earth, a new people’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: 101). In this sense Capital is the axiomatic of this revolutionary and absolute deterritorialization of the socious of the human into becoming non-human.

As we read Deleuze and Guattari we discover that there are five concepts implied by the mechanosphere (a central notion for this process of absolute deterritorialization)that are essential to a thinking and a politics of the earth: assemblage, abstract machine, strata, evolution and consistency. As D&G will problematize it the most important problem of all: given a certain machinic assemblage, what is its relation of effectuation with the abstract machine? How does it effectuate it, with what adequation? Classify assemblages. What we call the mechanosphere is the set of all abstract machines and machinic assemblages outside the strata, on the strata, or between strata. (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 71)

In their use of assemblage we come to understand that a car, a pond, a factory, a city, a national economy, a soldier: an assemblage is both unique and individuated from a multiplicity of similar others (no city without other cities). An assemblage ( agencement) is necessarily ‘machinic’ ( machinique), productive by virtue of its functional heterogeneity and immersion in an ‘abstract machine’ or range of tendencies. An assemblage is therefore defined, not only by what it actually consists of (metal, rubber, lights, leather, driver), but by its virtual shadow: the capacities, latencies, regularities it has developed over time. The earth consists of extremely diverse multiplicities at every scale, each accompanied by a specific topology of possible trajectories (called phase space in physics, fitness landscape in biology, etc.). Guattari insists assemblages reveal an efficaciousness thanks to their more-than-empirical nature, their capacity to become abstract and their singularity, not their adaptation to stable objective background conditions of possibility.1

In their materialist discourse on Geophilosophy they’d make a distinction between three fundamental strata: the physicochemical (inorganic, crystalline), the organic (vital, biochemical) and the anthropomorphic (human). (A Thousand Plateaus) Of the three is it the third stratum that ‘sees the emergence of Machines that are fully part of that stratum but at the same time rear up and stretch their pincers out in all directions at all the other strata’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 63). Capitalism, obviously, is where the anthroposphere reaches its formidable apex, a megamachine (Mumford) for unprecedented interpenetration and acceleration of strata and assemblages. (Arun)

Against any return to a religious or spiritualization of this process as in notions of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, D&G remind us,

It is difficult to elucidate the system of the strata without seeming to introduce a kind of cosmic or even spiritual evolution from one to the other, as if they were arranged in stages and ascended degrees of perfection. Nothing of the sort. The different figures of content and expression are not stages. There is no biosphere or noosphere, but everywhere the same Mechanosphere. (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 69)

Because of this D&G in their more pragmatic approach to these deterritorializing forces of Capital would admonish us:

Every undertaking of destratification (for example, going beyond the organism, plunging into a becoming) must therefore observe concrete rules of extreme caution: a too-sudden destratification may be suicidal, or turn cancerous. In other words, it will sometimes end in chaos, the void and destruction, and sometimes lock us back into the strata, which become more rigid still, losing their degree of diversity, differentiation, and mobility. (1987: 503)

Nothing is assured, there is only the great experiment of accelerating these forces, unleashing the powers of matter through a careful knowledge of the geophilosophical resources of the earth. Ultimately we must move from geophilosophy to geopolitics. This terrain is earth itself. “Henceforth politics will be the discipline of seizing abstract machines which far surpass the limits of petty anthropocentric common sense, of attaining the plane of consistency and reinventing the machinic biosphere to create an altogether new socius.” (Arun: 214)

  1. H. Stark (Editor),J. Roffe (Editor). Deleuze and the Non/Human. Saldanha, Arun. Mechanosphere: Man, Earth, Capital. Palgrave Macmillan; 2015 edition (April 23, 2015)

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