Speed Trials: A Conversation about Accelerationist Politics
Mohammad Salemy, Nick Srnicek, and Alex Williams
Mohammad Salemy – As a curator, I have been investigating the synthesis of mass computation and mass telecommunication, or what I have called telecomputation,1 and its role in both the transformation of the human and the emergence of new artificial epistemes in regard to knowledge production in general and creative practices in particular. The publication of Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek’s “#Accelerate: Manifesto for Accelerationist Politics” (MAP)2 in spring 2013 was an important turning point in my research at the time for a couple of curatorial projects, namely the Encyclonospace Iranica exhibition (2013) and the Incredible Machines Conference (2014). Until encountering MAP, I tended to consider the proper attitude toward telecomputation a critical, if not a rejectionist, one; I resisted the thought that networked computers, if not also the larger technology of capital accumulation, offered emancipatory possibilities toward the realization of a post-capitalist society. However, MAP not only crystallizes, in a precise and consistent language, the most convincing arguments in favour of a technological intervention in political economy but also responds to what I had considered the unresolved challenges of the twenty-first century. MAP also provides the closest alternative to a cognitive roadmap for, and even maybe an exit from, both the dominant political systems and the oppositional emancipatory strategies—such as poststructural institutional reform or neo-Marxist grassroots local action (e.g., Occupy)—that we inherited from the twentieth century. By now, MAP, which has been translated into many languages (fifteen and counting: I myself am in the process of translating it into Farsi), is being read by a large group of people and responded to by a new generation of scholars and activists as well as older thinkers, like Antonio Negri. Meanwhile, the core accelerationist arguments and terminology are slowly becoming part of contemporary political and theoretical debates about, for example, the insufficiency of local politics in light of larger global problems requiring universal solutions; the failures of the Western left—both the Marxists and the poststructuralists—in challenging neoliberalism; the rejection of the total negation of capitalism; the proposal to salvage usable parts of the current geopolitical system in our post-capitalist future; and, finally, the embrace of science and technology as practical but also conceptual tools for restructuring the humanities and cultural studies.
Nick and Alex, most people don’t know how both of you were led to this collaborative project. You both come from a broadly speculative realist background.3 Nick, you were one of the founders of the Speculative Heresy blog4 with philosopher and author Ben Woodard and Taylor Adkins, and, Alex, you had your own blog, Splintering Bone Ashes.5 How did your shift from speculative realism to accelerationism6 take place, and, consequently, how did MAP come to be?
Alex Williams – The manifesto has two chief inspirations: political and philosophical. In political terms, this goes back to the 2007–09 financial crisis and the economic downturn and fiscal debt crises that followed. What was interesting for us was the sheer paucity of the left’s response to such calamitous events. I remember attending the 2009 Idea of Communism conference at Birkbeck, London, with great anticipation. It featured an extremely illustrious list of communist thinkers from the continental tradition. But while they discussed many interesting ideas, it was clear they didn’t have any prospective strategic thoughts about capitalizing on what was shaping up to be the worst crisis capitalism had faced for seventy years. In the years that followed, the practical responses of the radical left also seemed pretty inadequate. While movements like Occupy Wall Street, new student movements, and the rise of protest organizations like Spain’s 15M initially seemed to hold the promise of a serious new cycle of struggle, each quickly fell apart or was unable to properly articulate a new politics that would be capable of being generalized. Meanwhile, the forces of the right in Europe and America were able to massively extend the neoliberal project in a way that perhaps should not be surprising, given the history of neoliberalism, but that took much of the left by surprise.
Nick Srnicek – For me, the key moment was the 2008 crisis and the complete lack of response to it—both in political movements that aimed beyond a simple nostalgia or a conservative resistance and in philosophical thinking. I’d been trained in the work of thinkers like Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek, et al., but when I read their commentaries, or when I turned to their concepts to understand the situation, they seemed to offer very little of use. Much like Alex, for me it was striking just how little philosophy was of use in a crisis/opportunity situation. And so I made a full-fledged turn toward political economy. (This had already been in the background, but it now became the key aspect of my thinking.) But my turn toward all that was filtered through the recent work being done in speculative realism. Against the dominant strands of philosophy that I had been trained in, speculative realism was significant to me for bringing back an emphasis on materiality, on technology, and (through speculative realism’s failures) on epistemology. I think you can see those influences in MAP, but that text itself stems from the global experiences of continued neoliberalism and my personal experiences with various student occupations, the student protests in the UK, and Occupy London. It was easy to see why people were enthralled by these things, since there was a real sense of accomplishment, solidarity, and potential transformation. But nothing changed in the end, and what emerged was the imperative to understand this failure. Despite the mass mobilization, why did nothing change?
Williams – I consider speculative realism a “non-movement” because, for various now well-documented reasons, speculative realism’s “founders” have almost nothing in common, beyond a stated intent to reject correlationism. One sector of speculative realism that did cohere, however, and seemed to offer some intriguing pathways out of now all-too-familiar continental theoretical debates, was the work of Ray Brassier and Reza Negarestani.7 In particular, the provocative ideas Brassier had developed around defending the Enlightenment precisely as a vector of alienation proved to be influential.8 While we would not describe our work as being “speculative realist” in orientation (especially given the dubious cast the term has been given in the years since its initial deployment), we certainly agree that the emphasis in the best work collected under that name on realism, materiality, and questions of epistemology has been important in changing the ways we thought political phenomena might be interpreted. Speculative realism has been accused of being “apolitical,” particularly by writers coming at these debates from an art-world context, but I think that was always misleading. On the one hand, philosophers such as Brassier and Negarestani rarely go on the record about political matters, but their work has obvious political implications that are worth cashing out. In particular, the shift toward forms of realism implies a way of thinking about political phenomena that are not overdetermined by their discursive manifestations. Now, it is important here not to simply revert to an old-school, “table-thumping” realism or boorish mechanistic materialism. The sociopolitical world is complex. But this complexity was only ever imperfectly mapped by those poststructuralists who were overly invested in discursivity. This would be one important political impact of thinking with Brassier and Negarestani. At the same time as the rise of speculative realism came a general increase in interest (on the academic left) in political economy and economics and finance more generally—principally to understand how the crisis was operating.
Srnicek – I wouldn’t say accelerationism is a synthesis, necessarily. Speculative realism was important for its particular questioning of habitual ideas about thought, reality, and particularly materiality (feminism and anthropology were significantly ahead of most philosophy here). Speculative realism generated a certain orientation to these things. But in its specific content, I think it has been less influential. For all the excellent work done by some of those associated with the term, I don’t think a classic work of philosophy has emerged out of it yet. But it has, and continues, to shape how the newest generation of continental philosophers approach the world.
Williams – One important influence of Brassier’s philosophy was its emphasis on the absolute necessity of a compact between knowledge of the world and our ability to transform it. This is perhaps the most significant point of convergence between Brassier’s transcendental realism and the Marxian tradition.
Srnicek – Indeed, the point about the compact between knowledge and our ability to transform it is crucial. It gets conjoined under the term “Prometheanism”—which, minimally, is the claim that we can intervene in and build a better world. There is hubris in that, but it’s a hubris that’s necessary to any leftist politics (leaving aside the various defeatist positions).
Salemy – The most concrete of all accelerationist ambitions has been the forceful reintroduction of the concepts of universal basic income (UBI) and the abolition of work to the forefront of a leftist agenda for the future. The strength of these two arguments is derived from their synthesis: elimination of work can be considered progressive only if it is accompanied by UBI. The only unanswered question regarding UBI, however, is the real possibility of its implementation on a global scale. If this concept were adopted, say, only in the advanced and post-Fordist societies, wouldn’t it create a two-tiered world, one in which a rather large part of the world has to cope with an outdated system while the smaller and smarter part enjoys living in the future? If UBI can be implemented only in certain pockets of our global civilization with specific socioeconomic heritages, wouldn’t we end up with a situation like the twentieth century’s Communist bloc? Isn’t this eerily reminiscent of Joseph Stalin’s “socialism in one country”?9
Srnicek – This is one of most difficult issues for UBI—the generalization of the proposal beyond one country. There is no easy answer, but it’s worth pointing out that a similar problem confronts the state’s provision of welfare. The goal of a post-work society, as we argue in our book, has to be universal, which is to say, global. But there’s no way to simply skip past the difficult work of building that world, and that means the project has to start locally, somewhere. Inevitably—as with any proposal—it would be an uneven and combined development, but we argue that a post-work society should operate as a regulative ideal for political struggles. Most importantly, though, is the fact that UBI is a bootstrapping mechanism—it enables class proletarian power to be strengthened, and this provides leverage for further developments, including in terms of transnational solidarity. (This is also why critiques of UBI as being simply a redistribution mechanism are misplaced—they miss the way it changes political relations in production by removing the imperative to work.) In other words, successfully achieving UBI in one place makes it easier to achieve elsewhere. In that sense, it has a dynamic that not many other proposals do (although a reduction of the working week also has this dynamic and is another key avenue for building a post-work society). It’s worth noting as well that there are numerous UBI movements in the developing world: Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa have strong movements for it, for instance. There are local foundations for this universal project, in other words.
Williams – The question of the applicability of UBI to non-“core” capitalist nations seems to be simply a question of time. If the key driver behind the present interest in UBI is the new wave of automation, then for any part of the world the issue is a simple one: When will it become cheaper for a robot or algorithm to perform your work function? There will be limits to this—fine motor movements are automatable, but often only with extreme cost. However, the broader project of UBI is to transform the way societies think about work itself, about value, and about how societies should be made responsible for the value they produce. As Nick mentions, UBI is not an end goal but rather a staging post, what we also term a “platform,” enabling a broader range of alternative actions to be conducted in the light of it.
Salemy – The problems can compound if advanced democratic states, in order to afford an inland UBI, are forced to tighten the screws on outland territories, a development that locally may produce a more egalitarian prospect for citizens of advanced democracies but can cause an overall regression globally. It’s like the saying “one step forward and two steps back.” What do you think are the global preconditions of UBI? A kind of a networked world government?
Srnicek – There are risks involved in UBI—that it may heighten impediments to the free flow of people and generate anti-immigration sentiment. But the response to this has to be, first, how is that risk different from countries with extensive welfare systems? And, second, anti-immigration rhetoric is already increasing—and in significant part because of the difficulty of finding jobs. That changes if the coercive aspects of wage labour are removed via a basic income. It is important to be aware, however, that the conditions for a properly leftist UBI need to be in place beforehand. Most commentators abstract the idea from its context—arguing for its immediate implementation. It’s not clear to me, though, that the conditions are right for it. At the moment, UBI is more likely to be implemented in the way Milton Friedman envisaged it: as a replacement for the state and as an extension of the market. Work has to be done first on a cultural and political level before a leftist UBI has a chance of succeeding. The groundwork has to be laid out—and this, we argue, can only be achieved through counter-hegemonic struggle.
Williams – The question is: How does capital coerce workers if they can exist without a job? This is where I think the battles around UBI will really begin. We cannot forget that alongside labour’s economic surplus-value extraction role, labour also performs a disciplinary role. I’m not sure global government is a precondition for UBI. It has been trialled in localities before, with some successes, in places as diverse as India, Macau, Iran, and regions of the United States. I do think that if a national-scale experiment with UBI were to prove a big success, governments elsewhere would want to attempt implementing it. Perhaps more serious is the question of whether it would prove to be economically inflationary, in the sense of inflating prices—but even this would effectively act as a redistributive measure, when considered at the macro level, in favour of the poor, the unemployed, women who work in the home, and so on.
Salemy – On a totally different note, I always remind my environmentalist friends on the West Coast that a moral or ethical approach to energy diversification might fail because petroleum not only feeds our fuel hunger but also structures the geopolitical economy in a certain way. Oil puts the world economy on a certain trajectory and enforces a particular regime of internationally enforceable pricing for the regulation of the entire system of global power.
Williams – I’d agree that you should never underestimate the power of petropolitics.
Salemy – Why would any neoliberal government held in power by banking and military interests volunteer to implement social-democratic experiments with UBI in its own jurisdiction? Perhaps a sound UBI can be implemented only as a result of an intense epistemological revolution that transforms the entire social fabric, including the outlook of the capitalist class and/or a complete revamping of the structures and processes that constitute contemporary liberal democracies, or both, ideally. The better word to describe this type of change is “epistopolitical,” which shows the entanglement of politics with the theory of knowledge and vice versa.
Srnicek – Of course, many governments won’t immediately be willing to change their policies. Just like they weren’t willing to change slavery, or change women’s voting rights, or change the working week, or change minimum wage, or change child labour laws, or change civil rights, or anything else. It’s all politics and it all involves intense periods of struggle. We shouldn’t be naive about the difficulties of getting something like UBI implemented, but in many ways it actually seems easier than these previous struggles—given the fact that it has support across the political spectrum, the fact that it is making its way into the platforms and discussions of major political parties, and the fact that it is gaining wide mainstream media acceptance. These are all tendencies that can be pushed in significant directions to effect a real shift in how society operates. And, I’d add, it’s certainly a more viable proposal than the sort of purely negative arguments you get on the left—i.e., end money, end the value-form, end growth—proposals that have little conception of what they mean in practice, and even less idea of how to get there. (The difficulty of “ending growth” is already leading some ecological thinkers down authoritarian paths, for instance.)
Salemy – Those who have been following the development of accelerationist thought from prior to the publication of MAP to the 2014 #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader, edited by Robin Mackay and Armen Avanessian for Urbanomic/Merve Verlag, might understand its genealogical kinship with the philosophy via the American philosophers Wilfrid Sellars (philosophy of science) and Robert Brandom (analytic philosophy) and contemporary thinkers like Negarestani and Brassier. Those of us following the development and synthesis of speculative realist thought on the Internet also reserve a spot in this history for the young philosopher Peter Wolfendale, whose new book, Object-Oriented Philosophy: The Noumenon’s New Clothes (2014), has already generated a lot of controversy and discussion surrounding the philosophy of Graham Harman and speculative realism. To summarize, some of us might have an idea about how a new interest in rationalism and functionalism in philosophy and epistemic structural realism10 in science might relate to accelerationism. But from your own point of view, how do you see these relationships? Is neo-rationalism11 the larger epistemological framework for which acceleration functions as a political platform? Let’s put it this way: Can we assume that the whole of the rationalist spectrum is as interested in a leftist emancipation project as you two are, or not?
Williams – There is a relationship to rationalism, but I think we ought to be careful to note that we situate our work largely in terms of politics. While we consider thinking about collective reasoning to have important implications for how politics works, it remains a separate (though overlapping) project. The neo-rationalist work by Brassier, Negarestani, Wolfendale—and here we would add Deborah Heikes’s work on the necessity of a feminist rationalism and Anthony Simon Laden’s recent writings on the sociality of reasoning—is of real importance. Our own work only touches upon neo-rationalism in places.
Salemy – But the two supposedly separate scenes of neo-rationalism and accelerationism are indeed interconnected. I would like to see whether, beyond the shared legacy of speculative realism, there is anything else that can explain the affinities.
Williams – Rationalism can often be taken to imply a kind of bloodless idealist liberalism in the sphere of politics. We would seek to refute such a picture but would also clarify that politics rarely proceeds by virtue of those possessing the best reasons. Politics isn’t a matter of reasoning, whether collectively or individually instantiated, and is nearly always an immensely messy, experimental, and complex set of processes.
Srnicek – It’s important to recognize a role for knowledge in building a better world. Given the complexity of the world, we can either retreat into folk political bunkers of immediacy and simplicity or we can raise up humanity’s ability to deal with complexity. We argue for the latter option, and this requires developing scientific knowledge for the project of universal emancipation. The basic point is that knowing how to change a social system is essential to building a better world. And this knowledge has to be grounded upon ideas about rationality in order to not collapse into subjectivism, i.e., simple opinion mongering.
Rethinking the nature of reasoning (rather than “reason”) is also important given the epistemic basis of colonialism and the dark side of modernity. The decolonial thinker Walter Mignolo is quite clear on this, demonstrating the ways in which the structure of classical reason facilitated the structure of domination and racism in the colonial project.12 If we want to recognize the significance of knowledge yet also want to avoid the problems of classical conceptions of reason, then new models have to be put forth. But this is what is significant about recent neo-rationalist projects—that they take these problems as a starting point rather than as something to be ignored or rejected.
That being said, the political is not reducible to the rational, and new models of reasoning have to be placed into that broader problematic.
Williams – Where rationalism does touch more closely on our immediate concerns is in terms of the dynamic of a leftist politics—what Nick referred to earlier as Prometheanism. This is basically the idea that through our knowledge of the world and through political struggle, too, we can open new ways of being free that were unavailable to us before.
Salemy – The most often levelled criticism against accelerationism is that it tends toward technocracy. Critics point to MAP’s embrace of technology and science as well as its hidden debt to Jürgen Habermas13 by way of its implicit advocacy of a return to the unfinished project of modernity. How do you weigh and respond to these criticisms?
Williams – To the first question of technocracy: Technocracy implies more than simply thinking that science and technology might be progressive forces in the world. Technocracy usually means a heavily bureaucratized and depoliticized take on the technics of governance, where “experts” of different kinds rule on issues without ever questioning the basic underlying assumptions of neoliberal capitalism. If this is what technocracy means, then this is clearly something that we do not endorse. Indeed, this vision of technical expertise as simply fine-tuning an essentially inviolable political-economic system is intrinsically opposed to the way we would want to conceive a progressive relationship between technoscience and politics.
As outlined in MAP, we do think there is a role for technical knowledge in left politics, both in the sense of understanding the world so that we might transform it—which includes the technical environment in which we exist—and in a later sense of how a complex and multi-scalar post-capitalist society might be collectively governed.
As to Habermas: In a purely genealogical sense, Habermas has not been a significant influence on our work. That being said, there are indeed points of convergence with his work in some of the broad outlines of the project we set out in MAP, particularly in the idea of a return to the project of modernity, as you mentioned. Indeed, Habermas was probably the most famous continental political theorist defending modernity at the time of the rise of poststructuralism or postmodernity. I think there are some important differences in our approach worth drawing attention to here. While we agree that ideas emerging from the Enlightenment and developing in the centuries afterward still have much to contribute to thinking through the politics of left emancipation, we also think that Habermas’s overly idealized, quasi-liberal account misses a lot of the problems that come with power relations, relying upon an ideal, smoothly functioning discursive space—liberal in the sense of already presuming an epistemological and political equality that rarely pertains in practice. I know that in more recent years, Habermas has attempted to address some of these issues, but I’m not sure his attempts to build in asymmetrical power relations are successful.
Srnicek – The technocratic claim simply repeats the common conflation of political authority with epistemic authority. The latter is one reason for which having an updated concept of reasoning is important, so that it gets rid of the classic image of reason being disembodied, external, oppressive, and ahistorical. But we all rely on epistemic authority in our everyday lives, and it’s a legitimate source of authority to defer to. The problem comes when this legitimate authority comes to take on the qualities of a class on its own, and particularly a ruling class (a problem seen in both the USSR and China, in their turn to communism). That has to be warded off through a variety of mechanisms, but our appreciation of technology and science is certainly not technocratic.
As for Habermas, a few distinctions can be drawn (no doubt there are many more). In the first place, we see modernity as necessarily passing through periods such as the Haitian Revolution and decolonization; Habermas sees these as external to modernity. Second, we see modernity as constitutively unfinishable, whereas Habermas sees it simply as unfinished for now. Finally, Habermas sets communicative rationality at the forefront of politics, whereas we think politics is a matter of cunning, power, affect, and mobilization—in addition to reason.
Williams – I also think that any attempt to return to modernity ought to be conducted with care—the critiques of those from postcolonialism and decolonial theory, for example, cannot be ignored. Here we ought to be thinking in terms of a new modernity or transmodernity in the sense outlined by Colombian philosopher and mathematician Fernando Zalamea14—a kind of partial return to modernity through the fractured lens of the postmodern, a modernity that is attuned to difference in all its forms and seeks partial synthesis toward ever more universal spaces.
Salemy – If technocracy is not a fair comparison, how would you explain some of the accelerationists’ emphasis on design—I am thinking of Benedict Singleton’s propositions—as an end-all, be-all in terms of solutions for both current problems and future ones? How would the accelerationists reconfigure the categories of social power and collective knowledge?
Williams – We want to maintain a distinction between the kind of definition of technocracy I set out above and the idea of design and of mediation more generally. The former is a falsely apolitical setup that thinks all the crucial problems are ones of implementation, with the basic coordinates of the (neoliberal capitalist) system as a whole being unperturbed. The latter is simply necessary within complex societies, by which I mean that mediation is the corollary of complexity. But not all mediations are equally good or beneficent. Design is simply the emphasis on an idea of power that operates largely through contouring what is possible (what I talk about when I use the term “hegemony”). The design of systems of different kinds, from technical infrastructures to legal regulations, modulates the behaviour of individuals and collectives operating within their remit. Therefore we believe the left needs to become more comfortable with thinking in terms of design, in terms of the way we can begin to exert power on the invisible constraints that structure our everyday experience.
Srnicek – We can speak only for ourselves, and there are definite divergences between, say, our project and that of Singleton (the primary proponent of design as metis, or as a weapon of the weak).15 I’d be as hesitant to say design is the ultimate answer to our problems as I would be to say rationality is the answer. But issues of design do highlight the significance of what Singleton calls “platforms”—those basic social and material infrastructures that underlie social formations. What’s interesting about platforms in terms of design is that they build in certain behaviours, desires, and subjects—but they can’t and don’t predetermine what emerges from building these. There’s a real recognition of the contingency of the future here (which also belies any simple notion of technocracy, since it’s not about implementing a plan or forcing contingent content into a pre-established form). So there are issues being discussed in design, and particularly in platform design, that are useful for rethinking the division between blueprints for a future society and the spontaneous creation of a new order. We know both of those options are prone to failure, and platform design appears to offer tools for escaping that binary.
Williams – To address your question about the broader compact between knowledge and power: We agree with those critics, from Theodor Adorno to Michel Foucault, who rightly diagnose the imbrication of “reason” or systems of knowledge with power structures. But we also want to hold firm to the post-Enlightenment idea that while knowledge doesn’t escape power, or magically transcend it, it remains possible to grasp things about the world that might aid us in transforming it.
Srnicek – It’s worth pointing out that Adorno was much subtler on these questions than many of today’s thinkers. Adorno was interested precisely in highlighting the ambiguities of reason—that it could diverge into power or be used for emancipation. Adorno didn’t offer a simple, one-sided denunciation of reason.
Salemy – MAP begins by recounting the consequences of a horrific misunderstanding of the contemporary moment as the beginning of the end of history. It also identifies the major challenge of the end of the twentieth century—namely, planetary climate change—along with a few minor ones: “the depletion of resources like water and energy,” “the collapse of economic paradigms,” and “new cold and hot wars.”
How does this categorization of contemporary challenges in terms of major and minor affect the political direction of the manifesto? I am particularly interested in this question because I think there is a continuity between the major and minor challenges outlined in MAP and that this might require a reshuffling of these priorities, if not an abandonment of their prioritization altogether. Why focus on climate change as the primary catastrophe? You might remember from our Facebook chats that I am interested in the political economy articulated by Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, whose model provides a quantified metric toward accounting for these problems within the larger and invisible process they call the “accumulation of power into capital.”16 To them, the curve for the accumulation of power into capital, more than ever before, is approaching its asymptotes, meaning that the more efficient the process of power accumulation becomes, the more difficult it is for power to be accumulated into capital. This accelerating difficulty fuels power’s tendency to tax not only nature but also other interrelating global systems—e.g., the social, the political, the military, the telecomputational, and so on—for its survival.
Don’t you think the primary focus on climate change has the potential to mask the cybernetic connections between these interrelating systems and that of capital accumulation? There is also another issue, unfortunately, which is that the developing world has come to identify climate change as a “first-world problem.” Don’t you think that the emphasis on this issue might wrongly identify MAP with a certain geography and a particular political economic reality? There is also another, even darker, possibility, which is that capital has already thought of ways the climate catastrophe can be built into its economic model despite its devastating impact on planetary life. Perhaps you have had a chance to see 2013’s summer blockbuster science-fiction movie; I am thinking of a sort of Elysium on earth.17 Is it wise or even politically expedient to think of climate change outside of geopolitical economy?
Williams – I agree. You cannot think of these problems as being discrete or disconnected; in reality, resolving climate change will require significant shifts at the political and economic level, whether that resolution is an amelioration of the worst impacts, climate engineering, or reducing energy consumption and carbon outputs. Climate change cannot and should not be separated from geopolitical economy. But as the biggest threat to humanity, climate change is simply the most significant expression of this geopolitical system—hence our emphasis on it in the manifesto.
Srnicek – Undoubtedly, as well, some capitalists have developed sophisticated ways to profit from any future climate catastrophe. It’s a basic mantra of contemporary finance that profits can be made at any point (witness the resurgence of the stock markets and corporate profits even alongside continued difficulties in the so-called real economy). Yet at the same time, there are intra-capitalist splits here, and we shouldn’t ascribe an over-unified sense of agency to capitalism. Insurance companies, for instance, are terrified by climate change and are some of the main companies pushing for measures against it. Likewise, even energy companies have huge risks here—for instance, trillions of dollars of energy reserves are listed on the stock market yet must also go unused if we are to stop serious climate change. This is what’s been called the “carbon bubble”—the idea that these energy companies are massively overvalued on the basis of reserves that can never be used. On the one hand, this gives these companies a strong incentive to allow climate change to continue, but on the other hand, it also provides an immense incentive for them to shift their approach to things like renewables as a means to hedge against these huge risks.
As for whether climate change is a first-world problem, there are good geopolitical and ethical reasons to agree with that. But the fact is that the developing world is most at risk from climate change. By all means remind the developed nations of their responsibility for climate change, but to ignore the changes being wrought upon nature is a serious mistake. Fortunately, significant shifts are being made in the energy sectors of the developing world. And the cost of new technologies like solar power and wind power is rapidly decreasing, making it easier for developing countries to leapfrog over reliance on coal, gas, and nuclear energy. In fact, you see here one of the fetters of capitalism that Karl Marx (and we completely agree) thought emerged as capitalism developed. The forces of energy production are rapidly changing to renewable forms, but interests of capitalist profit are leading companies and governments to stymie their development at every step of the way. Unleashing these productive forces seems the only way forward to us.
Williams – Žižek has an argument in First as Tragedy, Then as Farce about the problems capitalism could conceivably resolve, in which he includes climate change as one (with class struggle the one it definitively cannot). I’m not as sure as Žižek that capitalism could resolve the problem of climate change effectively, simply because of the incentive structures involved and the kind of geopolitics we have of competitive nation-states. These seem to mitigate against serious, long-term action, which potentially hurts short- to medium-term profitability.
Salemy – What about war? In speaking with a lot of people who sympathize with accelerationism, it seems that aside from Negarestani’s contributions about the praxis of war in the twenty-first century (which one may argue also rears its head in his fiction-theory novel Cyclonopedia ), accelerationist thought has not really engaged war and its central place in the geopolitical operations of twenty-first-century neoliberalism. This became more apparent as US President Barack Obama, whose 2008 campaign incorporated strong anti-war rhetoric, was unable to change the course taken by the previous US administration on militarism. It seems to me that Gilles Châtelet’s concept of tertiary society (the amalgamation of media technologies, state, and capital)18 almost needs to be modified to include a fourth column, that of the military. My elaboration of Châtelet identifies the double use of violent force in mass domestication of the inland people while it turns the outlands of the neoliberal empire into an unlivable and ungovernable wilderness. How can one approach the militarization of geopolitics from an accelerationist point of view?
Srnicek – The resurgence of war over the past decade (and the past five years, especially) is a significant phenomenon, but it has to be placed into historical context. The post–Cold War period, and even much of the post-9/11 period, was uniquely peaceful, globally speaking. What we see now is the re-emergence of a traditional multipolar era (which, historically speaking, is the norm, as opposed to the exception of a bipolar or unipolar era). And with a multipolar structure there’s a tendency toward more inter-state wars. To say that recent wars are an expression of neoliberalism is an oversimplification—even if it contains some truths. That’s the broad point: we are in an emerging multipolar era that is already having significant effects on geopolitical relations but will also transform the world economy. (And it’s here where most thinkers are behind the curve—just look at how many people continue to think of China as the world’s labour supply.)
Changing dynamics are involved in the technology of war and security as well—though I tend to think the recent fascination with drones is a bit overblown. Drone warfare has blurred the lines between war, intervention, and policing, but this was already a process well underway through legal and other means. More interesting, to me, are the predictive algorithms involved in everyday surveillance and in the big-data analytics practiced by the security state and by corporations. These probabilistic models are going to shape our lives to a much greater degree than drones will, but they don’t quite have the sexy allure that killer robots do.
Williams – Agreed. It is rare that geopolitics does not have a militarized dimension to it. The question is one of whether the internal dynamics of militaries and military imperatives are coming into a period of increasing autonomy—i.e., apart from state or capitalist imperatives (or even toward what military theorist Manav Guha talks about as a kind of absolute of war-as-tacticity overriding its strategic instrumentalization).19 I’m not sure that is the case. But this may increasingly be put to the test as American hegemony is pressed by other powerful regional hegemons. For an adequate theorization of all this, you would need to integrate a number of perspectives, analyzing state behaviour, global industrial activity, energy, financial dynamics, and theories of technological change, as well as war studies.
Salemy – I’d like to quote from a better but lesser-known work by an almost forgotten political thinker, Guy Debord, who, in Comments on the Society of the Spectacle,20 makes a statement about what we later came to identify as neoliberalism—a statement that, for better or for worse, still resonates strongly in the manifest geopolitical image of the twenty-first century. What we consider Islamic terrorism today—which was introduced to Western culture in the second half of the twentieth century via the Israeli political discourse on Palestinian resistance, as predicted by Deleuze in 197821—was generalized if not also globalized by the United States after the September 11, 2001, attacks. These days, even enemies of America, such as Iran and Russia, have conveniently adopted the category of terrorism to define their ultimate enemies. I am talking here about terror and terrorism. Debord writes: Such a perfect democracy constructs its own inconceivable foe, terrorism. Its wish is to be judged by its enemies rather than by its results. The story of terrorism is written by the state and it is therefore highly instructive. The spectators must certainly never know everything about terrorism, but they must always know enough to convince them that, compared with terrorism, everything else must be acceptable, or in any case more rational and democratic.22
At the other end of the spectrum, contemporary philosopher of science Bruno Latour rather perversely defines the Eurocentric unfolding of both the twenty-first century and the process of globalization as that of competition by the West with the rest to remain relevant: After having registered the sudden new weakness of the former West and trying to imagine how it could survive a bit longer in the future to maintain its place in the sun, we have to establish connections with the others that cannot possibly be held in the nature/society collectors. Or, to use another ambiguous term, we just might have to engage in cosmopolitics.23
My question is: Is it possible that the conscious construction of terrorism by neoliberalism as its ultimate enemy is a precise function of Latourian cosmopolitics?
Srnicek – I think one needs to be clear about distinctions between state power and economic power. While they are undoubtedly interrelated in many ways (and increasingly so), this doesn’t mean that their logics and goals are the same. If we take neoliberalism to mean a system of accumulation premised upon the state construction of markets and market-subjects, then terrorism is opposed to this logic in many ways. Post-9/11, we see the closing down of numerous financial flows, the shuttering of borders for the free flow of (skilled and often privileged) workers, and the imposition of economic sanctions, to name just a few phenomena. All of these are opposed to the logic of neoliberalism, but they make sense for the logic of the security state. This is not to say that they are mutually opposed on all accounts (witness the use of the state to control the surplus populations created by neoliberalism), but it is to say that terrorism can’t simply be read as a neoliberal function.
Williams – It is important to remember the distinction between neoliberalism and neoconservatism. Neoliberalism is, broadly, a system of state intervention to secure highly marketized or otherwise privatized social and economic relations. Neoconservatism, by contrast, is a political-military doctrine that is bound up in the idea of national dominance and the necessity of the “noble lie.” The discourse of terrorism is ideal for neoconservatism, as it creates a series of nationalist-friendly ideological articulations that enable foreign wars as well as surveillance and the expansion of the security state at home. These two are conjoined at times (as in the George W. Bush administration, or that of Tony Blair’s New Labour government in the UK) but are distinguishable.
Salemy – I tend to disagree, because as a reader of certain French characterizations of the move from the twentieth to the twenty-first century—that is, Deleuze, in his “Postscript on the Societies of Control”24 and Cinema 2: The Time-Image25; Châtelet’s To Think and Live Like Pigs26; and very lately Jonathan Crary’s 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep27—I believe that the objectives of the state and capital are integrating and resolving their contradictions through complex and interconnected networked operations, and the surface distinctions between these two entities are rather skeuomorphic if not also intentionally misleading. Isn’t it obvious by now that the brilliance of Obama has been to fully integrate the two concepts? Perhaps this is why I think the works of political economists Nitzan and Bichler, in regards to the political economy of military conflicts and the concept of accumulation through crisis, point to the irony that perhaps the governments of Russia, China, and Iran are more likely to commit to non-militarized neoliberalism than their Western counterparts, who shamelessly practice militarism when necessary. In this model, we have a multipolar world that is trying to compel the Western world to play as closely as possible to the ideal rules of neoliberalism, versus a Western militarized neoliberalism that is content to maintain its hegemonic superiority by any means necessary. This is why I thought the Latour quote was interesting—because he is able to see this struggle and address it, if not explicitly, at least poetically.
Williams – We must remember the semi-militarized roots of neoliberalism—in the overthrow of Salvador Allende’s government in Chile, which led to one of the first major experiments with neoliberal political economy, under General Augusto Pinochet.
Srnicek – I think the weaponized hegemon versus the relatively non-weaponized counterpowers is one way to look at it, but this division is also a historically common process during the decline of a particular hegemon. In that sense, America’s attempt to maintain its power is predictable and not surprising. More interesting are the tensions between its base of power (the spread of capitalism oriented around America as the global backstop of the system) and the globalizing tendencies in that base of power. Neoliberalism relies on states, but it wants to incorporate them into its own imperatives. And these imperatives are in tension with US national (and parochial) imperatives to maintain America’s own hegemonic position. So there’s more strategic confusion in America than coherent policy. How to maintain a global base of power (the markets) that is undermining your very power at the same time? The traditional answer was to make that global capitalist system reliant on you (notably the Federal Reserve, but also influence over the International Monetary Fund, etc.)—but this itself is disintegrating. (And here, the recent moves by the BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, and China] to create a new regional set of international monetary institutions are significant, along with the emerging ties between China and Russia.) Overall, though, I think any reduction of the state to neoliberalism, or neoliberalism to the state, is a simplification of a much more complex process.
Williams – Also, however, we should be careful to remember that while neoliberal forces have been happy to use military (or paramilitary) force where necessary to effect their general objectives, there remains a dependence on hegemony—the ability to secure at least the passive consent of populations. Now, this does not mean that there is active assent to neoliberalism—in most parts of the world, when polled, citizens are generally extremely opposed to the policies associated with neoliberalism. But neoliberal governments and their associated media are able to channel certain desires in various cunning ways to enable at least a passive support, often by reference to outsider groups.
It is interesting to consider whether the mix of coercion and consent will change in the coming century. As new waves of automation bite ever harder into the consumer capitalist paradigm, will governments have to resort to increasingly harsh coercive measures to manage surplus populations? Will increasingly pervasive drone and surveillance technologies enable such an asymmetry of force that hegemony is no longer necessary?
Salemy – In Alex’s contribution to e-flux journal last summer, “Escape Velocities,” accelerationist aesthetics is defined thus: “in the processes of epistemic conceptual navigation, in hyperstitional ideological feedback loops, in the design of interfaces of control, and as a blueprint for action in complex systems.”28 Is this aesthetics always bound to the above processes, or is there room for it to become autonomous along the way? I am thinking of how these instances appear as surfaces whose functions or even commitments are more defined in terms of themselves as non-transcendental surfaces. Or surface qua surface. Among these different instances, your concept of geo-epistemic aesthetics comes the closest to what I consider aesthetics as the rigorous science of surface, or an in-depth knowledge of superficiality. Here I am not referring to the age-old modernist notion of flatness, which has been taken up lately by “image” theorists as somehow emblematic of the age of digital screens, etc., but a multidimensional topology of surface with more dimensions than those offered by modern physics and more in correspondence with the abstract structure of thought. Also, in your description of the political aesthetics of accelerationism, you speak of the author and philosopher Nick Land and his notion of hyperstition, or what you describe as “narratives able to effectuate their own reality through the workings of feedback loops, generating new sociopolitical attractors.”29 Please, if you can, expand on your definition of hyperstitious aesthetics. Can this form of aesthetics, given its essence, be shared not only among humans but also machines? Also, can the aesthetics of interfaces and cognitive mapping that you historically locate in the Chilean experiment of Cybersyn, which was aimed at an ongoing cybernetic analysis and adjustment of the Chilean economy using large computer systems,30 be expanded and developed to address the way machines will come to understand and interpret forms and how machinic cognition will deal with images? I am thinking of things as simple as search engines’ understanding of emoticons or as complex as Google’s reverse image search.
Williams – To clarify the idea of hyperstition: it is the notion that in complex socio-technical systems, feedback loops at various different layers can generate emergent effects, such that human beliefs can generate the reality of the subjects of those beliefs. We need only consider the case of contemporary financial markets to observe this happening in real time. What is at stake is not so much the value of a given asset but the beliefs of other traders about the value of that asset. What was interesting about the design of the Chilean Cybersyn project was that it was intended to be a kind of far-from-equilibrium cybernetic setup. As envisaged by its architect, Stafford Beer, this would allow not simply the participative management of the Chilean industrial economy, but also, over time, a gradualist program of revolutionary transformation, shifting institutional arrangements from what was already in place toward a cybernetic socialism. This is “accelerationist” in the simple sense of trying to locate and modulate key feedback loops within complex assemblages of different components (social, political, economic, technical, environmental, aesthetic, and so on) so as to transform the overall direction of travel of the system as a whole.
The real question with machine learning and aesthetics is one of AGI (Artificial General Intelligence)—we know that we can use algorithmic solutions to process visual information as if it were being “understood,” just as we can with linguistic information like ordinary language sentences. But it seems clear that “understanding” implies a whole cognitive architecture that is presently absent from computational systems. Now there are more interesting attempts than this, through ideas of machine learning, to generate systems that can come to recognize more than we initially program them to. Certainly technology of this kind might be an important tool for developing better systems to analyze and interact with large-scale complex systems.
Srnicek – This sort of aesthetics isn’t based on speed (the fascination with HFT, or high-frequency trading, frequently falls into this) or complexity for its own sake (the sort of Michael Bay effect31 that leaves us with an uncognizable mess). Rather, this type of aesthetics is geared precisely to use machinic intelligence to generate leverage over complex systems.
It’s a political aesthetics, but not in the sense of representing a situation, producing a particular experience, or reflecting on limitations. It’s political in producing the means to intervene and modulate.
Williams – This is why we are interested in interfaces as a political technology for the management of complexity. Look, for example, at financial traders at their workstations. They have a variety of tools that are translating live data feeds of different kinds of market and non-market information into visually graspable representations, while also enabling them to interact with the data and with the objects described by that data. Now, we’re not interested in lauding the market itself, but rather want to take note of the ways the leading edges of capital are able (however imperfectly) to use technology to grasp complex situations. We believe that much more progressive forces need to learn from this, among other examples, to think through emancipatory deployments of technological representational/interactive systems in order to help in the collective self-management of society.
Salemy – Can the embracing of technology by accelerationism account for two “problems” that have been popular topics of discussion in relation to telecomputation on the non-accelerationist left? First, is it possible to explain the exploitative nature of every click, keyboard stroke, or eyeball movement as free labour for government agencies, tech companies, or both, especially if we consider that interaction with large systems constantly improves their performance and understanding of humans? In other words, how can one assess the political economy of this free communal and unconscious computer programming in which millions of people are engaged? The second problem is the issues raised as the result of Edward Snowden’s revelations in regards to the nature of National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance and the apparent loss of privacy. Aside from the almost forgotten fact that privacy as we understand it today is a modern bourgeois privilege and itself contingent on the invasive effects of both photography and journalism in the late nineteenth century32—meaning it was a response to the democratization of visual documentation and detailing of the private lives of the wealthy—what should an accelerationist response to the NSA scandal look like?
Srnicek – There is a common, but revealing, mistake about our approach to technology. In a context where technology is so roundly denounced as a weapon of the powerful, even modest support for technology gets interpreted as a glorification of it. So it appears that we’re techno-utopian only to those who see almost any new technology as further means for control and exploitation. Our more subtle point is that technology can sometimes be repurposed, and it can sometimes be designed for uses beyond capitalism (indeed, all sorts of empirical research on technology supports these basic points).
With respect to these two issues—valorization of social media and the security state—there’s been some good work done by people like Christian Fuchs and Louise Amoore.33 The security state issue is, I think, still waiting for its Foucault, though. There’s an entire genealogy of tactics, models, and algorithms that could be made here, tracing out how various security measures have circulated among state, private, and common powers. So, for instance, you have algorithms to track behavioural mannerisms being developed and employed by casinos, which then get circulated and sold to other corporations and to states, finding their way into control over urban environments. Likewise with mathematical techniques, which are a part of the general intellect but get mobilized for a variety of different things—modelling climate change on one hand and analyzing phone calls on the other. So the relations here between technology and power are immensely complex, and research will be required to trace out how these assemblages have come together.
Srnicek – And, as with Foucault, tracing out these connections also brings out the changing conceptions of private and public involved in them—how they’re constructed and how they’re rippling through society. On a superficial (i.e., popular and, therefore, important) level, one interesting trend is the turning away from massively public social media by younger generations. They favour Snapchat rather than Facebook, for instance. There’s a sense here in which younger generations are reasserting a space outside of the public. It’s a time of immense change, and the social norms of using these technologies is still in the process of being developed.
Williams – We want to be clear about the fundamentally ambiguous nature of technology under capitalism. It is at once both the very means of oppression and our life-support system. Surplus-value extraction by the owners of online social networks is a classic case of what the autonomists will talk about as the general intellect under cognitive capitalism. The question for those who identify this exploitation and want to think about what to do about it is this: How can we transform technological systems? How much is a given technology designed to inculcate market or marketable relations? In the case of social networks, they very much take technology that already existed (especially things like message boards, which they crudely resemble and yet differ from in important ways) and subvert it into something that is not controlled by the community that uses it and that is rendered unpleasant by commercialized intrusions and governmental monitoring.
Another way to think about this is through the idea of the platform—what social media represent above all is the premier contemporary instantiation of platform logics. Social networks are designed for others to create the content; they are often designed with loose monetization in their initial stages and are highly speculative. Fundamentally, social networks are about exploring future options and then later working out how to profit from them. For good or (more probably) for ill, social networks demonstrate the power of platform logic in an age of advanced communications technology. The challenge for left organizations and movements is to think through how much can be achieved through social networks (with the constant spectre of monitoring and censorship) and whether they ought to construct new and less pernicious platforms.
- I have coined the term “telecomputation” to refer to the space created as a result of the synthesis of mass computation and mass telecommunication. It differs from theories of computation because it considers the new possibilities offered by networked technologies to humans as a symbiosis of humans and machines rather than advancements only in regards to the latter.
- Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, “#Accelerate: Manifesto for Accelerationist Politics,” in #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader, ed. Robin Mackay and Armen Avanessian (Falmouth: Urbanomic; Berlin: Merve Verlag, 2014), 347–62.
- The online constellation of philosophical thinking formed around figures such as Ray Brassier, Ian Grant Hamilton, Quentin Meillassoux, and Graham Harman, some of whom attended the Speculative Realism conference at Goldsmiths, London, in 2007. For more, please see Robin Mackay, ed., Collapse III: Unknown Deleuze (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2007).
- See http://fillip.ca/mhlo.
- See http://fillip.ca/mhlo.
- According to Robin Mackay and Armen Avanesian, the editors of #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader, accelerationism is the identifier of a political movement that insists on the rejection of the protest, disruption, or critique of capitalism or a strategic awaiting for its demise as a result of its own contradictions, and considers them insufficient for the transformation of capitalism into a just system. Instead, it seeks to accelerate its own abstract machineries in economics, politics, and culture against itself.
- See Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Ray Brassier, “Concepts and Objects,” in The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, ed. Levi R. Bryant, Nick Srnicek, and Graham Harman (Melbourne: re.press, 2011), 47–66; Reza Negarestani, “Globe of Revolution,” Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, no. 17 (n.d.), 25–54; Reza Negarestani, “Abducting the Outside: Modernity and the Culture of Acceleration” (New York: Miguel Abreu Gallery, 2012); and Reza Negarestani, “A Vertiginous View of Enlightenment,” Savage Objects, Forensic Architecture, 2012, http://fillip.ca/ecbu.
- See Brassier, Nihil Unbound.
- Socialism in one country was one of the main pillars of Stalinist doctrine in the Soviet Union. It prioritized the infrastructural industrialization of the country’s agrarian base over exporting the communist revolution abroad.
- Structural realism is often understood as the idea that scientific theories tell us only about the structure of the unobservable world and not about its nature.
- With the help of friends on Facebook, I was able to come up with the following as the working definition for neo-rationalism: “The reconfiguration of the enlightenment era notion of rationality, reinterpreting it as a belief in how only revisable norm-defining rational concepts—developed in a groundless and open social practice—can lead to emancipation.” See the conversation online at http://fillip.ca/1oq4.
- See Walter Mignolo, The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011).
- See Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, vol. 1, Reason and the Rationalization of Society, trans. T. McCarthy (Boston: Beacon, 1984).
- Fernando Zalamea, América—Una Trama Integral: Transversalidad, Bordes y Abismos En La Cultura Americana, Siglos XIX y XX (Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 2009).
- Benedict Singleton, “Maximum Jailbreak,” in The Accelerationist Reader, 489–508.
- Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, Capital as Power: A Study of Order and Creorder (New York: Routledge, 2009), 332–33.
- Neill Blomkamp, Elysium (Culver City, CA: TriStar Pictures, 2013).
- See chapter 5, “Democracy as Political Market, or: From Market Democracy to Thermocracy,” in Gilles Châtelet, To Live and Think Like Pigs: The Incitement of Envy and Boredom in Market Democracies, trans. Robin Mackay (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2014).
- Manabrata Guha, Reimagining War in the 21st Century: From Clausewitz to Network-centric Warfare (London: Routledge, 2010).
- Guy Debord, Comments on the Society of Spectacle (London: Verso, 1990).
- “Today Israel is conducting an experiment. It has invented a model of repression that, once adapted, will profit other countries.” Gilles Deleuze, “Spoilers of Peace,” in Two Regimes of Madness (Cambridge, MA: Semiotext(e), 2006), 161–63. Originally published in Le Monde, April 7, 1978.
- Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, 24.
- Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 262.
- Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” October, no. 59 (Winter 1992), 3–7.
- Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989).
- Gilles Châtelet, To Live and Think Like Pigs (Falmouth: Urabanomic, 2014).
- Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep (London: Verso, 2013).
- Alex Williams, “Escape Velocities,” e-flux journal, no. 46 (June 2013), http://fillip.ca/tuow.
- See Eden Medina, Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011).
- Director Michael Bay is well known for his use of over-the-top and gratuitous special effects in his action movies, such as Transformers (2007).
- The historical precedent brought up in the interview is crystallized in this quote: “Recent inventions and business methods call attention to the next step which must be taken for the protection of the person, and for securing to the individual what Judge Cooley calls the right ‘to be let alone.’ Instantaneous photographs and newspaper enterprise have invaded the sacred precincts of private and domestic life, and numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the prediction that ‘what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the house-tops.’ For years there has been a feeling that the law must afford some remedy for the unauthorized circulation of portraits of private persons.” Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, “The Right to Privacy,” Harvard Law Review 5, no. 5 (December 15, 1890). For more on the context of the Warren and Brandis article, please see also Dorothy J. Glancy, “The Invention of the Right to Privacy,” Arizona Law Review 21, no. 1 (1979), 1–39.
- See Christian Fuchs, Digital Labour and Karl Marx (New York: Routledge, 2014) and Louise Amoore, The Politics of Possibility: Risk and Security Beyond Probability (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013).
About the Authors
Mohammad Salemy is an independent NYC/Vancouver-based critic and curator from Iran. He co-curated the Faces exhibition at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia. In 2014, he organized the Incredible Machines conference in Vancouver. Salemy holds a master’s degree in Critical and Curatorial Studies from the University of British Columbia and is an Organizer with the New Centre for Research and Practice where he oversees the Art and Curatorial Program. He is a regular contributor to The Third Rail.
Nick Srnicek is a PhD graduate in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He is the author of Postcapitalist Technologies (Polity, 2016) and Inventing the Future (Verso, 2015, with Alex Williams) and editor of The Speculative Turn (Re.press, 2011, with Levi Bryant and Graham Harman).
Alex Williams is a political theorist. With Nick Srnicek, he is the author of the “Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics” and the forthcoming Inventing the Future (Verso, 2015).